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is this relationship serious enough for you?

Today I found myself justifying my relationship with my boyfriend to a bank teller. I assured her that we were “serious” and we’d talked about marriage. What I was really trying to say was: ‘I have a boyfriend; we still live with our parents, but please take us seriously’.

Admitting that I have a boyfriend and that we still live with our parents is embarrassing. No one takes us seriously. But it occurs to me, if you rush into a relationship too quickly, everyone places bets on when you will split. So why is living with the parents, taking it slow, maturing together, and getting to know each other’s families, considered such a bad thing?

Staying with our parents is certainly a surer way of getting to know someone, and their families, for better or for worse. I dare to argue that living with the parentals shows more commitment, than couples who live together away from the scrutiny of relatives.
To be together we have forfeited our right to choose what we watch on TV, what we eat for dinner, and even whether or not we sleep in on a Sunday, for fear of being labelled ‘lazy’ by the over fifty-years-old parentals who wake up at the crack of dawn. These simple freedoms I miss.

Maintaining a close relationship with your boyfriend, while living with family is not easy! There is no privacy to hide a bad hair day, or to have a cranky, moody day. All the skeletons come out of the closet sooner, rather than later.

Every exchange between us, good or bad, usually warrants a comment. A lingering kiss garners an “ewww” from Michael’s younger sister. Every cross look I give Michael after he burps, is followed by a corresponding belch by my father in comradeship.
Nothing between us is private. Family dinners are peppered with “When are you going to get married?” And there are no words to describe the feeling of knowing that your potential mother-in-law has seen your underwear collection hanging on the washing line.
But despite the awkwardness of these situations, these trials test our relationship, and simultaneously reaffirm our commitment to each other. Being asked when we’re going to get married opens the door for us to have the discussion and in doing so we learn more about each other. Knowing my potential family in-law have seen my knickers and still approve of me is reassuring. And knowing my father is happy to undermine my authority in front of Michael is infuriatingly frustrating, but also lets me know that he approves of my choice in men.

So if we’re facing the challenges of being with a partner and our families, simultaneously, and we still want to be together; why do I have to justify our commitment to those who assume we aren’t dedicated to each other just because we live with our families?

And why are we being frowned upon for taking our relationship slowly, when people are more than happy to criticise relationships that move too quickly?

I am guilty, as I’m positive most people are, of judging relationships that appear ‘rushed’. Just yesterday I commented on an acquaintance who met, and has fallen pregnant to her boyfriend all within the space of four months. “How long will they last?” I pondered. Rushed relationships and predictions of splits go hand-in-hand.
People are happy to criticise quick couplings, just as easily as they doubt slower paced partnerships.

This begs the question; what is the perfect speed of a relationship? Is there a formula to predict what is right for each unique couple? Ask the average person and the response would be to the effect of “each to their own”. Yet in reality this is clearly not the case. Clearly there are standards, and expectations.

But today the rules are shifting and changing. When Obama can proclaim his support of gay marriage, and still be a candidate in the presidential race. When reality stars wed and separate within 72 days. And in a world where Kylie can be a serial monogamist at 42 years of age, and still sing in front of the Queen. Who can ever possibly please everyone when it comes to conducting a “right and proper” relationship?

The answer is you can’t, and by attempting to please the whole world with your relationship, you will only be asking for disappointment. So if I happen to come across the bank teller again she may give me her judgemental look, but I will find comfort in the worlds of Michael Leunig “Love one another and you will be happy; it is as simple and as difficult as that.”

By Amelia Drew

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4 thoughts on “is this relationship serious enough for you?

  1. It’s probably more that because you’re both not independant (living at home with your parents) that you can’t be taken seriously. It has nothing to do with your actual relationship but rather the financial side of things.

  2. Great writing but I think you contradict yourself:p You say it is a way of taking it slow but then detail how quickly your relationship actually moves as ‘All the skeletons come out of the closet sooner, rather than later.’ I wouldn’t classify that as ‘taking it slow’. :)

  3. I don’t believe if you live at home it means your not independent. Yes you are living in your parents house but its accommodation not a show of how independent you are or are not. I think people don’t take you seriously because people are always trying to put their views on others. if you get pregnant at 19 your supposedly your too young but to the public eye at 30 I get frowned on because I don’t have children yet. People think if you live with someone that makes your relationship more serious but I beg to differ. Often when people live together they become complacent and even though they feel it makes their relationship more serious or even stronger its actually taken away the whole concept of trying and making an effort because what you want is right in front of you and you don’t even have to try and sometimes don’t bother because you Live together….. I mean who needs to go on a date when you see each other everyday? Ive had relationships where we have lived together and relationships where I have not- I cant say its made a difference to the serious factor of our relationship and what i have fund is that it has changed my Independence level as once under the same roof it is very easy to become co dependent on each other. Not that’s its everyone s cup of tea, but often if your in a relationship you may be looking down the track to marriage, a home , a family. Does the chance of this eventuating depend on whether you live together during your relationship and whether society takes you serious- No i don’t think so- I believe that what matters in a relationship is what the two people involved want and if right now living with your parents is what works Go for it- because a happy relationship is when you wake up in the morning with a smile on your face, not whether society frowns on you because of your living arrangements…..

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