Earlier this month Thought Catalog debuted the first volume of #SAF Presents: Dating Advice For The Struggling 20-Something, a new dating column where myself and a couple of other gorgeous yet SAF (Single As Fuck) writers at TC, will be answering your questions about love, dating, and relationships every week. It’s been a couple weeks and here’s what’s changed: 1. I’m no longer in Nicaragua! Yay! So that means I can now answer your emails with the rapid wifi speed my local Starbucks offers. 2. TC writer extraordinaire and mega chill internet personality Crissy Milazzo is now a part of the team and will be answering your questions every week along with Kovie and I. 3. We will publish the column every Wednesday. Have a question for the #SAF team? Send it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know if you’d like to remain anonymous. Here’s what’s going on this week…
“As a 23 year old who recently withdrew from graduate school in order to take a break and work full-time at home, I have found it incredibly difficult to maintain a social life (let alone any sort of romantic relationships!). One huge issue in my dating life at the moment is the fact that I live at home with my parents and two of my siblings. How should I handle dating guys back home without it being super awkward that I still live at home with my parents? How do I deal with the social limitations that this may present (i.e. over-protective parents or driving separately to meet up for dates instead of being picked up if he’s not ready to meet my family)?”
Kovie: Sounds like you’ve been going through a few life changes and adjustments (which are never easy)! I think the first thing to do is be accepting of where you are in life right now and recognize that it won’t always be like this; it’s just where you are right now.
Become comfortable making friends with people and telling them your situation. Trust that you are probably not the only person they know in that situation – and even if you are, give them a chance to empathize. People will surprise you, and if they do have judgments, it will always say more about them than you. Once you get used to being forthright in this way – making friends (through meet-ups, volunteering, etc.) it becomes easier to do so with any potential dates.
When it comes to dating, tell them early and tell them why and perhaps present it as something that is not really that big a deal. I think that things like this reveal character and so the right kind of guy would probably understand. Remember that everybody has their “stuff,” some just have to be more upfront than others. With regard to the social limitations, you probably want to know what your parent’s limitations are. Which I know is probably difficult because once you’ve lived away from home, you don’t feel like you should have any. But the key is to know what you’re dealing with and then figure out your options for late night dates, driving, and all the rest.
When people really like you – friends or dating – they tend to accommodate all your “stuff” that is in the grand scheme of things not that big a deal. (Even though I know it probably feels that way right now.) Remember this is temporary and I wish you the very best. But straightforward honesty and maybe even showing a good sense of humor about it all should get you through any and all awkward (potential) dates, and everything else.
Crissy: I dealt with this myself when I moved home after college. It really depends on the kind of dating you’re trying to do. If you’re into a more serious ‘meeting a guy for dinner’ situation, then just always suggest driving separately unless he insists on picking you up, in which case he would clearly be trying to be a ‘meet the parents’ type.You might not be trying to go on a bunch of ‘real dates,’ though.
Maybe you’re just trying to hang out and meet some new people, including new friends. Since you’re at home, use your old friends to broaden your circle. You guys can always go out in groups to a local bar or one in a neighboring town. I find that having old friends around to make a couple introductions can make the initial stages of casual dating a little bit less rigid. Having said all of that, just keep in mind that part of your parents getting to know you as an adult includes coming to see you as a person with a personal life. If their strictness becomes inhibiting, try to have a real conversation with them about it. Who knows? Maybe you’re just remembering their strictness from when you were a teen, and you’ll be surprised at how much they don’t care anymore. Either way, be stoked that you’re 23, single, and employed full-time! You’re a catch…for both your parents and a dude who’s ready to meet them someday.
Koty: Okay, so, a few years ago I dated a guy who had moved back in with his parents so he could save money for a business he wanted to start. He told me as soon as we started dating about his living arrangements. It wasn’t sexy or chic but at least he was honest about it. And that’s all you can do – be upfront about it right away. That’s the only way you can see if living at home is going to scare a guy away or not. You’re 23 and fresh out of college. It’s perfectly normal to still be figuring things out and not have all the answers right now. This is just where you are right now in life. Know and remember that this time will pass.
In the meantime figure out how to make the most of this situation. I would establish boundaries with your parents about your dating life. Discuss with them your need for a social life while still living at home that’s comfortable for both of you. Your parents probably aren’t down with you bringing a random home at 2 a.m. but they should be able to give you some freedom. Do they really need to meet a guy just because he’s picking you up for a date? You’re 23, not 16, ya know? I think this is probably an interesting time for both you and your parents as they realize their daughter is a fully formed adult (or something like it) now.
I’d also be thinking about your next move in life. What’s your exit strategy out of the ‘rents house? Are you planning on living with them for another 6 months while you save cash and pay off bills or is it undetermined at this time? Are you planning on going back to grad school? Even if you want to take time to figure things out having some sort of a goal and a plan will be more attractive to anyone you date.