Ask Brian: I live with my boyfriend's mum for cheap rent, but the sex is dull and he's got fat

I am a 26-year-old woman and study at a top university, I love my course and am doing well.

I live at my boyfriend’s mum’s house for minimal rent, which I’m grateful for.

However, I am feeling increasingly unsettled, as if I am living as a pensioner.

We have a non-existent sex life, and have tried weekends away, dates etc… but we still rarely have sex.

When we do it is unsatisfying for me, and probably him, as it doesn’t last long and feels awkward.

I’ve started to lose weight, and socialise more, which is making me feel more like my old self, as I gained a lot of weight in the relationship and became “comfortable”.

He is definitely more interested in sex recently, because of my weight loss, which makes me very angry.

He has always been overweight and makes no effort. Now I avoid his advances, and instead fantasise about my friend, whom I’m starting to develop feelings for.

He is kind, funny and popular, our relationship seems perfect to others.

He comes from a well-off middle-class background (I do not) and I feel as if I will never find anyone better.

I feel trapped, he loves me, and would be devastated if I left. 

My boyfriend rarely disagrees with me, and his solutions to our problems is looking upset.

I feel as if I emasculate him, and it’s exhausting trying to manage the relationship by myself.

I always feel like a “bitch” due to my strong opinions and approach to life, he and his mother are both anxious people and have lived a very comfortable life, whereas I am a proud working class girl with no fear of life.

I’ve had nightmares about ending our relationship, as I would probably have to deal with his Mother too, and already feel guilt-ridden about my thoughts, let alone my actions. I don’t know what to do?!


Brian replies:

Your situation isn’t massively different to one many people find themselves in, especially in the current housing crisis.

Couples have moved in together, find things aren’t working out but keep the relationship going as they have a mortgage or a lease to see out together.

Your situation is similar – you are reliant on your boyfriend for the current cheap accommodation you enjoy.

You don’t say whether you would be able to afford market rents if you had to move out – but based on your financial situation there are various grants available to assist you with college expenses.

You really shouldn’t stay in the relationship because you’re benefiting financially from it.

You’re clearly not happy – and sooner rather than later you will end up cheating on him, which will turn what could be an amiable break up into something very toxic. Right now you are a licensee in his mother’s house, she doesn’t have to give you any notice if she wants you to leave. So you need to make sure for your own benefit you do things the right way.

It’s not clear from your email whether you think the relationship is savable – or if you even want to save it.

If you think it’s worth having another go at you need to talk to him about your frustrations – and if his beer belly bothers you then you need to tell him that too. You feel you’re making an effort to keep in shape for him, and you feel his lack of motivation to do the same for you is hurtful.

You can do the right thing or the wrong thing here, there isn’t too much of a grey area.

Wrong: Continue to stay with him even though in your mind the relationship is over, leading him on and using him for cheap accommodation until the college year is finished.

Right: Either break up with him or talk things through and try and make it work, leaving nothing off the table and letting him know how you feel. He can’t fix problems he doesn’t know exist.

Don’t stay with him because you want the cheap rent. Don’t stay with him because you worry you won’t find anyone better. Don’t settle.



Do you have a problem you’d like some advice on? Email [email protected]  to submit in confidence.

Twitter: @Brian_O_Reilly

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