Will I Crush My Boyfriend’s Dreams by Charging Him Rent?

Dear Penny,

I live with my boyfriend of 12 years. We have always rented and split expenses. He owes me over $8,000, I helped him with truck repairs, car payments and credit card debt, among other things. I do all of the cooking and clean up and buy most of the groceries.

We have moved around a lot because of his work. I end up leaving good jobs that I have been moving up in. I finally decided I want to buy a house and stay put. I have a good job and am tired of moving and looking for work.

He has a small piece of land he wants to build a home on mainly for hunting but also to retire to. I will never have any ownership of this property, as it is on tribal land. There is no work near there for me to make a living if I did move again. I don’t know what he will do to earn a living, either.

Is it wrong for me to expect him to pay rent and split utilities if I buy a house and he lives there while he’s working to build a home elsewhere? His credit is bad, and he is very poor at managing his finances. He has trouble coming up with his half of the rent. For the past two years that is all I get — no help with groceries, utilities or payment for the money I let him borrow.

I have been able to save money for a down payment for a house, even though he makes way more money than me and I basically support both of us. I think he expects help from me financially to build his dream home, but he can’ even support himself.


Dear T.,

Wanting and expecting aren’t the same things. It’s 100% reasonable to want your boyfriend to pay bills for a house he lives in. Expecting him to do so is a different matter.

A person’s past behavior is a good predictor of their future behavior. Use your boyfriend’s 12-year track record as your crystal ball. Will he agree to pay for expenses and actually do it? Or will he treat this dream home that you’ll never have a stake in as the love of his life — assuming he can even get financing to build it — and…

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