Dear Prudence

Dear Prudence Uncensored: “Lesbian Looking for Lower Cost of Living”

This week, R. Eric Thomas and J. Bryan Lowder discuss a Prudie letter: “Lesbian Looking for Lower Cost of Living

R. Eric Thomas: Bryan! Thanks for joining me in my first Prudie Uncensored with my training wheels off. Speaking of folks trying out new things, what did you think of this week’s letter? Do you agree that she should leave it alone?

J. Bryan Lowder: Ha, look at you go! Happy to be here. So, I think you definitely hit on the two main things happening in this letter—there’s the logistics question of how many people can happily live under one roof in this kind of scenario. And then there are whatever tensions are present in the letter writer’s relationship with her girlfriend. I totally agree that dropping this living proposal is the most practical way of sidestepping both of those … at least in the immediate future. But I’m a little worried about them!

Eric: Oh! Worried, yes. I have concerns too. Let’s start there. What are you worried about?

Bryan: Well, I don’t like to doubt young relationships out of hand, BUT I’m getting a whiff of college couple pulling away post-graduation from this whole situation. Which would be so, so normal. You get the sense that LW is maybe invested in starting life together (all those details about loans and the housing market, etc.!) in a way the girlfriend isn’t quite as much?

Eric: Yes, I got that, too. Look, I love a pragmatic post-grad, but so much of their relationship is, right now, tentative and new (they haven’t lived together yet!) so the logistics seem potentially scary. The structure of this relationship is interesting to me, as well, in that the BFF and the BFF’s partner seem to be more stable. I wonder if they’re older or just have better jobs. Better-paying jobs, I should say.

Bryan: YES. Your point about never having lived together was spot-on—this is so not the way to start that. And yeah, the BFF couple seems more stable in some way. Speaking of them, I also was feeling a little jealousy of the BFF on LW’s part—like, I know they have a partner, but if LW’s girlfriend is saying the “best time of her life” was living there, presumably an hour away from you, that’s … interesting. Did you sense that?

Eric: I did! And I wondered what the BFF’s true read of the situation was. The LW said the BFF is “supportive” of their relationship. That’s a specific word that felt weighted to me. I can easily see, from the LW’s point-of-view, where jealousy would come from. BBF couple seems to have it all, now including the LW’s girlfriend. On the other hand, the BFF and her partner could act as a mentor couple, something the LW seems to be encouraging anyway, in a roundabout way. But the vibes I’m getting (and as a queer person most of my relationship advice is vibes-based) are a little unbalanced.

Bryan: The vibes, they are off! Yeah, look, we can’t know all that much about the internal dynamics of their relationship from three paragraphs (and I really do, speaking as someone who got with one of his partners fairly young, wish them well!). But the more I look at this one, the more I feel like LW’s anxieties about housing and finances are as much about the stability of the relationship as they are about money. (To be clear, post-grad money worries are real! I just think those things are emotionally mixed together here.) So it would be wise not to complicate that further by forcing this issue.

Do you think you’d advise LW to explore any of this with her girlfriend, or just get her own place and wait and see?

Eric: I wish them well, too! I was well into gay retirement before I got into a serious long-term relationship and/or thought about addressing my student loans, so there’s much to root for here.

In answer to your question, I think that the LW should talk about the root anxiety with the girlfriend. It will help them build a stronger relationship to discuss shared values and visions.
And the conversation will go a lot better without being tethered to the BFF and the BFF’s apartment. What do you think?

Bryan: Totally. They need to have that values and visions conversation for sure, but very much not under the “supportive” eyes of BFF. Even if that means being semi-apart for a while, I think it’s for the best.

Eric: Semi-apart is better than being unhappily stuck together. Thanks for chatting with me about this letter, Bryan. We wish these two good communication and lower rent payments. Talk to you next time!