Moving in with bae is a big step that raises a bunch of big questions, like Are we the kind of couple that pees with the door open? and Does this mean I can't leave my bras hanging on the doorknob anymore? It's hard.
What makes it even harder, though, is when you can't tell your parents about your new living arrangement because mom and dad wanna believe their lil BB is still grossed out by cooties. Not freely living amongst them. Cosmopolitan.com spoke with five women who sneakily lived with their partners to find out why and how they kept such a huge secret.
1. "I love my parents and my boyfriend very much, but they're two separate worlds that can't exist together."
"I had a couple of boyfriends in high school, and my parents would call me things like 'slut' or 'gold digger.' Because of this, I'm extremely reluctant to tell them about my personal life, outside of academia. They were always extremely judgmental about my friends and my interests. When I got older and asked why they did things like that, they would respond that 'they cared about how others saw me.' I also always felt like I had to do exactly what they wanted me to do in order for them to say anything positive about me, which was mentally and emotionally draining. Once I escaped my hometown and moved to college, I could not even believe the amount of freedom I possessed.
From freshman year to sophomore year, I would stay over at my SO's dorm and only went to my own once or twice a semester. It really just made economical sense to move in with him.
I started living with my boyfriend during the summer of 2015, but my parents think I have female roommates. My parents would ask for pictures of my apartment, and I'd take them without people. They'd ask who's paying for what, and I would just lie. My parents have tried to visit me but I always say something along the lines of 'we don't have enough room,' or 'my roommate just came home from work and is very tired.'
I'm very afraid that—if I were to come clean about living with my boyfriend—my parents would cut all ties from me for being a 'slut.' I realize that I'm an adult, and I'm responsible for my own choices, but I do wish I could tell my parents and not be so afraid of their judgement. All of this could really be in my head, but I don't want to tell them just to find out.
I love my parents and my boyfriend very much, but they're two separate worlds that cannot exist together." —Hannah, 20
2. "Any time my parents came to visit he would throw all of his stuff in the back of his car."
"Well basically he was renting a room in a house that was owned by a Christian organization on campus. The house had crazy rules, like no movies or games that are PG-13, no one's stuff was allowed in any of the common rooms (basically everything downstairs) and no TVs were allowed downstairs. People also came and went as they pleased, and ate all of the food in the kitchen, even if it wasn't theirs.
My boyfriend was fed up with it, so he moved in with me. He had a couple of drawers, and we tried to make sure that his stuff wasn't everywhere in the apartment. Our parents are both conservative and would stop paying for college if they found out! Any time my parents came to visit he would throw all of his stuff in the back of his car. We had to go around and make sure that nothing of his was in the apartment. We even put food that I don't eat away so that they wouldn't get suspicious. It was pretty crazy since we were running around like chickens with their heads cut off. My parents would always stay in a hotel when they came to visit so he would come back late at night to stay, and then get up early to leave before my parents came back over. They just assumed he spent a lot of time at my apartment and never knew.
There was one time my parents found a pair of his boxers and I told them that his washer and dryer were broken, and he came over to do laundry and left them there. But we lived together for a year and a half, up until we broke up. " —Megan, 21
3. "I didn't tell my parents I was moving in with my girlfriend, they still thought we were best friends."
"Gabriela and I were best friends throughout high school and into college. Going into sophomore year of college, we became even closer and intimate in a different way, and we started dating. That's when we moved into an on-campus apartment together.
I didn't tell my parents I was moving in with my girlfriend, though; they still thought we were best friends, like always. For one, I wasn't ready to come out as gay, because I was afraid my parents might judge me. Deep down I knew that my parents would accept me, but I just wasn't ready to have what I imagined to be an awkward conversation. Also, I wasn't very happy in my relationship with Gabriela, because I never felt like we were the best fit romantically or sexually, so I didn't want to reveal the relationship to my parents when it wasn't even a long-term thing in my mind.
You might be wondering why I decided to move in with my girlfriend if I wasn't even that happy with her and didn't see much of a future with her. Yeah, me too. I was always conflicted. I wasn't super happy and in love, but most of the time I was comfortable. I felt safe and secure usually, and like she understood me. So I was like Yeah, this is a good idea. We'll move in together and everything will fall into place and improve. But I had this deep-seeded feeling that this was a lie, so essentially, I moved in with my girlfriend that I had plans to break up with. It ended up being super messy, cause I ended things just a week after moving in with her. To make matters worse, we then tried to make it work living together as exes.
But back to my parents: I'm almost certain they never suspected we were dating, let alone that we went through an intense breakup and lived together as hostile exes. I hid it all pretty easily, and never second-guessed my decision to do so, because I just wanted it in my past." —Sam, 22
4. "Whenever his parents would come to visit, he basically made me pack up and stay with someone else for the time they were there..."
"We moved in together this past summer because I was doing an unpaid internship and he works for a Fortune 500 company, so financially it made the most sense. He is like, super scared of his parents and is 100 percent subordinate to his mother—which should probably have been a warning sign from the beginning. For context, his mother is Catholic and very anti-cohabitation—when I would visit his family, I wasn't allowed to sleep in their house.
Whenever his parents would come to visit, he basically made me pack up and stay with someone else for the time they were there, and so I couldn't unpack anything out of my boxes the entire time we were there. It was obviously stressful for me, and I wasn't thrilled about it from the beginning, and it ended up causing so much tension in our two and a half year relationship that we broke up." —Chelsea, 23
5. "My mom actually just came to visit for the long weekend, and I essentially had to kick my boyfriend out."
"My mother knows my boyfriend sleeps over and spends a lot of time at my place, but I have never made her aware of the extent of it, and I'm not sure she picks up on that. We don't have to hide the fact that we have sex, although it's not something I openly talk about with my parents.
He leaves about half of his clothes at my place on a rotating basis, has helped me pick out a bit of the furniture, and grocery shops with me, since we eat 90 percent of our meals together at my apartment. However, he can't fully move all his stuff out of his apartment because his mother often drops by to visit him there, and he has to keep up the appearance that he lives there.
The main reason we hide this is because he's still in school, doesn't work, and has no money to contribute to bills or rent. If his parents knew they were paying rent on a monthly basis when he's literally NEVER in his apartment, they would freak out. But it isn't feasible for him to break the lease or find a sublet there. Also if my parents knew he lived with me, and did very little to contribute financially to living expenses, they would also freak out. My mom actually just came to visit for the long weekend, and I essentially had to kick my boyfriend out… he gathered up his clothes and books and shoes and stayed at his place for four days.
The reason we do this is simple: we want to spend our time together. We've built a partnership on this arrangement, and we both benefit from it. He spends more time at home than I do, so he cleans and does dishes and walks the dog and does laundry to balance the fact that he doesn't contribute financially. I'm able to come home, cook dinner, and relax after very busy and stressful work days and spend time with the man I love very much. He has a long history of struggling with mental illness that will probably always affect his ability to hold down a stable schedule, so I help make sure he goes to bed at a decent hour, takes his medication, wakes up for class, and has good food to eat regularly.
Once he graduates and can start helping out with money (even a little) I'll be more comfortable letting my parents know we live together. Otherwise, I feel like they'll judge me, and call me weak for being 'taken advantage of.' My parents know and like him, but they don't have a full grasp of the toll his mental illness has taken on his physical and emotional strength. They would just see him as a bum taking advantage of their daughter, who is an employed college graduate. He wants to help financially one day when he can, and until then he does so much to alleviate the stress of trying to run a home while working full-time." —Emily, 24
This article originally appeared on Cosmopolitan.com. Minor edits have been made by the Cosmo.ph editors.