Joint Accounts

How Can I Stop Being Weird About My Partner Covering My Rent?

He’s asked me to live with him for free while I’m in school, but I’m uncomfortable being so dependent on him

Kristin Wong
Forge
Published in
4 min readSep 16, 2019

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Illustration: Laurie Rollitt

Welcome to Joint Accounts, a weekly advice column about money and relationships of all kinds. Have a question? Email jointaccounts@medium.com.

Dear Joint Accounts,

For the last three years, I’ve been in a long-distance relationship: I live in Oregon, he lives in Germany. Recently, I made the decision to move to Germany to be with him. I’ll be getting my master’s degree there, and will enter the country on a student visa, which restricts my working hours.

Fortunately, I won’t have many expenses. Tuition is free at German public universities, and my partner has graciously offered to let me stay with him rent-free. I appreciate it, but at the same time, I’m uncomfortable being so dependent on him. How do I work through these feelings? How do I talk about this with him so that he isn’t insulted? How do I swallow my pride and accept this privilege?

Sincerely,

Reluctant to Be Rent-Free

II think it’s important to say this first: It’s completely normal to feel some trepidation about this. You’re going back to school, moving to another country, and moving in with your significant other, all at the same time, when each of those big life changes is already stressful on its own. It’s no surprise that you’re feeling vulnerable and worried about losing your independence.

From a purely practical standpoint, though, your partner is offering you a lifeline in a tricky financial situation, especially if you’ll be legally limited in your ability to support yourself. It’s worth considering, once you’ve ruled out a few potential ways this situation could potentially turn ugly.

First, would you make the same offer if your roles were reversed? The arrangement he’s proposing is one that pretty clearly signifies commitment. If you’re not equally invested in the relationship, you might feel like you’re taking advantage of him (or he might feel taken advantage of). If you are, then it might be helpful to mentally…

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Kristin Wong
Forge
Writer for

Kristin Wong has written for the New York Times, The Cut, Catapult, The Atlantic and ELLE.