*This article is a work of nonfiction based on actual events recounted to me by a friend who witnessed them firsthand; used with permission
Living with your relationship partner before getting married can be a great step for feeling closer, but when it comes to sharing expenses, you need to have things very clear to avoid confusion and arguments.
How would you react if your partner expected rent from you when they didn't have to pay anything for living in their place? Is that fair or taking advantage?
My friend Melissa has been dating her boyfriend Bryan for one year and a half. They met after they graduated from college and supported each other while they were looking for better full-time jobs.
"In the beginning, we were friends, and we called each other and texted all the time to talk about what was going on with our careers. But after we had lunch and breakfast a few times, we realized we wanted to be a lot more than that, and we started thinking about a relationship," Melissa said.
They took their time to find out what their goals were, and only once they were sure they wanted similar things for the future, they began dating. They went out for dinner and had a great time that evening.
"There was no pressure to impress him or anything. I could just be myself since we knew a lot about each other already. And we laughed and enjoyed ourselves, and I saw how we could be together for a long time and have a happy relationship," Melissa said.
The couple kept dating three times a week, and once a month, they also spent a weekend together. They planned a few trips and checked out different classes they could attend together.
Melissa lived in an apartment she was renting with friends, while her boyfriend had an apartment as a gift from his parents. Once they'd been together for one year, he asked her if she wanted to move in together.
"I hesitated at first because I'd always thought that would happen when we were engaged, and our relationship would be a permanent one. I wasn't sure what to say and what that meant for our relationship, so I asked him for a week or two to think about it," Melissa said.
Bryan, on the other hand, understood why she was doubting that step. And in just two days, he went shopping, found a nice ring, and surprised her with a proposal while they were having a special dinner at his place.
"I was so excited. It was like he knew what I had been thinking about the whole time. I really wanted our relationship to work and to be together permanently. And having him propose like that was great, and it made me feel confident we would be happy together," Melissa said.
Once they agreed on a wedding date, Melissa was ready to move in together. So, she ended her lease, packed her things, and went to live with her fiance in a few days.
The first week was about settling in and getting used to the new place. After that, Melissa expected to start paying half of every bill, but it turns out her fiance wanted something else.
Bryan expected her to pay him rent for living there, even if he had the apartment from his parents and he only had monthly bills to cover. And instead of worrying about bills, he wanted his fiancee to cook dinner every day and lunch over the weekends.
"His parents gave him his apartment; he wants me to pay rent and cook. It doesn't seem fair to me. There is no rent to pay for this apartment at all. Why would I have to do it? Am I just a roommate, or does he value our relationship?" Melissa said.
She told her fiance about her doubts, but he pointed out she was paying rent in the other place, so he didn't get why she wanted to live with him for free.
"I felt offended by that. I offered to pay my part of the bills. But him suggesting he was taking me in for free was just too much," Melissa said.
They argued about it, and they're not talking much for now. Melissa's parents found out about the issue, and they also feel it's not fair for their daughter to pay rent if her fiance owns the place.
What do you think about this situation? Is it fair for Bryan to expect his fiancee to come up with money for rent and pay him every month, even if the apartment is his? Should he apologize and avoid asking for rent if he cares about a happy relationship?