We had to break up with our first real estate agent
August 14, 2019 9:46 AM   Subscribe

I Love Living With My Best Friend, So I Bought A House With Her And Her Husband "Our ability to cooperate and coordinate projects together is unprecedented in my life ― I felt like I had a partner in life that I hadn’t had before, not even in my marriage. After a couple of years, we moved from the small town where we worked to a larger city, and when I watched her check off items on her clipboard during apartment tours, it made me even more certain we were doing the right thing.

"As much as I love it, it still feels taboo — more taboo than my sexuality, surprisingly. At least people know what to expect from gay people, but as a culture, we see friendship as an expendable luxury that can easily be shed after marriage (many see it as a mandate to shed friendship after marriage). We use phrases like “just friends,” don’t recognize friendship milestones like anniversaries and act as though men don’t even need friendship. But every day there’s a new article about the loneliness epidemic, and it seems to touch every group: the elderly, men, women, millennials. Millennial and Generation Z meme-culture uses gallows humor to downplay the pain of having no friends."
posted by stoneweaver (46 comments total) 51 users marked this as a favorite
 
This made me smile big. I think this family is super lucky. Thanks for sharing.
posted by eirias at 10:00 AM on August 14, 2019 [5 favorites]


While this kind of arrangement is nothing new for me (I am about to give roommate #12 his key tonight in anticipation of his Labor Day movein, a month after waving goodbye to roommate #11 as he flew off to fame and fortune in Los Angeles), it's nice to see this kind of living situation celebrated.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:04 AM on August 14, 2019 [9 favorites]


We own a two-flat with my wife's best friend (who I've known since middle school) and her husband. It's been a great experience, especially getting to watch their daughter grow up and be involved in her upbringing. It's been 15 years of good co-domesticity.

That said, we each have our own apartments with locking doors, and we're not up in each other's business at all times... and even we get weird comments from friends and acquaintances from time to time. Going to their daughter's soccer games meant being asked which kid was ours, and very confused looks when we pointed to the one whose parents they already met. My wife and BF's husband were mistakenly paired at a community hearing over a new library. So I empathize a little with what the author's saying here, and I applaud them all for sticking with it despite the confusion it causes everyone else. Family is what you decide it is.
posted by me3dia at 10:09 AM on August 14, 2019 [28 favorites]


My partner talks about growing up in a household that was two monogamous adult couples living together, plus kids. It sounds like it was wonderful, and it also sounds like everyone involved went through a lot of grief when it broke up — made worse by the fact that there was no societally-intelligible story about why they were grieving: nobody had ended a friendship or a romantic relationship, and "my friends are still my friends but they moved out" didn't come close to conveying the loss. But in a very real sense they'd lost half their family.

Anyway. That's a weirdly negative way to put it, but I guess sometimes the easiest way to show how wonderful something was is to show how hard it was to lose. Having good people to live with is amazing, and it's good to see people talking about valuing this sort of thing as highly as it deserves.
posted by nebulawindphone at 10:10 AM on August 14, 2019 [17 favorites]


it also sounds like everyone involved went through a lot of grief when it broke up

Oh man, that's definitely something in the back of my head as we near the time our friends' daughter heads to college.
posted by me3dia at 10:12 AM on August 14, 2019


I have friends who did this for many, many years. First as a couple of single women who met in the theater we all perform in, then one of them brought a boyfriend who stayed around their apartment for a while, so the three of them bought a condo together (with crazy-specific contracts in how things would be split up in terms of if anything went sour anywhere in any relationship), and then eventually, it was two m-f married couples who bought an enormous, GORGEOUS colonial house in the woods of Massachusetts where they had, for a decade, the most fancy-pants fancy Christmas party for all the theater people to wear black tie and eat fancy, fancy foods (none of us are rich or fancy, BTW).

They could afford it all because there were four of them pooling resources, and the market for homes at the time they bought the one was so good that when they started having kids (well, the older of the couples actually adopted the grandkids of the man in the marriage, but still), they could sell the big house and get two beautiful houses in NH close to one another.

I think that's a risky thing to do, but I also wish more people would consider it, because housing is super-unaffordable, and being able to do some communal stuff together would be fantastic. Plus, it might help lonely folks who may be living alone because they feel like they don't want roommates but their friends are in couples and such.
posted by xingcat at 10:15 AM on August 14, 2019 [12 favorites]


Wow. This is so cool, and just so *logical* for them.
posted by notsnot at 10:22 AM on August 14, 2019 [1 favorite]


Oh, a fun story about people assuming the kind of relationship between roommates; and the complication that arises when those roommates are of opposite genders.

This was in the early 90s; I was moving into a two-bedroom with a guy friend. We'd finally found a place about 3 days before our respective leases ran out; the landlord was in the finishing stages of renovating it, and still had one or two things to do, but said we could still move in. One of the last things the landlord still had to do was build ladders leading up to the sleeping lofts in the tiny bedrooms, and he said he'd take care of it a couple days after we moved in. No problem - I was bringing a futon foldout couch, and my roommate and I decided we would be adults about it and we could share the foldout for a couple days without incident.

Two days and nights passed with my roommate and I sharing the futon. Then another day and night passed, and no word from the landlord about the ladders. I called him to give him a gentle reminder. "Oh, right, sorry," he said. "Yeah, I still need to do that." Another two days and nights passed.

I called again. "Hi, do you know when you'll be building the ladders to the sleeping lofts? The sleeping arrangements are getting a little weird for my roommate and I."

"Oh yeah, right, sorrysorrysorry, I'll be getting there soon."

Another two days and nights passed, with my roommate and I sharing the futon.

I called again. "So, hi, my roommate and I were wondering about the ladders to the sleeping lofts."

"Oh yeah, right, I'll be getting to that."

"Actually, I think I need to clarify something," I said. "My roommate and I? We have been forced to share the foldout couch for the past week and a half. And we are just roommates."

There was a bit of a pause, and then the landlord said, "Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh."

We got the ladders that day.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:23 AM on August 14, 2019 [63 favorites]


God I want this and I have the friends to do this but jesus all of us are scattered across the entire US and kinda across the globe

google.com how do you make friends who don't live in Missouri when you're 42 and you live in CA
google.com how do you make friends when you're 42
google.com how do you make friends
posted by FritoKAL at 10:28 AM on August 14, 2019 [36 favorites]


We have talked about Mefi communes more than once around here.
posted by emjaybee at 10:36 AM on August 14, 2019 [11 favorites]


This is the first I've ever heard of 'friendship being an expendable mandate that can be easily shed after marriage.' I mean, I've witnessed some couples withdraw socially, but it's never been presented to be as socially acceptable, or expected, in any way.
posted by jordantwodelta at 10:36 AM on August 14, 2019 [3 favorites]


This is the first I've ever heard of 'friendship being an expendable mandate that can be easily shed after marriage.'

All too common. I have mentioned before on the blue about my best friend (we are both straight and of differing genders). When she got married, I did not see her or hear from her for three years: only after her husband’s death did we connect again.

It is partly that she has a type, which seems to be “horribly insecure man children”. As of this writing, she has been dating a guy for thirty months and I have not seen her for twenty-nine.

Weirdly, decades ago the two of us were sharing a house where we were later joined by the woman who subsequently became my first wife. The missus and I got married while we all still lived together.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 10:49 AM on August 14, 2019 [4 favorites]


We have talked about Mefi communes more than once around here.

Yes, and the consensus was that we'd kill each other sooner rather than later.
posted by Melismata at 10:51 AM on August 14, 2019 [12 favorites]


Yes, and the consensus was that we'd kill each other sooner rather than later.

yaaa nooo, most would pass from old age before a consensus over who actually does the act...
posted by sammyo at 10:57 AM on August 14, 2019 [21 favorites]


One of the things I like about reading old novels is that friendship is valued much more than it is now, even without official fancy words for it. Some of the ancient neighbor farm ladies who winter in the poorhouse in Sarah Orne Jewett novels, for instance; they know each others faults to a nicety and manage what we call boundaries but love each other all the same.

So I think about what erased that, and my two main suspects are wealth and Freud. Freudianism, or cod-Freudianism, pokes itself into Anglophone high literature before WWII and pop literature after, and once Freud has arrived no friendship is innocent (and non-innocence is not OK).

Wealth just means we don't need each other as much, and also that we move around a lot.
posted by clew at 11:00 AM on August 14, 2019 [10 favorites]


I have a wonderful mefite neighbor three blocks away and it's ideal. They visited me in the hospital! We are friends with each other's dogs! We go for coffee every now and then!

So what we should do is sort of take over a large neighborhood with a mefite household on every block or so. Close enough for get togethers, but not densely populated enough that we're all crammed up in each others' business.

MURDER PROOF!
posted by mochapickle at 11:02 AM on August 14, 2019 [25 favorites]


Metafilter: Most would pass from old age before a consensus...
posted by Windopaene at 11:03 AM on August 14, 2019 [9 favorites]


MetaFilter Manor: No, there's no cabal. Now do the fucking dishes.
posted by tonycpsu at 11:33 AM on August 14, 2019 [17 favorites]


I am over 350 miles from a Costco. I'll never meet someone from MeFi in person.
posted by Ber at 11:34 AM on August 14, 2019 [6 favorites]


Some people tried this in my "home town" of Hartford, CT. Some neighbor took issue with it and complained to the zoning board (but it was pretty clear it just offended someones sensibilities) . For a while the city was going after them and was going to force them out/issue fines but it looks like they ended up dropping the case.
posted by Captain_Science at 11:44 AM on August 14, 2019 [4 favorites]


My city has a limit of three non-related residents in a unit so you can't really have group housing or communes.
posted by octothorpe at 12:06 PM on August 14, 2019 [1 favorite]


We have talked about Mefi communes more than once around here.

Yes, and the consensus was that we'd kill each other sooner rather than later.


That's what the mods are for!
posted by Larry David Syndrome at 12:23 PM on August 14, 2019 [12 favorites]


Mefite Manor would be "can i eat this?" every! single! meal!!!
posted by thegirlwiththehat at 12:36 PM on August 14, 2019 [17 favorites]


THIS is now taking place in Saint Petersburg, FL about 1/2 mile from my house. Seems like a novel idea that may work for some.
posted by HappyHippo at 12:40 PM on August 14, 2019 [1 favorite]


So what we should do is sort of take over a large neighborhood with a mefite household on every block or so. Close enough for get togethers, but not densely populated enough that we're all crammed up in each others' business.

There are intentional communities that work that way, where everyone has their own individual residence but you're all on the same street or in the same neighborhood or something....I have legit idly considered such a thing once or twice.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:48 PM on August 14, 2019 [1 favorite]


My best friend moved back to Colorado after being away for over 10 years and she lived in her RV in our backyard for about 2 months. It was one of the happiest times of my life. Coming home from work to find her and my husband chilling together in the backyard, staying up until 2 am playing Overcooked. Damn, I miss her (she lives on the other side of town now).
posted by GoldenEel at 12:58 PM on August 14, 2019 [13 favorites]


We have talked about Mefi communes more than once around here.

Among my friend group, also spread around the country/globe and also (at least at one time) conceptually into the idea of living together forever even as we started families, relationship, etc., we called this idea The Island. As in: it started as a jokey conversation about buying a private island, until we all realized we liked the idea and it didn't require anything as extreme as all that.
posted by penduluum at 12:59 PM on August 14, 2019


> This is the first I've ever heard of 'friendship being an expendable mandate that can be easily shed after marriage.' I mean, I've witnessed some couples withdraw socially, but it's never been presented to be as socially acceptable, or expected, in any way.

My best friend is the same gender as myself, we've been close since college, we lived together for many, many years, and people still quizzically wondered how she fit into my life once I got together with my partner and bought a house with him. Aren't she and I less close, since I've moved on with my life? The actual spoken assumption that my spouse supersedes her in all things is...what? No! What? This was intimated by a surprising number of people. (And we're east coast big city liberal types, I'm not talking about a great-aunt nudging me to devote myself to my man.)
posted by desuetude at 1:36 PM on August 14, 2019 [6 favorites]


The woman I intend to marry (and live with) has this in mind with her best friend. Seems fine by me. I appreciate their bond. Not sure if we’ll have kids.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 1:50 PM on August 14, 2019 [3 favorites]


My city HOA has a limit of three two non-related adult residents in a unit so you can't really have group housing or communes or drug rehab homes.

But we also have big freaking houses so you can't have more than one roommate unless two of them are married to each other. The houses around here rent for $2500 and apartments are $1900 or more ...

They define adult as age 18 or over so not Frats or Sororities either.

That said, I've been doing vacations with family where everyone has a little cabin of their own and it's not that bad. Need to be further apart for longer term habitation though.
posted by tilde at 2:26 PM on August 14, 2019 [1 favorite]


When I was very small, my parents were what they called "in common life" with several other couples from their church. (*) I have only the vaguest, dimmest, most questionable memories of this period. But really it's something anybody can do if they set their minds to it.

(*) Teenage smartass me: "So, Mom, was there freeeeeee loooooooooooove?"
posted by praemunire at 2:29 PM on August 14, 2019 [2 favorites]


I've lived with my best friend since our early 20s, we've known each other since our teens. He's a guy and I'm not. Absolutely nobody in my genetic family has any idea how to even talk about him. They're like "so, how's your... frieeennnddd??" This past spring my own brother expressed concern to me about what would happen when one of us finally found a spouse - because even though he knows better the assumption is that either of us are even looking, let alone that we'd let such a thing blindside us somehow. Five years ago we were able to get a house, in the bonkers real estate market of Seattle. We worked with a single realtor and she took... quite some time to wrap her brain around us. She absolutely did the thing from the article of pointing out separate entrances, and it was only after we laid out pretty much our whole life stories to her that she started finding houses that actually might have worked.

Literally none of our neighbors have ever approached us as anything other than husband and wife, even after we've corrected them a dozen times. I could drape our entire home in queer flag bunting and we'd just be a nice bisexual couple. There is just... no cultural shape for us to fit into, as we are. We say best friend and/or housemate, but neither of these actually fit. When our other friends spend time with us it does seem to click after a while that no, we're not just inexplicably lying about not being in love with each other, but it takes time. Every interaction with a new person is fraught with uncertainty, and there's no media I can point to and be like "it us", either. The closest examples are always found families that form after great tragedy or upheaval, like Grace & Frankie after their husbands left them for each other. That I "just" have a best friend for my closest family and that it's something we've deliberately chosen for fifteen years is baffling to people, when it really shouldn't be.
posted by Mizu at 2:38 PM on August 14, 2019 [36 favorites]


Back in the day, when the gay marriage movement was just starting to get some steam up, I was as big proponent of the idea that government should just grant civil partnerships to groups of 2 or more adults who wanted to live together and share a household. Then people, or organizations, or churches, or whatever, could build marriages on top of that civil foundation if they want to, and they could include sexytimes or not as was their particular preference.

Thus government is in the business of help groups of people live together productively and take care of each other--which benefits everyone in society--and facilitating things like insurance, housing, taking out loans, sharing income, who has permission to make life or medical decisions for whom, and all the other practical aspects households and families need to deal with.

And government is 100% out of the business of deciding which group of consenting adults may live with one another as a functioning household unit, and also which consenting adults may or may not enjoy sexytimes with each other.

Seemed like a reasonable solution to me but needless to say, it garnered approximately 0% traction among any of the groups involved. (I can see why, too--marriage is on such a pedestal in our society that if one group has full marriage and the other has some bargain basement semi-equivalent, inevitably there is a huge disparity created.)

Regardless, one reason I like that idea is it would help facilitate situations like we're talking about here. If a couple of or a few adults want to live together in one household, and cooperate in household affairs in a way that works for them, and share responsibility for each other in some way the benefits them all, then why are we as a society not promoting and supporting that in all the ways that we can?

Let's say, my sibling and I die and our spouses (not related to each other at all except via marriage to the same family) want to move in with each other in their older age to take care of each other, and want to share housing and insurance and give each other the right to see each other in the hospital and make medical decisions for each other and all the rest that next-of-kin might do for each other, why not?

And why is our government discouraging such relationships instead of encouraging them?

And what if two (or three or four, or whatever) good friends, or acquaintances, or distant relatives, or whatever, want to do the same, why not?

It benefits them and society as a whole.

Why isn't it something we can all get behind?
posted by flug at 2:57 PM on August 14, 2019 [18 favorites]


Why isn't it something we can all get behind?
Honestly, probably because polygamy as practiced previously has led to some pretty ugly dynamics.

Obviously, it doesn't HAVE to, though.
posted by uberchet at 3:56 PM on August 14, 2019 [3 favorites]


posted by emjaybee We have talked about Mefi communes more than once around here.

posted by Melismata Yes, and the consensus was that we'd kill each other sooner rather than later.


...and we'd be smart from the very beginning.
posted by mattdidthat at 8:15 PM on August 14, 2019 [5 favorites]


Why isn't it something we can all get behind?
I asked a lawyer that once and he had excellent examples, although I am afraid I am so unlawyerly that I remember it as `` the two-body problem is barely soluble and the n-body problem is intractable''. Because equity arguments are O(n²)?

As a lawyer, he was totally willing to be paid by the hour in those weeds, but as a matter of politics he made a convincing argument for legalizing gay marriage before trying a solution in full generality.
posted by clew at 9:03 PM on August 14, 2019 [1 favorite]


Honestly, probably because polygamy as practiced previously has led to some pretty ugly dynamics.

Except nobody's fucking here. I've often joked about incorporating my situation, which is my non-married partner and I along with our housemate of like, ten years, who is one of my closest friends and whose daughter I helped raise. He's helping raise our kids, too. It's just another shape of family. I tend to describe him as secular godfather, because that's the closest role I can think of that people can relate to - it illustrates how close he is to us and the kids in one fell swoop, because "housemate" or "lodger" is just too impersonal.

It's just family without the blood tie. The blood's there, though - we've patched wounds and he's helped nurse me back from two rounds of childbirth and a bout of abdominal surgery, I've taped his wrists and helped put lotion onto broken skin. We're blood now. We've been blood a while.
posted by Jilder at 9:15 PM on August 14, 2019 [11 favorites]


Why isn't it something we can all get behind?

Group housing situations are very often people who don't have the resources for independent living or who have other needs. College students, halfway house tenants, and property-sharing extended families are the most common examples where I live. Regulations on occupancy are just another way to keep people who disadvantaged out of neighborhoods.
posted by tofu_crouton at 6:21 AM on August 15, 2019 [6 favorites]


I've often joked about incorporating my situation

Huh. That's...not the worst solution. And the legal framework is already in place, which is fairly important, as clew points out.

I've thought about this a lot. When I was in my early twenties, I had friends who had bought up many acres of forest in Southern DE and established a couple households there* and that just seems like heaven. I love living alone, but it would be nice to have a community around me. I think a lot about the lesbian farming communes that formed a few decades ago, and daydream a lot about a queer witchy introverted intentional community.
I'd like to partner up, of course, but I'm not counting on it. I wouldn't be sad if I never did, but as I get older, I miss the deep, intense friendships I had just a decade or less ago. Neighbors just a few minutes' walk through the woods away, communal gardening and animal-raising and I guess maybe possibly kid-raising too sounds...good. Like something I want to help create.

It sucks and is stupid that there's no easy way to do this, and I'm quietly horrified by occupancy regulations, though not surprised, for the reasons tofu_crouton gives. I've mentioned a set-up like this to my mother, who dislikes and distrusts...everyone as far as I can tell...and her immediate response was to angrily ask about the legal framework. So, yeah. Families come in all shapes and sizes, but only kind of, apparently.

*if you're part of the pagan scene around there: yes, I'm talking about who you think I am :)
posted by kalimac at 8:42 AM on August 15, 2019 [7 favorites]


Occupancy regulations are generally only enforced against the tall poppies. Stay with the herd and you can live how you want - it's interesting to see how many people do live together in groups, how even large homes are starting to be built for such situations - how many cars are regularly parked in front of houses at night.

This is the first I've ever heard of 'friendship being an expendable mandate that can be easily shed after marriage.

Friendship is generally expendable after marriage (plus kids) because time is limited and family plus distance from friends issues are difficult to manage. It sucks, but it's true.
posted by The_Vegetables at 8:54 AM on August 15, 2019 [1 favorite]


Due to poverty and circumstances I've many times lived with couples and married couples. I honestly really enjoyed it, like, it's nice to live in a good house with friends and at different times both my best friends instead of random coworkers or craigslist people.

I think best friend + (best friend + spouse) is a good combo and dynamic. There is something sacrificed having a third person in a home, but there are also many benefits. These living situations were temporary, but I did enjoy them. I'll never be able to afford a house of my own, so splitting one with some platonic friends seems like something I'd have to do if I ever tried to have one.
posted by GoblinHoney at 10:23 AM on August 15, 2019 [3 favorites]


MetaFilter Manor: No, there's no cabal. Now do the fucking dishes.

Metafilter Manor: I want us to have a conversation about getting a dishwasher for the love of God
posted by clockzero at 10:58 PM on August 15, 2019 [2 favorites]


I guess sometimes the easiest way to show how wonderful something was is to show how hard it was to lose.

This is an amazing sentiment.
posted by DrAstroZoom at 6:37 AM on August 16, 2019 [2 favorites]


> I've lived with my best friend since our early 20s, we've known each other since our teens. He's a guy and I'm not. Absolutely nobody in my genetic family has any idea how to even talk about him. They're like "so, how's your... frieeennnddd??"

> There is just... no cultural shape for us to fit into, as we are. We say best friend and/or housemate, but neither of these actually fit.

Oh, Mizu, I feel this so much. Like the author of the article, my best friend/former roommate and I have long called each other platonic life partners. People often get so irritated that we expected them to respect/remember that she and I have a relationship, it's not romantic, and we weren't just living together out of random convenience. FFS, yes, it's a relationship. Friendship is a relationship.

We don't actually cohabitate any more, but are in and out of each other's houses and still consider ourselves platonic life partners. We now massively inconvenience people by expecting them to understand that my spouse sees absolutely nothing strange or hinky about any of this. (Well, it's much less work and less confusing if you just...believe me?) I am grateful that her parents not only fully accept me as family AND treat my spouse like a son-in-law in the best way. My parents are a little wobblier due to their own anxiety issues; they accept her as family when it pleases them but get jealous or dismissive when they feel insecure. The rest of my family is more like "uh, your friend or whatever? Is that still a thing? It's nice that you two girls stayed close?"

Interestingly, it's the oldest female members of my spouse's family who get it. They just call her my girlfriend (in the old-fashioned, non-queer* way) and explain to others that she's like a sister to me.

* I am in fact queer, actually.
posted by desuetude at 8:52 AM on August 16, 2019 [1 favorite]


Lifetime friendships used to be a staple of three-hankie weepies -- Wind Beneath My Wings, yeah? Not anymore?
posted by clew at 10:53 AM on August 16, 2019


I call my best friend my soul mate. Because she is.

We joke that when we get old, we're going to murder our husbands and use the insurance to buy a mansion together (I probably shouldn't be writing this down anywhere...)

I haven't lived close to her for 5 years now, but my goal when I do finally move back to our home state is to be somewhere close to her. I don't think I'd live with her (shes a dog person, I'm a cat person) but I want to be close enough to hang out every single day for sure.
posted by LizBoBiz at 3:07 AM on August 19, 2019


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