The conversation is one we have often with a friend of mine, one that makes an appearance unfailingly in our rotation of conversations anytime we talk about dating. He tells me he doesn’t want to even attempt dating because he lives at home with his parents. He can easily recite the barrage of jokes the women he might go on dates with will run and tell their girlfriends as soon as their date ended. Girl, he still lives with his momma!
We’ve all heard the jokes perpetuated endlessly through media and our circle of fiends about men that still live at home. I cringe every time I hear one of these jokes because I think of my damn good male friends that live at home and fall victim to the ridiculous and tired stigma of living with one’s parents. When one of these jokes are uttered and I’m with one of them, they look at me to say, see, it’s a fact, nobody wants to date a grown man living with his parents.
Because I am from a different culture (I’m Ethiopian), I have always been dumbfounded by the need to move out of the family house as soon as possible after reaching adulthood in America. And for a man, the pressure is even greater. I have had multiple friends explain the logic behind moving out of the house at such a young age and struggling to make it on your own in the real world. It is especially baffling when you get along perfectly fine with your parents and they wouldn’t mind you living at home. The most frequent answer I have gotten is that it makes you more self reliant, independent, and stronger in life. I admit there is some truth to that.
The independence also comes at a cost. As housing expenses rise, I see most of my friends struggling to keep a roof over their heads and delving deeper and deeper into debt. Or, they find themselves in living situations that cause them unnecessary stress, which has interfered with their work and affected their health at times.
Another cost I have seen is being stuck at a job they hate because they need to pay for the expenses of “adulting”. They might want to start their own businesses or go back to school to pursue what they want to do, but these seem out of reach to them because making money to cover their most expensive bill is number one priority. Of course, there are people that work full time and run their businesses on the side or attend school after work, but I have noticed the burden is much lighter on those who live with their parents.
That brings me back to my two male friends. One runs his own business and the other one works a 9-5. Both tell me they just couldn’t justify the necessity to pay outrageous rent prices (this is California) while one is funding his own business and the other one paying off his debt and building his savings. I know there are men who live up to the stereotype too, but this is not about them. The cost these men are facing, however, is a social one.
These are outstanding men that I would be proud to set up my sisters with, if I had single sisters. Both of them are incredibly caring, hard working, smart, and would make an ideal boyfriend or partner. The irony is, these men are working hard now and making smart financial decisions to set themselves up to be even better partners to their future wives.But they often get overlooked because they live with their momma. And others can be moving back home because they have fallen on hard times. If these are good, hard working men that just need to regroup their situation for a short time, why are they undatable?
I at times get frustrated with them for falling victim of the stigma and shying away from the dating world because I have been an active member of the dating world and seen what it has to offer. None of the men I have dated in the last few years lived at home with their parents. And most of them were financially insecure, some were liars, some lazy, and some just plain disrespectful. I tell my friends I would gladly trade a man that lives at home with these “independent” men if it means he comes with the characters they have. After all, living with your momma is not a character flaw.
But they tell me that I’m an exception, not many women think like me. And I get it. It’s ideal to date a man that has his own place, makes good money, is great looking, has an amazing personality, is a great cook, a natural athlete, and can intellectually challenge you. But out of all those things, which one are you willing to give up? Because, as we all know, nobody checks all of the boxes on your list. Nobody. Don’t fool yourself.
And that is why if the man you like is living with his momma, that shouldn’t make him undatable to you automatically. Look past it and go deeper to get to know him and examine why he is living his life against social norms, norms I personally think need to change. If you find he is lazy and unmotivated like the stereotype, run. If he’s doing it to set himself up to become truly financially secure or because he simply enjoys the company of his parents and is there mainly for them, then he’s worth a chance.