Dear Miss Emily:

This girl and I have been together since June 5th, and our relationship started off wonderfully.  I think, if I remember correctly, that the only time we have really spent apart (besides while I’m at work and she’s at school (she’s a senior in high school, and I graduated last year)) was in July, when I took a trip to Nebraska for a National Archery competition.  Almost as soon as I met her, I moved in with her (from my father's house).  Now we are living in a house on our own, and have been in it for about two months.  My heart is breaking as I even simply think of the concept of losing her, or dumping her, because I do love her with all of my heart.  We are both 18, only 22 days separate our birthdays. She keeps claiming that she’s going to get a job and help pay for the bills and everything, but she still hasn’t gotten one.  Her grades are falling in school, and she seems to just be using me at times for a free place to stay, and she can do anything she wants.  When she lived with her mother, she lived in a town about an hour and a half away from where we moved.  She had to deal with living with her mother, her uncle, and her uncle’s daughter.  The condition at her uncle’s house was not the best, since there were all those people under the roof of a house that only has 3 rooms which included five dogs, a toddler, and her uncle’s girlfriend’s is almost always there.  I mean, I love this girl, but things just seem to have gotten rotten between us.  She doesn’t do much cleaning or anything around the house. She pretty much just sits around and plays on the Internet on her laptop, while I only do that to help relax from the stress that I get from work (it’s not a hard job, just the people I work with are ridiculously grumpy and, well, not very kind).  The main problem with dumping her or separation from her, besides a broken heart is; where would she stay?  She only has two real friends in this town that I’m aware of, and neither of them could house another person. And also, where would her dog stay?  We each own a dog, and I own two cats, and she doesn’t take care of any of the animals like she promised she would.  She seems to do nothing but apologize and be lazy.  She complains about school being like the worst possible punishment on the whole entire planet, which is not exactly true since I went through it, but she goes to a school with a graduating class of around 100, when mine was 20.  I’m really not sure what to do about our situation, and I would really appreciate your assistance and advice on the matter.
Doing Double Time

------------------------------Miss Emily’s advice-------------------------

Dear Doing:

You have really boxed yourself into a corner, because you are surrounded by feelings of love, resentment and pity.  Love?  She’s a good person and you see that.  Resentment?  It’s all on your plate to make everything work.  Pity?  Her living conditions, before you, were abysmal and it would seem cruel to throw her back into that environment.  But if you continue on like you are “I love her with all my heart,” will evaporate faster than you can say “Could you feed the damn animals, at least?” You took on way more than you should have and, now, you are realizing it. Your letter is articulate and it seems as if you understand the situation all too well.  Your girlfriend cares a great deal for you, I am sure, but you have become her savior and now she thinks you’ll forgive her for taking advantage of the free ride.  You are her boyfriend, but now you have become the good parent.  You have to tell her that you have certain expectations from her as your girlfriend and roommate.  Make it clear to her that you do not want the role of a parent.  Be kind, but be strong.  If she needs help in budgeting her time, give it to her.  If, ultimately, you can’t work this out, yet you continue to carry the heavy work, you become an enabler and that makes you largely responsible for the mess you are in.  In my opinion, eighteen is too young to get in this deep. But it’s done, and you can’t turn back the clock.  However, you can plan for the future, and if it isn’t working out for you with this girl, give her a set time to find other living arrangements and skip the guilt, please.  It’s your life, you’re only eighteen, and not a fifty year-old "sugar daddy."  Sorry, but that's the truth, even though you are still wishing it will all work out despite the reality of this volatile situation.