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My girlfriend (of 4 years), whom I'll call 'Barb', is in medical school and currently lives with a friend of hers, 'Nance', who is in the same medical program. Their lease will end in a few months. Barb and I want to live together next year, but are concerned for what that would mean for Nance. Nance's family does not have a lot of money, which is why she wanted to save money by living with someone in the first place. We are worried that finding another roommate will be difficult, and the extra cost of living by herself will create additional financial strain on Nance's family.

Barb will be talking to Nance about this sometime in the near future, but feels uneasy, specifically: How should she approach the topic, and how can she make it clear she's already made a decision without burning bridges with Nance, who she may still see occasionally while they are in the program?

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Short Answer: While being concerned for Nance's wellbeing is important, the thing to remember is that you and Barb are not responsible for her or her financial security.

If you and Barb have been together for 4 years, it was no doubt obvious to Nance that one day you would want to live together. If she's training to be a doctor then she's no fool and wouldn't be oblivious to this fact.

Getting it straight between you and Barb

Firstly you need to make sure that you and Barb are absolutely on the same page on this. The last thing you both need as you take the big step of living together is to have a discord over Nance hanging over your heads.

Talking to Nance

When Barb talks to Nance, she should be straight with the facts. She should NOT be apologising for moving out; she simply should say something like:

Olynx and I have been together now for 4 years, and have decided to take the next step in our relationship. When the lease here ends, we will start living together. I understand that means that you may need to find another roommate, and it's important that Olynx and I take this step together for our relationship.

Most of all, you need to remember that neither you nor Barb have to justify this decision to Nance. You are not responsible for Nance, even though of course you are concerned for her financial future without Barb helping to pay the rent. You can offer to help her find another roommate, but again you aren't responsible for this either. You should however speak to her as soon as possible to give time for her to make other arrangements.

I know this sounds inflexible, but otherwise you are putting your relationship behind the needs of a third person. This is a bad idea for any relationship, so she needs to be firm that this is a decision that as an adult is hers to make, and as an adult it is Nance's to make alternative arrangements.

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If Jane S answer doesn't feel great for you, you could consider looking for an accomodation.

What you want is moving in with your GF and she wants that too, but you're concerned about her roommate. You could also ask the roommate if moving to a slightly bigger place (a little increase in the costs, but still less than living on her own) to allow you to move in with them would be ok for her, or if she would rather go on her way from this point.

Speaking with experience here, it's a good thing to learn to live with your other half, but it's also one to learn how to share some space with a third person, and how to still manage to take time for the two of you.

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