Q. Man with a van: I met a guy online, and we’re far enough along that I’ve told some family and friends, but they haven’t met him yet. Here’s the rub: He is currently living in a van, which he has turned into a pretty impressive tiny house. He’s doing it for thoughtful and responsible reasons. I think it’s cool, but I know people in my life are going to find it off-putting and judge him negatively. I want them to meet him first before I explain this. I also don’t want him to know I’m overthinking this and freak him out about meeting people in my life. Should I get it over with and tell them?
A: I think this is an unnecessary burden you are taking on yourself. Let him tell people. He can explain his thoughtful and responsible reasons better than anyone else. If your friends have questions or politely worded judgments for you afterward, you can handle them as they come, but don’t feel responsible for managing other people’s perceptions of your boyfriend’s living situation. What he does is unusual, and your friends might have questions, and that’s fine. If you come across as desperate to justify his choices, you’ll mostly just come across as desperate.
Prudence suggests the letter writer should take it easy and let the boyfriend explain things. But, this sort of sidesteps the possible issues:
- Is the van/tiny house not really that nice? Or, is it simply hard to tell from the outside how nice it is?
- Perhaps the family members and friends would see living in a van or vehicle as a negative consequence related to not having a good job or education. If so, is the issue really not the van but rather what it might signify?
- I wonder if some people simply wouldn’t react well to tiny houses. They may not understand how or why someone wants such a space. Perhaps they view such housing as transitory, not a long-term solution.
My guess is the issue is #2: living in your van is not a positive status symbol. But, since it is a tiny house, perhaps the couple can throw a party at the van/tiny house to introduce everyone…