KARMA CLEANSER 

LOVE THE ONE YOU'RE (LIVING) WITH?

Dear Karma Cleanser:

I went through a bad breakup a few years back and that has made me nervous about dating ever since. I've had one or two boyfriends over the years but nothing very serious. But a few months back, I went out to a bar with some co-workers and ended up talking to an attractive Latin American man sitting near us. His name was Ray and he was from Brazil. My co-workers were goading me on to keep flirting with him. Next thing I knew, he was back in my apartment.

I never do this kind of thing and haven't had a fling in years. It felt great, and I found myself really liking Ray. He's a graduate student who had lived in Europe for a few years, so he has a very wise and compassionate energy that I found very attractive. Our first fling turned into dating, and six weeks later he was living in my apartment.

I was enjoying the relationship up until a month ago, when Ray started to have health problems. He came down with a bug that led to other complications, and eventually he ended up in intensive care. I called his mother in Brazil and she came here to take care of him. Now they're both living in my apartment while Ray recuperates.

I don't want to sound like I'm the heartless landlord but neither of them are paying rent or contributing much to food. I do have strong feelings for Ray, but I also know that it's too early for me to say that I love him. He has joked that we should get married so that he can become a legal citizen, which I know would help him with his graduate school.

Ray's recovery should take another two weeks, and then he has to start his semester all over again. How can I protect myself – and my good karma – but also get this guy and his mother out of my apartment? I like him a lot, but I'm not ready for this.

– Lady Marmalade

Kids are funny, you know? They love to play house, to pretend to be grown-ups, to cook imaginary pancakes for their imaginary husbands. It's fun as long as it's fantasy. The reality of playing house is that it's less play and more pay – as in, who's paying for these pancakes? Sounds to us like you've enjoyed playing house with the cute Brazilian grad student, probably relishing in the playful jabs from your colleagues who saw the scandalous affair start. Now playtime is over, and nobody likes to be the bad guy, aka the adult. We're not saying you should let Ray and his Madre live rent-free in your apartment. But for the sake of your karma, ask yourself why you keep resisting a bona-fide adult relationship. Maybe Ray isn't The One, or maybe his illness is the best thing that's ever happened to you.

Been bad? karmacleanser@gmail.com.

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