How We Talk About People Who Live With Their Parents Is FUCKING STUPID

According to the CDC, the average American loses their virginity at 17.1 years old, which sounds about right to me as between 16/17 to 23/24, many of us in engage in our first “real” relationship. You know that first relationship that lasts longer than 2 periods of recess. That first one where we actually spend real money on one another. That first one we go out on dates that our parents don’t have to drive us to. Between 16 and 24, our thoughts on dating, sex, love, relationships, marriage, family, and life undergo a massive change more transformative than any other period in our lives. And it’s between those two ages that we ultimately tear down many of our belief systems due to outside knowledge, empirical evidence, and the benefits of maturity. Closer to our mid-20’s, not only do our standards change, they mature, and begin involving qualities that we once never even considered as teenagers. Yet of all the growth that we experience, and all the ideas that develop within us, one of the largest voids of true mental and emotional development is how we view the living situations of prospective partners.

See, when you’re 16/17, there is an expectation that other 16/17-year-olds probably live at home with their parents too, meaning that you may have to maneuver around a curfew, and relegate your intimate moments to the backseat of your parents Buick. The 16/17-year-old whom has their own apartment is all at-once jarring and impressive, depending on the circumstances of their lifestyle. Some kids are kicked out of home by this age, and are struggling to keep their heads afloat. Some are hustling and living fancy (and bait as hell). But ultimately we look at people who live at home as a largely unavoidable normality.

Between the ages of 18-21, there is an expectation that other 18-21 year olds are in school, either living on-campus or in some form of off-campus housing, meaning that there’s an incredibly increased level of independence expected from the dating process. Buick backseats are replaced by dorm rooms or small-ass apartments with roommates, and curfews no longer exist so sleeping over without any parental interference becomes a frequent reality. People who still live at home during these ages are by no means outcasts, but they are made to feel acutely aware of the limitations that their living situation presents to potential dates. This is the age where the somber ass “oh, you live at home with your parents” comment originates. Living at home begins to transform from a normality to an unfortunate circumstance.

Between the ages of 22-24, things start to get really weird, as these young men and women flourish into grown-ass-adulthood. This is the age where life plans begin being pursued and people start intentionally driving towards specific goals. There is now an expectation those who’ve successfully begun actualizing their plans won’t be at home, while those who haven’t will still be living with mom and dad. Although we live in a society with ever increasing qualification inflation that requires students to stay in school longer and require more advanced degrees just to get basic positions, people are staying in school longer while others are just saying “fuck it, let me go get some of that experience these employers keep saying I need.” It’s hard to peg what life the people you’re dating are living, because so many are at elemental points in their career development. It’s a really strange period where the Buick backseat becomes unacceptable not just because it’s a backseat, but more so because it’s not, at least, your own backseat, and the dorm room also gets a little played out and regressive. Living at home transforms from an unfortunate circumstance to lying on the precipice of indefensibility.

But, for many folks, it’s after 25 where shit changes. With every birthday after 25, living at home becomes an ever-multiplying sign of your own whutlessness in the eyes of potential dates.

26? “Still at home bruh? Still?!”

27? “So when you moving out fam? 

28? “You know your mom hears you smashin’ right?!”

29? “YO! What the fuck is you doin’ nigga?”

30? “Nigga…” *shaking their head*

After 31, saying you live at home with your parents is like rocking a big gold chain with a tub of penile yeast infection as the pendant. After 25, men look at women who live at home with their parents as a burden. Dudes who live alone don’t want her to cotch up at their place all the time, and dudes who live at home with their parents are hypocritically vex that they can’t cotch up somewhere. And after 25, women, regardless of their own living situation, frankly look at men who live at home as perpetual failures.

But, the sad truth is, the way most of us, men and women alike, view people who live at home with their parents is fucking stupid. For far too many of us, living at home is seen as nothing more than a sign of weakness, an inability to be successful independent, a fear of launching productively into adulthood, and an ineptitude to substantially accumulate or manage funds. But, the truth is, there’s a lot of benefits and practicalities to living at home that have nothing to do with being weak, timid, or stupid. From saving funds to escape rising inflation, to refusing to pay a ridiculous rent for no goddamn reason, or just to live in close proximity to your loved ones, living at home is actually the smart decision in SOME cases.

(Now, it must be stated that there is a complex cultural element involved in this discussion that we can delve into at some other point in time, as family structures amongst different groups varies greatly from the “norm.”)

Look, I understand that there are some people in our society who choose to live at home because they’re cheap, and/or they’d rather their parents keep treating them like a child so they can delay having to develop any adult life skills, but to frame all adults who live with their parents through that lens is reductive, immature, and genuinely detached from the reality of the erosion of the middle class (once again, another topic for another day). Yet, that is our first response, even when we learn that men like Michael B. Jordan still lives at home with his parents. Instead of searching to understand what benefits he believes he reaps from that situation, we ultimately decide to view it as a negative quality like, “what’s so wrong with him that he would choose that?”, yet we never interrogate how wise it is for some folks to move out when they don’t have to.

And therein lies the larger conversation that we always overlook when we talk about the people still living at home: the truckload of folks whom, for no other reason than avoiding stigmatization, leave home to live in unnecessarily abhorrent conditions. If you are leaving your room in your parents small apartment to have a small apartment of your own where you can have an increase in privacy and autonomy, I get that. But, if you’re leaving your parents house, where you definitely could have your own separate basement apartment, just to live in someone else’s basement apartment, or live in an apartment or condo you can’t afford, then what the fuck are you bragging about? If you aren’t in a financially solvent position to support yourself in an economically productive manner, how the fuck do you want kudos for choosing independent poverty over shared interdependence? The fact that we have all this energy for folks who live alone, and we ain’t got shit to say about that crowd of idiots is confusing to me. The fact that “I just want to fuck in my own domain” is somehow noble and understanding, while “I’m choosing to live at home with my parents until it makes the most sense to leave” is childish is fucking crazy.

This Is Your Conscience

Lincoln Anthony Blades can be found on Twitter at @LincolnABlades and on Instagram at @ThisIsYourConscience