Housemate angles for change at home
DEAR AMY » I am one of three friends living in a house together for the past three years. We are all in our early-30s. My boyfriend owns the house, he and I share a bedroom, and our third roommate, “Dusty,” is a friend who lived there with my boyfriend before we started dating.
In the time we’ve lived together, I’ve made great strides. My boyfriend and I have gotten serious about our careers, stopped partying, and put a lot of time, effort (and money) into cleaning up, upgrading, and improving the house we share. We’ve never discussed sharing household tasks with Dusty; we do everything, and we pay for all the improvements.
Dusty pretty much just drinks beer, smokes, and plays video games all day long. He reeks of smoke and has poor hygiene. He rarely cleans or contributes when we do home projects. He works as little as possible.
I’ve come to really resent his presence, and when my friends come over, I’m embarrassed by the way he lives. Despite all my efforts to make our house a home, I’m more unhappy here than ever. I feel like I’m living with a teenager, constantly trying to erase the evidence of his slovenly lifestyle. I really want him to move out, but I know he never would unless we explicitly asked him to.
My boyfriend doesn’t seem to mind Dusty’s sloppiness at all. They still have a great relationship. They enjoy spending time together.
We need a third housemate to make the financial picture work, and because Dusty was there before me, I feel guilty about wanting to replace him with someone more mature.
I know the next step is to discuss my feelings with my boyfriend, but I don’t want to come off as controlling, or inconsiderate of their friendship. How can I broach the subject fairly? — Claustrophobic
DEAR CLAUSTROPHOBIC » The way not to come off as controlling is to not be controlling. This means that you would understand and accept that your boyfriend owns this home, that this domestic situation existed before you arrived, and that two out of the three of you don’t seem to mind the conditions in the home.
However, perhaps you should just cop to caring and to wanting more control over the atmosphere where you live (you have that right).
Tell your boyfriend that you no longer want to live with “Dusty,” and initiate a conversation about possible solutions, including the possibility that YOU might move out. Your boyfriend may then face a tough choice.
In short, I’m suggesting that you tap into your inner Yoko and risk breaking up the band, accepting the uncertainty of the consequences.