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What, every weekend?

My friend wants to stay in my apartment every weekend so that she can save on rent.

How can I tell her that this is too much? Oh my, says our elder. Speak up now before it becomes a problem.

Dear EWC

I have a very close friend that is planning to move back home with her parents next month. It sounds that she plans to come to stay at my apartment every weekend once she moves and I don’t know how to tell her that it is too often. Now for some background details: We are both 25 years old and were roommates for a year right after college. We both live in downtown DC and her parents live about 40 minutes away in Maryland. She has decided her rent is too expensive and is going to move home for four months but still wants to come down to DC to go out with our circle of friends every weekend — which usually involves drinking which is why she wouldn’t drive home. When we lived together after college we were so tight on the money we shared a one-bedroom, with her in the bedroom and me in the living room. I worry that she feels I “owe her” from when that was the arrangement as I paid 40 percent of the rent and she paid 60 percent since the bedroom was larger and more private. The thing is, we both agreed to that arrangement before deciding to move forward with it and I was still paying rent. We were 21 years old and my need for privacy was much smaller then.

Now I live with my long term boyfriend in a one-bedroom and most of our other friends in our social circle live in studios or shared houses with strangers. That is why I think she is preferring to stay with me instead of our other friends. I would be happy to host her once, even twice a month, but not every weekend. The problem is, I think she would take no issue in me staying with her every weekend if roles were reversed. She is a lot more extroverted than I am. I think she would be very hurt and angry with me if she knew I felt this way so I am hesitant to be straightforward with her. How do I go about this situation so that she isn’t staying on my sofa every weekend without offending her?

PicklesMarie replies

How do you tell your sensitive friend she can’t stay over every weekend? As soon as possible. Delicately, but, firmly. Preferably in person or over the phone… text or email are too permanent and likely to be misinterpreted. A conversation is less apt to be mistakenly overly read into.

You sort of feel you owe her because she helped you out during college. She has decided living on her own is too expensive and has moved in with her parents during the week… and plans on sleeping on your couch over the weekend so she can party with old friends. Remember, too, she didn’t, for one reason or another, live alone in her apartment; She paid 60 percent of the rent for a room. She had you pay 40 percent rent for your couch space.

It is impossible to know whether if the roles were reversed she’d welcome you. The boyfriend makes all the difference in my opinion. That’s what I’d tell her. Things have changed since you two were college students. Now you have a live-in boyfriend. So it is not just you anymore. Consider him!

Talk first with your boyfriend. Since he lives there with you too, he should have a say too. How would you feel if he had a college roommate or another friend who wanted to stay there some weekends? (Imagining this puts you in the same awkward position he might be put into.)
Having a second female sleeping on the couch every weekend would be awkward. It could be quite awkward if he, for example, couldn’t sleep. Where would he go to the apartment? It could be awkward if he didn’t get along with her, or, conversely, it would be awkward if she flirted with him.

Talk to your friend. Telling her will never ever be easy. Say it as soon as possible. Tell her you’ve been thinking about it and realize that it could be really awkward. It could be that an arrangement could be made where your boyfriend stays over with a friend when your friend stays over with you. If you (and your boyfriend) agree that she can visit some weekends, I’d start with once a month. You can always increase, but decreasing the time is awkward.
Tell her the truth. If she’s offended this is her problem. You don’t really owe her freeboard — she didn’t provide you with the freeboard. Of course, you could charge her, but then she will feel entitled to stay. Then you are no longer doing her an out and out favor; she didn’t really do you an out and out favor.

If she is angry, so be it. With his permission, you could blame him. (My husband and I sometimes agree to have the other one be the ‘bad’ guy.)

I hope my views help. Speak up before this becomes a problem. Write again if you like. Good luck!

Letter #: 416778
Category: Friendship

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