Ask Amy: Housemate angles for a change
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.
Dear Amy: COVID-19 is consuming every second of our news cycle. For years, your column was a respite for me from the news of the day. However, recently they are all about issues people are having with the virus.
Are letters concerning COVID-19 the only ones you are getting?
I understand the concerns and fears, but life goes on: Some people are ill or dying, but not of COVID-19. Others are having issues with their children, siblings, spouses, parents, employment, the neighbors, money, etc., that have nothing at all to do with the pandemic, although I agree the virus doesn’t make life easier for anyone.
I would like to have my morning coffee and be able to enjoy at least one column, article, or op-ed that isn’t about COVID-19, sheltering in place, openings, closings, vaccines, meds, cures, etc. — COVID-Out
Dear COVID-Out: To point out the obvious, your question is about COVID, too.
I’m as overwhelmed as anyone. But life is not the same for people now as it was three months ago, and so the questions submitted to me have changed.
People are NOT having weddings. They are NOT having funerals. They are NOT having graduations, promotions, or professional annoyances. People have NOT been interacting with friends and family. And these quotidian experiences are what inspire questions I run in the column.
Along with you, I hope that we fully emerge (safely and soon) from this anxious time.
Dear Amy: I’m offering “kudos” to you. I’ve noticed that when you answer questions from kids, you do so in a way that is very gentle and compassionate. Your responses often bring tears to my eyes. — A Fan
Dear Fan: Thank you so much. These questions always move me, and I correspond regularly (and privately) with many young people who have written to me over the years.