Dear Wendy: Our Roommate’s Wrecking Our Relationship

My boyfriend and I currently rent the downstairs portion of his sisters house and she’s CRAZY so we’re wanting to move out. We had this proposition to move in with some friends of ours and I really don’t want to but he REALLY does. I don’t think it’s realistic for us to be living with other people and we need to start our independence as a couple but he’s excited because he’ll have friends around all the time and having friends is something that is really important to him and the rent would be cheaper for us. There are many pros to moving out with the friends but there are and equal amount of cons (if not more). How do I get him to see my side? – Two’s Enough

Friends are important to your boyfriend? Good, he can invite them over for pizza and movie night at your new place — the one the two of you will live in alone together once you put your foot down and insist on no roomies. I’m not opposed to couples living with roommates — I know people who make it work, but the key to success is making sure both partners are on board with the idea, which clearly you aren’t, and setting some boundaries to ensure plenty of privacy and quality couple time. Anyone who says he’s excited to have his friends around all the time doesn’t sound like someone who’s going to make alone time with you a top priority. He sounds like someone who wants to create his own frat house, frankly, or a commune or something.

I probably don’t have to warn you of how badly this living-with-friends scenario could play out. It’s got ‘drama’ written all over it. You’ll feel resentful of the time your boyfriend is spending with the roomies, tension will build between you and them, your relationship will flounder, and you’ll have nowhere to escape. You could even end up with no boyfriend and no apartment. Or, your boyfriend could realize too late that you were right and having friends around all the time really is kind of annoying, but you’ll have already spent time and money to move and may be locked in a lease. And how’s that going to affect your friendships with your roomies? “Sorry that we have to break our lease, guys, but we really just can’t stand living with you any longer.” That’ll go over real well.

Save yourself the misery and tell your boyfriend it’s your way or the highway on this one. It’s not even about getting him to see your side; if he’s convinced living with friends is the way to go it may not even be possible for him to see your side. But you can tell him that you’re done having roommates, you’re ready to make a home with him and only him, and you think living with friends may jeopardize your relationship, which is a risk you’re unwilling to take. He may disagree, but he can’t force you into a move you refuse to make. Ultimately, he’ll have to decide what’s more important to him — his relationship with you or living with his friends. If he chooses his friends over you, well, it’s better you learn where his priorities lie before you get any more serious with the guy. If you need any more incentive to put your foot down, keep reading:

I have been living with my wonderful partner for about two years and we couldn’t be happier. Well, we couldn’t have been happier until about six months ago when his best friend moved in. Let me just clarify that this man is also my best friend and the three of us had a sort-of three amigos deal back in college. I love him dearly as a brother, and if I have children someday, he is the kind of friend that they would call “Uncle.” He started hitting a financial rough patch about 6 months ago, and we let him move in, no questions asked. Things were fun at first, until my boyfriend and I started getting less and less time alone together, leading to bitter attitudes and escalating bickering. To make matters worse, he has started bringing girls over all the time, interrupting my beauty sleep on more than one occasion, and when my boyfriend is away, he turns me into a third wheel in my own home as he sucks face with the girl of the week in my living room. He also does not help with the rent or bills at all, mostly because he is between jobs and can’t afford it, but miraculously he is able to go on expensive and complicated dates (think zoo and a movie, or dinner and a theme park). He tends to respect my boyfriend’s space and privacy, but not mine. If I am the only one home, you can bet he’s calling a woman to come over. When I discuss these issues, he is apologetic and will do something to make it up to me, like wash the dishes or bring home steaks, but that isn’t what I want. When I try and discuss this with my boyfriend, he doesn’t seem to see what’s happening, and almost feels hurt that I am even suggesting that we’re being taken advantage of. It’s taking a toll, on my relationship, my wallet, and my sanity, but in spite of it all, it breaks my heart to think of kicking him out with nowhere to go. I need a solution, fast! – Three’s a Crowd

Best friend or not, this guy is a total mooch and you and your boyfriend are enablers. It’s been six months already! Unless he recently lost both legs in a terrible accident, is suffering from a deadly disease and is orphaned, penniless, and doesn’t have anyone else to turn to, he’s got absolutely no excuse to be interrupting your beauty sleep on a regular basis, sister. It’s time to issue some tough love and kick the guy out. Tell your boyfriend your third wheel has taken advantage of you long enough and you want your life back. If your boyfriend fails to see the harm in letting him stay in your place rent-free any longer, tell him either he goes or you go. You don’t have a choice here. The only other option is to continue enabling your mooch of a friend until the resentment eats away at your entire soul and you attack him in the middle of the night with a toilet plunger and a fire extinguisher in a crazy fit of hysteria. You don’t want that, do you? I’m sure he doesn’t either.

There are plenty of people in this world who will take advantage of you as long as you let them. You’re discovering that some of those people can even disguise themselves as your very best friend. I don’t doubt that the three of you share a tight bond and that you love him like a brother, but that doesn’t give him permission to walk all over you. The fact is that he’s a grown man and there’s absolutely no reason he can’t pull himself together and find somewhere else to live. Tell him he has one week to find an apartment and if he hasn’t moved out by then, you’ll be charging him rent on a weekly basis until he does, with an additional fee every time he has a woman over taking up space and keeping you awake. I guarantee he’ll be out of your hair faster than you can say “three amigos no more.”

*Do you have a relationship/dating question I can help with? Send me your letters at [email protected].