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Reader question #102: Can I ask my horrible mean houseguest to GTFO already?”

You don't have to let horrible creatures stay with you! Also, this TV show was a real thing in the world.

Today’s letter kinda sorta lets me jump in on Dan Savage’s DTMFA-a-thon.

Dear Captain Awkward,

I am having a real problem with a house guest staying at my house. She and her husband have been friends with my husband Aaron long before I met him. Both decided to move to New York and sold the house, her husband moved there while she is here settling law suits.  She was originally staying with a neighbors but they kicked her out because supposedly the husband was mean to her so she asked if she could move in with us…and since I didn’t want to be rude I said yes.  

Right now I am really regretting saying yes…she has paid her rent on time but has no sense of boundaries.  She says I am a bad wife because I don’t do enough cooking and cleaning and has even told Aaron that  she would always make sure that he had home cooked meals when he got home instead of the skillet dinners I make(I am really bad at cooking) She says she is only trying to help me out “to make me a better wife”  She barges in our room and talks to Aaron when we are trying to have a conversation and has even nudged me out of the way a few times.   She criticizes  my voice and says I sound whiny and need to watch how I talk….I feel like I have no privacy and can’t be myself in my own home  with her criticizing how I spend my time.  I have ADHD and am really forgetful about things sometimes and she will say stuff like I am having a Debbie moment if she forgets things….Whenever I complain to Aaron he will say it’s just her personality and she means no harm, or she is just joking.  

I feel like this needs to end now. She even wormed her way into going to the hair salon with me and was bossing me around telling the stylist how to do my hair and what color I should put in it. Whenever I have tried to lay down ground rules like no coming into our room after 9:00, she says I am being possessive and that she would like to talk to my husband and hang out with him, even though I need to go to bed early to go to work and need rest.  She told me that I should sleep on the couch and not be so selfish. She still has a month and a half  to stay here, but I am afraid she is going to try to extend the stay, and my nerves are on the wits end!  Would it be absolutely awful to  give her the rest of her rent money back and tell her she needs to leave…because I honestly feel like I am going to have a nervous breakdown. I feel like this houseguest is trying to take over my home.

Dear Debbie,

This houseguest is trying to take over your home. Here’s what you do:

Step 1:  Tell Aaron that the arrangement with his friend is not working out for you and ask him to ask her to leave. If he’s drunk her Kool-Aid he might go on and on about how he can’t just kick her out and try to make you feel bad for her.  Let him finish, and then say, “Obviously I wanted to help her out, which is why I agreed to have her stay in the first place. But having her here is not working for me. She needs to find somewhere else to stay, and I need you to back me up right now.”  It might turn into a big argument.  Hold your ground.  You can work on rebuilding your marriage once you’ve got her out of the house.  And it will take some work, if he’s been letting his friend treat you this way.

Step 1a:  Take a quick look at whatever written agreement you guys have about rent, tenancy, etc. and make sure you’re not getting yourself into legal trouble.

Step 2: Give her her rent money back and ask her to leave by a certain day/time, and then avoid interacting with her until she’s out of the house.

When she asks why? Say “This isn’t working for me.”

When she says “It’s just because you’re too controlling,” say “Yeah.  This isn’t working for me.

When she says “It’s just because you need to be a better wife and you’re jealous that I’m making you look bad!” say “Wow.”

And after a long pause, say “This isn’t working for me.”

If she says “I’ll sue you!” say “That’s really unfortunate.  I’m still going to need you to move out.

When she says “But where will I go?” pinch yourself as a reminder that it’s Not Your Problem.  If you get sucked into the logistics of where she’ll stay next, then her leaving becomes contingent on those logistics. You don’t need to worry about where she’ll stay.  You just need her out of your house. Aaron might try to make it his problem. That still doesn’t make it your problem. “I’m sorry, I can’t make that my problem, I just really need her to find somewhere else to stay.  This just isn’t working out for me.”

She might scream at you.  She might say terrible, manipulative things.  So what?  Do you really need to be liked by this woman? Walk away (you don’t have to listen to that), and if you have to respond, say “Please don’t talk to me that way. I’d like you to be out by the end of the week. This just isn’t working for me.”

Listen, you’ve made a pretty airtight case to me for why this woman sucks.  She’s mean. She’s rude. She’s up in your business. She’s up in your marriage. She doesn’t respect you.  She’s not your friend (not even a little).  She sucks.  Those people who kicked her out of the last place were onto something.  They got rid of her.  You can, too. Still, you don’t need an airtight case for getting her out of your house.  “This isn’t working for me” is enough of a reason.

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18 comments
  1. Rei said:

    Oh, man, I just read this letter about three times and every time it makes me feel worse on your behalf, Debbie.

    It might be worth mentioning that when the husband says that she means no harm? That may be true, although I’d be inclined to doubt it, but that still means that our best-case scenario has her as the most thoughtless person on the planet. (Our worst-case scenario has her as someone who’s just plain awful.) With that in mind, does it really matter whether she “means harm” or not? She’s either doing the damage on purpose or she’s doing it because she doesn’t care whether she’s doing any damage or not. Get this woman out of your house.

    Good luck to you.

    • Debi said:

      Honestly, I am really not sure on one had she crotects me something and takes me out for dinner the next she is telling me my voice is whny and being really snarky and kind of mean….which really hurts me…and it hurts when people act like oh its all in good fun…see she knows Iw as bullied when I was little and in my opinion she needs to releize that this is not helping but hurting. When Id efended myself and listed all the housework and chores I did she just said yeah thatsnot enough the rest of the time you are on your computer and that is not fair to your husband who is working….

      oh and another thing! When he comes hiome form work she does this OH you poor baby working all day and it pisses me off like thats MY job! and maybe I am being a little possisive:(

      • piny said:

        It’s normal to feel possessive. He’s your husband.

        I hate to sound so cynical, but I’ve dealt with people like this before. You can’t manage them or suffer them. They’ll fuck you over, because that’s really all they know how to do. It’s instinctive with them.

        This is what I think might be happening:

        She understands that you might be fed up and might actually do something about that. Like kick her out. She doesn’t want that to happen. So she’s trying to ingratiate herself and throw you off balance at the same time. She’s not really being friendly, and she doesn’t really respect or like you. She wants to control you. So she gives you things to make you feel indebted, spends time with you to make you feel befriended, and picks at your self-esteem until you stop trusting yourself.

        It seems very inconsistent if you look at it as a friendship, but not if you look at it as manipulation.

        • Rei said:

          What piny said. The fact is that abusive and/or manipulative people can be very, very charming when they want to be, because if they weren’t they would have no friends and nobody to abuse and/or manipulate. She might do you little favours to try and win back your good graces, but it sounds like this is either a deliberate attempt to throw you off balance or, if we go down the “just plain thoughtless” path, like she genuinely does not understand that the way to win back your good graces would be to knock off all the awful things she is doing rather than throw a few nice things on the pile with the awful.

          Sorry, that was a run-on sentence, but the more I hear about this lady the worse she seems. My sympathies are with you, and I hope you manage to get her out of your house without too much upheaval.

  2. piny said:

    Oh, my God, I am so sorry. Listen, this woman is an absolute nightmare, okay? Don’t believe for a second that she has any right to do any of these things to you. She is a guest in your home. You are a kind and generous person just for putting up with this arrangement, never mind this specific woman’s ugly personality. Don’t listen to a word out of her ungrateful mouth.

    Make the legal check step one, because she might very well have the right to stay through the end of the month or the end of the stay you agreed to. In San Francisco she would have a lot of protection. My landlord got snookered and then harassed, stalked, and generally SWF’d by a horrible woman who wasn’t even invited to stay for a set period of time. Why? My landlord sent her an eviction notice, which by law made her a tenant. Then some money changed hands.

    Also, she’s an abusive person. Abusive people sometimes enjoy filing frivolous lawsuits.

    So do check, and do it before you make her leave.

    I’m not saying don’t make her leave! You should definitely get her the hell out of your house, because she is a horrible person and because she is not entitled to any space in your home. She’s a vampire. Rescind the invitation and get the bloodsucking horror out of your space. You have every right to stop obeying any social contract, here. She’s awful.

    In addition to getting the hell away from her and her insults, I think you should get a lock for your bedroom door, and for any other rooms you can mark off as yours. Then use the lock. Telling her to stay out of your space hasn’t worked. Start making her leave.

    Don’t let her follow you around, either. I know how hard it is to enforce boundaries with people like this, because they have no respect for other human beings, but if she tries to go anywhere with you, tell her you are going alone.

    • Debi said:

      aww I just left a long responce that got eaten! Hoe3pfully since she left the nighbors without suing she will leave without trouble here. It will most defently sever the friendship with her and her husband…but at this point I really don’t care….She has been making me feel more and more upset and angry and I really need to start thinking about my own mental health.

      There unfortuantly is no lock on the door but I have been getting more and more defiant about establishing boundries…She can never let my husband and I even have an alone night together and I wated to read with him and watch some TV without her…she kept gabbing at the door and I told her I want to read and need to concentrate and of course she ignored me……I actually got up and shut the door in her face, which finially shut her up…Thankfully Aaron wasn’t even mad and and we got peace and quite…I mean he was trying to work on hius computer! It is like she haas no since of when people don’t want to talk or want to do other things!

      I feel bad for being rude but come on!!!!

  3. Wow. What a truly appalling situation. This is the worst. Get her out, and please let us know how it goes!

    Also, good luck with the talk with your husband; I’m concerned he’s not standing up for you more already.

  4. Oh good lord.

    No wonder the previous couple made her leave.

    Get her out of the house as soon and as fast as you can – really. Agree with what Rei said – the best-case scenario is that she’s so completely out of touch with humanity that she has no idea she’s being really awful. (But: Telling her hostess to sleep on the couch because she wants to spend time in your bedroom with her hostess’s husband? That’s very, very hard to make a best-case scenario for.)

    But. Once you have her gone from the house, call up her neighbours that made her leave, and ask them round for dinner. Then you can have a wonderful evening exchanging Horrible Houseguest stories – believe me, they will become hysterical once you can share them with other people who had the same experience. You’ll feel a lot better once her outrageous nastiness has been the topic for an evening of bellylaughs and “Who can top THIS one” stories. I betcha you win with the hair salon story.

  5. k said:

    Yikes. YIKES.

    Definitely check up on the legal crap. Then kick her out with impunity. Then ask your husband, what the fuck?

    Because seriously, what the fuck. You do not deserve this kind of treatment and I am sorry it’s happening to you.

  6. J-Dub said:

    Ugh! You poor lady! I agree with what everyone has said and you totally have my sympathies/a virtual hug. Your houseguest sounds like an absolute beast.
    Out of curiousity . . . do you know anything about the law suits she’s currently involved in? The ones she’s staying behind to resolve? Are these, um, personal law suits? As in, she’s an especially litigious person? If so, I can understand why you want to proceed with caution, but all the more reason to get her out of your home sooner rather than later.

    • piny said:

      Yeah, I kind of wondered that, too.

      The thing is, lawsuits….

      Okay, remember how back in the sixteenth century people believed that witches had the power to curse their neighbors? Sour the milk, lame the horses, blight the crops in the field, that sort of thing?

      Lawsuits are like having actual malefic powers over the people down the street. They are a fantastic way to fuck up someone’s life, especially if you’re petty and vindictive.

      • J-Dub said:

        Well, then, can we throw Evil Houseguest in a lake to see if she sinks?

        • piny said:

          Maybe just throw a bucket of water on her and see if she melts?

  7. Debi said:

    Wow! I am suprised this was answered so fast! Thanks for all the responsises, they have really helped out a lot. .The way my husband was acting I was thinking I was going crazy and maybe being selfish and rude. He is friends with her and her husband and have been for years…and I think she is jhust taking advantage of the fact that since he is her friend she can treat me how she wants. She crotcheted me something and now Adam is saying this proves that she likes me even though I never really a sked her to do it. Besides she shouldn’t be treating me like this anyway…..
    As for the neighbor she has done a good job acting like the husband of the family kicked her out because he was a bad person, she accused him of propsitioning her before and after she moved in and being very intolerant of her being there…I beleived her at first but am starting to wonder if she added the sexual harrasment because she knows I am a feminist and take these things very seriously and just wanted me on her side.

    The lawsuites are to her former workpace and a few businesses.,…she is really good at making it seem like they screwed her over and treated her very badly…but again wo knows the whole truth…

    Right now I am largley ignoring her and keeping my door shut at all times so she can’t waltz in like she seems to think she shouldbe free to do. I will talk to Aaron about kicking her out by the end of the weekend! She isn’t suing the neighbors for kicking her out so we shouldbe ok…She knows Aaron would cease being friends with her and her husband so if she values their friendship with him she will listen!!!

    • piny said:

      (Random crocheting is a bizarre twist, but this is actually a common manipulative tactic. You do a favor for someone so they feel indebted to you; you offer them a gift so they feel they have to show gratitude. Then you walk all over them. This works even better when the gift is useless or unwanted, because then the target feels burdened but can’t show it.)

      Good luck with everything. And good for you for enforcing your boundaries. Keep keeping your door closed. You are not being rude. She’s being rude. She’s being raised-by-wolves rude. Miss Manners would already have left her stuff on the curb. And possibly laced her coffee with Visine.

      I think she’s full of shit, honestly. Bad things can happen to bad people, but…this woman sounds like a really bad person. And a liar.

      I would be surprised if her former neighbor, former workplace, and these businesses have all screwed her over. People tend to behave more or less in a consistent way. If she has trouble respecting your boundaries, treating you with common courtesy, not biting your hand when it’s feeding her, leaving you the fuck alone, etc. etc. etc., then she probably has done all of this to other people. Someone who constantly blames everyone else for all of her problems? Dangerous.

      But, uh, keep a pin in that lawsuit thing, okay? I know it sounds ridiculous, but it really is a nightmare.

    • Sheelzebub said:

      OK, I’ve gotta say this–if I was married or partnered, and one of my friends acted like this woman did to my SO, I’d kick them to the curb. (OK, if I truly believed they didn’t mean it, I’d tell them to cut the poop, but then I’d kick them to the curb.) I wouldn’t care if they crocheted something for my SO, or suddenly acted sweet–if they continued this crap, I’d tell them they need to leave.

      Definitely take Captain Awkward’s advice. I’m willing to bet that she doesn’t have a lot of friends, given her lawsuits and her behavior.

  8. Tradtional Married said:

    oh man. DTMFA!

  9. I know I’m chiming in very late, and am very hopeful that by now, this issue has been resolved. However, there is one part of the issue that everyone seems to be sidestepping–the behavior of the husband. It doesn’t matter HOW LONG he has been friends with this couple–Debi is his WIFE!! Why would someone put up with this kind of behavior from their spouse? SHE should be his priority, not the invading harpy. Once she is gone, Debi, your husband has a LOT of ‘splainin to do!

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