#843: “My friend doesn’t respect my apartment rules.”

Hi there Captain!

I have a friend that comes over to my apartment, usually a few times a week. We’re quite close, I often serve dinner and occasionally they spend the night as their workplace is closer to my apartment. In the last few weeks I’ve noticed a pattern that is really starting to grate on my last nerve – they criticize how I keep my apartment, everything from if I’ve cleaned under the heating elements on my stove to how I organize my kitchen. They’ve even done little tours when another friend is over, showing all the things they think I’m doing wrong in a “get a load of this!” condescending tone. Because I allow them this friend into my home for extended periods of time, I feel like they should just be gracious, or at least not embarrass me in front of mutual friends like that.

I do tend to choose hobbies over cleaning (but without letting the apartment sink into pigsty levels – it can be untidy but never super gross) so I think I’m a little self-conscious and reading more into their comments than they might mean, but there are other things that I can’t read the wrong way, like turning the tv volume up when we’re watching a loud action movie and I’ve just explicitly said the walls in my building are paper-thin, and then giving me attitude when I turn it down. I’m of the mindset that it doesn’t matter if it’s before the noise curfew, if your movie or music or video game is disturbing someone at 7pm it’s just as bad as if you are disturbing them at midnight, and I know my neighbors are nice enough to not say anything but there’s no way they didn’t hear. It makes me feel awkward when I run into my neighbors in the hall now as it’s happened a few times.

How to I bring my feelings up to my friend? So far I’ve just laughed and shrugged, but I know I have to tell them about my frustrations now before it gets worse. I’d never go to their apartment and say stuff like they’re saying, and I have a hunch they might be slightly jealous because I have a nicer apartment in a better part of town and this is the way their jealousy is manifesting itself.

Wow, your friend has a lot of nerve! That is very rude behavior!

One script is, “Friend, that thing where you point out ‘issues’ with my housekeeping is really irritating and hurts my feelings. Please stop.” Another is, “Friend, give me the remote please,” after which you turn the volume down to a reasonable level, or, “Friend, turn the volume down.” Do address the specific behaviors you want them to stop. Do not suggest that they might be jealous of your place. You might be right about that being a source of frustration underlying your friend’s bad behaviors, but you’re not responsible for articulating those feelings or managing them, and for you to bring them up is the fastest way to derail the conversation.

The “right” answer here is for your friend to say some form of “I’m sorry!” and then, more importantly, stop the bad behavior.

I am 80% sure that your friend is going to try to save face by claiming that the insults are jokes and that you’re making a big deal out of nothing/You need to lighten up/get a sense of humor, etc. They’ll deflect being called out on their behavior back onto something being wrong with you. The best way to deal with this is to say, “Yep, I have no sense of humor about that, so, stop it.” “You’re right, I am making a big deal out of it, so, stop it.” “I’m glad they were jokes and not serious insults, but I don’t find them funny at all, so, stop it.” Don’t fight with the way your friend mischaracterizes you. Instead, bring the focus back to their bad behavior. Be a broken record. The furthest I’d go into a discussion of feelings is “This behavior is not usual for you – what’s really going on?

My other suggestion is to change up the pattern of how and where you hang out. Maybe this friend doesn’t get home-cooked dinners and slumber parties at your house for a while, certainly not several times/week. Maybe this friend gets met out and about for a quick after-work drink or a movie and then you go home to your house and your hobbies and they go home to theirs.




150 thoughts on “#843: “My friend doesn’t respect my apartment rules.”

  1. My immediate response was to dial wayyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy back on having them over, cooking for them, letting them sleep over, etc. if they can’t respect your space and the house rules.

  2. I’m wondering if you aren’t already feeling like you need to put some distance between you and your friend, LW. You say that the two of you are close, but I notice that you haven’t mentioned any of Friend’s redeeming qualities- which is not to say that Friend is 100% a bad person, but that you are having an overwhelmingly amount of negative experiences with Friend. I can certainly understand the benefits of having a friend you can be informal with, but if Friend is going out of their way to disrespect your rules and criticize your home to other guests while they’re IN your home, then I think Friend has officially worn out their welcome. They are absolutely going to push back on this, because they’re used to not having boundaries and they probably think boundaries/showing respect for you= you being “difficult,” but right now this is not a friendship that works for you, LW. Good luck, and in the meantime try to be the BFF you deserve and practice some hardcore self-care while you figure this out.

  3. LW, if this was my situation, I’d tell my “friend” that I was too busy to host or had plans and couldn’t host them. Why open your home and pantry to someone who isn’t appreciative and is nasty to you? Who refuses to be considerate of your or your neighbors? The fact is, if I am not comfortable in my friend’s home, I don’t stay over. I don’t go snarking on their home, the way they keep it, or how they like to do things. I just don’t stay there.

    If you open your home to your friend again and they snark about the way you keep house/live or get pissy when you want them to keep the TV down, you can tell them: “If you find this subpar, you are welcome to find another place to stay and you are welcome to go. This is the way I live, this is the way I keep house, and yes, there are rules here you need to respect. If that is unacceptable to you, you shouldn’t come here anymore.”

    1. If it were me I would also be pointing towards the door. I think the main message for the LW is: you get to set reasonable boundaries (or even unreasonable ones!) in your own home, and ‘guests don’t continually criticize my hosting’ is one of those reasonable limits. They can be polite, they can be elsewhere, they can be not-friends, but they cannot come insult you in your own home.

    2. Yeah exactly. This person is being a terrible, bad, rude guest. LW would you go to someone’s place and shame them for their housekeeping and refuse to cooperate with requests to keep the noise down? I’m going to guess not. And here’s what happens to bad guests – they get invited around less and less or not at all.

      I think what’s happening here is that the LW (understandably) wants to fix this situation such that their friend returns to being nice and respectful and they can continue to be close. Only I don’t know if that can actually happen, because this person is choosing to be rude and disrespectful and ruining it. Time to uninvite them alas.

      They may not take it well, but that’s their problem – if they want to hang out at the LW’s house they need to be better behaved.

  4. Is this happening in just the last few weeks, or are you just noticing it the last few weeks? Either way, it’s pretty crummy, and doesn’t change the advice that much.

    If they’re just starting out, then hopefully this extremely gross behavior isn’t a full-fledged habit yet, and in addition to addressing the behavior, you can also do a “what has gotten into you lately??” kind of chat.

    If you’re just now noticing it and it’s been going on for a while, I would still address those behaviors. But I would also consider if this is a signal that you’re just no longer interested in having them over to your home for a little while in the future. Maybe you need a break from them in your personal space, especially if they don’t change that much. In that case, you can obviously still see them–the strategy is just changing the invitation to hang out to something else. “Can I come over after work?” -> you may respond, “let’s get coffee on your way home,” or “let’s hang out at yours,” or “let’s go chill at the park with the pigeons.”

    It sounds like your friendship is changing. You’re interested in speaking up for yourself where you might have let things slide in the past; your dynamics and the way you hang out may be about to change as well. This is totally ok, and it happens, and you’re not being a bad friend. It’s an opportunity to make the friendship even better, for you and by extension your friend as well.

  5. Visitors in your house should not make unsolicited comments regarding the cleanliness of your stovetop, unless there is some actual risk to health or safety (“hey, is that cockroach nest supposed to be there?”) or unless it relates to their professional duties (“I know I said over the phone it would take four hours to clean this apartment, but now that I see it, I expect it will be more like six hours”).

    This courtesy is not some special favor that people should do for you in exchange for being allowed to sleep over. It’s, like, normal civilized behavior.

  6. Yeah, I would suggest that “friend” is no longer someone who can come to your home. If they’re going to insult your home and the way you keep it, criticise it *to other guests* (WTF That is so outrageously out of line!) and ignore your expressly stated rules about TV volume and other issues in your home, then they don’t get to treat it as a space they spend *several nights a week* visiting.

    Speaking of which, the frequency that this one friend alone is spending at your house sounds like a huge burden on your time and resources. You may be happy to host someone that often, but I can’t imagine it doesn’t increase expenses for you – groceries, just basic utility use, that sort of thing.

    You’re doing someone a huge, way above-the-call-of-duty favour and they’re essentially throwing it back in your face and disrespecting you. I don’t think you’re reading too much into it at all. I also don’t think the reason *why* your friend is doing this matters at all. Their behaviour is well beyond the pale.

    (Seriously. I can see how a friend might accidentally slip into being overly critical of another friend’s place as a bad habit. But *giving other guests tours* to point out everything they hate about your place? WHAT.).

  7. LW, I suspect that your friend has gotten a little too comfortable at your place, and is starting to think of it (unconsciously) as an extension of their own home. They’re also probably going to give you some “why didn’t you tell me this before”/”why is this suddenly a problem” flak when you do bring it up. Don’t let your message get side-tracked, keep it to “I’m telling you now.”

    1. I got the same impression. It’s as if the friend wants all the benefits of the nice apartment close to work and someone to cook them nice dinners (not to mention the awesome companionship), but doesn’t actually want to contribute to any of the upkeep or labor associated with said nice things. Were it me, the next time they complained about my dirty stove, I’d be tempted to toss them a cloth and say “so clean it, then”, but it’s probably better to mix things up and take a little break from spending so much time at the LW’s apartment.

      1. I’m not sure I would tell the friend to clean or whatever, they’re already trying to mark LW’s home as their own turf.
        I have the feeling it wouldn’t take long for friend to use contributions of housekeeping to logic LW into accepting even more boundary violations. (“I know it’s your place but I help out so much.”)

  8. Ugh, why are people the worst? I’ve recently come to the (obvious) realization that my brother’s in law mean comments about the way I keep my house and about how carefree my life is (let’s just ignore the fact that I teach 20+h a week on top of going to school) probably come from the fact that I live in the exact same apartment as him and my sister (we’re neighbors), even though they’re a married couple who both work and make WAY more money than me. I have even written to the Captain about this, because it’s really, REALLY painful. I *do* not have a sense of humor about this because I don’t find it hilarious that, as hard as I try, I cannot keep my house perfectly clean and organized.

    Several friend have suggested that I talk to him about this, but honestly, the prospect of sitting him down and saying: “I get that you think I didn’t work for this and don’t deserve it, but you weren’t here when I was struggling through university, work and my epilepsy. You have no idea what that illness did to my physical and mental health, how it set me back several years and how it still prevents me from giving 120% to work like my sister does. You don’t understand how it cranked up my mother’s over protectiveness so that she prefers me to live in this nice, safe apt that they bought 20 years ago, where they know everybody and feel that I can easily get help if needed, than having me live in some cheap, dangerous place far away where they can’t reach me. And guess what, I’m FINE with that for several reasons so shut it”.

    That will NEVER do. What I have done (and continuously do it because apparently he forgets it) is just tell him: “I don’t like it. Stop.”. It’s not easy because it makes me sound petty, and as if I’m just being ~sensitive~, but if I expect him to validate my feelings I will never be happy. I think it might be more difficult because it’s a friend, and you probably don’t want to get into a fight and maybe even lose that friend. You might not even get an answer you like. I heard from a friend once that “I see now that I can say those things to my husband but not to you because you can’t take it” (I somehow managed to not say “well, yeah, that’s because your husband is clearly currently ok with being abused by you”), which is awful way to respond to “can you please stop shouting and being mean all the time?”, but at least she never treated me that way again.

  9. To go off on a slight tangent, I think it’s underappreciated that there’s a world of difference between “good friend” and “good roommate,” and one does not in any way equal the other. There have been people I absolutely adored and whom, after three days of sharing a living space with them, I wanted to vaporize with mind-lasers.

    No matter how close friends we are, if you don’t pay rent or contribute significantly to the household upkeep (according to your ability), then you’re a guest when you are in my home. A dear friend and beloved guest, perhaps, but a guest nevertheless. And as a guest, I expect you to respect my rules for my space.

    It sounds to me, LW, like your friend is assuming that because you are good friends, they get the all the benefits of both a “guest” and a “housemate” role, and none of the responsibilities of either.

    1. ‘No matter how close friends we are, if you don’t pay rent or contribute significantly to the household upkeep (according to your ability), then you’re a guest when you are in my home. A dear friend and beloved guest, perhaps, but a guest nevertheless. And as a guest, I expect you to respect my rules for my space.’

      This. Those lines get blurry when you are generous but this is important, this is your space and a guest should act accordingly.

    2. This is my current housemate! She’s a great friend but not a great roommate. I will really enjoy spending time with her starting next month when she moves the hell out of my house.

    3. yes, yes, yes. When I graduated from school and moved to NYC, I did everything in my power to live by myself. One of my former roommates (who is still one of my best friends) moved into a much nicer apartment with another friend of ours. It took them years to repair what that year of living together did to their friendship.

      I do remember though, at one point during that year, my friend’s then-boyfriend said to her something like “I don’t understand why you moved in with [X] when you left that nice friend sam to live all by herself in that tiny studio apartment”, to which my friend replied, “Oh, no. Sam was smarter than all of us. It wasn’t about ‘letting her live by herself’ – she refused to live with roommates ever again.”

      1. One of my closest friends from high school moved in with her best friend in college. Within three months they were no longer speaking, and within six months they were no longer friends. It’s been 10+ years and I don’t think they ever spoke to each other again.

        I roomed with randos for my entire college career until I got a single, and I had one horrid rando and two nice ones. The great thing about rooming with a total stranger is that being roommates works best when you can tolerate mutually ignoring each other, and that’s way easier to do with someone you didn’t start out friends with.

        (Related: One of the reasons I knew my SO was a keeper was because I could cohabit with him for longer than a week without hating his guts. He is one of the only people on earth I can STAND for long periods.)

    4. Oh, for sure. I have friends that I love, but that I also know I couldn’t live with for a week without hating them. Great people! But the idea of sharing living space with them would make me scream.

      For me, anyone I call a good friend is also someone I would feel perfectly comfortable saying “okay, well the cleaning stuff is under the sink, if it bothers you that much. Otherwise, we can just eat dinner like you’re actually here for.” And generally, my friends are people that would either be “wow, I’ve been really rude,” or (in at least one case) “oh, thank you! Let me just…” And that’s it.

      Because my friends can sometimes say things that are rude, or get into habits that I find upsetting or off-putting, but they’re also people that have a rough idea of How Humans Behave With Humans, and when they’re called on it… well, they may have that automatic momement of “I didn’t realise this was bothering you (more than it bothered me not to do it,” but they’ll also stop doing the thing. Because they’re my friends and know it upsets me.

      You could try saying, “Okay if how I keep my place bothers you so much you have to comment on it every time, do you want to change how we do things?” Because it is possible that it does, and that discomfort is coming out as rudeness because they don’t know how to say, “So I know this level of clean and org is fine for you, and probably generally fine, but it’s not how I like it and the more I stay here, the harder it is for me to put it into “place I’m at very little and don’t have to care about how it is” in my mind.”

      But if they say no to that, then yeah, “Okay, so you need to stop being rude about my home, especially to third parties, seriously, who does that?”

      1. You could try saying, “Okay if how I keep my place bothers you so much you have to comment on it every time, do you want to change how we do things?” Because it is possible that it does, and that discomfort is coming out as rudeness because they don’t know how to say, “So I know this level of clean and org is fine for you, and probably generally fine, but it’s not how I like it and the more I stay here, the harder it is for me to put it into “place I’m at very little and don’t have to care about how it is” in my mind.”

        Ehhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. I think this is giving WAY too much leeway to someone who does not pay rent in the LW’s apartment. If the issue were that the LW’s rent-paying roommate were having issues with the cleanliness of the space, then this would be a very different letter and I bet the Captain’s response would have been different.

        The LW’s friend is a guest. Their choices regarding the LW’s housekeeping are to either a) put up with it or b) stop coming over. There is no third option where they get to dictate the LW’s cleaning style while not paying rent in this space.

  10. I had a friend who would come visit and immediately start tidying up. She tried to do the dishes, clean off the table, etc, even though none of these were in the way of what we were doing. She did this without asking me first, without seeing if I wanted help or minded other people messing with my stuff (and for the record, I MIND). I finally had to tell her that she’s not my mom, she doesn’t get to do that. She was offended (‘she’s not nearly old enough to be my mom!’) which was completely beside the point, but at least she stopped.

    And OP – you don’t need to justify how clean your apartment is to us. Or to your friends.

    Also, regarding noise. I live in a building with fairly thin walls and while I wish it could be quiet all the time, I know it’s not reasonable to expect that. Your neighbors probably aren’t too bothered by noise at 7pm. That said, your friends should absolutely respect your rules about volume in your apartment.

    1. My mother-in-law does that, and she is old enough to be my mother, and she sort of *is* my mom, and she still doesn’t get to do that. I’m an adult and it’s my house. I’m glad your friend stopped.

      1. Yes, absolutely. I considered adding “mothers shouldn’t do that either” but figured the comment didn’t need to be any more convoluted.

        1. Mothers shouldn’t do that either. Things got a lot less tense after I put my foot down with mine, pointed out that on one hand I wanted her to be relaxed around me, not just working even more than she usually did, and on the other hand I didn’t want the implied criticism about my cleaning standards (which were lower than hers, granted, but full-time work..). I’ve been a lot more careful since then myself about being helpful to friends without taking over their housework, because this goes both ways..

    2. I struggle with unlearning the “manners” my mom taught me sometimes – when I was young and we visited relatives,she always volunteered me to help clean up after dinner, tidy up my messes, offer to help prepare food, etc. I get itchy to help friends when I visit (my mind says “it’s a lot of work to host someone, see what you can do to offset that”), and most of the time it’s welcome, but recently one of my friends was the first to tell me to stop because it makes him uncomfortable. Meanwhile it makes me uncomfortable to sit and not help 🙂 But anyway, I stopped.

      LW, what your friend is doing is rude. You get to make the rules in your own house – you’ve tried to gently tell your friend not to play the TV loudly. They’re allowed to think you’re wrong, or even try to politely point out that it’s probably not a problem – but as long as they’re in your house, it’s on them to turn down the volume. Those are your neighbors to deal with, not theirs. Refusing is disrespecting your comfort in your own space.

      You have a right to be comfortable in your own home, and if your friend is making you uncomfortable, you are totally OK and within your rights to not host them anymore!

      If you still want to be friends, you can insist on meeting up somewhere else. If they give you a guilt trip, that’s rude of them, too – and if it helps, think of that guilt trip as their own emotional problem to grapple with and not yours.

      1. It’s polite to offer to help, but not to just jump in and do stuff if you don’t already have permission / an understanding on the issue with the host.

        1. Yes, and on top of that, rules are often rather different with people you’ve known forever and have an established relationship with, which might have been the case with SM’s mom visiting relatives. When I’m visiting my parents, I just start doing dishes–because the kind of relationship we have makes that appropriate. But I wouldn’t do that in a friend’s house without asking first, for a whole slew of reasons. Different contexts make different rules.

          But in general, offering/asking is better than jumping in unless you have a long-standing relationship where you’re 100% sure that jumping in would be appreciated.

      2. Oh hey, my parents also volunteered me to help all the time. I recall once when visiting fairly new couples friends of my dad and stepmom, the husband had to run out to buy more supplies for dinner that evening. He had been washing dishes but told us not to do them while he was at the store. My dad insisted on doing them anyway, (which fit that whole rule where the host can never ask for help but the guest can never just sit around being waited on like the Queen of Sheba) which could be polite or rude depending on whether a person is touchy about their possessions. I could sort of understand washing up the dishes, but then my dad insisted that I put all the dishes away. Even though these people were recent acquaintances and I had never been to their house before so I didn’t know where their stuff went. My dad seemed to think it should be intuitive and I should just look through the drawers to find the right drawer. Arguably fair enough for things like flatware – presumably all the knives, forks and spoons go together in their appropriate slots – but they had several utensil drawers. I was not sure if they put whisks with the spatulas or with the wooden spoons, or if they kept the little spatula in a different drawer from the others for a reason unknown to us…
        The whole thing was very uncomfortable, and I felt was an invasion of privacy.
        And that’s totally not my laziness talking.

    3. Then again maybe the neighbors are bothered by noise at 7pm. I would be. Sure, I wouldn’t think I had the right to tell them to turn it down if it was that early in the evening, but I’d still resent it if it was super loud, especially if it was so loud that I would have to turn my tv up super loud just to hear what *I* am watching. I have the kind of hearing that can’t always clearly make out what a person it telling me to my face, but I hear and can’t tune out the extra loud music or television from a neighbor’s apartment. And if you can comfortably hear what you’re watching without blasting it so loud your neighbors can hear (which I assumed from the OP’s letter but I could be reading it wrong), it’s nice if you can keep it down. You don’t have to, but it’s one of those things that neighbors can do for each other.

      My point is not to say that the neighbors definitely are bothered by the noise. Maybe they aren’t! My point is just that we shouldn’t make any assumptions about what the neighbors are or aren’t bothered about because we have no way of knowing.

      1. Yeah, if I was home I would probably be bothered by loud noise, though not nearly as bothered by noise late at night or early in the morning. And I’d be less likely to feel like I had a ‘right’ to complain. It’s still nice to have a peaceful evening, though. And I am more likely to try to return the favour if I feel like my neighbours are also making an effort.

        Tl;dr, noise in the middle of the day is forgiveable but still nice to avoid when you easily can.

      2. I too would be bothered. I like silence. A lot.

        I don’t ask my neighbors to turn it down before 11 (midnight on Friday and Saturday) unless it shakes the walls. But yeah, noise bothers me. So I’m with the LW.

      3. You’re right and I phrased that badly. I definitely would prefer zero noise from neighbors at all times, but that isn’t possible, so I TRY not to be bothered by noise during the day (even though I definitely am sometimes).

        I don’t know, maybe I’ve spent too much time living around people who act like they don’t have any neighbors at all.

  11. Stop inviting them. Maybe forever, maybe just have Something Come Up for a while (where Something is vague and will be over when you feel like your friend has earned a second chance).
    If they give you shit about not inviting them, that shows more toxic entitlement to YOUR space on top of the entitlement they apparently feel re: getting to criticize your space and violate your rules.
    If that happens, definitely stop inviting them.

      1. I’m w/ both of these people. And I’m wondering, why the heck are you friends with someone like this?

        And I’m wondering–DO you invite them?

        My college-kid daughter lives in a house that’s become the central gathering place for lots of people, who drop in without a specific invitation; they just wander over. And eat her food, apparently.

        Just something I’ve learned in all my years: it’s never, ever good to let someone become this comfortable with “taking” from you. It’s very important to set limits, and to insist that they “give.”
        It’s very obvious that it’s not good for YOU when the giving/taking is this unbalanced.
        And it’s usually easy to see that it’s not good for the friendship.

        But i’s not good for your friend, for you to allow them to come over so much. Even without the bad behavior on their part, it’s not good for them to be able to get away with this much “taking.”

        There’s an old saying: Familiarity breeds contempt.
        That’s exactly what’s happening here. This friend is too familiar with your home.

        So what to do?
        Well, it depends on how forceful/direct/proactive you want to be.
        If you feel you’d get a boost for standing up for yourself, I’d get ahold of this friend and say, “Lately you have been rude to me in my house, taking people on tours and criticizing my cleaning. You override my attempts to control the volume on my TV and be considerate to my neighbors. So I don’t want you to come over for a while. We can get together at your place, or somewhere else. But not at my place. I need a break.”

        Or you can just not answer their calls for a while, and not answer the door ever, and not invite them. Basically fade out. If challenged, you say, “Oh, I’ve been busy. With stuff. Just stuff.”

      2. Or, “This is MY home, not yours.”

        “If my home is not the way you like it, you don’t need to visit.”

    1. The downside of doing that is that they may (with some reason) be upset that their friend is suddenly cold-shouldering them, especially when LW hasn’t done anything to show that it’s bothering them (laughing off the comments, for example). Sure, Visiting Friend has been rude, but may not be aware of how rude or that it hurts LW. There are things friends could say to or about me, which wouldn’t bother me (someone calling me messy, for example, or disorganised). There are things they can, which would. Visiting Friend saying, “Okay, so what’s happened? We were doing thing, and now we’re not doing thing and I miss doing thing.” is not necessarily a sign of toxic entitlement– it could just be a sign that they miss doing thing with their friend.

      I’m not saying visiting friend isn’t being rude, but I am saying that they may not be aware of the effect it’s having. Maybe they should, but they don’t.

      Bottom line, I’m not a fan of giving people invisible tests.

      (Also, how are they supposed to proved that they’ve earned a second chance? By showing that they aren’t making comments about the place they’re not actually in?)

  12. I don’t know if I’d take it as far as Sheelzebub’s second paragraph, but I must voice my strong agreement with the Captain’s last advice – do not have this person over, at least for at time. It does not mean you have to see them less, just don’t meet at your place.
    I think this would be the perfect solution for the near future at least, from several points of view: it gives you the opportunity to ‘sound’ your friendship – does the friction arise due to location or is it something else? Do you have interests in common outside staying in at your place? Does this friend invest as much in the relationship as you do (are they willing to meet outside/ treat *you* to dinner/ put in the time so they can interact with you)? Changing the place (and possibly the time) of the meeting might well give you a new perspective on this relationship and help you make certain that what you describe as friendship is not a free meal and a convenient place to crash rent-free deal for the other party involved.

    1. There may be many reasons why things are as they are. For example, I fatigue easily, so friends come to mine (and I appreciate that). Or they don’t have suitable supporting seating or a toilet I can access at their house. And to add to my list of conditions I’m also hearing impaired so meeting over a drink can have too much background noise!

      I, like LW, have a friend who is round mine 1-3 times a week. I think of him like family. The difference is, he knows how to also act like a guest and not criticise. He *has* made comments and suggestions – some of which were helpful, for example he told me about kits to install outdoor taps (and then fitted it for me in return for beer!) But when he detects he’s commented on something which hit a nerve, he backs off from that topic. For example our dogs are very differently motivated and we each have different ideas on the correct way to train and “parent” them.

      Anyway, I digress, sorry. My point is, it IS possible to have a family-like friend, and to enjoy their company very much, but you do need to bite the bullet and engage some scripts to be clear. I like the captain’s suggestions. My own technique is similar “Sorry I didn’t mention this before, but I’m telling you now”. I hope it helps, LW, to know that this is very achievable – assuming that your friend is a decent person in the first place. I hope they care enough to listen and adjust.

  13. I’d be fully tempted to use your friend’s criticisms of how you keep your space as a reason not to invite them over or let them in. “Oh, you just seem so bothered by the way I keep my space, it seems less stressful to you if we meet elsewhere.” “I’m afraid that my apartment isn’t really clean enough right now, maybe in a week or two?”

    That said, I am also half-asleep at the moment and definitely not thinking of all the ways this could backfire, so this is probably more of a ‘imagine the satisfaction you would get from doing this but follow a different suggestion’ situation.

    1. I actually love this.

      LW: My apartment isn’t clean enough for guests right now.

      Friend: oh, I don’t mind!

      LW: really? You always make comments about it, so it seems like you do mind. Anyway, I’m still not up for a guest right now. Let’s go to that place with the great drink/pizza/coffee/whatever!

      But yeah, it might end up causing more conflict than necessary. Probably best to just state your boundaries and then enforce them.

      1. It’s funny because I have a neat freak friend, and I have totally used this script with her – and she appreciates it because she’s self-aware of her extreme tidiness and our different cleanliness standards.
        “Oh we can’t go over to my place – the messy state it’s in right now would totally freak you out.”
        “[laughter] Okay, so my place/the bar/etc it is.”
        It doesn’t sound like the LW’s friend is conscientious enough for this approach to be as healthy (if the dirtiness really bothered them that much, they would stop coming over, right?)

    2. This seems like perfectly good use of words to me. Especially if said in a matter of fact tone. Granted it’s a little passive-aggressive. Maybe that’s where your concern is. But when the cause is righteous, like defending a reasonable boundary (vs plausible deniability for meanness), passive-aggressive can be useful step before aggressive-aggressive.

      1. That is sound insight, thank you; it probably is my knee-jerk reaction to being passive-aggressive working against me here. (That and my need of a nap, lol. I’ll definitely be addressing that need shortly!)

      2. “My apartment isn’t really clean enough right now” is a good script imo, but I agree that “you just seem so bothered…” comes off a little passive-aggressive. I don’t know about your friend, but some people (me!) can get irritated when something isn’t stated plainly, so I think it’s better to be direct.

        1. Well, LW could with both and say “my apartment is a mess, and I am not up to the usual audit of my cleanliness I get when you come over and it’s in that state. Let’s meet at ___ instead.”

          If Friend back pedals and says “oh no, I would never, I am just kidding” LW can still say “no, sorry. I am not up for guests this week. Let’s wait for another time. But I can meet you at _____.”

        2. I get why you would find that kind of indirectness annoying. Straight talk can be a sign of respect. Emotional honesty from someone is a gift of vulnerability. By that same reasoning I think it’s OK if the letter writer doesn’t choose to give that to her insensitive friend. I guess it would depend on how much damage had been done to the friendship.

        3. I agree, since I personally don’t think it’s okay to tell other people how they feel. I, too, am a cluttery person and I travel a lot which means my house is often in a state of disarray, and when it’s bad enough that I don’t want to have people over, I will tell them that, and if they respond with “but it doesn’t bother me!” I will just say “but it bothers ME” and we make alternate plans.

          1. Oh man, people who respond to “I don’t want to do X, because of reason Y” with “I don’t mind!” drive me a bit up a wall. The particularly notable example is people, in my experience always cis men, who respond to “I don’t feel like having sex, I’m on my period” this way. Yes, it’s great that you’re not menstrophobic or whatever, but *I* don’t feel very horny when I’m cramping, bloated, and leaking blood from my genitals.

    3. My only comment on this idea – the “house too messy” idea – is that it somehow says that the friend’s idea of an appropriately clean space is the right one. As someone who lives in a messy way, it’s taken me a while to find some give-no-shits attitude about others’ perception of my house, since it is MY house and I am the one who lives here. To point out that it’s too messy for guests could easily become a weird giving-in moment, because is it ever going to be less messy when that friend comes over? Probably not, since it’s in a perfectly acceptable state for the LW. It’s not too messy for guests; it’s too messy for *that* guest.

      1. Yeah you could go with something like “I don’t have the energy to hear your comments about my house keeping right now, and I’ve been busy, so lets go to a bar.” Which is more direct and points out that it is the comments, not the messy house that is the problem. But chances are the friend would have an issue.

        I once had a guest who I didn’t know very well. they’d arrived early for a party. They walked around my house and brought me every peice of dirt he found. (A random battery on the ground, a peice of paper wedged in the couch) And then stood in front of my DVD racks and said “your DVD’s arent’ alphabetized.” And I said. “yeah i know.” and said again “YOUR DVDS AREN”T ALPHABETIZED.”

        Some people should just not come to my house. Neither are the bookshelves.

        1. I would just like to point out that my guests would be lucky to find the DVDs even in the cases that match their titles, never mind alphabetized on my shelf! 🙂

          1. Meanwhile my friends think it’s weird that mine *are* alphabetized 🙂 They think it’s another one of my dysfunctional ex-librarian things. (They have *no idea*. I knew somebody back in my library days who had hers subject-classified…)

          2. @Winter Cherry, my DVDs used to be arranged by distributor so all the little logos lined up.
            No one else ever deciphered my odd little system.

        2. WTF? I alphabetize my books and dvds because I like to (and the reactions people give on seeing it is hilarious, because I’m not usually that organized). I can’t imagine expecting anyone ELSE to do it. Good grief!

          1. Chiming in as well on the alphabetising thing – back when I had enough books to do it, yeah the copious fiction was alphabetical by author… and in categories (never ever put mysteries on the same shelf with sci-fi or Regency romance), and the even more copious non-fiction was arranged by category and um… size. Sometimes colour. Same with CDs, videos, cassettes, pretty much everything I owned had a specific ‘order’ to it. A bit of a cross between Hoarding and OCD. When the household had to be packed up by SO and family/friends, people couldn’t believe the quantity of *stuff* I’d managed to squeeze into our flat.

            But I was very clear that that was MY way and not how everybody or anybody else should have to do it. This phrase is a cliche *because* it gets used so much: “Different strokes for different folks.” LW, I’m sorry your friend is overstepping here. I hope you can set boundaries and that the friendship remains (and is worth keeping). Best of luck and Jedi hugs.

    4. I love this too! It’d definitely let them know, politely, why you’re changing your hosting behavior :-). And please, please LW, don’t let this incredibly rude person back into your space unless you’re sure they’ll behave again, and that your friendship is valued for something else than the convenience..

  14. Agreeing with the whole invitation cessation option. It may seem harsh and not the best way for a friendship to continue but neither is being rude to the person who is nice enough to welcome you into their home for meals and stay-the-night-overs.

    1. Yes. LW didn’t say if the friend contributed to any of it, and I really hope they do, because food is expensive. If they don’t, that’s even more reason to cut back on invitations. “I can’t afford to feed you and you seem uncomfortable with my house, let’s just meet for coffee.” (Coffee is/can be cheaper than feeding someone dinner.)

      1. It doesn’t seem like the ‘friend’ is contributing to the costs of food, though not explicitly stated by the LW. Even if they do, it’s still rude to complain about the accommodations available, if they don’t find them up to par they DO have a home of their own they can be at.

    2. I agree with stopping the invitations too, but it’s easier said than done in my case because my Darth Guest is an older sister from out of state. Not only is my house too messy for her, but my dog is not trained to her rules, I don’t walk fast enough for her to achieve an aerobic workout, I don’t keep track of what time sunset is expected, and sometimes I enjoy silence. Oh, and I wash my French press parts in the dishwasher; she keeps trying to teach me, in a Delores Umbridge squeal, to just rinse it so as to not disturb “the yummy yummy oils”.

      I’m taking everyone’s scripts to heart and trying to remember that “because FAAAAAAMILY” doesn’t mean she can’t stay in a hotel next time.

      1. I’m not sure if you would find it worth it or not, but the french press thing would make me tempted to borrow a keurig for her next visit and hide the french press.

      2. Tell your lovely sister that those “yummy oils” oxidize and go rancid after a while*, and that you prefer your coffee to taste like coffee, not old bong water.

        *They do! Espresso machines get rinsed thoroughly each day, and regular maintenance.

      3. It is also completely okay to make up reasons why someone can’t stay at your house, even if they’re family. Apartment building is doing maintenance! Shower is being repaired! You’re having it painted!

        Other posters might disagree but I am actually totally okay with lying to keep someone who can’t respect my house out of my house.

      4. “yummy yummy”?
        How…..precious. *Shudder*

        A family tip you might be able to use: when I was little, my father’s oh so refined and elegant and of course imperious aunt with zero experience with children or animals informed my parents – parents of 5 small children + dog – that she was coming to stay for an indeterminate visit. After she’d been there about a week, we kids were surprised (shocked, really) when Dad said he’d do the dishes. And delighted when instead of loading the plates into the dishwasher, he offered each one to the dog to lick clean before putting it in the cupboard.
        Aunt left the next day.

        Mom tried very hard to convince us that this was not the proper way to treat guests, but her obvious relief that She was gone undermined the lesson.

        1. This reeks of greatness. “In the cupboard” is full of Win. Your Mom bagged a total stud.

      5. Someone who cares for you would not want you to drain your spoons on frivolities.

        “I really don’t have the energy to host this time, here are some hotel suggestions that I think you’d like. Let’s meet up for dinner at [special restaurant] and catch up.” is something that a caring person would respond to with understanding.

      6. I think that staying in a hotel would be exactly the right thing for your sister on all future visits that she makes out to where you’re living – it can be hard to tell someone that the first time or two, but each one will make it easier and easier. Better than hoping she’ll eventually change. 🙂

  15. My crabby Monday-morning response is to wonder what this person does that makes them merit the title “friend” in the first place. Because that is a LOT of aggravation to offset.

    1. Don’t blame Crabby Monday Syndrome; that would be my take on this situation on a perfect Saturday afternoon with both knitting and cats in my lap.

      “If my place doesn’t meet your exacting standards, you know where the front door is. You’ve used it plenty, availing yourself of my hospitality.”

  16. Recently had a friend of my daughters come over to play. She’s 10. She said something like “At my house my mom makes sure that the laundry is put in the hamper and not on the bathroom floor.” Something about the tone with which she said it had me bristling. I told her to go to her room. When she pointed out that she didn’t live with us, I pointed out that then maybe she shouldn’t be telling me the house rules for HER home when she was a guest in MY home.

    And I know that I don’t have to explain my mess, but I somehow feel compelled to explain it anyway: our laundry is collected in the linen closet of our bathroom and sometimes spills out onto the floor when the door is opened. Ah…better now!

      1. She was embarrassed but she smiled and sort of laughed and then looked to my daughter as her escape route. LOL!

        1. But I should also note, she’s been to our home several times since and we haven’t had an issue. She looks to my daughter to guide her through any house rules that are different. Some of my rules are more strict: we clean up our own plates and toys (her mom does a lot of that for her), and some of my rules are more lenient: I have a yard where the kids can go outside without supervision and bedtime on the weekend in my house is usually way later than other parents.

          1. What I like about what you did is that you talked to her person-to-person, not as if she were a lesser person worthy only of being ordered around. You could have said basically the same thing to an adult or much older child.
            And you did it in such a way that could make her think about it, and set her to contemplating boundaries, relationships, manners, when to keep your mouth shut, all sorts of things that a 10 yo might not have pondered before.

            Much better than my response which would have been to suggest that if it bothered her, she was welcome to take care of it herself.
            (Except it couldn’t happen at my house because clothes are never on the floor in my house because between Big Dog and Little Cat, clothes on the floor meet a sorry end.)

          2. “we clean up our own plates and toys (her mom does a lot of that for her)”

            Given the phrasing in the initial comment, I suspected this might be the case – her mom is likely responsible for most-to-all of the domeatic labo, down to picking up after everyone. Given that suspicion, my response to the laundry comment would have been along the lines of, “In our house, everybody is responsible for cleaning up messes they make themselves, not the mom’s job,” in order to subtly undermine the sexist domestic labor expectations, and which does sound like your general policy. For the record, I don’t consider that kind of policy more strict so much as it’s simply not sexist and ageist (our family rotated domestic chores, including preparing nightly meals/cleanup and sorting/washing/folding laundry, for as long as I can remember, at least as far back as age 6 for me). I also lacked a strong authoritarian structure, which was an unmitigated good – your household sounds similar to mine, and that’s great!

        2. Could I say something for her? Some adults find it perfectly normal to scold children on any misbehavior, no matter what is their relationship to the child, or how pertinent it is to the time. To some children, it seems that Mature Behavior is pointing out others’ failures. I remember thinking a lot of Rude Adult Behavior (racism, to start) as something I should imitate if I was going to grow up. I just don’t want you to think badly of her.

    1. Oh, yes, the arrogance and condescension of kids is absolutely infuriating. Somehow, it’s worse than an adult saying the same thing. Good for you; I always just get so shocked and angry that I can’t think of anything to say.

      1. To be fair, kids who do things like comment rudely on other people’s housekeeping are probably copying behaviours they’ve learned (like maybe the girl’s mother criticises other people for falling short of her standards behind their backs and she hasn’t grown enough of a filter yet to realise it’s even less acceptable to do it to their faces.) But that makes it all the more important for other adults to correct their behaviour.

      2. I find it helps to think of what they say as an experiment. Generally they’re copying someone in their life, and they’re not so much saying what they think as trying an attitude on for size. Someone has taught them that this is how people behave, so they’re playing dress-up with it. In their way, they’re probably trying to get your approval by saying something they think is appropriate – they’re just too young to realise that it’s not. And the more condescending they sound, the more likely it is that they’re mimicking someone.

        Generally, saying ‘That’s not very polite’ is a useful go-to. It makes it clear that this identity they’re trying on isn’t going to work in this context, and gives you an opening to explain if they want to know why. And if they don’t accept that, you can move straight to, ‘I told you I didn’t like it when you did such-and-such. Now are you going to stop it, or am I going to have to call your mother/send you home/whatever consequence?’

        1. “I find it helps to think of what they say as an experiment. ”

          Oh lord yes. I remember being quite young–5? 6?–and being a guest at my parents’ friends house. I wanted to ask for a drink, and I SPECIFICALLY REMEMBER THINKING “Man, I wonder what they will do if I am SUPER RUDE about it?”

          My parents were not pleased.

          Fortunately I am much less of a little shit now. LW, I hope your friend either grows up or backs off.

          1. Oh man, I’m surprised I survived my “I wonder what would happen if” days.
            Which sounds like I grew out of it, but to be honest, I still think that crazy spontaneous ****, but when I was 10 I learned that my spontaneous brain is trying to kill me:

            A friend had hanging from her ceiling a ball pinata with a long tail of streamers. Back in the day when pinatas were made of tissue paper. And when ornamental candles were THE thing. So as I was playing with the streamers, spontaneous deathwish brain blurted out, “I wonder what would happen if we lit these on fire.”
            Unfortunately, my friend’s spontaneous brain also had a deathwish.

            Fortunately, the window was open, and fortunately the screen fell out, and fortunately her side yard was all concrete. And fortunately it was trash day so we could hide the evidence in a trash can on the next street.

            Spontaneous deathwish brain still thinks crazy **** but we don’t listen to it anymore.

        2. Yes, that’s so helpful! I remember once (I wasn’t really a kid anymore, 18 and just went to college, but it was a subject that almost NEVER came up at home) when I said something that makes me CRINGE now, but I remember when I said it just thinking, “I wonder if this is okay or not; I haven’t heard people saying it, does that mean it’s wrong or just uncommon?” (It was using a race-related word that I wasn’t sure about) Thankfully my friend that I was talking to just said mildly that she didn’t like it, I decided I’d go by what she said, and I’ve never said it again. And now I know better, and she was being polite/understanding of the fact that I was clueless, but yes, the trying an idea/attitude/vocabulary on for size is a good summary of that sort of situation.

        3. “I find it helps to think of what they say as an experiment. Generally they’re copying someone in their life, and they’re not so much saying what they think as trying an attitude on for size. Someone has taught them that this is how people behave, so they’re playing dress-up with it.”

          That’s brilliant. i’d never thought of it that way before.

    2. My daughter (also ten) has a friend who is very very rude. What I’ve begun saying is, “In our house, the rules are X.” She’s befuddled by this and has trouble adhering to the rules but at the very least I’ve begun addressing issues that her parents don’t seem capable of teaching her.

      Also, when she and my daughter are playing, she often grabs my and shouts “NO! You can’t go in there!” if I’m about to walk through what she thinks of as a lava field or something. I’ve had to tell her, several times, “You do not grab people unless they are in imminent real danger. Also, you do not tell me what to do in my own home.” One time she wanted my daughter to play and when I explained she was busy, she threw a temper tantrum at me. “But I WANT to play! WHY are you being so MEAN!?”

      It’s exhausting enough to teach other people’s children how to be a good guest. I feel for LW that they must teach other adults to be a good guest. Sigh.

      1. Wooooooow, that’s amazing. The unselfconscious manipulativeness of young kids is really something. I’m reminded of my elementary school friends who would try to manipulate other kids into giving them a dessert item from their lunch by saying “What Would Jesus Do?” (catholic school) or that by not participating in bizarre pranks that they were “being selfish”. Brrrrrr.

    3. Your response was awesome! And in solidarity I will note that in my house, OUR laundry is collected in an array of hampers, floors, and beanbags. Anyone who would like to complain about that would be invited to wash, dry, fold and put it away. 🙂

    4. This is a totally normal thing for a 10-year-old to do and your response was completely appropriate and perfect.

      It’s doing these things at 10 years old that keeps you from doing them at 20/30/60.

    5. I’m sorry, but I have to say that I’m a little uncomfortable with the bashing of kids in this comment thread. When it comes to young kids, like under 12-13-ish, their manners will have less to do with whether they are good people and more to do with 1) their parents and 2) their natural aptitude in social situations. I’m perhaps a bit sensitive to this because I was a terrible house-visitor as a child but not on purpose, and when other people’s parents punished me it became something that made its way through the school grapevine and was used by other kids to bully me. My parents are very judgmental people and they raised me to be the same. They taught me that when you go to someone else’s house, you should clean and organize as much as you are able, and if you don’t then you’re a bad person. So that is what I did. Also, I was pretty socially inept and didn’t learn how to tell when people are uncomfortable with my behavior until high school, so when I followed my parents’ rule I couldn’t notice that I was upsetting the adults in the house. Looking back on it now, I’m very grateful to the friends’ parents who were gentle about it, saying “please don’t” or getting their kid to take me away to play somewhere else, and I still feel terror when I think of the friends’ parents who were harsh about it and punished me or yelled at me the way they would their own child. I understand that it is hard to be patient with kids, but I think adults have the responsibility when they choose to let kids into their space to do everything in their power to be patient and understanding and treat the kids with kindness. And I say this as someone who is careful not to spend time near kids, because I know that I snap too easily and could really cause a kid some emotional damage.
      tl;dr: I think understanding and acceptance of differences is something that comes later in life and I don’t think kids should be punished for lacking it.

    6. I have totally been that kid. I was horrified and shocked when someone’s mum heard me say I didn’t like the house cos it was messy. I have always bitten my tongue since then.

      My mum’s neat freak control tendencies have passed to me, gotten more intense through being a nurse, and have to work really hard on not trying to streamline and improve other people’s lives for them. Which may involve doing their dishes, cleaning their cat litter, tidying their desk… but sometimes it is so hard. Especially when I’m dating and living with someone. And I can see how much distress it causes them and I just want to help. When I’m anxious I want to feel in control so I tidy!

      So I apologise for my faults!

      1. We’ve ALL been that kid, whether we remember it or not. I do a lot of volunteer activities where I frequently interact with kids. They all say or do things like what my daughter’s friend did. To be fair, most times they’re not doing it because they’re being mean spirited or because they’re being condescending. They’re honestly just sharing how things are handled in the place where they’re most familiar with and haven’t yet realized that not every family does it that way. The thing I hear most when I volunteer (I’m a Girl Scout leader) is “My mom lets me do that” after I’ve told them not to do something. My response to that is to remind the girls that their mom isn’t there and there are several ways to do things, and that we’re going to do it my way for a little bit.

        1. I’m a teacher and a Brownie leader and my question is always “Would you do that at home?”.

          If the answer’s ‘No’ – “Then you don’t do it here, either.”
          If the answer’s ‘Yes’ – “Then you keep it at home, you don’t do it here.”

          Also, when kids in the 7-12 bracket come out with unacceptable stuff my answer is just direct eye-contact and a firm “Rude!”. It’s a statement, there’s no discussion, and they understand.

          To drag it vaguely on-topic I am also resolutely unapologetic about the state of my own home, and whilst no one ever has been rude enough to comment on it if they did I would just shrug and say “If it bothers you, there’s the hoover / cloth / door.”.

  17. If your almost roommate friends who don’t pitch in around the house want to say shit about your housekeeping, “It’s not a huge priority for me, but you know where the cleaning supplies are, otherwise STFU” seems fair. If they’re over that much letting/asking them to help out a little seems 100% reasonable.

  18. LW, you’re letting your friend stay over at your place and they’re responding by giving other people guided tours of All The Ways You Are A Less Than Magazine-Ready Housekeeper? My jaw’s dropping at the rudeness. You’re definitely right to be bothered by their behaviour, because they are way out of line. Don’t be afraid to speak up for your needs, and to stop providing overnight service for this person altogether if they can’t show a decent level of politeness in response.

  19. Oh this kind of thing drives me up a wall. It’s so rude to behave like that!

    I agree with everyone who has said that the price of bad behavior is the loss of access to your home. This friend shouldn’t get to invade your space if they’re going to be nasty and rude!

  20. My home is my sanctuary, and if I invite you in and you complain about how I have decorated or cleaned or (if you are very, very lucky) what I have baked or cooked, you will not get invited back. We all have personal quirks, and when you share a space with someone who is actually contributing toward rent and utilities, of course you have to compromise sometimes on how you both/all like to do things. But if you live alone, and pay the extra money for the privilege of being alone, then your house = your rules. If my guest complains about cleaning / cooking / interior design or that I like closed captioning on my TV and the sound turned down to reasonable, neighborly levels (partially due to slight crowd deafness / middle ear deafness and getting distracted by accents, plus nice neighbors I don’t want to antagonize!), you will not be invited back to my home.

    I have lived with other people for most of my adult life until recently, and most were great roommates, BUT now that I have been alone for a few years, I. LOVE!!! IT. My house, my rules (within reason as I do not own the property…so I can’t paint the front door bright red or cut back shrubberies or anything like that without asking first).

    During the work week, I am often too tired or busy or both to scrub toilets (and sometimes my bad back doesn’t ALLOW me to do vigorous scrubbing or back-and-forth movements to vacuum, etc.) and I have never given much of a damn about stove burners, as I don’t cook often and they aren’t fire hazards or gross. I also don’t always SEE grime around the edges because the house is old, I am nearsighted and don’t wear my glasses or contacts in the house because I read a lot (and have old eyes so glasses or contacts mean I have to use readers or take my corrective glasses off or contacts out to read), there’s construction and demolition going on, and I might miss a dropped Q-tip in the bathroom or a piece of elbow macaroni in the kitchen. That said, I am one of those people who cleans up as I go: if I cook, I’m washing stuff the minute the food goes on the stove or in the oven and if I take off clothes, they go in the hamper or on a hanger (or, on a bad or busy or frequently-interrupted day, on a special place on my desk where they will annoy me until I hang them up). I swipe the tub down if I have used some gritty or slippery scrub or conditioner while the water drains. This keeps the worst at bay, but I may have a hair in my tub or a mug in my sink. Too bad! STFU!

    Those are a lot of words that add up to me really having a hard time believing how rude some people can be when you offer them a kindness. I concur that giving this person a time-out and finding other, more polite friends to invite over is probably the way to go. And, if they complain, you have some excellent scripts being suggested. You don’t have to come right out and say, bluntly, “you are acting like an asshole in my house and I am giving you a time-out until you learn how not to be an asshole and behave yourself when you are a guest,” because, whoa, holy megafight! The goal is to reduce stress! But yeah–give them a time out long enough for them to notice it. Maybe however long it would take them to come over 10 or 20 times, be that a month or three months. See if they improve when deprived of free food, a quicker route to work, use of your goodies and space, and your company. If they don’t, they have proven themselves unworthy to be invited into your sanctuary.

  21. Dear LW,

    Another ploy your friend may try is ” But why didn’t you tell meeeeee?”

    Ignore the “why”. “I’m telling you now. My house, my rules. That means no comments about my house keeping, and low tv volume.”

  22. Yeah, that is pretty egregious behavior. I like the suggestions for either resetting locations, or just stating that you don’t like the comments.

    I’ve had to walk this line with friends of mine: I always want to help when I visit, but some people don’t like that. So, I don’t help without being asked at their houses! This is not rocket science…

  23. I’ve just been stumped trying to figure out where the “kick me” sign is on my back. I’ve invited people over who just decide they can tell me how to live. Like an old HS friend, vegan, who I put up for a couple of days even tho I told her first it was a REALLY bad time for me. Really bad means my pipes are frozen and you have to poop in a bag; the old kitty is dying and I need to standby for the final vet goodbye. Person didn’t like the bag routine and did it out side (broad daylight) seeing herself as the victim. She was totally and very descriptively warned. The food was all moved so she didn’t have to have anything on a shelf with meat or animal products, still the big rolling eyes and I didn’t dare have eggs for breakfast for 3 days (until I kicked her out, claiming extreme and pathological introversion — anything!). Another friend came over, I was making breakfast, opened the fridge, took creamer out, put it in my coffee, and she has the fridge door shut for me before I can open it. Asks can she have some vitamin A (arrived from out of town without it) I say sure, and she complains that the dosage is too small (such that she “has” to eat 12 of them, no kidding). I could go on (and on.. ) but .. where do they find me? Better still, how can I be invisible as a target for dictatorial improvement?

    Good for you LW for questioning the process. Hope you can forge through to a genuine friendship with this person, or someone kinder.

    1. Whoa, hold on – your old HS friend decided to poop OUTSIDE in broad daylight because they had a problem with doing their business in a *bag*?? I mean clearly a bag is not the optimal situation for pooping in, but it’s GOT to be better than outside in broad daylight. The pooping outside thing would be more than sufficient grounds to toss a guest out for me, and not just because I don’t do “roughing it” if it requires pooping outdoors (I only camp if there are real toilets available!). You told them in clear and explicit detail what was meant by “REALLY bad time”, but even if they didn’t believe you at first, surely it became crystal clear about the time they started contemplating pooping outside.

      I completely stopped doing the “you can crash here on the couch for a bit” thing. I don’t entertain anyone’s lead-in pitch that will eventually get around to asking if they could stay a night or two because of ‘dire circumstances’. I learned a lot from the time when a boyfriend asked if he could stay with me for a couple of weeks and it ended up being almost THREE YEARS. And our relationship had problems before that. So major of problems that it was really hard for me to go ahead and be on board with the current s/o and I living together.

      While I won’t recommend a terrible relationship for teaching one how to say NO and then FULL STOP on the circuit of guests from hell, for me it simply required a total commitment to the NO.

      1. Yes, this was one where you worry about what the neighbors will stink … er.. think, seriously. But we both lived to tell the tale, and so will LW.

        1. Lol, may your future be free from guests who show up when you tell them it’s a bad time, and free of guests who poop outside. 🙂

    2. She ate 12 of your vitamin A supplements? Does she not realize that vitamin A is toxic in high doses? (It’s why the Inuit will eat every part of a polar bear except the liver)

      1. She is an MD, they were only 100 IU; but she acted like she new my numbers and I should be doing more (without checking either my blood or the levels in my multi vitamin). She is still fine a few years later, but so am I. I just can’t imagine complaining as a guest that my host doesn’t have a vitamin strong enough for me, and really eating most the bottle without saying “thanks” but instead “what a hassle!” Yes, there is something about me that permits this and i LOVE this group for helping me to recognize and try to figure things out. I am wondering if LW has some of those characteristics — I mean there are people you just wouldn’t DARE to say such things to – and you can tell that on some level from a long way off. Maybe the captain has got there.

    3. Where do they find you? How do you make yourself less of a target? Well: they usually find people like you by trying everyone they can get their hands on, trespassing small boundaries with little rudenesses and impositions, until they find someone who will put up with their shit; then when they detect an opening they barge right in and demand as much as they can get away with. You become less of a target when you can assert yourself more and set more boundaries, pushing back in little ways and big. Your way is YOUR way, in YOUR house, which makes it right and not in need of improvement unless YOU want it to.

      1. The thing I wonder is what the people who do this sort of thing get out of the transaction. How does it benefit the guest to complain that her hostess has the wrong dosage of vitamins? For that matter, in the original letter, what is the guest getting out of complaining that the house they’re visiting isn’t clean enough or is arranged improperly. It surely doesn’t result in a more comfortable house to mooch in. And the secondary guest can’t be likely to be impressed with guest #1’s complaints. I don’t expect answers. It just leaves me shaking my head.

        1. I think it can be a lot of things. Sometimes it’s lack of a filter–every passing judgment or irritation just comes out of their mouth. Sometimes it’s a misguided attempt at iconoclasm, deliberately flouting social norms, and never mind that some social norms (like “don’t insult your host’s house, for crying out loud”) actually do serve a useful purpose. (Often these people will tie it in with claiming to just be so very Honest and Real, which is a pretty common smokescreen for being a jerk.) Sometimes it’s manipulation–attempting to make displeasing them or not meeting their personal expectations so unpleasant that you bend over backwards to accommodate them. Sometimes it’s just a mean desire to see someone squirm, or to feel superior. Sometimes it’s thoughtless, sometimes it’s malicious.

          But I think almost all of those cases start with poking at your boundaries to see what you’ll let them get away with, as staranise said. Even people who claim to be ‘just being honest’ or ‘having no filter’ usually (not 100% always, but in my experience the vast majority of the time) manage to not be complain-y judgmental jerks when it’s likely to do them harm, and there’s a process of figuring out who’s going to let you get away with it.

        2. Sometimes people get control and dominance out of it, and put others on the defensive. Not necessarily intentionally; some people take others doing things differently as implied criticism of themselves, or feel that they have to express their discomfort with things not being the way they would do them. Sometimes it’s also blame-shifting, eg. greedily taking most of the host’s vitamins is made into the host’s fault for not having larger-dosage ones. It can distract the person they’re taking advantage of and also enable themselves to think that they’re still a “good person” doing the “right thing” even when their presumptuous rude behaviour says otherwise.

        3. I don’t think they consciously look for people they can trample, I think they just dismiss people they can’t trample as being touchy, inflexible, and possibly ‘can’t take criticism’, hence they end up in much closer relationships with folks who have a tendency to not enforce boundaries. So in examples like the LW’s issue, the trampler is just Doing Their Thing (which is to say, being pushy and critical and so forth). They aren’t intentionally TRYING to be jerks, they just think they know better and get irritated (and sometimes act out as a response to that irritation) if they aren’t properly, in their view, catered to. They also generally think of other people, especially ones they’re close to, as being sort-of extensions of themselves. So they generally think of themselves as being pretty chill folks who are Just Trying To Help and occasionally are forced to react to situations created by the trample-ee. It’s why they tend to be genuinely shocked and angry when people call them out.

          In the vitamin situation I can see Trampling Friend as wanting something, being annoyed that Trampled Friend didn’t have the thing that they (in the trampler’s view) SHOULD have had, and thus kicking up a bit of a fuss over it as a slight punishment to induce their trample-ee to buy the ‘right’ thing next time. They might not even be particularly angry and are viewing their negative reaction as being a teaching moment. Same with the house —- I think the friend is just creating a slight ‘punishment’ in order to guide their host into making the ‘right’ decisions the next time. I don’t think they hold any malice and I think they genuinely believe that they’re helping. It’s just that the trample-ees, 1. have no idea that they’re being ‘helped’, and 2. find the whole thing incredibly defeating and toxic. Plus since they are actually two different people, the trampler will NEVER be totally satisfied. As I’ve seen it, it tends to be sort of a self-maintaining cycle, until either the trample-ee gets ticked enough to tell the trampler to shove it, or the trampler gets so frustrated with the trample-ee ‘inability to do things right’ that they can’t stand it anymore and leave themselves.

          1. Interesting. Thanks. I never thought of it as the wisecrack comments as intended to be helpful.

    4. Marsydotes, to honestly answer your question, the kick-me sign is the part where you don’t say no and enforce the boundary up front. Boundary disrespecting people detect this (by testing your boundaries like staranise said) and then latch onto you. They take up space and energy in your life that you would use for more thoughtful and respectful people too, and they stick around if they can get what they want from you (so they start to outnumber the respectful people in your life). I say this not to blame you! I say it because I have had this problem myself.

      For example, if I was in your position with a broken toilet and a dying pet and a friend who wanted to visit (with dietary requirements that don’t match mine and they expect to be met no less) I would tell them no. Some people will ignore (or not hear/understand) hints and they won’t necessarily take a list of adverse circumstances as a reason to stop asking for something. It’s difficult if you’ve been raised to be super accomodating, but the best way out of this is to just say no upfront to things you don’t want to have happen. Reasonable people will understand, and unreasonable people will work out that you’re not going to give them what they want and move on to another victim.

      I really do understand where you’re coming from. When I was younger I had an interstate friend who would come and stay in the tiny flat I shared with my boyfriend sometimes. He decided to visit during my exams. I said it was exam week, and he said he was OK with that, and once that hint sailed over his head I was at a loss. He was the kind of guy who would literally rearrange all my furniture because he couldn’t sleep if the fengshui was bad. He was very very intrusive. I was stressed out of my brain, and at one point he came up to me while I was stress-cleaning the bathroom and told me to stress less and to relax. I still didn’t ask him to leave – I just had a total melt down to my boyfriend who thankfully arranged somewhere else for the guy to stay. Thankfully (on hindsight) they guy was horrible offended and that was the last we saw of him. But yeah. Also on hindsight, the thing I *should* have done was say “sorry no, you can’t stay this time, I have exams” and then continue to have a casual friendship with a guy I liked to see occasionally when he wasn’t all up in my house driving me nuts. Boundaries make for better relationships, and if people flee when you draw them that’s good information about the kind of people they are (i.e. people you don’t want around).

    5. In the first example you give, it’s clear that you didn’t want your friend to stay with you. Even if she was the best guest in the world, you didn’t want to host at that time in your life. So why did you say yes? The answer to that will guide you to the “kick me” sign.

      I want to recommend a book called “The Dance of Anger: a Woman’s Guide to Changing the Pattern of Intimate Relationships,” by Harriet Lerner. I think it has some great advice for setting boundaries and asserting yourself in a positive way.

      The book really picks apart and examines the tradeoffs people make (and in particular the tradeoffs that women make), the fears people have, the internal drivers, the way we’re shaped by our family histories, and so on. It’s about asserting yourself in a positive, kind way, and how relationships can grow stronger and richer if you do so. It helps you get through the rocky period where both people around you and you yourself can find yourself resisting change.

        1. I think what happens is the agreement changes without renegotiation. For instance, “Its a bad time for me, but if you really need a place, you can stay one night..” becomes, “I’m here and will stay put until you prove how (put down adjective) you are by kicking me out.” Or “I’m fine with your pipes being frozen..” becomes “how gross I’m heading out to the lawn…” or “I don’t mind being where someone eats (dissed category of food intake) ..” to “Oh my God, how could you, that’s so (whatever judgmental adjectives..)” So the anger is from a bait and switch operation where a person arrives grateful and leaves pissy. Could I have predicted this from prior interactions? Hard when you haven’t seen the old HS friend for 20+ years. I didn’t want to assume the worst, or go to the wall on self protection. But no, this person won’t be staying with me again. And I need to be able to say “Ok, I agreed to this, but not to that; I’m not renegging on “A” because it is now clearly “B.” And also I think if I accept my own limitations (and don’t criticize myself all day, even for noticing criticism..) then I’ll be less interested or involved when someone rolls out their You-improvement-program. Perfect scenario, I can see it from stepped back as their trip I don’t need to trip over.

    6. It sounds like you were trying a soft no with the HS friend, explaining every possible way how much you wanted them to take the hint that they should not stay with you. A soft no, or a no with too much justification, is easier for a boundary-stomping person to trample over. The friends I have who most often complain that they’re the one who always gets their goodwill abused are often the ones who make the most use of saying no softly so they never have to actually say “no”.

      You might consider practicing saying more definite no’s into your mirror, saying them out loud might make them easier to marshal in the moment.

      “I can’t put you up at my place.”
      “The grocery store should have a dosage that suits you better.”
      “I am not discussing my medications with you.”
      “We are not having this discussion.”
      “I won’t be hosting you on this trip, but I would love to get together for a meal sometime when you’re in town.”
      “I am definitely not interested and won’t be changing my mind, thanks.”
      “If you have to have an answer right now then the answer is no.”

      Giving a flat, hard no can be scary when you’re used to more gentle means if disagreement, but it can be worth practicing for when you encounter someone who acts like everything except a hard no said fifteen times is a “yes”. Some people will never take a soft no. When someone is being pushy over your reasonable arguments against what they want, that doesn’t mean you have to give in. You’re not required to host someone else, or give them your drugs, or let them hector you about your health. You don’t even have to do those things to be a close friend to someone.

      Good luck!

    7. It sounds like you were trying a soft no with the HS friend, explaining every possible way how much you wanted them to take the hint that they should not stay with you. A soft no, or a no with too much justification, is easier for a boundary-stomping person to trample over. The friends I have who most often complain that they’re the one who always gets their goodwill abused are often the ones who make the most use of saying no softly so they never have to actually say “no”.

      You might consider practicing saying more definite no’s into your mirror, saying them out loud might make them easier to marshal in the moment.

      “I can’t put you up at my place.”
      “The grocery store should have a dosage that suits you better.”
      “I am not discussing my medications with you.”
      “We are not having this discussion.”
      “I won’t be hosting you on this trip, but I would love to get together for a meal sometime when you’re in town.”
      “I am definitely not interested and won’t be changing my mind, thanks.”
      “If you have to have an answer right now then the answer is no.”

      Giving a flat, hard no can be scary when you’re used to more gentle means if disagreement, but it can be worth practicing for when you encounter someone who acts like everything except a hard no said fifteen times is a “yes”. Some people will never take a soft no. When someone is being pushy over your reasonable arguments against what they want, that doesn’t mean you have to give in. You’re not required to host someone else, or give them your drugs, or let them hector you about your health. You don’t even have to do those things to be a close friend to someone.

      Good luck!

    8. I don’t know if this will help, but I’ve found it’s helpful to remember things like, “No is a complete sentence,” and to remind myself that if someone is ignoring my No then that means they have no respect for me and my boundaries and I need to be a broken record. Which is REALLY hard at first, but gets easier. Along with the book suggestion below, I would also recommend the book “Boundaries” by John Townsend and Henry Cloud. It gave me so much good insight on how boundaries are formed, where boundary issues come from, and how to start setting some. (A quick heads up that the authors are both Christian and come from a Christian perspective; I am too, so this was helpful for me, and most of what they write is based on their psychology experience [actual training, not just making it up] so it may not affect your feelings, but if having spirituality come up will squick you out then you may not want to try it.)

      Also, I second what someone said below; normally if someone ignores your boundaries they’ll start with something smaller and work up; normally they won’t start by moving into your house for a few days when it’s bad timing. If you can manage to say no on the smaller battles, a lot of the real boundary-crushers will move on to an easier target. If you know that, sometimes the smaller nos become easier.

      I also find for the “dictatorial improvement” that if someone is convinced that they know how to live my life better than me, and try to convince me, it’s easiest to say something like, “I’ll keep that in mind,” rather than discussing it with them. This doesn’t include when they actually take action, say adding creamer to your coffee, but if they say, “Hey, coffee’s so much better with creamer,” this will often shut them up, especially if you keep repeating it without engaging.

      1. The coffee example is great, because the HS friend really did do that (she made me coffee with coconut oil instead). NOOOOOOOoooo!
        Thank you for your kind words, really reading these again and again as I want them to sink in and much conditioning to the contrary.

  24. I think Miss Manners would coolly say, “I’m so sorry you’re not comfortable in my home.” And while holding the front door open, hand the guest a lovely African Violet to decorate their own home with.

  25. With regards to your friend’s constantly turning the volume up on the TV – if you’re watching things on DVD or similar, and there’s an option to turn on subtitles, do so, and see whether your friend still turns up the volume regardless. Your friend may well be finding themselves on the edge of a sub-clinical hearing problem (i.e. one which won’t really be resolved by getting a hearing aid), and I know from personal experience one of the first symptoms of those is problems making sense of the dialogue in things like movies and video games. Turning on the subtitles on DVDs was an eye-opener for me – having the visual cue to aid with sorting out what the noises I was hearing were supposed to mean made things a lot easier to understand.

    (Your friend is still being bloody rude by turning the volume up all the time, especially when you have a stated preference for not doing so. I’m just offering this as a possible explanation for why they might be doing it.)

  26. I just wanted to say that I am a very tidy person, and I would NEVER EVER take a tour of someone’s kitchen and point out what hasn’t been cleaned because that is SUPER RUDE.

    Honestly this person would probably not be getting any invites from me for quite a while if I were in your situation, but I get that you are close to your friend and you probably want to try and see if you can get them to stop the rude behaviour rather than deciding they are unwelcome in your home.

    The Captain’s scripts are good, but I would step up the bluntness if the behaviour persists (I am usually someone who prefers to soften things wherever possible, but this is, as the Captain says, quite far outside the bounds of politeness). Even just straight up saying ‘Wow, that was really rude’ might help your friend realise that what they are doing is very inappropriate. Ultimately though, what they are doing is pretty blatant, so I would be prepared to sit them down and have a ‘If you want to spend time at my house, you need to cut this out, otherwise I won’t invite you here again’ talk.

    However, if you would really rather not confront this person, don’t feel ashamed for just stopping the invites. I mean, if I took this course of action and my friend decided to ask why invitations to my house were no longer forthcoming, they would get an honest answer, but I don’t think you’re obligated to provide a reason if you decide you’d rather just not have them in your space anymore. If you invite someone to your house, you’re doing something nice for them, not the other way around.

    Good luck LW!

  27. LW, your “friend” sounds completely awful — not just rude, but actually a bad person. Obviously, you know them, and presumably they have some good qualities, but if it’s worth anything, you have this internet stranger’s permission to consider cutting them off altogether.

  28. Ugh, that friend sounds awful! I mean, I have gone over to my (best friend since age 14/15), friend’s apartment and looked through his books or gently teased him about his messy bachelor ways (we’re studying in the same field and so we trade books back and forth, and we’re more like siblings than friends). But still. He asks me to stop, I stop. I don’t antagonize his cat, his neighbors, or criticize him to others (or more than slight teasing to his face, like “hey, I’m going to get lost in all these papers!”) I think a close friend can go beyond normal social expectations of a guest sometimes, but in any case, they need to be kind. And that is clearly not happening here.

  29. I’m struggling to understand how this person is a friend, exactly. Does this frenemy have any redeeming qualities that have caused LW to be willing to put up with this behaviour for so long?

  30. There may be many reasons why things are as they are. For example, I fatigue easily, so friends come to mine (and I appreciate that). Or they don’t have suitable supporting seating or a toilet I can access at their house. And to add to my list of conditions I’m also hearing impaired so meeting over a drink can have too much background noise!

    I, like LW, have a friend who is round mine 1-3 times a week. I think of him like family. The difference is, he knows how to also act like a guest and not criticise. He *has* made comments and suggestions – some of which were helpful, for example he told me about kits to install outdoor taps (and then fitted it for me in return for beer!) But when he detects he’s commented on something which hit a nerve, he backs off from that topic. For example our dogs are very differently motivated and we each have different ideas on the correct way to train and “parent” them.

    Anyway, I digress, sorry. My point is, it IS possible to have a family-like friend, and to enjoy their company very much, but you do need to bite the bullet and engage some scripts to be clear. I like the captain’s suggestions. My own technique is similar “Sorry I didn’t mention this before, but I’m telling you now”. I hope it works and that your friend cares enough about you to listen, and change.

    1. Your comment about the dogs…it also works for kids. I’ve had people as guests in my home who’ve disagreed with how I’ve handled a parenting moment. “If he was my son I would have…” I never let it get to the what they would have done part. That’s IMMEDIATELY shut down with a stern “your input was not requested nor is it welcomed. These are my children and I will raise them as I see fit.”

      If you want to judge how I keep my home, raise my kids, train my dogs, mow my lawn, etc, then fine, judge away. But do it silently and from a distance. There is always more than one way to do a task and I’m going to always do the one that works for me. There’s no “correct” way.

  31. The good Capt is more forgiving than I. I’m tempted to say that people who behave that way aren’t your friends, period, so stop inviting them over. As long as they are filling the space in your life, you won’t have room for people who (1) care about your feelings (2) respect your boundaries and (3) reciprocate invitations. Let ’em go.

    1. That’s what I kept trying to say, although the three times I tried to post it the comment disappeared. I’m struggling to understand what it is about this person that makes him/her a friend, because I’m not seeing any good points.

      1. Same here, but I guess the LW wasn’t asking for advice on whether or not the person is worth keeping in their life.

      2. To be fair, LW presumably doesn’t need advice on dealing with the friend’s good traits.

  32. I like repeating this kind of behaviour back in an incredulous tone. The person in this case is my mom, a very neat and tidy person by nature.

    “Did you just comment on how I load the dishwasher after I cooked you dinner?”
    “Did you just comment on my unopened mail? Why are you looking at my mail in the first place?”

    And I got the “I was just kidding, you are too sensitive…” as a response most times. To which I say, “Yup. Guess you have to walk on eggshells around me and not say things out of turn about me.”

    I don’t know about the success of the technique (I just like it), but there was something else that happened about three years ago that kind of had Mom listening to boundaries for a time.

    I might be known for my disorderly conduct in most of my home, but my closet… nope. It’s a little extreme in it’s organization levels because it’s my little controllable universe. When I was married, my Mom came to visit for a week; one day she was napping and I took the time to fold and put away laundry. I was almost done and she walked into my bedroom and announced, “I want to see your closet! I bet it’s so tidy!” Well, it always is, so it was clearly her trying to get her snoop on.

    “No, Mom. Our closet is private.”

    “Oh, don’t be silly, I’m sure it’s so clean.” She continued walking to the closet.

    “Mom. No. There are things husbands and wives have that are not for public eyes.”

    “Oh, please.” And she barged right into our closet. She must have caught sight of a marital aid that I knew was there and didn’t want her to see. She skittered out of the closet sideways, like a crab on speed. She never spoke of it and took great care to respect my household boundaries for the rest of that trip.

  33. “I like the way the kitchen cupboards are arranged, but if the area under the stove elements is bothering you, the sponge and scrubby are in that bucket under the sink, on the left.”

    “I’m sorry you’re so uncomfortable here. Let me make a reservation for you at a hotel.”
    “No really, I insist. Let me have your credit card. Oh, here it is. I’m sure they’ll be fine with the t.v. volume turned up.”
    “Don’t be silly. I want you to enjoy yourself, and I’ve evidently been doing a terrible job, or you wouldn’t have said anything. I’m sure a hotel is the way to go. I’ll just lock the door behind you on your way out.”

    “It’s awful the way these paper thin apartment walls make me keep the volume low. What movie would you like to treat me to tonight? I understand the multiplex at the new mall has a great sound system that should be loud enough for you.”

    “I’m so grateful to you for showing X around and helping her feel at home. Are you sure that pointing out the craft supplies under the stairs was the right thing to do? I’m so worried that she’ll think ill of you for doing that.”

  34. Next time she asks about coming over: “Gosh, you know, you’ve made me realize that I really shouldn’t have guests over when my place is in this condition. I guess I just won’t be able to host so often any more.”

    In the moment: “Oh, I didn’t realize that sort of thing bothered you so much. Would you prefer we hang out somewhere else?”
    Or, more directly, “if the dirty stove is bothering you so much, the sponges are under the sink.” (This assumes you are pretty close of course, but I did tell a friend last weekend that if he can eat off my plates he can damn well put them in the dishwasher after.)

  35. LW, the only addition I’d make to all of the excellent advice above is that you bring this up with your friend when they’re not at your apartment, and thereby avoid the tiresome possibility of having to chuck this extraordinarily rude ass out ON their ass if they respond to your boundary-setting with other than embarrassment and fervent promises to behave like an actual civilized being in the future. Do you generally meet for coffee or anything? If your situation were mine, and this person were not generally a rude ass and so someone I wanted to keep in my life, I think I’d be inclined during our next visit to a caffeinated watering hole to say something along the lines of this, whenever the topic of our next get-together came up:

    “Yeah, about that. I’ve been noticing lately that you seem really unhappy at my apartment, since you’re constantly pointing out things you don’t like–both to, you know, me and anyone else who happens to be there. This has lately started to really get on my nerves, and it can’t be pleasant for you, so let’s plan a new spot for our get-togethers where we’ll both be comfortable. Any suggestions? I’m on board for [insert venue of choice here] this [insert evening of choice here].”

    I’d also suggest that no matter what the reaction to that is, even if it’s embarrassment and fervent promises to behave like an actual civilized being in the future, this person does not get to come crash at your pad for at least a week or two. (“So glad to hear that, and we’ll definitely get back to our old routine at some point, but I really need a break from hearing about the cleanliness of my stove’s heating elements, or even thinking about my stove’s heating elements, so definitely O’Malleys’ at 7:00.”)

  36. Ugh, with ‘friends’ like that, who needs enemies?

    I’d honestly tell them outright to stop behaving so rudely, and if they don’t, they are not welcome in your home again. If they can’t respect your home (and by extension, YOU) then they have no right to be there. You deserve to feel comfortable and safe in your own home.

    If they try to get other friends of yours on their side or complain to others about you being a big meany-pants and not letting them act like a five year old with a new untested babysitter, you can simply tell the friends they’re complaining to (if you choose to address it at all) that they were being rude and disrespecting you and your neighbors, and you’ve decided that you’re not going to put up with someone being an obnoxious brat in your home. If you wanted to parent someone, you’d have a kid.

  37. Oh man. So glad this letter was answered. I have a friend who doesn’t do this exact behavior, but she does make off-handed or “joking” comments that, if said to someone else, would elicit a far different response than me just blowing it off. (We hang out weekly, alternating at each other’s places.) I need to use this script to talk to her. I’m also refraining from hosting and/or visiting her for a while so maybe she fixes her behavior as well. Good thing I have plans this week! Thanks, Captain, for helping others of us with the same issue!

  38. I have come to feel that criticizing someone’s housekeeping is the World’s Cheapest Put-Down, because unless it is an operating room, there will be something that is not spotless.

    Due to forced domestic labor as a child, I have zero tolerance for such shenanigans, and have been known to hand such rude people a pin and invite them to get started on the nail holes in the baseboards.

    The sweeter we are, the more difficult it feels to enforce boundaries and demand respect, but this is what we must do to keep our sweetness! I hope LW can find the joy that lurks in standing up to the clueless and the bullies, and make the world a little better by doing so.

  39. I have a flat that’s conveniently located as a centre point of most of my friends. I end up hosting regularly. I’m clean ish, but not as tidy as a couple (one needs cutlery facing a certain way, the other arranges bottles in height order). My house rule *for close friends* is ‘make yourself at home’ – and I’ve spelled out this means: help yourself to food, go to the bathroom without asking, act as if this is your home. I’m OK skipping polite requests that are just hassle for both once we’re this good friends. But it also means: if something is bothering you that much – go right ahead and organise my cutlery drawer/clean my sink. But don’t complain about something and expect me to do anything (aside from swear).
    Note: these are good friends who aren’t going to rummage with anything personal.

    And this is my compromise for us having a nice time in my home. Once I’m tired, I swap from happy to tired-headache angry very swiftly. I’ve reached the point where I can and will say ‘I’m tired now; you should start getting ready to go’. However, this took me explaining to one of the more perceptive friends why I’d stopped hosting for a while – it was because of the ‘oh, we’re still having fun; come on have another drink and dance you’ll have fun again’ people – who were being friendly, but just made me sad-angry.
    This friend told (ordered? 😉 ) me to assert myself. Because I’m perfectly happy on my own – and if I didn’t learn to say ‘F off now’ when I needed people to go, the alternative was no one coming over and me missing out on the upsides of that, too.
    And on their side: knowing I’ll happily say ‘no’ or say when enough is enough means they can ask to come over/stay/whatever without worrying I’m building up resentment.

    Which all depends on them being good friends and basically decent people. I’d have snapped at the letter writer’s friend long ago. But I can’t imagine having the same person over more than once every few weeks, either.

  40. I think the best case scenario here is that the friend in question is used to friendships where there is generally some amount of ribbing back and forth, where things that actually bother people are deliberately avoided – but, where they’re blundering into something that does really bother the LW without knowing it. It’s not the most likely scenario (the tours to third parties thing is just ridiculously out of line), but it’s a possible one. It’s also a really convenient hiding place, where they can pretend that it was what they were doing if they were actually deliberately being hostile (which reads to me as the more likely scenario, again, tours to third parties).

    Either way though, it’s worth shutting that down. They made it awkward and they made it confrontational, and it is entirely reasonable to take a really blunt approach where you just straight up tell them that you are sick of their running commentary and that they can cut it the hell out. Maybe they weren’t trying to bother you, apologize, and actually do so. If so, great. Maybe they get whiny that their cover scenario was pulled out from under them. That’s a pretty good sign that not having them over any more is a good idea.

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