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.