#930: Getting Rid of Unwanted Holiday Houseguests

Dear Captain

I live with my partner (W) and we have a lodger (H). W has a friend who lives abroad (M). M is an alcoholic with a coke problem (not addressed). He has just lost his licence for driving drunk which has also lost him work as he is a self employed builder. M is from same BigCity that W and I live in and M’s mother (also an alcoholic with lots of health problems) is going into hospital at Christmas, so M is coming home to BigCity for the holidays. W, H and I all had a conversation months ago where (I thought) we agreed that it was ridiculous for him to come and stay on our couch when he can stay at his own family home while in BigCity but that of course we would see him while he is in the country.

Fast forward to last week. I am working up until the Friday before Christmas. W tells me (on Wednesday) M is arriving in the country and will stop by to see us Thursday. Great! I get home from work Thursday and M is there. With his bags. M is staying ‘for a couple of days’. I am upset. W and I talk, I use my words to say Christmas is important to me, I wanted to spend it just us together and M has to be gone by Christmas Eve. When I get home from work on Friday, M is gone. Yay! I used my words and problem solved. Except…

M arrived on the 27th. M is only going to stay ‘a couple of days’ by which he means 3rd Jan. And M is only leaving then because his dad (just outside BigCity) has offered him a weeks work but M plans to return to us the following weekend. M has no return ticket to his country. I found all this out when M was already sitting in my front room. In fact, when he arrived I still didn’t know how long he was planning to stay (because a couple of days to me is two days) and it only became clear when he mentioned New Years.

I do not want to spend New Years with this man. I do not want him in my home. M has already in one day drunk all the wine in our house. I had planned to take the first week of January off for a much needed break. I have been working a stressful full time job at the same time as finishing my PhD which I only just submitted last month. At the same time W and H decided this would be the perfect time to start home renovation project which has been ongoing and very disruptive since the summer (sanding, painting, moving furniture boxes stuff everywhere). This year has been loooooooong. Now I’m thinking I should just go back to the office and not waste my leave with M in the house.

W thinks I said I did not want house guests over Christmas, meaning literally the 24th and 25th so he has not done anything wrong and I am being unreasonable, asking M to leave now is really rude and how come W is not allowed to have people stay when last year I had my friend stay for New Years so how is this different (she stayed two days, it was planned beforehand, I ASKED him if it would be alright), and M is his best friend. M is now making sad noises that if he’s in the way he can go stay all alone at his moms place while she is hospital. H is happy with him staying because M can help out with home improvement project, so I am on my own. How do I get W to understand why I am upset? Am I being unreasonable? How do I get M to leave?

Please advise,

Unhappy Party Pooper (She/her)

Dear Party Pooper:

Here is my 100% honest first recommendation:

  1. If you are financially able and it is possible, book yourself (solo!) into a hotel or a flat-share like AirBNB for the coming week of vacation & rest. Expensive? Yes. Possible for everyone? No. And yet, sometimes the cheapest way to pay for anything is with money. If you’ve got the money and the idea of not really having some downtime right now is killing you, this is not a frivolous expense.
  2. Tell W. that you are going to get a real break to celebrate the New Year and finishing your PhD (that’s huge and amazing, btw, congratulations!).
  3. You’ll be back at your house on (date) and you expect that M. will be gone for good and the renovations will be completed.* After (date) your expectation is 100% that M will stay at his Mom’s house for the duration of his time back in your country, and that if W. wants to hang out he can go there. You have no more “just a few days” in you, period when it comes to hosting M.
  4. It sounds like it means a lot to W. to be able to “be there” for M. right now. Okay? You don’t want to fight or be rude to M. or put W. in an awkward position, you just want the rest you were very avidly looking forward to and that you avidly need. You realize that W. doesn’t get to see his friend much and you’re making room for that to happen while also taking care of your own needs.
  5. Pack a stack of books and movies and whatever else relaxes you and go have a nice week off. Shut off your phone for long periods of time.
  6. When the week is up and you come back, you and W. will have a talk about guests & boundaries and rework how you deal with all that stuff. In the middle of a renovation project AND an international visitor AND substance abuse/major health/family issues it’s all too much to deal with right now.

It’s not a perfect solution – it means you most likely won’t ring in the New Year with W. and whatever disappointments & hurt feelings result from that – but it does give you some space & quiet & recovery time that you desperately need and it does put a very clear period on M.’s visit.

If it is not possible for you to clear out for the next week, then:

  1. Probably go to work and take your vacation when it can be a real vacation. Work is the place that when you have to go there, M. is not drinking all your booze and no one is making sawdust be on anything.
  2. Your script: “W., M. has a free place to stay here in the city. It’s time for him to go there. You can see him there whenever you like, or meet him out. I have reached my limit of having him here.”
  3. Become a broken record for when W. pushes back and becomes a rules lawyer: “But you’re being rude!” “Okay, I’m being rude. I still want him out.” “But your friend stayed last year, it’s not fair that my friend can’t stay!” “Okay, I’m being unfair. I still want him out.” “But his mom is sick and it’s mean to kick him out!” “Okay, I’m mean. I still want him out.” “But he wasn’t here Dec. 24 and 25. How was I to know what ‘over the holidays’ meant to you?” “Okay, I should have defined The Holidays as the month of December through early January. That said, I still want him out.” “I didn’t do anything wrong here and you’re being unreasonable!” (You’re not being unreasonable btw, but stay the “broken record” course)”Okay. I want M. out, today. Now.”
  4. Once M. is out, it’s time for that talk about how you handle hosting people in the future. How much notice do you all need? How/when can one person exercise veto power? What do the “family” or “emergency” exceptions look like? If you’ve never spelled all of this out before, it’s time, since it’s clear you have some different expectations and values around this. Maybe M. has already burned up all your 2017 houseguest energies and you can make a joint agreement that nobody stays with you until 2018.
  5. Happy(?) New Year?

*P.S. It’s probably cheaper to pay M. (or, better yet, someone else) for renovation help with money than as “help” or worse, “repayment” for staying with you.



200 thoughts on “#930: Getting Rid of Unwanted Holiday Houseguests

  1. It seems absurd that M can’t stay in his mother’s home. If W needs to be there for M, they can both stay there.

    1. This is exactly what I thought. If it’s so important for W to hold M’s hand through this difficult time, they can go stay at M’s mother’s place together, and W can help her out too.

    2. Since M’s mother is “also an alcoholic with lots of health problems”, I wonder if the house is a shambles? Maybe that’s why he doesn’t want to stay there.

    3. Especially given that the initial scenario presented to LW (which W and H both agreed to), was that M was going to stay at his mum’s home while he was in the city.

      He’s an adult, and staying at her home gives him a) a free and independent place to stay that doesn’t impose on anyone else, and b) a head start on any home maintenance/accessibility jobs/tidying that his mum requires in order to come home. I’m really not sure how such a normal state of affairs turned into W and H telling the LW that she’s being a meanie-poo for suggesting that they all stick to the original arrangements.

    4. This! I can get it to some degree if he really has NO place to stay (although I’d still be pissed), but being a supportive friend does not mean that you need to let your buddy crash on the couch, drink all your booze, and drive your partner up a wall for a week!

      Seconding the Captain’s first suggestion, if it’s at all financially feasible. If not, maybe see about going to stay with a friend?

  2. Ooooh, this is ringing all sorts of familiar bells. Or bees. Buzzing of evil bees.

    My now-husband, then-boyfriend had a …friend. Who I didn’t particularly like, but was willing to host in our shared (tiny, badly-layed-out) apartment. Except that said friend had a habit of buying on-sale train tickets to our city 2 weeks before his visit and not mention it to him until he called FROM THE TRAIN being like “hey dude! I’m crashing at your house for the next 3 days!” And then they’d be up until 3am (I worked 60-80-hour weeks in a really demanding job, the apartment was tiny and not soundproofed, and also I literally had to step over sleeping house guests to reach the shower and the front door…), drink all my good bourbon and not replace it, make a mess of the kitchen at 3am making drunken snacks and not clean it up, etc. And Husband is not the type to start a confrontation, ever, so… he just let it happen.

    The first time, I wanted to be “nice” and put up with it. The second time, I asked Husband to enforce a “48 hours notice, and also don’t wake me up at 3am” baseline. He said he would. I don’t know if he did, but either way, Friend did it again a month later. At which point, I had reached Done, and basically issued an ultimatum : I basically remember saying the words “they can stay there tonight, quietly and out of my way, if they have nowhere else to go. But that’s it, I’m done. The next time thy tell you that they will be here with no notice, and you let them in, I will find somewhere else to stay for the night. I mean it: if people who go against every stated boundary I have are in my house, I won’t be. And we need to discuss respect for my space and my time and my energy and my boundaries, because I am not ok with being a doormat to preserve your friendships.”

    … and Husband told them that they could stay one night but that it wasn’t a good time and wasn’t ok to stop in with no notice and that we needed them to respect the following boundaries. He was clear. He was concise. He 100% Backed me without blaming me. It went a long way in making it better.

    Of course, they would up blaming me anyway and referring to me as “that *misogynyst slur* he married” to mutual friends of theirs, which made my husband break off all contact with them for the stated reason of “they don’t get to disrespect you for having boundaries, eff them”.

    I guess what I’m trying to say is that what worked for me in a similar situation was to have well-stated boundaries (x much notice, x disruption to my life allowed) COMBINED with a partner who understood and backed those. Your partner making an excuse for not wanting to listen to your boundaries or much-needed rest because “friiiieeeeends” might be more of an issue than the person on the couch, if it leaves you feeling unsupported un your own home.

    1. It’s great when our partners support our reasonable requests, isn’t it? My husband stood up for my boundaries when I put them in place with his mom early in our marriage. She was a big fan of the visit that turned into an unplanned, extended sleepover. She didn’t treat me well and each visit was torture for me. My husband backed me when I told her that all future visits required advanced notice and that there would be no more sleepovers. Mother in Law didn’t like that (obviously) and has since stopped all contact with me and limited contact with my husband and kids. She tells people that it’s my fault that she doesn’t see hubby and kids. I guess that’s easier than telling them the truth which is “well I could see my grandkids if I just gave advance notice of my visit date and didn’t just show up with the intent to turn my visit into an extended vacation at their expense!”

  3. LW, if you can’t afford a hotel, maybe you have some friends who are away for the holidays and would be happy for you to hang around their place solo for a week or so? Or a friend who doesn’t mind if you stay in the spare room and lie around reading on the sofa while they’re at work? That’s almost as good as being alone, and a million times better than staying in a house with people who drink all your wine.

    I have a friend who’s an alcoholic and a bit of a train wreck. It’s not her fault and I love her all the same, but her company is very, very tiring. I would NEVER expect that if one of my partner’s well-behaved friends who clean up after themselves stayed for a week, I could also have my friend stay for a week and drink all the alcohol and play her music at full volume at 2am. It’s not even in the same universe in terms of effort. W is being pretty unreasonable.

      1. Sorry, I meant it’s not her fault she’s an alcoholic – it’s her (ill advised) way of dealing with mental health issues, and she’s in therapy and doing her best to recover, although she has her good days and bad days. Her behaviour, even drunk, is of course her responsibility.

        1. My experience with substance abuse and abusers matches yours. I’ve lost loved ones to substance abuse- based suicide, so my antennae went up… You are clearly a caring friend and I’m really glad to learn your friend is in therapy. A lot of us are helped by 12-step programs and having a sponsor. This CA blog is a terrific place to read stories and learn about boundaries!

          One of my maxims that helps me is the apocryphal quote “If you bring out what is within you, what is within you will save you. If you do not bring out what is within you, what is within you will destroy you.” XO

          1. I feel like I’m not quite getting that quote, and that I might find it helpful. I will Google it, of course, but would you mind unpacking what, “If you bring out what is within you, what is within you will save you. If you do not bring out what is within you, what is within you will destroy you,” means to you, if I figure out a way to ask that is both nice and not as passive-aggressive and “you do the emotional labor kthxbai” as this must surely sound?

          2. Out of nesting, for Awe Ritual- my take is that the things put within us can be our salvation or our undoing, depending on if they’re faced head on or if we try to run from them. 🙂 What are your thoughts?

          3. I always think of it like diabetes… not a diabetic’s fault they’re diabetic, and it’s not fair their sugars are out of whack while other people’s aren’t, but it’s still up to them to diet/take meds/ etc. Similarly it not someone’s fault that they WANT to (drink, snort, whatever) too much (some people can use casually and stop if it will be a problem, an addict by definition cannot), but it is their choice whether to go to rehab vs abuse their friends, drive while intoxicated, etc.

    1. Ooh, I like the alternative of finding a friend’s place. I definitely have friends where, if I was like, “I need to get out of the fucking house for a week, can I quietly stay in your guest bedroom? I’ll buy groceries!” they’d definitely say “yes” and it would be a huge improvement over being there with Disaster Area Guest. And it might be financially feasible even if a motel room for a week isn’t.

      1. Backing that one up. I once had a great roommate that I was going through great difficulties with, and part of the problem was that we were both in finals week and so stressed we couldn’t bear to be around each other. I moved out for a week, we finished up school work, dealt with Issues when we had more spoons, and are still great friends nearly 20 years later, in part because of the good friends that let me crash with them for a day or two at a time. (It was in the dorms so no groceries needed, and I was able to stay at libraries and things for most of the day and just go to their place to sleep so it didn’t mess with THEIR finals week.)

        1. I stay with friends instead of family over Xmas holidays and it is blissful. I buy at least one excellent meal, stay quiet in the guest room when they go to bed, clean up after myself and my pets, and bring great presents. It works out well and i get to come back again next time.

    2. There’s a mother’s house sitting empty, either the OP’s SO and his friend can go there, or the OP can just grab friend’s keys and let herself in to stay. More politely than friend, of course.

    3. I was also going to suggest checking with friends if Lovely Hotel is not possible in the post-Christmas economy. Surely if you explain that the sawdust and the asshattery are getting too thick to breathe at home, someone will have a room for an intelligent woman who just wants to read and nap in peace.

  4. “he has not done anything wrong and I am being unreasonable”

    Dude, he cleaned you out of wine in a single day. Unless your ‘wine cellar’ was a single bottle, that is wrong for two good reasons:

    1. Wine is expensive. If you buy more to replace it, how much money is this visit going to burn through?

    2. He’s harming himself in front of you. No, he can’t help being sick, but it is totally stressful to watch.

    House guests over the holidays are one thing; house guests who make you feel like an ennabler are another. I’m sure M is a nice guy, but it’s not unreasonable to not want a house guest with a serious untreated addiction who’s using your stuff to feed it.

    Is there a possibility that one reason he doesn’t want to stay at his mother’s is that he’d have to buy his own wine? Or that he’d have to face up to the fact that he was drinking alone? There is an elephant in this room.

    1. Also – has he brought coke into your house? What would your legal position be if the police found it on your property?

      1. That’s an excellent point.
        In my state any drug conviction, even a misdemeanor, makes you pretty much unemployable in the fields of medicine, education, and child/elder care.

        1. Given M’s code of conduct, I’m wondering if M has hid a drug stash in your house, and will pick it up when they come back. Everything about M’s actions sounds typical of a criminal covering their tracks.

      2. Some tenancy laws can be staggeringly in favor of the couchguest, as well. My understanding is that in some U.S. cities, it would take a minimum of four months to legally evict this bloke if he decided this was his home now.

        1. I know only one thing about this and that is: LW, do NOT let M pay you for houseroom. A guest is a guest; someone who pays to stay there becomes, in some areas of the world, legally a tenant and much harder to remove.

    2. Some wine is expensive. Some is hard to find in other states. Some is just rare in general.

      I have:
      -wine made specifically for my wedding
      -cider shipped in from another state (Christmas present from the husband)
      -homebrew beer and mead that are down to the last bottle or two
      -very high proof beer I’ve aged, only available in the state I used to live in

      Someone did drink my last fig mead with asking, and I wasn’t happy. But some alcohol isn’t just alcohol, you know?

      If some dude drank my wedding wine, I would see red.

      1. Same. I have an odd assortment of liquor, and quite a bit of it was gifted (including the homebrewed mead!). I’d be cross enough if the other members of my household (ie wife or sister) opened them without checking, let alone a guest.

        I also cannot imagine touching someone else’s wine (or staying if someone was uncomfortable with me there, for that matter) which is indicative that M’s moral code is shot to pieces.

        1. I *might* take one of my roommate’s beers if I was completely out of my own and they weren’t around to ask. I’d get them back ASAP, and I would never take anyone’s last bottle. If I was a guest in someone’s house, I wouldn’t even open the fridge without asking. JFC.

          1. Oh man, shitty roommate alcohol stories! I had a roommate drink an entire six-pack of nice doppelbock I had bought and “replace” it for me with Dos Equis because he “couldn’t find it at the gas station.” This is the same guy who drank my entire bottle of Pisco, replaced it, then drank that entire bottle too and figured we were good.

      2. Don’t I know it.
        My grandparents drank a bottle of my wine without asking, and I was so upset. You see, this was a wine that I have been wanting to try since I was 16 (it had some fun artwork on it), and I managed to find it at a discount grocery store. It is well known that this discount grocery store is the last stop for most products, and that if you go in and buy something, it may not be there the next time you visit. This was a very hard-to-procure bottle of wine, and though inexpensive, I had been waiting for years to try it. I was waiting for the right occasion to open it.
        So imagine my fury when I come home from work one day to find it sitting on the counter, empty.
        The next morning when I asked my grandfather about it, he had the gall to say, “Well, it wasn’t very good, anyway, so you shouldn’t be mad at us!”

        1. Sigh. My dad did this once.

          A guest got me a bottle of “Fox Creek” Wine as a going away present, but I didn’t have a chance to drink it before I moved. My parents didn’t realize it was mine, and ended up drinking it. No biggie. What really stung was Dad saying he was going to replace it until he saw it was a $60 bottle of wine. He wasn’t going to pay that much to replace it.

          So, thanks for refusing to replace a $60 gift you destroyed because it was “too expensive” to do so.

          (Note: my parents are usually much better about boundaries and my property than this, so this isn’t indicative of our overall relationship.)

    3. I want to add as someone dealing with a similar but way longer-term situation —

      If someone’s going to drink your wine and not even consider replacing it, and they have a drug problem, you want to lock up everything valuable AND any medications you might have. It seems like an overreaction, but the day my “M” moved in (just for a few days — 3 months and counting now) I did this. My mom didn’t, and her entire month of pain meds “went missing” two days later (and these are expensive, controlled substances). My “M” has a problem with abusing prescription meds on top of alcohol and illegal drugs, and this is apparently not uncommon. He’s asked after mine more than once after going through my things — I’ve told him I don’t have any. Everything valuable right now is either in a safe-deposit box at the bank, goes with me everywhere, or is locked up securely in a spot in the wall I don’t think anyone else even knows exists because I’m the one who patched it.

      Money has gone missing, credit cards, prescription meds, all the stuff you can leave laying around in your home where you are safe. Right now it is not safe. None of these are things I would have thought to do if people hadn’t given me this advice when my “M” first moved in.

      1. Yes. Not all addicts steal, of course–but I did see a friend’s pain medications “go missing” in a similar situation. (And the horrible thing is that, as you say, not only are they expensive, they’re controlled substances–it can be exceptionally difficult or even impossible to replace them, since the laws surrounding opiate painkillers can make it difficult or even impossible to get replacements before your refill date; in the worst cases, stealing medications can cause the person who was legitimately prescribed the meds to suffer not only untreated pain but also sometimes-severe withdrawal symptoms. It’s horrifying to watch.)

        I really don’t want to sound alarmist, but I think given the evidence that the LW has, that M has more or less invited himself into your space, that M has made free with your wine (with or without W’s permission), that M is an active addict, that M may have no current source of income… protect those belongings that you have that are valuable to you (either emotionally valuable or monetarily valuable), and talk to a lawyer to determine your legal liability (if M refuses to leave, at what point are they considered a ‘tenant’ who you’d need to go into formal eviction processes to remove? if that happens, will W guilt trip you about ‘well it would be AWFUL for him to be evicted, so now he lives here indefinitely’? if M brings drugs into your house, what is your possible liability? and so on and so on).

        This situation may blow itself over soon, without your cash and/or belongings and/or medications going missing, and so and thus and such. But situations like these… it’s wise to protect yourself as best you can sooner rather than later.

        1. Whoops, I should have scrolled down to see you’d already recommended it! I definitely don’t want to lump all addicts together, but when I started seeking help and advice for my “M” (or how to live with them) it was like these people could see the future as they predicted all of what would happen, of what is still happening.

          I just paid for my major pain-relief meds today — I could not afford to do so again this month, and since they’re a controlled substance not only would it be unlikely for my pharmacist to refill or doctor be able to write a new prescription, it would put me on government watch lists that would get cranky if I ever had to get an emergency refill or anything else again no matter its status (and it happens once in a while, if I have a bad week and can’t get to the pharmacy, or like this summer where I dropped my pill case down a grate and had a very exciting few days of withdrawal as I was in a different country).

          My “M” is on this list already for seeking prescriptions for a different but controlled medication from multiple doctors, and it’s brutal because they really do need this med, but because they’re abusing it they go through it dangerously fast. Also, they’re family — that’s how different a world they’re living in, that they would steal pain meds from loved ones (who have taken you in because you have no where else to go) in order to buy coke and be there to watch that family member struggle with the pain and withdrawal. The only reason it wasn’t much worse is I take the exact same medication, so I gave some to my mom every day and cut back on my own dosing, which I really don’t ever recommend.

          My hugest hope is that the OP is able to get out of this situation even if it means burning bridges and hurting feelings, because I just don’t have words for how BAD it can get, fast, and I don’t want anyone to have to go through this. If you’ve never really dealt with addiction yourself or with friends/family you just don’t have the tools, as I learned the hard way. My dad is still skeptical of the idea that cocaine is a dangerous drug — he’s only seen it in movies, used by rich white men while partying, and rich white men never make bad choices and Hollywood is totally true to life, right?

  5. It is absurd. People live alone, and stay in hotels/airbnbs alone when they travel. “Support” does not require giving someone indefinite houseroom when they have somewhere else reasonable to stay.

  6. LW, congrats on submitting your Ph.D. as thats’s the lasting part of this. As you, W and H had set this boundary in advance, it’s disrespectful of W to wring your words free of their intent. Why does this always happen in interactions with substance abusers?

    You’re not “disinviting” M; M was never invited, and this was agreed-on. Of course W can have guests, they just did. Going forward, your feeling is that you’d like to do this in the same respectful manner that you handled your own guest’s stay, and W, can we agree to that?

    I don’t like the idea of LW being run out of their home, but as its peace is disrupted by the renovations, the Capt’s plan seems sound. Incidentially, It strikes me that you’re being asked to pay for M’s holiday from law problems of their own doing, and look the other way at the free bar being drained. M has a house!

    Actions have consequences and things cost money. Thus, the money you’re using for your holiday comes out of the share you’d normally put in for household expenses.

    Expect M’s stay to involve breakage loss and damage to your things. Whether you stay or go, lock up and hide any valuables and papers, back up your files to your own HD and take it with you (or stash it at work.) If you share a computer, create your own user account on it and password protect it.

    1. PS “losing one’s license” likely means citations were written. As these were likely unpaid, M now has warrants for their arrest. Maybe that’s why M doesn’t want to go to mom’s empty house?
      Expect fallout from M being tracked to your home, compounded by M not having money to go back to their residence country.

      The bees are strong with this one.

      1. This is really insightful and rang true.

        It’s very likely that M has warrants out against them. It would explain the sudden need for comfort and support that can only be found at an address that isn’t already on file, and lack of intention to return to either of M’s own homes.

        Given the that M has reached the stage of addiction where their best “I’m convincing someone to let me stay with them” behavior involves drinking all of the alcohol in the house in one day, and the depressing predictability of late-stage addiction, it is also very likely that:

        M has withheld crucial details of their situation that could negatively impact LW and the others living there.
        M will deliberately put stress on LW and her husband’s relationship and their relationship with the lodger so that they’re fighting each other instead of setting boundaries with him.
        M will present different versions of himself to everyone in the house so that they’re fighting over which M is the ‘real M’ instead of setting boundaries with him.
        M hasn’t stopped whatever got him into trouble, and will either “borrow” someone’s vehicle, coerce someone into driving them to go do something shady, or invite shady people to LW’s home.
        M cannot be trusted to have anyone’s best interests at heart, including their own.

        1. I really like to give people the benefit of the doubt and assume good intentions, but, given the manipulation that is already known and this person’s reluctance to stay at his mom’s house?
          This nightmare scenario cannot be ruled out.
          M really really needs to go.

        2. Just realized I wrote husband. I apologize for misnaming and possibly misgendering LW’s partner.

        3. LW should def get out of there if possible and let W deal with the fallout of M staying there. Let W buy M booze, answer questions from the police and get arrested. Maybe then he’ll learn. Even if nothing drastic happens, without LW there as a scapegoat W (and H) might wind up getting sick of M’s bullshit on their own.

      2. I had a slightly different interpretation – I assumed (perhaps incorrectly) that the loss of licence, citations and possible warrants were from the country where M had been living, not where LW and the others currently are. If he doesn’t even have a ticket to go “home” yet, I’m guessing there’s a chance he *can’t* go back. Or he can, but he might be arrested on the spot. Granted, this is all wild speculation, but even if there weren’t some questionable legal issues at play here, LW is well within her rights to want any unexpected long-term houseguests GONE.

    2. I agree! But maybe trying to think of it less as LW being run out of her home, and more as LW empowering herself to walk away from an intolerable situation in order to preserve her entirely reasonable boundaries, will make it more palatable. There is a gift of freedom in letting yourself taste what it’s like to temporarily detach from something you think you are very attached to, like your home.

  7. Let me get this straight here, this guy is a cokehead who’s in financial straits – it’s a non-negotiable. I’d involve law enforcement in removing him if rational discussion didn’t quickly resolve the situation. He has somewhere to stay for FREE, and he’s already stolen from your home once in the short time he’s stayed with you. He needs to get into treatment and therapy. Why is your SO friends with this person, and why does he prioritize this friendship over you and the security of your home? I’d seriously re-evaluate the relationship with the SO in the coming year if things get ugly in insisting the friend leave.

    1. That’s an excellent point. We often want to make excuses for our partner when they don’t have our backs, but this is really not okay. W doesn’t get to do this to you, LW, and I hope they start treating you with the respect you deserve, sharpish.

  8. No. W is being unreasonable and kiiiind of BSing and gaslighting. “But your friend stayed last year, it’s not fair that my friend can’t stay!” “Okay, I’m being unfair. ” Except…no? W doesn’t get to compare apples to oranges and make shit up to defend their rude choices. “…or put W. in an awkward position” Why not? W had no problem disregarding LW.

    1. I read it as an old singleton’s friendship that rotted instead of ripened.
      M is using the history with W to coerce W, who’s reacting by trying to bridge the old “we ain’t leavin’ till we’re heaving'” !” life into the new, partnered one with LW.

    2. Right, but the point there is not to argue, just to repeat the stated boundary. If LW argues, that means the boundary isn’t the main point of the conversation.

      It’s a variation of a technique I’ve used successfully. W can say whatever they want, but the point is that the boundary is the focus. And LW can discuss the rest of it later, AFTER M is GONE.

    3. It’s a shorter way of saying “I don’t care if you think I am being unfair, I still need M to leave”. W is calling her unfair because they wish to get their way; ceding the argument communicates to them that this approach will not be fruitful. It’s a rhetorical tactic intended to convey the urgency of one’s needs.

      LW can go back and argue about things later, but right now they need M gone.

  9. Is the broken record method really effective? Has anyone here used it? I feel like if someone used it on me I’d just get more pissed off.

    1. Define effective? The goal isn’t to make the person agree with you or even less angry, it’s to move the conversation on. I have had a lot of success with “I understand you think I am Y. I am going to do Z.”, but it only works if you genuinely have unilateral power to do Z.

      1. Yeah, it makes sense in cases like those. But here OP doesn’t have unilateral power to do Z, right? They’re asking their spouse to do something (or at least help with something).

        1. OP has the power to not pretend to agree with M staying. OP has the power to make saying no to them at least as much work as saying no to M. OP hopefully also has the power to leave, which W presumably doesn’t want.

        2. One, don’t frame this like OP is asking for some sort of favor or compromise. OP is seeking to have her partner respect her feelings about her home. That is not a request for doing something or helping with something. It’s an effort, in the face of repeatedly being disregarded or at least not being informed/notified, to get her partner to treat her as an equal in decisions about her home.

          Two, you’re certainly right – W could respond to this by refusing to respect OP’s boundaries. He could fail to see or acknowledge that she has reached the point where she has been disregarded so many times that she is Done with discussion on the matter. That would be disappointing, but useful to know about him.

          Giving someone a broken record is obviously a crap way to communicate about a disagreement. It’s not being presented her as a first, third, or ninth step. It’s a final step, after someone has repeatedly refused to actually BE a communicator with you in the sense of actual two-way exchange of information. It is the embodiment of “you have repeatedly refused to listen to my expression of something as a dealbreaker.” Talking about it as if it’s being portrayed as anything other than the metaphorical sandbags against the incoming flood is somewhere between silly and unfair to the put-upon partner.

      2. Broken record isn’t a technique for when 2 people have a legitimate disagreement that needs to be talked out. In that case, you’re right, repeating yourself isn’t convincing anyone and would just piss them off.

        Broken Record is for when someone is trying to manipulate you. In the book that made so much difference to me (When I Say No I Feel Guilty), broken record is the starting point with other techniques following– including Reasonable Compromise.

    2. I’ve used a variant of it with my mother, who has trouble recognizing boundaries. She did get pissed off. She also stopped doing what I’d asked her to stop doing.

      It depends on your goal. I had to move beyond “don’t piss off Mom.” The only way to avoid pissing off Mom was to let her say and do stuff that was hurtful to me. My goal changed to “hold my boundary no matter how Mom feels about it.” I didn’t do it every time, because I wanted to maintain a relationship. I did it when I had reached the point where my sanity trumped whatever it was she was getting out of intruding on my life.

      If you’re already upset or, worse, feeling violated, and you are avoiding confrontation to “keep the peace,” your peace is already broken. I think I learned this from the Captain in the first place, and it’s been really helpful for me. It’s not my job to make other people comfortable at my own expense.

      1. I broken-recorded my (abusive, awful) mother, when she was trying to insist that her “internet research” (from eHow.com!) should trump the recommendations of my daughter’s specialist physicians regarding an aspect of her medical care.

        In a complete monotone, I repeated “Thank you for your advice, I’ll be sure to take it under consideration,” until she realized that she was absolutely not going to get me to budge.

        Interacting lets her try to argue me down — pleasant-sounding deflection doesn’t give her anywhere to stick her claws in.

        I’ve had to use it a few times since, although in a less obvious way (things like “I’ll think about it,” or “I’ll bring that up to the doctor”), and it really is more effective than trying to get her to see things my way, or to get her to stop harping on her “advice” without making it sound like I’m making concessions.

        Deflection of this type has helped reduce the number of blowups in dealing with her over the past 5 years or so.

    3. It’s more of an, “OK, you’re trying to FEELINGS me into recanting my boundaries, and I’m not playing that game” tactic than a “reasonable people having a reasonable discussion about rules and boundaries” tactic.

      Telling the LW that she’s wrong for wanting M out of her house because him crashing there isn’t working for her is at best rude, and probably more along the lines of gaslighting. It’s better to just say, “OK, I’m whatever ‘negative’ trait you say I am. I still want this guy out of our house.” than risk derailing the conversation by trying to explain why her preference is not rude/unreasonable/playing Calvinball.

    4. I tried it one time. The person stayed mad all night and started a big fight the next day. If I hadn’t changed tacks (explaining angrily why I’d resorted to it), we’d probably still be fighting now.

    5. I broken-recorded my (abusive, awful) mother, when she was trying to insist that her “internet research” (from eHow!) should trump the recommendations of my daughter’s specialist physicians regarding an aspect of her medical care.

      In a complete monotone, I repeated “Thank you for your advice, I’ll be sure to take it under consideration,” until she realized that she was absolutely not going to get me to budge.

      Interacting lets her try to argue me down — pleasant-sounding deflection doesn’t give her anywhere to stick her claws in.

      I’ve had to use it a few times since, although in a less obvious way (things like “I’ll think about it,” or “I’ll bring that up to the doctor”), and it really is more effective than trying to get her to see things my way, or to get her to stop harping on her “advice” without making it sound like I’m making concessions.

      Deflection of this type has helped reduce the number of blowups in dealing with her over the past 5 years or so.

    6. The purpose of the Broken Record method is not to win the argument or bring the other person around to your point of view. It’s a last resort for when you’ve exhausted all other avenues for establishing a boundary or coming to a compromise. It communicates that you will not budge on your clearly-stated needs/boundaries, and it makes it incredibly tedious for the person to continue trying to debate/manipulate you out of them. It’s definitely irritating to be on the receiving end of it; that’s sort of the point.

      In this situation, LW stated her boundary (“I do not want your substance-abusing buddy staying with us over the holidays”) upfront and clearly with her partner, and her partner has tried to weasel away around it through evasion (He’s only staying for “a couple” of days”), pedantry (“I thought “Christmas” meant the 24th and 25th!”), derailment (“But your friend stayed with us last year!”) and emotional manipulation (“he’s my best friend!”). If LW doesn’t have the funds to go elsewhere for the week, her only options are to a) stick to her guns and assert the boundary over and over again or b) back down and resign herself to having M as a house guest for an indefinite period. Both scenarios are going to cause stress and disruption for LW, but at least Option A has some chance of producing the desired result.

    7. Maybe, although the unspoken message is only “This is important to me in a nonnegotiable sort of way” and “Pay more attention to my concerns/ reasons.” Because people mostly place greater importance on ideas they come up with themselves than someone else’s.

    8. I used it on my mother. And yes, she got pissed and went through all the stages of anger/grief/pissedness. Then she gave up doing the thing I wanted her to stop doing because I was NEVER GOING TO STOP. Which is really, really boring.

      1. Yeah. I find the most effective thing about using it is it removes the “dramatic” component that many people are looking for in their conflicts. I’ve had to use the Broken Record on several people and one of them just fed off of theatrics and big blowout arguments and me quietly repeating “Cool, but no” did piss him off severely but it was because the conversation was no longer interesting and he couldn’t get the same kick out of it.
        So he went away and bothered someone else and I got to quietly go on with my day.
        Effective? I think yes.

    9. Yes! I used it against my partner’s mother when she was trying to bully us into doing something her way that would have been very detrimental to us. It didn’t get her to change her mind, but it got her to shut the fuck up about it and back off. There was a moment when I could see that she sort of twigged what I was doing – that I was just repeating the same line – and I think there was this uncomfortable realisation for her that, right or wrong, I had my own autonomy and wasn’t going to be bullied.

      Another benefit that hasn’t been mentioned here is the strengthening effect it has for the person doing the broken record response. There are lots of people (myself included) who for lots of reasons, including being socialised to be accommodating, find it very difficult to assert themselves or their boundaries. Holding to one line actually made this easier for me, and I felt stronger and more sure of myself each time I said it.

      1. Also helpful in that, when I get stressed, I have trouble finding the “right” words to express what I want to say. Having one or two lines that I just quietly (or not so quietly) repeat helps me feel more stable and reduces the chance that I’ll say something the “wrong” way and give the argument traction. (And I also don’t feel stupid from using the wrong word and prolonging things.)

        It’s very reassuring to know that all I have to do is repeat my boundary. “Ok. (in the sense of “I hear you”) They need to be gone.” I’m not agreeing, which I think might be what the original commenter is objecting to, I’m saying “I hear what you’re saying. That’s irrelevant, though, because whatever else is going on, they need to be gone.”

        I am very lucky, because my SO and I haven’t had issues of this severity. When my BIL came to stay with us (oddly enough, also an addict, also didn’t have anywhere else to stay because he’d burned his bridges — to be clear, I had reservations about this whole thing to begin with but I figured it’d either be ok or horribly awful anyway), I had just had a baby. I was attempting to breastfeed, and Guinness is supposed to be good for that. I was at the point of trying anything (I was also taking herbs to help… turned out it wasn’t my supply that was an issue, though), so we got a case and I had a bottle every night…. except that BIL kept taking them, too. (Whoda thunk.) BIL also wasn’t actually looking for a job, even though that was a condition of him staying with us and we took him out job-hunting. (This was 9 years ago, so online wasn’t so much of a thing.) But the final straw was when SO was at work, BIL was on the computer that was in the room right outside the bedroom that the baby (who hated sleeping and did whatever he could to avoid it) and I slept in…. and at 7 am, I’m woken up by BIL singing along badly to a YouTube video. While drunk, of course. I went out and nicely told him to keep it down. Just as I’m falling back asleep…. he does it again. I was less nice. Wash, rinse, repeat, to the point where I ended up pulling the cord from the wall. Cue dramatic offense on his part, including yelling at me that it “wasn’t my house” (I was on the mortgage, so… and also it was still more my house than HIS) and that I was a bad mother (because I enforced a boundary the night before with my older kiddo).

        This was the point that I yelled for our housemate, because I honestly thought he was going to hit me (and at that point I was a fairly meek little thing… if this was now, I would have punched him, or waited for the first punch, dodged, and then punched him, because YOU ARE DOING THIS IN MY HOUSE AROUND MY KIDS FUCK YOU). Housemate groggily came onto the scene and shepherded BIL to his bed, while I called SO and the kids and I stayed in my room. Housemate then came to hang out in our room until SO came home, and SO came home, had a huge fight, and shipped BIL’s ass back to his parents.

        Like I said, this was 9 years ago. BIL has gone to numerous family members’ houses to stay (SO has a very large family) and he has burned every bridge. Last summer, SIL got married, and BIL ended up punching one of the cousins so bad Cousin had to get stitches. BIL then ran off into the wilds of Long Island (not his home, he doesn’t know anyone out there) and when he was retrieved the next day, claimed not to remember any of it. I was done with BIL years ago, obviously, but “faaaaamily” was a thing for them. Apparently he’s hit the final straw with all my SILs, though, by getting into a drunken fistfight with my (awesome favorite) other BIL /on Christmas/, the result of which all three SILs left and refused to come back, BIL ended up having a tooth knocked out (which…. dude, you’re a skinny pissant, other BIL has been in multiple fights, what did you really think was going to happen?), and BIL is apparently trying to convince people that /his father held him down so Other BIL could hit him/, which is exactly the opposite of actual family dynamics.

        …. er. Anyway, I guess my point is, set boundaries early and often and be aware that things will continue to get worse, so the only thing you can do is enforce your boundaries so that whatever happens, it doesn’t have to happen around *you*.

    10. Absolutely effective when the person is trying to change the subject to what you did instead of what they are doing. Some people do respond with anger when you refuse to play out the script that they have used successfully in the past to get what they want.

    11. It’s effective when you are dealing with a person who tries to argue you out of any kind of reason you give. It’s also effective when you are dealing with a person who tries to guilt you into doing what they want by calling you unfair or mean or whatnot. If you simply agree, “yes, I’m mean, but I still need X” then it takes that weapon of manipulation away from them.

    12. It is SUPER effective. I have used it before with a bullying coworker who would come scream at me that I wasn’t doing my job (I was, and my boss agreed with me but would not stop her from screaming at me.) I had a short-term therapist through my Employee Assistance Program who told me she just wanted an argument, and if I didn’t give her anything to work with she would combust on herself and go away.

      So every time she came into my office to scream at me, I would just say “Okay” whenever she took a breath, in a monotone voice with no facial expression. It was extremely satisfying because she would absolutely lose her mind and stomp off. Which achieved my goal: shitty coworker no longer yelling at me! And after a week or so she stopped doing it because it wasn’t letting her vent her frustrations in her own job the way she wanted.

      That’s a bit of a different and wildly confrontational example, but I think the point of demonstrating you do NOT care what the other person thinks of you (and cannot be controlled by it) still stands.

  10. Side eyeing “I thought you just meant the 24th and the 25th”. This seems like the action of someone who is technically following the rules, rather than someone who values you being happy in your home.

    1. In the letter, she said ‘Christmas’. A lot of people expect Christmas to be intimate and family, and New Years to be social. I think it’s fair that he got that mixed up.

      I’m side eyeing the repeated ‘but I want this and don’t seem to care about what you want’. W and M at M’s mom’s house seems like a great solution. They can throw a party! Have other friends over! My husband and I split at NYs for several years in a row – he wanted to go ski and I hate it. I went to a local party while he went with a group of friends to upstate NY.

      1. Jules summed it up nicely. Thinking Christmas just meant Christmas is a reasonable misunderstanding. Failing to care about what LW wants is not.

      2. Yeah. I wouldn’t think it unreasonable if partner had SUGGESTED he come and stay straight after xmas (although honestly, if LW was already really upset, maybe even that would be better avoided).

        But “you’re angry that I invited someone to stay with us at a bad time without asking, so I invited the same person to stay with us without asking, hopefully this time is better?” is not a good solution 😦

      3. I agree that it’s common for people to expect Christmas (eve, day, maybe boxing day) to be just for people you’re really close to and new year’s to be more of a big rowdy party, and it’s even possible that LW is usually more of a partier and has just had a stressful year, but I still side eye the hell out of “I thought you just meant the 24th and 25th therefore I’m right and you’re both wrong and a big meany who can’t stand for me to have any fun” (okay I’m editorializing a little). If you care about someone and want them to be happy, then wouldn’t you respond to a misunderstanding like that with “oh crap I’m sorry, how about M goes to his mother’s house and I visit him there while you rest?”

        And the bit about “how come W is not allowed to have people stay when last year I had my friend stay for New Years so how is this different (she stayed two days, it was planned beforehand, I ASKED him if it would be alright), and M is his best friend.” is just not cool. There’s obviously a huge difference between a planned guest who everyone knew (and agreed!) was coming for only two days and “surprise! my alcoholic friend who also has a coke problem is staying for a week, won’t that be restful!”

        I don’t know if W is having trouble admitting just how far from okay their friend M is, or misses being single and able to have guests over whenever they want without worrying about whether their partner is okay with it, or if there’s some weird passive aggressive power struggle going on between W and LW where W feels controlled by having to take LW’s needs into account and is lashing out or whether it’s just garden variety thoughtlessness, but there’s definitely something there that LW and W need to have a serious talk about.

        1. FWIW, among my acquaintance Christmas Day is likely to be Big Social Event; Christmas Eve is often familial (but not my family because we are Jews, except this year because Chanukah); and New Year’s Day is family; New Year’s Eve is family or significant other for dinner, and maybe parties later, or maybe not.

          But we are middle aged New Yorkers who tire of coping with sidewalks full of drunken and unpredictable strangers. I get that other people have more mellow environments.

    2. ^ This.

      “M arrived on the 27th. M is only going to stay ‘a couple of days’ by which he means 3rd Jan… I found all this out when M was already sitting in my front room.”

      Mmhmm. Somebody didn’t tell you. I don’t think that was an accident.

      And that makes their judgement and their respect for you questionable.

      1. My wife and I like to mock-argue about what “a couple of” and “a few of” mean. (I say they’re 2 and 3, respectively. She says they’re less precise than that.) But neither of us would ever think that “a couple of days” means A WEEK. And that’s how long it is from 12/28 to 1/3.

        1. I used to fight with my parents all the time because for them “a couple” means EXACTLY TWO and for me it means “more than 1, definitely less than 5, probably less than 4 unless it’s something you usually do a lot of like M&Ms or something”.

          7 days is way more than a couple. That is at LEAST two couples, possibly 3.5 couples depending on how you evaluate the word couple.

          1. My good friend uses the term “a couple few,” which is a couple times a few, which means 6-12. Used to drive me a little crazy.

          2. Raptor (out of nesting): OMG, I have only ever heard “a couple-few” to mean “two or three”. Using it to mean a half-dozen to a dozen would drive me up the walls.

      2. Yep. I’m afraid it reads as a pretty manipulative combination of ‘asking forgiveness rather than permission’ and ‘rules lawyering’ to me–from W, not just from M.

    3. Yeah, at the very least it’s someone using the logic of, “I have made an error and my choice is pissing off my partner or pissing off my friend, so my choice is to piss of my partner because [it’s less hassle than pissing off M, who gets really aggro / I don’t respect my partner / partners are there to put up with me being an ass but my friend deserves better / delete as appropriate].

      It’s not cool, and you could actually ask him outright, “ok, so you misunderstood what I meant and thought you were ok to invite M for two weeks. Does it matter to you that this upsets me and means I don’t get any downtime, or is that not a factor?” Listen to the answer!

      1. Definitely listen to the answer.
        I married a guy who was happy to please the people around him and be of use. This was fantastic when I was dating him.
        When I MARRIED him, then I got rolled into his identity as part of the unit. Then it was OUR job to be the resources for others and come up with perfect gifts and present a united front. Also, he tended to …forget…that I was a separate person with different opinions and viewpoints. Reminding him was work, and tended to happen when I felt strongly about something, and also if I never hear “but, if you loved me you would have known” again it will still be too damned soon.
        So, now, part of my criteria for dating people long term is that they don’t go on about “soul mates” and finding their “other half” because I am no longer interested in lopping off a part of myself to fit as half of a whole(where someone else apparently got to make the decisions about what fit. Never again. Nope. )

        So, anyway!
        You should be able to ask for peace in your own home, and if the peace cannot be found for you there, then you should be able to go find it. Your partner, in the best of worlds, would be part of that peace and not an obstacle to it.

        1. “if you loved me you would have known” should be killed with fire and its ashes buried at a crossroads.

        2. Oh, Jenna, thank you for this. This time, I managed to not make my feelings into actions to get with one of these ‘soul mates” people. But the deprogramming has been hard and I still need periodic reminders of what happens.
          I do like being a separate person!

        3. I’ve never heard anyone (including myself) use the term “soul mate” then go on to describe a supportive relationship with healthy boundaries.

          1. Yep. Built into soulmate framework is that a mercurial, volatile relationship between excessively like-minded (or excessively opposite) people is “authentic” and fated, rather than dysfunctional but (sometimes) exciting.

          2. I actually have a few times. But I agree that it’s also quite often describing an unhealthy idea and that it’s worth digging deeper and finding out what a person is envisioning when you hear that term.

          3. I actually have used the term “soulmate” in a pretty healthy/decent way. I have a friend I refer to as my soulmate, even as we both date other people. There’s a deep connection there. But people definitely use it to justify an unhealthy relationship.

          4. I don’t have a soulmate, though I am very happy with my partner. We say we are “in sync”, which is more about understanding each other and occasionally saying the same thing at the same time, or both independently having peanut butter for breakfast.

            I do have a braintwin, a dear friend who I can text saying “I’m pulling a face”, and she always knows which one. But no soulmates.

    4. Heartily seconded. This is especially troubling with W identifying as a man and LW identifying as a woman – because this means LW has likely experienced a ton of socialization that “hard no’s” will be punished, and W has not checked his privilege at all and is taking full advantage of his “confusion” over softer or compromise-focused no’s.

      LW, it’s incredibly unfair if you’re having to overcome both your own and your partner’s social programming in order to advocate for your own needs and rights, but that may be what’s going on here. If he’s content to rest on his laurels and let internalized misogyny help him get his way, and your boundaries be damned, you may need the support of friends who have practice recognizing and calling out this sort of thing, ESPECIALLY if any of them are men. I was in a not-too-different situation a few years back, and my gloriously feminist male friend was invaluable in helping my husband get a clearer picture of the problem.

      Wishing you the best of luck and a good (or at least productive for future situations) outcome!

    5. I’m wondering how much the issue of what days were agreed to is actually a side issue – and also ground that LW should try ot to fight on, as she’s at a disadvantage ther. You can go round for ever on, ‘Well, *I* thought it meant…’

      But that’s not the actual issue. LW was fine with having a house guest the previous year, after all. The differnce is that that house guest:

      1. Was honest about their plans instead of using vague, misleading terms

      2. Stuck to the plans they’d made

      3. Didn’t turn the house upside-down without consulting LW

      4. Didn’t bring a substance abuse problem with them

      5. Presumably had a functioning life to get back to when the visit was over

      I think LW’s issue is really that she’s feeling manipulated, because M keeps taking more than he’s been offered (be it time as a guest or wine from the communal store) – and if he asked in advance for what he was actually going to take, they’d probably say no.

      And considering that he’s already in trouble, is still drinking, and is under stress because of his mother…

      Well, I can see why W wants to keep an eye on him. And I can see why LW wants him out, because this could go on for a long time.

      I wonder if LW’s real worry is that he might be building up to collapsing on them. He’s lost his job, has no return ticket, is planning on returning to them, and is making no real moves to get his life back on track. Losing his license and job for drunk driving has not, apparently, motivated him to get help with his addiction. So what’s he going to do now! My nasty, suspicious side thinks he may be using using foot-in-the-door tactics – for instance, how long is this renovation project going to last? These things have a habit of overrunning, and if he’s involved, well, it’s almost like he’s working for his keep, no? And suppose he wants to stay until the job’s finished – that’s getting free building work, so that’s something a ‘reasonable’ person should accept, no?

      With this going on, exactly what was meant isn’t the issue. The issue is, is M ever planning to leave? How far is this going to go?

      1. This is a reasonable fear.
        I had friends who generously let a couple from out of state stay for a weekend…and then the visitors had a change of plans and going home was postponed, and postponed, and then somehow they had been there a month…
        They got the visitors out, eventually, but it took both of my friends presenting a unified stance and a lot of time and effort.

        1. Laws on tenantcy vary in the US, let alone other countries. The uninvited guest could turn into being seen as a legal tenant until expensive, full-on eviction proceedings prove otherwise.

      2. Rereading, I see I mistook something: the renovation isn’t M’s suggestion and he may not be taking part in it at all. My bad. But that aside, he still seems to have no plans to get his independence back up and running, so at the very least, there needs to be a conversation with W in which that is acknowledged as a worry.

        As much as anything else, it might explain why W and LW are on such different pages. M is pretty much in a crisis, and it’s possible W is thinking ‘I can’t turn my back on him or it might get worse’ while LW is thinking ‘I don’t want him to have it on us.’ If that’s the root of the conflict, it’d be better out in the open; that way, they could work on a solution that actually works for both of them.

      3. Yeah.

        It’s a common form of manipulation/gaslighting. “But you got to do X, so now I get to do Y!” You got to have respectful guests for a pre-planned visit that was limited in scope and duration, so I get to have a random drop-in for an indefinite time period from someone who at minimum drinks all our wine.

        It’s as if your partner brought home a rabid wild muskrat and let it loose in your house, and when you reasonably went “WTF RABID MUSKRAT???” he was like “well you have a housecat, which is also a small carnivore, so what are you whining about?”

        1. Right. It is manipulative and also, one of these things is NOT LIKE THE OTHER ONE!
          You thought he was gone, and they thought it was ok for him to come back and then come back after the job with dad?
          No. There is another place available that this visitor can stay. You are not kicking him out into the street. He needs to LEAVE.

          This is either your place too….or it isn’t really yours and plans might need to be made for you to have your own place.

          I do realize that I keep getting angrier each time I read the letter, but, it’s reminding me of several of the problems that I had when I was married. This house guest needs to leave, and then, you might want to make sure that the gas lighting and manipulation are not a pattern with your partner.

      4. Oh goodness yes, I was practically assuming this. That the real underlying question is “how do I get this person out of my house so they don’t stay two years or till they are arrested?” Maybe it’s because I used to work at a shelter…

    6. @Aceso (er, any relation?) – right?? If I misunderstood something like this and my partner told me, my reaction would be along the lines of “Oh, no! Oh, I’m so sorry, darling, I thought you meant x!” + attempts to think of a solution or a compromise that works for everyone.

      LW, your partner is treating your feelings, boundaries and well-being as obstacles to be overcome in the pursuit of letting M stay. This is a Not Good Sign.

  11. Also, thing that keeps leaping out at me: “W tells me (on Wednesday) M is arriving in the country and will stop by to see us Thursday. Great! I get home from work Thursday and M is there. With his bags. M is staying ‘for a couple of days’.” By my reading, either W lied in the first place about M “stopping by” (which is not the same at all as “coming to stay”), or M got there with his bags and guilt-tripped W into letting him stay. If this was all a surprise to W, it’s a little easier to be sympathetic (though W is still in the wrong), but that’s not clear to me. Is it just me reading it this way?

  12. shit Shit SHIT! This makes me so mad, and it reminds me of a similar but not as dire scenario I went through last year.

    A mutual friend of Husband and mine was looking to move far away. During our goodbye outing, Husband got emotional and glibly said “It’s too bad you have to go. If you ever need a place to stay, you’re welcome here.” ……….. I didn’t get too mad. We talked about it. He knew in the moment that he crossed a line, but whatever. She’s not going to take him up on that offer…

    She did.
    And he felt bad and told her she could live with us for a few months.
    I felt bad, too. I wasn’t about to deny our friend a place to live temporarily, so I didn’t veto this crappy housing bill.

    We had already decided no more roommates before all of this, but here I was with a new roomie I had no real say in having around. She and I are friends, but we were not as close as back in the day. And, ends up we are not compatible to live together. She also didn’t have a place to keep her pets, so I had extra animal drama going on. I was going through my own hard time, and I work from home. So this was just a shit show. Husband did finally tell her the truth one-on-one, which honestly helped. She was extra grateful she could stay, had some new perspective on why I was so stressed, and she knew finding a new place should not be a priority. Everything turned out okay. We are still friends. She got a new place. Husband was sorry beyond words, and he learned a lesson or two.

    Now, this was with a mutual friend we BOTH cared for, BOTH felt safe around, and BOTH wanted to help. LW’s scenario is like a night terror version of my bad dream. LW, you are absolutely being reasonable, and W. is trampling all over your boundaries and feelings like it’s no big thang. I like the ideas of getting a place for the week or working. That shows W. that this truly is not tolerable for you. Either of these options will probably upset him, and that’s not your fault. If he wants to put M’s feelings and needs before yours, you don’t have to pretend it’s okay and put on a happy face.

    I hope you are able to salvage your New Year, and if you end up working, I wish you a happy vacay whenever you get to use it! SO MANY HUGS.

  13. As a short term face saver can moving to the mother’s house be presented as house sitting, discouraging invaders, running water to keep pipes from freezing or similar thing? It’s not a substitute for the boundaries conversation, but it may be a way to achieve your goals until that full conversation can happen.

    1. As I hit submit I realized this could read as snotty to you, and I so do not mean that; your partner is being obtusely wrong. But if taking money out of your pocket isn’t an option and your partner is dug-in and obsessed with this construction help perhaps it’s an outside-the-box (and away from the unwanted guest) solution to get you your sorely needed break.

      1. If it makes you feel better, I didn’t read it as snotty. I read it as “Here’s this house that nobody seems to want to stay in and you need a break…could this be an option for a week???”

      2. I had the same thought – it seems unfair on the LW to have to pay for a hotel when M has access to a whole empty house just sitting there. On the other hand, staying in M’s mother’s house gets LW more deeply entangled in the situation, plus it could end up being used as an argument that ‘M was generous and let you stay at his mother’s place, so why can’t you be generous and open our home to him?’ In the long run it might be cleaner just to pay up.

      3. I also didn’t read it as snotty, and even had the thought myself; what concerns me is that LW would be staying at a place where M ostensibly has their own keys (and possibly control), and LW may not be comfortable with that, regardless of how entrenched M may currently seem in LW’s living space.

        1. Oh, also, it’s probably not something I would recommend doing without M’s mom’s permission. She may be perfectly fine with her son staying there (or maybe not – that could be why he isn’t doing so), but would prefer not to have her son’s friend’s spouse staying there, especially without asking her first. And just consider that coming up when going to get permission: “Hey, Ms. M’s Mom, your son is staying at my place and generally making a loud mess, can I stay at yours for a week to get some time away from him?” Does M’s mom even know M isn’t staying at her place, or was it something she specified?

          1. Your mention about M possibly not being approved to stay at M’s Mom’s house is a good one.

            I had a darth vader ex once upon a time who was not allowed to have a key to his family’s home, and they all had deadbolts on their bedroom doors for when he was visiting. The family were wonderful sweethearts and I learned a lot about my ex from them.

            Given what we have been told about M, I could totally see it being a similar situation.

            OP, congrats on your Ph.D.! That is a great accomplishment and I’m sorry you’re having to deal with this instead of celebrating (in whatever fashion) as you deserve. Hopefully you’ll be able to get this person out so that your space can be yours again!

          2. Yeah, I was wondering if M was allowed at their parents house too. If they wanted him to come home? If they know he’s there? Is his mother is even sick?
            If this week- long job his father lined up for him as a…(seriously what? Subcontractor from another country coming over to do this job for a week?) …if this job is even real, or if he’s going to go do some shady shit, then come back to LW’s house?

            Even if everything is as M says it is, how is whatever ‘help’ he’s supposed to be providing his mother going to get done from LW’s house when he can’t drive? Or stay sober for any length of time?

            Nothing about this situation can bear up to any scrutiny.

            There are periods of time after addicts have let go of themselves, when they’re functional enough and desperate enough to put on the skin of the person they used to be, and use it to get whatever they can from the people who still love them.

            Addicts do an immense amount of damage during these times. They do irrevocable, life-altering, can’t be fixed things to people who need so badly to believe that they can help.

          3. From espritdecorps: “There are periods of time after addicts have let go of themselves, when they’re functional enough and desperate enough to put on the skin of the person they used to be, and use it to get whatever they can from the people who still love them.

            Addicts do an immense amount of damage during these times. They do irrevocable, life-altering, can’t be fixed things to people who need so badly to believe that they can help.”

            That is extremely helpful at explaining some of the family issues I’ve seen on one side over the last few years. I am thankfully distant enough (both relationally and geographically) that I was able to avoid getting drawn in, and once I saw what was happening I wanted to stay out, but I was puzzled at what was going on. This helps it make sense.

      4. I didn’t read it as snotty at all, but given that M’s mom is an alcoholic with lots of health problems, maybe her house is not in great shape. And probably part of the reason M isn’t just staying in it alone is that he’s basically incapable of taking care of himself. And, a hotel/AirBnB is probably going to be a lot nicer.

        1. I really wouldn’t recommend AirBnB as an option for M. At least a hotel is likely to have security (or at least be able to call police) if things go south, but any private property owner will probably find that M drinks them out of house and home, just like they did to LW and W!

    2. I think that’s a bad idea. LW wants to disengage. LW wants fewer connections with M.

      Staying at M’s mother’s house ties LW more closely to M.

  14. One thing that no one has mentioned is that drunk/stoned guest is NOT okay to be using power tools or making good judgements with regards to those home renos. It’s really unsafe and not a good idea.

    Your partner probably wouldn’t let his pal drive in his current condition. Bad guest should not be all loosey goosey with a circular saw or even a ladder. FFS.

    1. Yes. Think about the consequences (legal or otherwise) if an accident happens to M while they are renovating the house…

    2. That was my first thought after I read the whole letter! I was like “Okaaayyyy, “W” wants a drunk guy helping out with renovations? Really?” Even if he’s just moving stuff from one room to another he’s likely to do more harm than good.

    3. Truly excellent point I missed in all the craziness of this! I hope the LW is able to make use of that point when talking to W and possibly H.

  15. LW, this post gave me the complete heebie-jeebies in the first sentence, because I have an ex, M, who is a drug-addicted alcoholic whose mother is also an alcoholic. Only the fact that my ex is not a builder reassured me that your M is unlikely to be my ex! (Please tell me that your BigCity is NOT Perth, Western Australia…)

    My ex totally would have drunk all your wine, too.

    Anyway, you are totally allowed to say “M is making me uncomfortable in my own home and I don’t want him here” and expect your partner and housemate to act on that immediately. It’s not in the least unreasonable. Alcoholics in the grip of their addiction are near-impossible to live normally with, and if you’re under any kind of stress you shouldn’t be putting up with that if you don’t have to. Feel free to be blunt and unapologetic.

  16. Especially if M has somewhere else to stay, it’s not being unreasonable. I’ve been in a situation where I was staying with a friend and it didn’t work out, which went from “You can stay here for a few months” to “You need to find another place to stay in the next twelve hours,” which was extremely stressful because I didn’t have anywhere else to go; but if the guy has a house he can stay at even in the same city, he’s fine. You’re not throwing him out on the street.

  17. Ditch W. M doesn’t respect you, but M is a known asshole. W disrespecting you by whining and playing the Aggrieved Innocent is a problem. He’s trying to legitimize vhis behavior by rules-lawyering and making himself so tiresome you give in. Don’t. Take your PhD and your work ethic and your entirely reasonable expectations elsewhere.

    1. Yes. This is enough to break up over.

      W. is best friends with an alcoholic substance abuser. He places this friendship above your need to be comfortable in your own home. You don’t need in W. in your life.

    2. Seconded. M wouldn’t be a problem for you if W hadn’t invited M into your house against your express wishes.

    3. Funny that these stressors are coming up just as LW has had a significant Life Win. W letting themself sink back into bachelorhood and realigning with the dirtbag friend makes me think, W doesn’t know how to be in the relationship with new and improved LW, whose social currency just shot up.

      1. Related: the prolonged renovation that has had the house torn up as the Ph. D. work was finalized.

        W is not Team LW.

        1. Astute observations! While M’s showing up in Big City again was not W’s idea, it did give W the perfect oppportunity to show off what a great person he is by helping out a friend and working on the renovations… by ignoring what a jerk he is being in doing this at LW’s expense.

          Or possibly, specifically at the LW’s expense. I hope not, but I used to live with someone who would always do the latter in the ego-driven pursuit of “putting me in my place” and trying to control me and the situation. I really, really hope that is not LW’s situation.

          Aside: I don’t know who was living with W first, LW or H, but I get the feeling that H’s presence is part of a deeper trend of W putting his friends before LW or any other significant other. But I could be wrong. Hope I’m wrong.

        2. I noticed these things too — I had something similar (but much more minor and not with my partner, thank Dog!) happen when I was in the throes of turning in and defending my Ph.D diss.

          I don’t like it, not one bit.

      2. I’ve got serious side eye for W. There is more than a hint of collusion with M, and the fact that he’s attacking LW, rather than apologizing is a big problem outside of the current situation.

        I’ll give him half a pass as person, because it’s possible that he feels guilty about being in a better place when his friend’s life is going to shit, but he’s being a flaming shit of a partner right now, and cannot be trusted to have LWs safety at heart.

    4. Agree! The real problem here is W; the situation with M is just the manifestation, like a heart attack follows blocked arteries.
      M/heart attack are dramatic and obvious, but if you don’t deal with the underlying problem, it will happen again and worse.

  18. Dear LW:

    For the love of all that is holy, DO NOT, UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES, LET M STAY FOR MORE THAN TWO WEEKS. Do not let him use your address for mail. Push back immediately if he is in any way treating your house as a place he is living and not merely visiting. If he stays for over two weeks, he may be seen as a tenant rather than just a houseguest, and if he’s unwilling to leave the police won’t help you until you begin eviction proceedings. Even if they aren’t willing to show him the door right away, your partner and housemate should at least back you up for this.

    1. I think it depends on the country you live (or the state, if you are in the USA), but it could turn into a real legal minefield.

  19. If this had happened to my I would be *livid* with my boyfriend for putting a friend’s wellbeing over mine in an unplanned and previously unagreed to manner. With the way your partner is bringing up the stay of your friend as somehow “equal” to this mess, I really wouldn’t be surprised if the “miscommunication” over what “the holidays” mean was more of an ignoring. (Clue, if partner did not genuinely and profusely apologized for the “miscommunication” it probably wasn’t one.)

    Tell your partner that if this is what he/she wants then *he/she* needs to sacrifice for it- he can pack his/her bags and go live with his/her buddy in his mom’s house!

  20. I had a friend whose “let’s see a movie” somehow turned into staying for a week for various reasons…I made sure not to have her over to our house for a while (this is a long time friend who has issues I am a aware of).

    Tell your partner that they can go over to M’s mother’s house (if that is even a true story) while you work on your dissertation and you dont’ want M coming back to your home again.

  21. LW, I think you should leave if it’s at all possible. Right now W, H and M have cast you in the role of Ms. Buzzkill. Without you there, W and H will have to deal with M’s dysfunction. Wine-Guzzling Sad Sack’s charm might fade when they can’t say “oh LW’s the problem, she’s so uptight”. Meanwhile you get to be in a stress-free environment.

    1. True ’nuff. I wonder if W is having a passive-aggressive fit of stomping his foot and holding his breath until he (she?) turns blue and “You’re not the boss of me, I’ll do what I want!”

      1. I don’t think it’s even that. I think it’s partly that W is aware of M’s problems but feels bad for the guy, and with LW there saying “but he drank all the wine and he has a record and I don’t want him here” it’s easier for W to pretend that M’s drinking/drugging/imposing himself on them aren’t the problem.

        NOT, of course, that LW is in *any* way at fault for wanting their home to be free of people who drink and drug and lost their licence and job because of it. Just that if they’re not at home, W will have to face up to M’s actual misbehaviour.

  22. M is not the problem, your partner is. W can’t – or won’t – set boundaries with “friends” who walk all over both of you and drink all the wine. You’ll still have this problem long after M (hopefully) leaves. After this is over, you need to sit W down and have a LONG talk about this.

  23. Yes, I think you nailed the *real* problem: W is responsible for his friend.

    I realise I’m biased because of my experiences, but I had many troubles in the past with friends who were also friends with addicted people (alcohol mainly). At the end, I cut ties because, even unconsciously, they were enabling their addiction.

    1. Up-voting in support of your “bias.”
      Being around someone who is tangled up with an addict can be almost as damaging as being tangled with the addict. When I made my decision to go No Contact on Problem Family Member, I told Parent I would also go No Contact on Parent if Parent stayed involved in Problem’s life, because Problem’s impact on Parent was so damaging to Parent that being around Parent was damaging me.
      I made very clear that I was doing it out of self-preservation, and it was entirely Parent’s choice and there would be no hard feelings on my part if Parent maintained Parent’s relationship with Problem, but fact is, ‘it’s me or them’ is what it boiled down to.
      The good news is, that was the wake up call Parent needed and Parent went No Contact very soon thereafter. As did eventually every one in the family.
      Naturally, *I’m* the most accessible so it’s my front porch Problem shows up on to “talk it over”

  24. Normally I find Captain Awkward’s advice to be spot-on and wonderful. However, the suggestion that LW spend a week in a hotel on account of M made me angry.

    Staying in a hotel can be a fine thing. If you planned a vacation as a change of scene. If you are traveling, seeing new things and new experiences. If it’s just easier to clear out during renovations and not inhale the dust.

    But going to a hotel because suddenly, unexpectedly, something is going on in your home that makes your home not homey, and your partner won’t fix it: that’s crummy. There you are, exiled all alone to the strange smells and minor inconveniences of hotel living, paying piles of money for the “privilege”. You are already paying money (rent or mortgage) to have a home. You have filled it with your belongings and nested. You deserve to spend all your down-time there if you want.

    True story: Once upon a time my (now ex-) partner wanted to throw a party that I didn’t want to be around for, and didn’t think was appropriate to host with our child in the house. He said “why don’t you rent a room in that nice hotel for the weekend, I’ll pay!” That didn’t suit me. I didn’t want to feel exiled from my home, not even for a weekend. I said “no, I’m instead going to rent this nice small apartment near work for a year. And move out.” He cancelled the party (and I didn’t get that apartment (but I did get another apartment later.))

    CA’s advice to rent a hotel seems to patch up the problem for the moment so LW’s relationship with W can pick up where it left off afterwards. But is patching over the problem really going to be wise? W is obstinately not hearing LW when LW says “I have a problem with this, I want M to be gone, now.” LW does not have to prove an air-tight case to the Supreme Court that she is being “reasonable” about this. W does not have to “understand”, he just has to hear her and respect her wishes regarding what goes on in her own home. If it’s so hard to get him to understand this now… what is he going to fail to understand in the future? In my experience, when it’s so hard to get a partner to understand which way is up (or even just respect that in my reality, that way is up), these kinds of problems come up over and over.

    LW, congratulations on turning in your thesis, that’s fantastic! You do deserve some wine and some R&R. However, maybe now that the thesis is not hanging over your head, you have time to take a stand. Do not leave the untrustworthy drug-user alone with your things in your home. Do not let this situation make you spend money. Do not give in to what W wants. He’s the one being unreasonable; his guest has literally overstayed his welcome. I assume you feel that other than this, things are going well with W, and so you might feel that setting relationship-threatening ultimatums is an over-reaction. But in my experience, anything that makes you feel not at home in your own home and not entitled to the things you need has to be dealt with; it probably will end the relationship eventually anyway. That’s just my experience.

    1. It’s okay if you hate that suggestion!

      Here’s my logic:

      The LW is desperate for rest and she needs it right now. If the money exists (big if), then getting out of the house for a few days can give that, then maybe it is worth doing, for herself. It fixes *nothing* about the relationship stuff with W., but it does send the message “I am literally not here for this. Fix it and fix it now.”

      The hard talk stuff with W. and figuring out the relationship and the house stuff needs to happen and it will happen. Does it need to happen right this second, when the LW’s gas tank is already empty and their house is full of Additional Asshole? W. has put the LW in an unfair and crappy situation. The situation is gonna be ugly and messy either way, the big talks need to happen either way, but if the LW needs permission to put herself first and take some space away from everything to get a little rest and perspective for a few days, then I’m here for it. Hotels or vacation rentals are not relaxing for everyone (sounds like they really aren’t for you) but issuing relationship-ending ultimatums that affect your housing situation are also not relaxing. Sometimes it’s okay to put a temporary fix in place if it gives you something else you need (like time, or safety) as long as you know that’s what you’re doing and why.

      1. I’m glad to read Shoulda Left’s comment and The Captain’s reply before I wrote my own comment because I was going to say something similar to Shoulda’s. My first thought was that Unhappy needs to break up with her partner. For me, the reason isn’t the questionable generosity to M. For me, it’s the lawyering. In any relationship, there are going to be misunderstandings. For example, in mine, we had this thing when we first got together where I’m very precise about when we need to leave the house to get somewhere, and my partner gives approximates. It took some argument, but we want to get along, both want to arrive on time, and have figured out a system that works for us. We truly weren’t understanding what the other meant, but once we understood each other, communication became easy.

        I’d love to be wrong, but it seems to me that none of that is what’s going on in Unhappy’s relationship. I’d say that she and her partner are in competition with each other or like he’s decided he’s in competition with her. It’s like they’re operating under 2 different assumptions on what makes a relationship. W seems to see their shared home as territory that he wants to claim a bigger piece of. While I suppose it’s possible that W really didn’t understand that Unhappy thought “Christmas” means more than the literal 24 hour period, it’s less likely that W really doesn’t understand the difference between an announced pre-approved 2-day houseguest and an alcoholic moving in for an indefinite time to help with a construction project that has no work-schedule of who does what, budget, or timeline for completion. This isn’t something where they want the same thing and are having trouble figuring out the compromises on how to get there. This is something where W wants to win on the letter of some unagreed on law. Unhappy is trying to figure out how to get W to understand her wishes with an ultimate goal of making the relationship work. W is trying to figure out how to have his cake and eat it too.

        All that said, it does make sense to figure out the next move during a calm spell. So with that in mind, a week in a hotel or at a friend’s makes sense rather than moving out in a huff. And if Unhappy and W have worked out what have really been misunderstandings in the past, like I said, I hope I’m wrong about all this.

        (One more note: If W’s competitive behavior and going after the letter of the law is truly a new thing, might the timing have something to do with Unhappy’s transition from working on a PhD to completing it? Sure seems like there’s been a status change that could explain a lot of this.)

        1. I’m not sure. My husband often pulls the lawyering thing about (“but you said X! but if you wanted Y you should have said it like Z!”) and when I manage to break through it, it turns out that what he is really saying is, “You shouldn’t be mad at me for what I did, please don’t blame me!” and not “I want to continue doing that thing that bothered me.” He’s being defensive because he thinks I’m blaming him (apparently blame is BIG in his family of origin and the only way to get out of it is to start blaming someone else ASAP) and totally drops that act the second I say, “Gee, maybe I did miscommunicate, and I’m not going to blame you for how things have gone up to now. Let’s just talk about what happens NEXT. Are you going to help me fix this?” And that pretty much always gets us on the same page.

          Now it may be the case that W *wants* M there and doesn’t care that the LW doesn’t. But it *might* be that W didn’t want M there, but failed to do what it took to stop M from moving in because he didn’t want to be rude, and now he’s pretending this was the plan all along because he doesn’t want to admit he screwed up. So I’d give him a chance on that by simply saying, “Well, that’s water under the bridge, I get that it’s hard to say no to M, but I need him out. Let’s sit him down and talk to him together about how we have decided he should go stay at his mom’s.”

      2. If the money exists for a hotel for a few days then by all means book it. Then pack a bag each for W and M, send them to buy bread/beer/wine and leave their bags outside the door with the address of the hotel and double lock everything from the inside. Forget the renovations; they are just a side show. Who does stuff like that at New Year anyway?

        It may be that someone needs to move out for a week or so, but there is no reason whatever for it to be LW.

        If notional boundaries are not sufficient then perhaps an actual brick wall and locked door will get the message across. Technically W may have right of entry and may threaten to call the police, but he only has right of entry on his own. And would M want the police around? That would be an interesting question. Either way they do not get to behave like puppies and mess all over LW’s home.

        W’s choices become; go to the hotel with M and have fun for a week, or ditch M and get back into his own home.

        And then LW can schedule a conversation about boundaries for the first day after the holiday.

    2. I didn’t want to feel exiled from my home, not even for a weekend.

      You know, that makes sense. I would be mightily pissed if I felt exiled from my own home too. I took the Captain’s advice more as “get the rest you need now so you can have the big ugly discussion later with less chance of it suddenly devolving into a relationship ending screaming match” with a side of “whatever fuckery partner is up to shouldn’t prevent you from getting your need to rest met on your own” than “hey just spackle over partner’s massive disinterest in your needs with a short stay in a hotel!”

      1. There is the issue that, if this is the beginning of the end of a domestic partnership between LW and W, leaving the shared home might have legal ramifications. I’ve read of the Awkward Army advising other LW’s to be aware of this.

    3. Yeah, I agree that it’s an extremely depressig solution. Unfortunately it’s possible that staying may be even more stressful and non-restful than leaving :(. Maybe a half-rest is better than no rest.

      It’s true, though, that if that’s what your life has come to – feeling like you need to run away from your own home and make do with camping out in a hotel – then it might be a wake-up call that things have gotten pretty bad and it’s time for some bigger changes when you come back.

  25. LW, I strongly encourage you to visit a lawyer to talk through your options about getting M out of your house. The laws vary by jurisdiction, and you’ll want to make sure of what it will take to get M our of your home should W continue to cave. Hopefully, their advice won’t be necessary, but it might be, and it’s better to be prepared. It may also come to you needing to figure out what it will take for you to move out completely and get your own place, but I’d start with getting M gone and then decide on whether or not W is someone you can continue to live with and trust (signs point to no).

    1. This is great advice.
      There’s too many variables, and too many ways things could go wrong. Getting a professional’s opinion on how to protect herself would be money well spent. We have an excellent Legal Aid organization here, if LW doesn’t have the money, maybe she would have access to a similar service?

  26. One thing I wanted to say that I sincerely hope isn’t necessary, but it might be:

    I would not leave anything of yours that is valuable and easily stolen in the house if/when M is there. (Regardless of whether you stay in the house or go somewhere else.) Obviously I’m not saying ‘move the TV out,’ but I would not leave things like e.g. laptops, smartphones/tablets, cash, valuable jewelry, plus anything of particular emotional value that might be tempting to steal or easily damaged or destroyed.

    Not because I’m going all judgmental “all addicts are thieves!”, mind you. But M is someone who is in potentially uncomfortable/unsustainable financial straits, who has already displayed a willingness to make free with your place and your belongings. (And it is true that active addicts, especially those whose house of cards has begun to fall down, do sometimes steal things to keep the dysfunctionmobile rolling along just a little longer.)

    This is something I would especially suggest if you leave the house (especially if you aren’t confident that W will protect your stuff from M), but honestly for things that are particularly expensive, emotionally valuable, or irreplaceable, I’d do it even if you elect to remain in the house.

    1. Especially because M has ALREADY DONE THIS, i.e. drinking all the wine in the house apparently without asking; M’s attitude is Hey, Thanks For Letting Me Have That, and for someone with serious addiction issues it’s not a huge leap from that to “I’ll just borrow some cash from LW’s wallet and totes pay it back, like, someday”.

    2. I’d like to add that this goes quadruple for medications. Whatever happens–if you have prescription mess, I would lock them up.

  27. Neverjaunty, I was thinking something even worse: What if M brings illegal drugs in the house and the cops find it? LW could lose everything and face a long prison term because of this person.

  28. What would happen if you addressed M directly, in W’s presence? “You DRANK ALL OUR WINE! WTF is up with that? When are you planning to replace it? ‘Yesterday” would be a good time.”

    Might be a start. There is nothing unreasonable about ceasing to tippy-toe around M’s broken glass.

    1. The LW shouldn’t have to do the hard work of confronting an addict on her own, specially without the support of her partner, who could (would, going from the letter) take M’s side. M is W’s friend, not LW’s. W should be the one to deal with M.
      Anger can be empowering, but it can also be scary and risky. A direct confrontation is not always the best idea.

  29. I’m in a similar, much-longer-term situation, and it’s so untenable that I am literally moving out of my own home because it’s become so impossible.

    There’s a reason “M” has no where else to go. I’ve watched my own “M” go through this. It’s because they get kicked out of each supportive friend’s place, for reasons directly related to their addiction. Eventually the only people they can stay with are either people who are also not-dealing with addiction, or they run out of places to stay completely (most shelters require people to not be actively using, same as rehab and detox facilities). This is part of the whole “rock bottom” thing, and as long as “M” doesn’t think they have a problem (or at least doesn’t care to do anything about it) they have absolutely no reason to change.

    W is trying to be kind and a good friend. W is enabling. W is not helping. There’s a reason there are professionals and places for people who need (and want/will accept) help with this — and no matter how good a friend W is to M, you cannot MAKE someone get help. You just can’t. They have to want help, and wanting help requires acknowledging there’s a problem and stuff isn’t hunky-dory and oh yeah I drank all your wine but I’ll replace it/pay you back someday, just when this thing goes through, and it’s all just a funny joke we’ll laugh about next week, and don’t be such a downer…

    M has not just been driving drunk, they’ve been caught driving drunk. They will drive drunk again.

    M has been using coke, which is not really a “recreational” kind of drug (and has MASSIVE health risks combined with alcohol — my “M” had a heart attack at 30 because of this, but it didn’t stop them from continuing to use both). There is a very strong chance they will be using in your home. This can make YOU liable for drug possession if police get involved, not to mention your comfort level and safety of being around people who are using.

    If there are kids involved, CPS is going to get involved.

    I don’t know how they got into the country without a return ticket, but chances are high immigration will get involved too, depending on your country’s visitation limits/visa requirements/etc.

    My biggest advice would be to talk to addiction services to find support groups for YOURSELF (and W, if they’ll go), for resources for YOU, to find a therapist who can help you out with this, to talk to people who work with addiction services or similar fields because they are professionals. They KNOW what to do, how to help someone, and what will just enable them and not help while putting you at risk. M isn’t just going to go away. M is going through a lot of pain, yes, and has problems they need help with, but neither you nor W are therapists or doctors or addiction professionals.

    There is a reason I had to leave for a women’s shelter a week into my “M” staying with me. This isn’t just stressful, it can be terrifying, it can be incredibly dangerous, and it is one step away from a crisis situation (and that step is taken really quickly — living in crisis is brutally destructive for everyone’s health, on top of everything else). My therapist called it “like living with a rabid wolverine” in terms of safety and the amount of stress it puts on you.

    You do not have to live with rabid wolverines, no matter how many sadfeels it will give people involved. Your safety is incredibly important.

    (I’m not saying all addicts are like this and I hope that they’re able to WANT help and use the resources out there and to overcome this, but these specific substances combined with someone who no longer cares about things like laws and boundaries and ownership are extremely intimate for me.)

    1. I really liked your insightful comment.

      The one point I read differently was to do with the overseas connection. You mentioned “I don’t know how they got into the country without a return ticket,” but from the OP I thought that M is from the same place he is currently invading, but has been living overseas for some time. I assumed from that, that he has citizenship or right of residency in the country where LW and W live, and that it is legally fine for him to return there permanently if he wishes. Perhaps it varies by country or I have misinterpreted?

      1. That’s my read too, @BetterInGreen, given that M’s mother lives in the city and that LW describes it as “home”.

        I have heard of a number of examples where someone gains tenant status in a place after 30 days (or less, in some cases), and then requires legal eviction procedures to be removed.

      2. I misread that part, that’s on me! So no immigration officials involved, which is even WORSE for the OP — there’s no ticking clock for “M” to leave.

        Our most popular TV show at the moment is all about customs and border procedures so that’s probably why my mind went right to “Yeah they tend to notice things like a lack of return ticket and follow up”. Also I don’t know how to feel about our most popular TV show being “here’s how to follow the rules!” but it really is an interesting show. Especially when the detector dogs are on!

        1. Anontoday, just purely commenting for the Border Security love. Several British channels seem to show endless repeats of the Australian version and I watch it to hear accents from home, not at all because I am secretly fascinated. *shifty look*

    2. M has not just been driving drunk, they’ve been caught driving drunk. They will drive drunk again.

      Just wanted to highlight this. On average, a person drives drunk 80 times before being charged with their first DUI.
      If M has already lost their license, then M probably has more than one DUI. The fact that they’ve already drunk all your wine demonstrates that they have no intention of changing their destructive behavior. You are one thousand million percent justified in not wanting this person with such screwed-up priorities anywhere near you or your property.

  30. I could see my husband acting like W. He is a lovely person in many ways, but one of his few flaws is getting hypnotized by a friend asking for a favor. He cannot say no. It doesn’t occur to him. He’s from the upper Midwest, and if you’ve ever read about Ask vs Guess culture, that’s it. Where he’s from, no one would be so gauche as to invite oneself unless they were truly desperate.

    Having done so, if he realized I was mad about it, I could see him rules lawyering like W. The goal would be to keep everyone happy and restore peace. He would, sincerely, see himself in a “no-win situation” where “no good deed goes unpunished” and “no matter what I do, someone is mad at me” (subtext: it is fundamentally Wrong that someone will be mad either way.)

    Notice how at no point does the question of what is right or reasonable or fair enter the equation? Yeah. I can bring him around beforehand, by discussing what is right and reasonable. “Why can’t M stay at his mom’s house? Remember how he drinks all the wine and never buys more? This is our problem how, again?” And the shocking realization dawns that OMG, M has asked for something UNREASONABLE! And isn’t even out of options!

    If M got as far as staying with us, no way would we be able to sort it out by hiss-whispering at each other after M passes out. Especially if I was drained beforehand. Getting a hotel room we can’t afford would be a good shot across the bow of “you can’t paper over this, we need to find a more permanent solution.”

    Tl;dr: the kind of dysfunction that leads someone to invite an M to stay despite your clear wishes runs deep. It can be improved and worked around if W’s other good qualities are worth the price of admission. But this is not going to be one quick conversation.

    1. Good point. I think it’s also worth considering that W is actually very worried about M (because M’s situation is objectively very worrying), but doesn’t quite want to say it out loud. Maybe he feels it’d be disloyal to his friend, or maybe he’s worried deep down and can’t quite bring himself to acknowledge it, or some other reason … but it adds up to, ‘If I make M feel bad/take my eyes off him, he’s gonna do something really serious.’ After all, M is already doing stuff that could kill him and/or other people with the drunk driving; W might be scared that if he hurts M’s feelings, he, W, will be to blame if M ODs/gets in a drunken fight and ends up stabbed/gets in a fatal crash/insert horrible possibility here.

      Which he wouldn’t be, but if M is a close friend of long standing, it’s not easy to harden your heart.

      So one possibility is that W is lawyering on a picayune level because that’s the only level he feels comfortable dealing with, and he is, consciously or not, trying to avoid the real conversation, which is, ‘W, this guy you love is crashing, and we need to put on our own oxygen masks first.’

      I don’t know the guy, but sometimes defensiveness is about guilt.

      On another note: the last thing you want to do, I bet, and more experienced people can say whether this is necessary, but … while M is off on this job, maybe you should search the place in case he hid coke somewhere? That’s not a surprise you’d want to stumble on.

      1. I think you’re both nailing some possible insights about why W would be acting the way they are. A friend on the brink, especially when you are in the position to help “just for a few days” is a hard person to turn down.

        But M is not “on the brink.” M is full-bore going down in flames, and no offer of a bed for a week and a drink (or seventeen) with an old friend is going to pull M out of their alcohol and coke-infused self- (and possible others-) destructive spiral. W needs to realize that quite possibly the best thing to be done for M is to pitch him out before the whirlwind he’s reaping crashes down on LW and W both.

        And I totally agree that while staying at a hotel, or even at a sympathetic friend’s for a few days isn’t ideal, it may give LW the mental bandwidth needed to confront W with the hard conversation of “you are trying to manipulate me because you feel sorry for M, but M is already taking advantage of us, and may very well put us in danger.”

  31. LW, you are ever so reasonable for wanting to feel safe in your own home, and wanting input as to who stays with you and for how long. You’re also reasonable to expect that home renovation projects will not be started without your consent and input, particularly not at times when they disrupt your life. You’re extremely reasonable in expecting that houseguests will attempt to keep disruption to a minimum, and will not steal your possessions. (Drinking all your wine: way beyond ‘help yourself to anything you need while you’re staying, mate.’)

    You’re not a party pooper. This is not a party. This is a home invasion.

    And while the ‘move out while W sorts this out’ solution places the burden (unfairly) on YOU, it sounds very much like a ‘put on your life vest’ moment. You need to not live with two (now three) people who sabotage your health and well-being.

  32. If you live in the United States and own your home, M’s presence likely gives the police the power to steal it through “civil forfeiture.” Really.

    These laws are terribly unjust and the likelihood of them coming into play is small, but if it were me, I would not allow that risk to be taken with my home.

    1. Civil forfeiture is evil, and part of why is that the charges are filed against the property, not a person, and property doesn’t have a right to a lawyer or trial. The rules change dramatically and the likelihood of getting the property back from the police plummets. Also, in most places the money goes substantially to the police department, so you can see the moral hazard here.
      That said, it depends on the state you are in whether it applies since I think I saw something about California pulling the plug on using civil forfeiture (I would need to check). Most states, though, think it’s a fine way to raise money for police equipment without raising taxes and people driving across state lines have been victimized by what are essentially shakedowns and extortion in certain (usually rural) areas.

  33. LW, I am frankly scared for you. I think W’s heart is in the right place, but it seems like he has no experience with addicts (or didn’t learn from it) and is simply enabling this person. Under normal circumstances, I would say that the advice to go stay in a hotel is a good compromise for the “one person wants a houseguest, the other doesn’t” issue, but based on my own experience, I would say, NEVER EVER EVER allow an addict to stay in your home, whether you are there or not.

    Let me preface this by saying I know addiction is a disease and I don’t blame people for their addictions. I grew up with two addicts (both my brothers) and I love them very much and was heartbroken to lose my oldest brother to suicide. My parents kicked him out of the house because he wouldn’t stop using and I know to this day they beat themselves up over that decision but it was the RIGHT decision, because he was bringing illegal drugs into their home AND sharing them with his younger siblings. My brother was not a bad person, and in fact was suffering from terrible mental illness, but the people around him had to protect themselves from the destructive and dangerous things he did.

    There are so many reasons why leaving this guy in your home is a bad idea. First, he will probably bring illegal drugs into your home and you could be held liable for that, whether or not you are there. If you are a renter, it could get you evicted. Either way, you could end up with a felony record. Second, addicts often steal to feed their addictions, and since he’s already helped himself to all your wine he seems a likely candidate for that. Leaving him around your stuff while you aren’t there seems like an epically bad idea. At the very least, if you leave, please take any portable valuables (credit cards, jewelry, etc.) and medications you have with you. Third, it’s entirely possible that while drunk/high, he will do damage to your property that you will have to pay for. Finally, please look into the tenancy laws in your area because as others have noted, depending on how long he stays he could be considered a tenant that you can’t simply kick out. In fact, he may well KNOW this and be planning for it.

    There is no comparison between this situation and your friend who stayed with you. M is known to have committed at least one crime (DUI), known to have substance abuse problems, and has not given you any reason to believe he has anywhere else to go (no job to go back to, no return ticket…). I’d be willing to bet he’s not staying at his mom’s place because she won’t allow him to, because she learned the hard way that you cannot have an addict in your home and have anything good come from it, no matter how much you love them. Your partner isn’t helping M, they are enabling him. But like I said, it’s really hard to see that when you haven’t had a lot of experience with addiction. I really think this is an appropriate situation to lay down a huge boundary–“either M goes or I do.” I hope you don’t have to, but you are not unreasonable if you do.

    Good luck, and congrats on the Ph.D.–that’s a huge accomplishment!

  34. Are there any good resources on addict behaviour LW could show W to support her case? (Assuming he’d be receptive to that?) I’m thinking that a lot of these ‘been there, done that’ accounts are compelling, but LW may not want to go up to her husband and start a conversation with, ‘Hey, I wrote to an agony aunt about you!’ So something more neutral might be helpful.

  35. LW, congrats on the PhD! You deserve a gold crown and a 5-star vacation!
    I’m so sorry you’re going through this, and especially that your partner isn’t standing up for you. W needs to open his eyes about what M genuinely *wants* as opposed to what he actually *needs*) and what price is W willing to pay to give it to him.

    The specific facts of these stories might differ, but the dynamics are the same: manipulative addict/mentally ill person, enabling person(s) who loves them and desperately wants to help. However, the reality is that as sad as it is when someone self-destructs, none of the sadness, and love and wanting to help, can actually do anything and – importantly – sad feelings cannot be turned into happy feelings by helping. Only the addict/ill person can get themselves out of Sad Situation, and all the well-meaning love in the universe won’t change that, so being driven by our emotions, desperate to save them, only leads to our own self destruction. the people surrounding the addict/ill person have to put aside their emotions and honestly assess the situation and how motivated the addict/ill person is, if at all, to doing the hard work necessary to beat back their demons. and then their loved ones need to assess how much genuine help they can – and are willing to – contribute to the process.
    Addiction and mental illness are like any other ailment: to treat the problem, the patient must take the medicine, not their loved ones; the patient must do the therapy, not their loved ones.

    Dealing with crippling addiction or mental illness is a difficult and painful process; someone is going to suffer, and when the friends and family try to shelter the patient from the discomfort, they pay the price, with no more benefit to the patient than if they took the chemotherapy treatments to spare a cancer patient that ordeal.

    It doesn’t do the addict/mentally ill a speck of good if their loved ones kill themselves trying to save them.

    What got me through my family’s drama was this mantra:

    They are broken.
    I cannot fix them.
    I am not obligated to sacrifice myself trying.

    It was extremely hard, but I finally understood that as painful as it might be if my family member ended up under a freeway bridge, I couldn’t influence the outcome and trying was killing me. I wasn’t willing to go down with them. So I walked away.
    Yes, it’s sad, but “sad” has no superpower to force a person to fix themselves, and if it’s going to be sad, let it be sadness over one miserable life, not two miserable lives.

  36. LW. Call a lawyer. I don’t want to sound dire, but if you own this home with W, your financial security is at stake. Call a lawyer and find out now what your rights are and what you need to do to get M out. Find out how to protect yourself, your possessions, and your home. And then, if W continues rules-lawyering you and gaslighting you, I’d suggest getting your ducks in a row in case you ask yourself “Can I live with this disregard towards my safety?” and the answer is “NO”.

  37. I’d like to focus on W instead of M.

    A partner who breaks shared agreements and then reverse-argues that his decision is reasonable is not a fun, peaceful, respectful partner. W is not your friend. If all those “reasons” existed for having M stay at your house, W needed to state them when you were creating your shared agreement together, not after the fact. Breaking an agreement and justifying it afterward is a classic passive-aggressive move.

    If you accidentally break an agreement out of a true misunderstanding, you apologize and fix it. You don’t shame/blame your partner and make her put up with your mistake. You make it right.

    Everyone needs a partner who can do their part of the work in hammering out agreements — communicating their needs, asking questions to clarify their partner’s needs, anticipating parts of the agreement that might be hard for them to keep and asking for help in figuring out how to deal with that, and coming up with something that works for both of them. Everyone needs a partner who honors agreements, communicates updates if they want to make changes, and who takes agreements seriously enough to apologize and try to fix things if they go haywire.

    Things won’t always go perfectly, but they won’t ever go as badly as you described.

    If you’re in a relationship where the sum effect is the same as your partner outright lying to you, then he’s not trustworthy. He gave M more support, loyalty, and consideration than he gave to you. For whatever reasons he had for doing so, the effect is the same as though you’re not first in his heart. You come second to whatever is making him act like this. That is not a happy relationship to be in.

    My guess is that W is bad at stating his needs — to you, to M, to anyone. He didn’t have a script for M and he couldn’t figure out how to execute your agreement. If he won’t get better at that (through self help books, therapy, or whatever) then he will never be someone you can count on. Your task will be to decide how much you’re willing to do help him get better at this, how many chances you’ll give him, and how much unpredictability you’ll put up with.

    Unrelated side notes:

    –It’s weird to me that W didn’t understand that you wanted a break during your time off from work. It seems like that would’ve come up in multiple conversations, not just a single convo about M and “holidays.” It’s also weird that it sounds like W decided to do construction work without even mentioning it to you first. Like, all this seems like you two don’t talk to each other much. (Just my internet impression, but if it rings a bell maybe it’s worth considering if you are really sharing an exchange of dreams and plans with this person who is supposed to be your best friend.)

    –It’s really easy to say “Hey, we’d love to spend time with you but a house guest is too much for us right now. Workload, PhD, home improvement, badly-needed downtime.” Everyone can say and understand that. This is not rude, it’s not a hard problem, and any attempt to make it seem difficult or unreasonable or socially unacceptable is, in fact, where the problem lies.

    –An active alcoholic/addict usually doesn’t make for a good construction worker. Sloppiness, mistakes, accidents, illness, you name it. Letting M stay in exchange for work is not the win-win solution it may appear to be on the surface. It’s just making the problem bigger by entangling the inter-dependencies further. Even if it were a brilliant solution, W should’ve checked with you first.

    –If it were me, I might ask W and H to spend the holidays at M’s house and leave the repair work until after your vacation. Then I’d take a lot of bubble baths and daydream about starting a new life that doesn’t include either W or H. Like I’d browse Craig’s List and just consider my options. If nothing else, it’s nice to have a sense of your alternatives so that you know staying with your partner is a choice instead of a reflex.

  38. While my knee-jerk reaction is that your partner is being a real ass and you should probably rethink your relationship, I have to admit that my husband has shades of your partner, too. My husband is the classic people-pleaser, and hates to say no, and we’ve had many arguments over houseguests, especially with regards to his family.

    My MIL and FIL are divorced, and both believe that they have carte blanche to visit their children for days at a time, without calling first. They live several hours away, and were both in the habit of deciding to randomly visit, with one memorable instance where my MIL showed up with a freaking overnight bag to one of Booth’s performances without checking with us first. We had two friends sleeping over, and no room for her. That was the last time she pulled that. (She didn’t stay with us, because there was no room.)

    My suggestion to you is that you need to get M out of your house, ASAP, and you need W to get on the You Train. You don’t want an active addict with a penchant for drunk driving setting up shop in your home. He sounds like the kind of person who is just sneaky enough to know his rights as a tenant, and he will make your life a living hell. In my state, a person gets tenancy rights after only a few days.

    After you get rid of M, I think you and your partner need to have a frank talk about expectations for guests, etc. Because it’s clear that he isn’t on the same page as you, or he was on the same page up until his friend showed up. Either way, not cool.

  39. Coming back to this, I have a couple of follow-up thoughts.

    Several people pointed out that M may not have anywhere very good to go. Given their reluctance to leave, that seems likely. On the one hand, it’s not your responsibility to care about this, your line is, sorry, we can’t put you up any longer, good luck figuring things out. On the other hand, realising that they may be resistant to that may make it easier: you can’t just hope they’ll leave, you probably will need to force the issue.

    And, I guess, if you have any constructive suggestions for getting your life back together from alcohol and coke addiction (I’m not sure what), it’s not your job to offer them, but you may find it easier to frame it in that way.

    And similarly for W. Recognising that someone who used to be a friend is now a drain and dangerous to your safe living situation can be *hard*, especially if “yeah, come and crash” used to be the norm. Lots of people find it hard to say “no” when a friend treats something as a done deal. So W is somewhere on the spectrum between “this happened unexpectedly and they didn’t know how to say no and if it happens again and “they just always de-prioritise LW’s comfort and aren’t interested in improving”. And I genuinely don’t know where this falls. It’s a bad sign, but it’s the sort of thing lots of people forget to consider their partner’s expectations might be very different from theirs. If it happens all the time, it may not be a relationship worth being in. But if you can talk about it and W is anxious to prevent it happening again, all may be well once M’s gone.

    1. “it’s not your responsibility to care about this, your line is, sorry, we can’t put you up any longer, good luck figuring things out.”

      All of this. Just because a person is in a dire terrible horrible situation doesn’t make it your problem. Their being about to dive/jump/fall into a whirlpool of hell does not obligate you to try to save them. Especially if doing so will damage you.

      And ESPECIALLY if it’s saving them from themselves. If they haven’t accepted that they have/are a problem, there is no helping them, because the only “help” they want is to continue their destructive way of life. As long as you “help” them, you will insulate them from the consequences of their bad choices, which means they have no reason to not keep making bad choices. Someone *will* suffer in these situations, and if it’s not the person causing the mess, it will never get better.

      M has no place to go because he’s alienated everyone else? Not W’s circus, not W’s monkeys. W needs to realize that his trying to manage M’s monkeys is damaging his relationship with LW, so who is more important to him, LW or M and his monkeys.

  40. My then-boyfriend and I had a friend like this when we were all in our early twenties. Dude passive aggressively refused to get a job, coming up with a bunch of excuses as to why he couldn’t look for/interview/get a job (one being a thing that upset him that would have been on the news but wasn’t). An acquaintance of his took us aside and mentioned that “friend” had done this to several people before us, it was a pattern of his. We didn’t believe it at the time, although it did plant some seeds of suspicion. He wound up leaving us abruptly to move in with other people, but owed and still owes us over a thousand dollars. He’s in his 30s now, living in a home his parents left him, with room mates who cover property taxes & bills. He’s still a massive sponge who drains people dry then leaves them. I’m glad we parted ways when we did instead of after we’d invested more emotions, time, and money in him. It’s frustrating because I considered him a brother– he was very charming when he wanted something.

    Some people are users. They take everything they can get and then move on. That’s how they get through life. All you can do is set boundaries and enforce them.

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