Wedding Woes

No one has to 'respect' your boundaries except you. That's how they work.

Dear Prudence,

I have known my friend since childhood, and we’ve been extremely close for many years. We lived together for around 10 years, and during that time, I often found myself taking on the role of rescuer when she was struggling financially or with her mental health. This was my choice, and through therapy, I’ve understood this was a choice I made to feel good about myself by helping others.I’m trying to change that behavior, but I’m struggling to set boundaries and have them respected.

My friend is currently housesitting in an attempt to save money, which I think is a great idea. She recently asked to stay during housesits, which my partner and I agreed to and we enjoyed having her stay. As she was sleeping in my stepsons room, I let her know we’d be home early—mid-afternoon, implying, but not clearly saying that I’d appreciate it if she had moved on to her next stay by our return. I also asked her to change the sheets on my stepson’s bed. We were away visiting my family a four-hour drive away, and given the travel and our return on Sunday afternoon, I was planning to have a quiet Sunday evening, resetting after our visit and preparing the kids for school on Monday. I reconfirmed our return time on Sunday afternoon when we were about two hours away, and she responded by saying she was with her sisters, she’d be home later than us at around 5 p.m., and she had left some things lying around. We got home to find the iron and ironing board out with her clothes lying in six different locations around our house, including my stepson’s room. She had also not finished changing the sheets on my stepson’s bed. She finally arrived at our house at around 7 p.m., and spent at least half an hour packing and organizing her things, before beginning to arrange transport to her next house. She dropped a few hints that cabs were hard to get but my partner and I ignored these, as she didn’t outright ask us to drive her. She also apologized to my stepson for not changing the sheets, saying, “I wasn’t sure what sheets you wanted.” I feel it’s bad form to bring my stepson into it and I also feel that is an excuse, as she could have texted or called. I don’t think she is aware of my feelings about this. Her family are all very close and treat each other this way, and they don’t seem to have an issue with it. I think her expectations regarding this kind of thing are very different from mine.

My problem now is that if this was anyone else, I would decrease contact and not offer favors. However, as we have known each other for so long, I am finding it hard to change the pattern I’ve established. I’m also not sure if my response is exaggerated, because this is just one example of a series of events that have happened recently that are similar in nature. Like anyone, I don’t like confrontation, and find it harder to have challenging conversations with someone where I’m the one wanting to change something about our relationship. I think she has no idea about how I feel, and it will be a shock to her and make her uncomfortable, and that thought makes me uncomfortable. I am in a position to do favors for her, and she is in a position where favors are necessary for her. Should I just accept that we have our differences and manage my own responses differently?

—Old Friend, Bad Manners

Re: No one has to 'respect' your boundaries except you. That's how they work.

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    banana468banana468 member
    First Answer First Anniversary 5 Love Its First Comment
    "Last time you were here and we arrived home I noticed a few things that I need to address.  These were problematic and made our arrival home and prep for the next day more stressful and some of them were the result of you not doing the things you said you would.  I would love to have you stay again but also need to emphasize that this can't happen again." 
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    Ugh, some of this is reasonable but some of it is just you being too much. Just don't invite her to stay again. 
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    No is a complete sentence.

    The LW should do the favors they want to do for this friend and say "no" to the ones they don't want to do.  She is a grown adult and needs to figure it out if a "necessary" favor can no longer be done by the LW.

    It's up to the LW if they say something about this visit or not.  I don't think it would be helpful to say anything.  But they also shouldn't have this friend watch their house again. 

    As an aside, that's an intense friendship if they lived together for 10 years.  I couldn't imagine.
    Wedding Countdown Ticker
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    If you expected she leave before your arrived home, given the history that you’ve lived together for so long and she’s fairly comfortable in your home, I think you needed to spell it out for her. Tell her you need alone time when you’re home. 

    I don’t think you say anything now. If you don’t want her to stay again, don’t offer up your place. If you do, then say “we’re coming home at 5pm on Sunday and need the place empty and with clean sheets on the bed. If that doesn’t work for your we understand if you’d prefer to stay somewhere else”. If she can’t do that then you don’t ask her to stay again. 
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