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July 2024

Ask Amber: I Don’t Want My Housemate’s Messy Boyfriend to Move in

Question

Hi Amber

I am writing to you because I am in an awkward situation. You see, I have been living in a share house with my friend and another girl. We are really good at working as a cohesive unit, we respect each other’s space despite living in a small house, we clean up after ourselves and overall have a really good system going… I have heard horror stories about share houses and feel lucky to be living with two girls who understand how to live with people who aren’t family!

A couple of days ago, my friend announced that her boyfriend was moving in. I was taken aback because I would have thought this was something you would discuss with your housemates. I can’t shake the uncomfortable feeling I have about this news. Firstly, I barely know this guy and feel weird about a male stranger moving into our house.

Secondly, I know he will be living in her room, but I feel like our house is already as small as it is… can we really afford (space-wise but also bill-wise!) to add a fourth person into a three-bedroom one-bathroom unit? Furthermore, he has stayed over a couple of times, and he is really messy- he leaves his dirty dishes in the sink and his belongings all over the living room and kitchen.

My other housemate feels the same way, but she doesn’t feel like she has the place to talk to my friend about it which is valid. I know it is up to me to have this conversation, but I don’t know how to approach this sensitively. Do you have any advice on how I can tell my friend that I don’t feel comfortable with her boyfriend moving in?

Answer

Hey there,

Thanks for reaching out with your dilemma. The first thing I’ll say is living together with anyone as an adult can be tough. The relationship is complicated when someone is sharing a space with you 24/7. It becomes even more complicated when that person is your friend, especially when you need to deal with housemate issues that might leak into your friendship. It sounds like so far you’ve struck a really good balance and navigated a situation that can be so challenging, really well. You should be proud!

You are absolutely right in saying that someone new coming into the household and potentially shifting the dynamic is something that needs to be discussed with everyone living in the household and agreed upon in advance. I understand why this would make you feel uncomfortable. It’s an unfair position to be put in, and perhaps your friend has been so swept up in the idea of living with her partner, she’s skipped a few steps ahead.

This issue is one that you need to discuss together as housemates and come to a decision on where to go next. The three of you probably need to sit down and find a time when you can all discuss this issue together. To have the conversation in a way that is sensitive and kind, I think the best thing you can do is find a neutral space at a time when you’re all feeling okay and be honest with your friend about how you’re feeling in this situation. Avoid blame or accusations about how the situation, and speak openly about the fact that you don’t feel her partner moving in is a good fit for all of you right now. Maybe even sit down before the conversation and have some dot points ready of the things you’d like to say or write yourself a script so you cover everything you need. You don’t have to read it word for word, but having it open during the conversation might help you stay on track.

I’m sure your friend will be sad about this, but having this conversation now is an important step to preserving the friendship and the peace of your household in the long run. Remember, you can’t control your friends’ reactions, and she may need some space to process the conversation which I encourage you to give her. I hope your conversation can be one that is constructive, kind and a learning experience for you all.

Read more advice on housemate problems here.

Read more of Amber’s advice here.

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Amber Sargeant

Meet Amber Sargeant, The Modern Muse’s resident psychologist, however, you might know her better as The Anxious Psych on TikTok or from her clinic The Sunshine Club Psychology. With a Masters of Professional Psychology, and a Masters of Psychology Practice (Clinical) under her belt, Amber works with all different kinds of presentations from anxiety and depression to personality disorders, ADHD, and everything in between. Her TikTok forms a community hub for accessible information about mental health and psychology in a way that is more approachable and understandable to the average person.

Amber is also someone who also struggles with Anxiety and aims to highlight that while we each have our own experience with difficult emotions and situations, we can learn to manage effectively and to make sure we are still able to build the life we want. Amber is such a warm and passionate clinician and we are so lucky to have her on our team. We can’t wait for her to help our readers “find their sunshine”.