My Divorced Friend Is Moving In
I said she could stay with my husband and me, but now I’m regretting it.
Illustration by Jason Raish.
Dear Friend or Foe,
A mutual, married female friend of my husband and mine—“Leanne”—recently told us that she and her husband are separating. He’s already found new living arrangements. She found a place to live as well, but it isn’t available for three months. In the interim, her only real option is to rent a room. She informed me last week that she was having great difficulty finding a place for such a short time period and asked if she could move in with us (for the three months) instead. She was very emotional and vulnerable. I, of course, said yes, and told her that I would confirm with my husband, but that it shouldn’t be a problem. I spoke with him and we agreed to let her stay and told her so. Since then, however, I’ve been experiencing great feelings of trepidation. I’ve never had a roommate and am nervous about sharing my home. I’m very much a person with a routine and am anxious about having that routine disturbed. Also, I’m worried that it will create problems between my husband and me, who have been married less than six months.
My husband says that we have to support her, and that it’s not an ideal situation for Leanne either. And I agree. But after thinking about it, I fail to understand why she needs to live with us when she can afford to rent a room. I know she’d prefer to live with friends, but I don’t feel that I should be burdened because of her situation. I initially invited her to stay with us for one or two weeks and am still fine with that. But three months now seems like a huge inconvenience. Am I being horrible? Should I just suck it up and let her stay the whole time?
Am I Being Selfish?
It’s hard to say no to a friend in need. But you can’t be mad at Leanne, whose only crime was to accept your offer to help. If you’re a fussy type with personal space issues, you never should have donated your home in the first place. I also tend to agree that, unless you live in a palatial setting, sharing your living quarters with a third person isn’t an ideal way to begin a marriage. (Sayonara, Honeymoon Period!) But unless you want to end the friendship, I don’t see how you can back out now. Or, at least, you can’t back out in the short term. Possibly, in the next month, you could slither out of the arrangement by finding Leanne other friends to bunk with for short stints. Though even if you promise to move all her belongings yourself and stock the new kitchen with butter and salt, prepare to apologize profusely.
If I were you, I might be inclined to tell a lie and say your mom or other close relative is coming to visit and there just isn’t room for all four of you. Or you could try the honest approach and say you’re a world-class neurotic who can’t deal with stray hairs in the sink but that you want to “be there” for her in other ways. Either way, don’t be surprised if Leanne accuses you of throwing her to the dogs. Bottom line: Next time, don’t make promises you’re not prepared to keep.
Friend or Foe
Dear Friend or Foe,
Five years ago, I left home and moved to a beach house on Long Island. My three best friends from high school still live where we grew up. When “Beth” came to visit me, she was shocked to find that I live well and have a great job and generally happy life. This was because “Allie,” who had already been to visit, told her I live in a town several miles away from where I actually live that is known to be a bad area. Allie also told Beth that I’d refused to meet up because I was afraid to leave my apartment at night. What’s more, at a wedding a month ago, my friend “Carl" got drunk and started telling stories about all the cool things that Allie does when she goes to New York. The trouble is: They're my stories! From what I can gather, she also checks my Facebook page for concerts and events, then says she went with me or saw it on the same date. Or she tells our other friends she has been places with me and done things that I’ve told her about over the phone, such as extra work in music videos and special events my boyfriend has taken me to.
Allie was my absolute best friend in high school, but I’ve always known her to be a follower. When I went away to college we didn't speak for two years because she latched onto someone who I despised and started acting just like him. Needless to say, we're not as close as we used to be. But I still consider her one of my oldest and dearest friends. And I know she’d do anything for me and vice-versa. Is there a way to politely handle this without offending someone and splitting up the group? I still want to go to brunch with the girls! Beth has caught Allie in a lot of these lies, but she thinks it's funny. Carl, on the other hand, is closer to Allie than I am these days. And his responses to my stories are always, “Really? That's not what Allie said.” I want to scream THAT'S BECAUSE SHE WASN'T THERE!
Being Impersonated by My Best Friend
Lucinda Rosenfeld is the author of four novels, including I'm So Happy for You and The Pretty One, which will be published in early 2013.