Dear Wayne and Wanda,
I moved to Anchorage a decade ago and really love living here. My best friend from childhood moved up here in November, which should be this great thing, but she’s driving me crazy!
The first problem is I told her she could stay with me until she found a place. Well, she’s still staying at my house, and it’s been two months! When I ask how apartment-hunting is going, she complains how surprisingly expensive Anchorage is, and says things like “It’s sure a blessing you have such a big house!” She doesn’t have a job yet so she is always bored and she tags along on every little thing I do, from the gym to the grocery store to inviting herself along every time I go out.
I love her, and I knew once she arrived we’d hang out a lot. But I simply can’t spend this much time with her. It’s driving me nuts. On top of all this, I just recently started seeing someone, and I really like him. He has roommates so my house was the default hang-out, but now that my friend is there, it’s totally a three’s-a-crowd situation. I need my space! How can I ask for it without upsetting my friend?
I’m sure you’re dreading what will inevitably be an incredibly awkward conversation, but it has to happen, or current circumstances will crush the life out of this friendship. In a friendly and non-confrontational way, be direct and set some expectations.
Tell her when you offered up your spare room, you imagined it would take her a couple of weeks to get a place and while you love her to death, you’re too old and set in your ways for a roommate, and you will do whatever you can to support her efforts to secure a place within the week. Or two weeks. The timeframe itself isn’t as important as setting a time, and sticking to it.
As for her desire to be included in any and all activities, you’ve got to set some reasonable expectations and, again, be direct. Your friend sounds like she’s either intentionally tone deaf or genuinely clueless, but either way, she’s not picking up on your irritation or subtle hints.
Here’s one approach: explain that you love your time together but have also accidentally been neglecting other friendships and commitments so you want to set a standing date with her weekly. It could be a brunch, or a night out. That way she knows you guys will see each other, and you’ve carved out some space for other activities. A more passive approach would be to secretly do things and not give her a chance to join you. That might be the easier way to go about it, but I’m advocating for direct conversations here; although potentially uncomfortable, those ultimately demonstrate the most respect for your friend.
This is your best friend and the message to us is filled with nothing but complaints about her. It hasn’t been nice to have her back in your life for laughs and chats? To have the opportunity as an established grownup to provide support during her significant life transition? To share what you love about Anchorage and Alaska life with her?
Look, I totally understand feeling annoyed that a shadow is seemingly following you around at every step in your home, your space, your sanctuary — not to mention your fun time away from home. And I appreciate your need to vent and get it all off your chest. I’m glad you chose to do that with us because this is your best friend and you invited her to stay with you and offered to help. I’m guessing she’ll understand and even disappear if you were upfront with her about wanting to have a little private time with your man friend. And you aren’t obligated to invite her to everything you do in your personal life away from home.
Just communicate, but tread carefully, show some restraint, patience and understanding. In a few months, when she’s got a job, a place of her own, and a budding social life that doesn’t include you, your house is going to be quiet again and your social life will be back to its usual ebbs and flows. Wouldn’t it all be better with your best friend, on the best of terms, being a part of it?