My girlfriend is taking over my bathroom. We’ve talked about living together but don’t officially do so, although we spend a few nights together per week. From my bathroom, however, it looks like she lives there and I don’t! If I say anything, I know she’ll think I’m making a statement about us living together, so I don’t know how to explain that I have a tiny bathroom and don’t want my counter covered in hair stuff and makeup all the time. -Crowded Out in Arlington
Frame the discussion as taking care of an issue that may someday help living together go more smoothly, rather than as a declaration that she has too many darn hair pomades to ever live with. In other words, she won’t think it’s a statement against living together unless you make it so, and she won’t take it as a personal slight if you can be good-natured and even humorous about it.
Maybe if you buy her a basket in her favorite color, it’ll help her know that you like her being there, and you also like seeing your countertop.
It’s a Matter of College Degrees
My boyfriend’s family treats me like an idiot because I didn’t finish college. My family didn’t have the means, but I’ve developed a career that I’m proud of and passionate about. They often ask me if I think of going back to school. I am just where I want to be. Every time I try to ask what his mother is reading, she dismisses it, although she and my boyfriend talk books all the time. And I like to read more than he does! -Angered
You haven’t mentioned what your boyfriend’s reaction is during these slights, or whether he makes attempts to include you in these Mother-Son Literary Round Tables. I firmly believe that what matters far more than how awful a partner’s family acts is how that partner handles the situation.
Presumably, your boyfriend doesn’t harp on your lack of a degree, so what does he make of the fact that his parents do? And what is he willing to do about it? His parents might eventually see the full you and put aside their prejudices. But they also might be incapable of doing so. If that’s the case, then your boyfriend needs to be capable of doing what’s possible to make their snobbery easier to deal with.