My boyfriend and I moved to a townhouse much farther away from the city because of his job change, and for more space. I am miserable this far out. Making plans with friends is so much harder, my commute is miserable (though his is better) and we are not near anything except people starting families (not something we’re doing anytime soon). I’ve tried to broach this, but he’s glad we moved. How do I start this conversation? —Very Unhappy in the Burbs
Starting the conversation always seems like the hard part, but it’s coconut cream pie compared to actually working toward a solution.
Figure out what’s stopping you from being more forthcoming about your misery: fear he’ll dig in his heels further? Guilt that his happiness isn’t overriding your dissatisfaction? Some deeper questions about what you aren’t willing to give up for this relationship, or your overall compatibility, or your overall compatibility? That’s the key word: relationship. You both matter, and when your goals are at odds, you work until you find the best fit. Maybe a new neighborhood entirely, the possibility of telework, an attempt to explore more local activities, or even a timeline to revisit the possibility of moving back. Either way, the sooner you talk, the better.
The guest who wouldn’t leave …
Q. A close friend lost her job, broke up with her live-in-boyfriend and sold her house. She was distraught, so my husband and I said she could stay in our guest room. Three months later, she still doesn’t have a job, isn’t paying us rent, shows no sign of moving on and is stressing me out. She’s nice and does cook dinner sometimes, but she’s always in my house, on my sofa, kind of like my permanent plus-one. I can’t have a one-on-one conversation with my husband, it’s hard to go to social events without having her come with us, and I am starting to resent her. How do I get her out without losing the friendship? —Have Had Enough
The friendliest thing you can do for her is keep her from damaging the relationship irrevocably, so view this conversation as a positive step.
Choose a relaxed time and keep it informal, so it doesn’t feel like an ultimatum or a planned intervention. Mention the positives of her living with you, even if you have to grasp: Have you grown closer in certain ways? Gotten to do more of an activity you enjoy? Really enjoyed her paella? Segue to the fact that as the seasons change, you’re figuring out long-term plans with other potential visitors, and it would be helpful to have a timeline for when the guest room will be available again. Be friendly, be kind and continue with the vibe of support and helpfulness. No need to word things perfectly, as the alternative — saying nothing at all — is what will really kill the friendship.
Send your questions for Baggage Check to Dr. Andrea Bonior at email@example.com.
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