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Houseguests’ bad manners are driving host crazy

Adapted from a recent online discussion.

Hi, Carolyn: My fiance and I are currently housing my fiance’s best friend and his girlfriend for a week. They have no solid plans to leave or stay or work or ... anything. Needless to say, they are more “go with the flow” than I am. They’ve been with us two nights now, and have already invited over strangers without checking with us, and count on us to cook meals for them and always want to hang out (I need private time to read and decompress after work).

I think the way they are behaving is so very rude. I told my fiance that I can’t do this again (because who knows where they will need to live next) and this is the last time they are staying with us. He thinks I’m being “harsh” because we have a guest room we should offer up no matter what.

I want to stand firm, but I also don’t want to make my fiance feel like he’s choosing between me and his best friend. Help?

– Extended Stay “Hosts”

Declaring “never again” is reaching for the last resort first.

The first resort I recommend is to reconcile your hosting style with your fiance’s, and then decide from there how to handle guests who have no idea how to be good guests.

You, for example, need private time after work. That’s fair. So you and Fiance can establish that – whenever you have houseguests – you come in from work, say hello to everyone, then retreat to your bedroom to read for X minutes, or to the neighborhood for a walk, or etc. while he entertains the guests and explains your need for decompression. Normal as pie, no apologies. Similarly for meals, you decide as a couple how you’ll handle food, and you explain this to your guests. This is for guests who deposit themselves in your living room with no plans or manners, of course, not people you’ve invited and are thoughtfully hosting.

When people are just using your home as a place to crash, you are also at liberty to say, “OK, Fiancee and I have to go to X function tonight – you’re on your own for dinner.” You have a lot of room here to figure out how to make this situation work better, if not perfectly, before setting it on fire.

Remember: This is your fiance’s best friend. No doubt you have one favorite person who annoys the spit out of your fiance. How you handle his nuisance people will set the tone for how he handles your nuisance people. So, when it’s tempting to put your dukes up, imagine him doing the same to push yourself into cooperating.

People tend to say that couples should travel together to find out whether they’re really compatible, but I’m beginning to think it’s even more illuminating for couples to host bad houseguests together.

Re: Fish and guests:

You skipped over the “invited strangers over” part. I would want to say, straight up, “Please don’t invite anyone else over without checking with us first.” Fiance can, but guests? Heck no.

– Anonymous 2

Yes, sorry, meant to address that. If a houseguest ever does that again, it’s immediate relocation of the party to a nearby restaurant or bar.

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