This week’s reader dilemma comes from Galpal12, who wrote, “An old friend wants to visit and has asked if she and her partner can stay with me. My friend and her boyfriend have a long history of breakups. …
“My husband and I don’t appreciate the way he treats her and have lost respect for him. I don’t mind that she visits, but how do I tactfully tell her I don’t want them staying with us?” Galpal12 asked.
The answer depends on whether your friend knows how you feel about her boyfriend, Galpal12. If you’ve already had a heart-to-heart conversation with her, in which you gently suggested that she deserves better (but she brushed off the advice), then she is putting you in an awkward position by asking you to host someone whose behavior you don’t like. If that’s the case, say, “I look forward to spending time together. But you already know it would make me uncomfortable to have your boyfriend stay at my house, because I’ve told you I don’t like the way he acts.” Tell her to call you — from her hotel — when she gets to town, so you can make plans to see each other.
But if she has no idea you dislike her boyfriend? Then the first step is to stop avoiding the subject. Invite her, in a non-judgmental way, to talk about the situation: “As your friend, I support you. I want you to be happy. So, can we talk about your on-again, off-again relationship?” That should open the door to discussing the boyfriend’s behavior. Don’t make the mistake of saying you “don’t like him,” because then she will think she has to choose between him and you. Instead, describe specific behaviors that bother you — “I don’t think it’s respectful of him to cut you off in mid-sentence when you’re talking,” for instance. Then give her a chance to tell her side of the story.
Afterward, if you still feel uncomfortable about having him at your home, say, “It sounds like you are hopeful about the future of the relationship, and I’m hopeful too. I want you to be happy. But for now, while you two are trying to resolve some issues, I’m uncomfortable having him stay at my house.”