Dear Jordan

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Dear Jordan,

While I am at school, I live with my brother and a long-time roommate in a three bedroom house. As a student with a considerably lower income, I pay less towards bills than the two other members of the household. Recently, another of my family members came upon hard times and is in need of a place to stay for “a few weeks,” and has asked to come to stay with us. My brother, understandably, feels that we should take him in as this family member has previously taken my brother in when he needed a place to stay; and we’re pretty tight on bills and could use the extra income, plus he is family.

While I understand these points, they are unfortunately not the only ones to consider. My family has a way of turning stays of “a few weeks” into the semi-permanent residence, and while a few weeks may only be a slight inconvenience for us, a longer stay turns into cramped living conditions.

Secondly, he is a recovering addict, which means extra considerations on our part to keep potentially problematic items out of the house. Additionally, this family member makes my roommate kinda uncomfortable. Not to the point where they can’t be around each other, but she doesn’t really want to be alone with him if possible.

My brother has heard these concerns, but dismisses them or considers them acceptable risks. While I can look past the risk of the first two as the sort of things that aren’t major problems, the last point is the one that makes the whole conversation a non-starter for me.

Even though my brother acknowledges that it is a concern, he is comfortable enough just having a short leash wherein our roommate can pull the plug if she feels he’s being inappropriate. Is it worth it for me to push harder knowing that it would likely put a strain on my living situation, or should I just accept the terms and hope for the best?

Sincerely,

-Vincent Adultman

 

Dear Vincent Adultman,

You look like you are caught between a rock and a hard place. Sorry, that’s a cheesy line my mom would tell me when I’m feeling all kinds of WTF-y.

But, let’s start with your brother: he is one of the larger slices of the rent pie, has been taken in by said relative and clearly has a strong tie to family. These are all good things, but unfortunately, it sounds like he’s willing to put another’s safety above that of your roommate’s (whom he has known for three years now). On top of that, you mention ‘cramped living conditions’ which means finding a place for this family member to stay in what sounds like an already full living situation. Are you the only ones who can truly offer this family member a place to live for a few weeks?

Secondly, family members who overstay their welcome are no stranger to me, and is extra off-putting due to their connection with the two of you. Family has a way of using societal-politeness as a means to manipulate others into giving in to their wants and desires.

For instance, an aunt that you may not like might come over and insist on hugs and kisses. You decline, saying you’re not comfortable with that level affection with this particular family member, but your mom makes you anyway because it is considered ‘rude.’ If they do end up coming over and staying a while, make sure you put your foot down when it comes to the end of those three weeks. Perhaps sit your brother and another roommate down together, agree that this person is not permitted to stay any longer than the given time period and make a concrete day that they must leave by.

Your roommate is female, right? I’m just inferring this off of the ‘she doesn’t really want to be alone with him if possible.’ Although I’m not privy to the details as to why, I can presume that this might because he makes unwarranted advances towards her or gives off an unnerving vibe when he’s around her. This should not be taken lightly; most women I’ve met who report feeling uncomfortable around someone of the opposite sex have had good intuition. Your brother’s refusal to acknowledge a potentially dangerous situation for a member of the household is, quite frankly, alarming and unacceptable. This is her home, too, and she should feel comfortable walking around the apartment/household.

While you do mention that he feels a compromise of your roommate informing him that any inappropriate behavior is subject to kicking him out, I sense an unwillingness to oblige to this agreement; it shouldn’t have to get that far in the first place, if he makes her uncomfortable he shouldn’t be there unsupervised.

While you might not be supplying an equal supply of income to your other roommates, it does sound like your brother is pushing the hardest for this relative to come stay, perhaps due to a strong sense of ‘family comes first’ kind of mentality. However, it sounds like the rest of you have more cons than pros to this person staying. Income may be tight for the next few months, but will a little extra money be worth the price of your well being and comfort? Ultimately, it must be something all three of you agree on and feel confident in. If two of you do not like the idea, he shouldn’t be allowed to stay.

I hope that helps!

~ Jordan