Dear Queen B,
I am in a sticky situation right now. Long story short, I found myself in a tight spot, and a friend welcomed me in to live with him and his girlfriend. I never really met his girlfriend, but he has been with her for a year, and he never complained about her.
Here’s the problem: She treats my friend poorly. He does literally all the cleaning, cooking, driving (she doesn’t have her license) and grocery shopping, and even takes out the trash. I do my part, of course, but his GF doesn’t lift a single finger to help. She is usually the one to make the mess. She’ll leave trash all over the place and be the one to watch my friend do all the hard work. She is also clingy AF. He and I will be chatting it up in the living room, and she’ll FaceTime him to see what’s going on. And I’ve heard them fighting, and their context of fight is just always her starting the fight over something dumb and yelling at him. She is overall childish and lazy. I feel like my friend is her caregiver.
I really hate this for my friend, because he hasn’t dated anyone else for a long time, so I think he stays with her since she is his first. He deserves way better than her. I want to tell him how I feel about their relationship, but since I live with them, I worry that I may create a bad living space. Of course, I also worry that if I don’t say anything, they will end up getting married, and he will soon realize that she is not what he wants.
Stuck With The Middle
Hey there, Stuck,
Expressing disapproval of a friend’s partner is super tricky and often backfires, as you seem to know already. Most folks immediately take an “it’s none of your business” posture when you tell them that kind of stuff, and, personally, I’ve had more than one friend try to turn the tables and make the conversation about how nosy and overbearing I can be. “Yeah, OK, I’m fully aware that I am outspoken, but it doesn’t change the fact that your partner is trash.”
I think that the best way to start that conversation without triggering that defensiveness is to make it about you, not them. For example, I absolutely hate taking road trips with a particular family member and their partner. It is stressful for me to be trapped in a car with their bickering and snipping, and it usually leaves me with a stress migraine that lasts for days. But I’d already nearly got myself disowned for even speaking about their relationship, so now my solution is just not to take long trips with them anymore. I don’t have to address their squabbling, and I don’t have to feel trapped in a position to witness something that I truly find to be stressful and pointless and bad for my health.
That said, you should start loudly making plans to move out. When he asks why you want to leave, you can blame it squarely on the lifestyle and behavior of his lazy-ass girlfriend. “It’s too messy in here, dude, and I prefer a household where everyone pulls their weight equally.” That’s a loaded statement that will hopefully lead to an earnest conversation about why you don’t enjoy being roommates with his girlfriend and why it’s not OK that he just cleans up after her and buys everything, and from there you can talk about how genuinely upsetting it is for you to see him treated this way. Sure, it’s easier just to tell him that he’s dating a broke, codependent slob who doesn’t respect him, but we want him to feel empowered to do better for himself instead of being defensive to your opinions. I know what it’s like to settle, when you think you can’t do better, and he’ll have to get fed up with the situation himself before addressing the issues or just dumping her. But hearing your viewpoint in a manner that doesn’t start with “dump her!” will hopefully nudge him toward a more objective view of his current relationship.
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