Advicereality check

Reality Check

I am worried about my niece. She is in her early 20s and still lives at home. My sister, who is divorced, dotes on her like she is still a kid. She does the girl’s laundry, cooks all her meals and cleans up after her, and is always buying her things and giving her money when she wants to go out. There are two reasons why this is bad: One, it sets a bad precedent, where my niece now seems to expect an “allowance†even though she does nothing around the house; and two, my sister has a very low-wage job and can’t afford this stuff.

My niece has a job and makes more money than my sister, and she is a good kid, but she is still acting like a kid and not a woman in her 20s. She seems to have no sense of responsibility, and is oblivious to the fact that her mom is going broke trying to keep her happy. The girl’s dad is not much better, I’m afraid, and I worry what will happen to my niece when it comes time for her to leave the proverbial nest. She is a very thoughtful person and she seems to have a lot of friends, but I worry about how she will ever grow up if she isn’t encouraged.

Also, my sister is not in the best of health, and I wonder how much longer she is going to be able to keep this up. Is there any way I can talk to my niece about this stuff, or should I just mind my own business? We get along well, but we have never been particularly close. I’m not sure what I can or should do, but I would like to help. The situation is very sad.


Yikes. I’m not sure about this one, Auntie. You don’t mention what your relationship is like with your sister, so I would caution you to tread lightly here. Maybe instead of talking to your niece you could talk to your sister about her situation? Try to encourage her to start saving more money and planning for the future? I’m afraid if you confront this niece, whom you aren’t particularly close to, and try to make her see the light, she may react poorly and go running to mommy, whom she is close to, and you will have burned a bridge between yourself and both of them. At the end of the day, they are each responsible for their own lives, and as long as they don’t become a burden on you, then they really aren’t your problem. If I’m reading this wrong and you feel like you can safely assert yourself without causing a rift, then by all means air your concerns. But don’t do it unless you are prepared for all of the possible consequences.

My girlfriend travels a lot for work. She has a great job that she really enjoys, and I work and have hobbies and friends, so I usually have no problem finding things to do to keep busy. Things have always been this way, and we have been together for over two years. We recently moved in together, and I thought it would make things better since I would at least get to see her more often. The problem is that now when I do see her, she is often really tired because she just got home, or really busy getting ready to leave again, or doing some work from home. She rarely has time to clean up after herself completely before she goes, so I end up doing that after she leaves. I also pay all of the bills and deal with any household crap that needs to get done: minor repairs and lightbulb changing, waiting around all day for the cable guy, etc.

This might not seem like a lot, and I almost feel silly complaining, but all together it really adds up. I am spending all of my free time dealing with stuff that she doesn’t have time for, and now I feel put upon because I am doing way more than half of the work. I know this isn’t fair, but this is how I feel. I am starting to get resentful, and it has only been a month and a half. I am afraid to say anything because we already don’t spend a lot of time together and I don’t want to get into an argument during one of the two-and-a-half days a week that we see each other. I can’t decide if I am being unreasonable or not. All I know is that I can’t keep living like this or I will go crazy. What should I do? Can we even stay together if we go back to living in separate places? I love this girl but I am going crazy. Please help me.


First, think about how much of this is due to the fact that you just moved. Is it possible that many of the things you have had to deal with recently are not going to be a problem anymore? I know they all piled up at once, but I can’t imagine you needing to set up cable and phone and all of that again, and hopefully you won’t need to set up movers and get keys from the landlord anytime soon, so it is possible that some of this burden is over, right?

Next up, you will need to have a conversation with your girlfriend about how to divide the housework and general household responsibilities. Obviously, if a light bulb goes out on Wednesday you aren’t going to wait for the weekend for her to change it for you, so certain things are going to fall you to by nature of the fact that you are at home more often. The bills, however, can be paid online, and you should ask her to deal with at least some of them. She can do that from a hotel room as easily as you can do it from the house. Asking her to at least clean up after herself before she goes shouldn’t be a deal breaker, but think about what you need and be specific.

As far as the tired when she gets in and busy before she goes part goes, well, that’s kind of part of the deal. When you live together you’re getting the whole girlfriend: the tired, the sick, the cranky and the busy, in addition to the fun and loving and social and dressed up and looking hot. I understand that this is a big change, but I think if you give it some time and talk to her about your needs and expectations, things just might get easier once you settle in. Good luck.