Advice please on friend/lodger - Time for tough love?

Maybe you have fallen out with your mate, or perhaps you are about to betray them - whatever it is, talk about it here.
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Advice please on friend/lodger - Time for tough love?

Postby mike_maple » Sat May 12, 2018 10:53 am

I have a friend, who I have long considered my best friend, that lodges in my house with me and has done for over 12 years so far. He stays with me for £160 per month plus half of the bills, which usually comes to about £300-£330 a month - call it mates rates. We have a cat. He works 3 days a week. Over the years I've helped him financially out of debt by paying them off and letting him pay me back only half and at his leisure, bought him a bike when his was stolen, let him use my car on my insurance - in short, I think I've been a firm friend, although as I've grown up with more opportunities than him and on higher earnings, I'm happy to help him out. It has always been rather difficult to get him to do things with me - whilst I'm the kind of guy who likes activities, he prefers staying in and chatting. Fair enough, we are all different.

About 10 years ago, I made a new friend, who suffers from MS and she is wheelchair bound. A couple of years after, I introduced them both to each other. They made friends easily, and over the years became inseparable, with him spending most of his free time with her, taking her out on the days off he has, or otherwise keeping her company. Although it has been difficult to see both of my friends enjoy spending time with each other more than with me, I'm happy that she has someone taking care of her more, and it has given him something more to live for - as he gets depressive episodes and has been suicidal on occasion. We usually go out together once a week, often just to the local town for a coffee, sometimes to the city for a drink, a meal, the cinema, etc. But usually, they make the choice of what to do, and they don't ask me. She feels so indebted to him for all the time he gives her, that she lets him make most of the decisions - and when I call her to see what 's happening, or suggest an activity, I usually get the answer "It depends what ------ wants to do". Occasionally, we go out on our own, without him, usually to places he doesn't have any interest in - Garden centres, Zoo, safari parks etc - but she's so attached to him that she would usually rather stay home with him than go out with me.

More and more over the last few years however, he quashes suggestion I make as to what to do with "I don't feel like it" or "I don't feel up to that". He seems to rule with the power of veto, - instead of going along with something that may not be everyone's choice, like I do and she does. For example, I've been to the museum with them to see some expressionist paintings - holds little interest to me, but we went for a drink after. Another week they wanted to go to see Black Panther - I went too and enjoyed it, though it wasn't something I'd have done otherwise. But I do get sick of not being an equal partner in our friendship, and I did tell him how I felt about this a few weeks ago when he was feeling low and came to me for solace - sounds like bad timing, but i was as gentle as possible. Since then however, nothing has changed.

To sum up, I really feel like our friendship is going downhill. I often choose not to go out with them now rather than be disappointed, I feel like he takes me, the low rent he pays and the use of my car (he rarely contributes any fuel) for granted. He seems not to reciprocate. I'm wondering whether to call an end to mate's rates and raise his rent- it hasn't been increased in 10 years, aside from the bills - or to tell him all of the above - but I don't want to push him over the edge. So I'm asking for advice, and please do tell me if you think I'm expecting too much or being unreasonable. Thanks
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Re: Advice please on friend/lodger - Time for tough love?

Postby reckoner » Sun May 13, 2018 1:04 pm

I understand how frustrating it must feel for you to do so many good things seemingly without reward, but I think it would be best if you a) compartmentalise the friend / lodger issues and b) see the greater good in what you have achieved, beyond the extent to which you feel you have personally benefited.

A) If you want to increase his rent, do it because of household reasons. Punishing him because you're feeling left out is not an appropriate reason, and I think the repercussions of doing it in this context will escalate way beyond you imagine. I'm sure he'd instinctively know you're wielding power, which will cause a fracturing of the relationship exponentially; so far, you have cause to feel frustration, but raise his rent for personal reasons directly impacting on his life and wellbeing, you give him justifiable cause for frustration and bitterness. You're well within your rights to raise it, but make sure he has absolutely no cause to question your motives.

B) I think you have done a wonderful thing bringing these two together. From what you say, it seems they have more in common with each other than they do with you. You seem more outgoing and active than both of them and I can see how complementary they are to each other. When you introduce people, something grows between them that is both because of you and independent of you. The only fair thing to do is allow it and not expect to play some ongoing role within it. That you enabled it to happen should be the full extent of your satisfaction, anything else being a bonus. The more you let them come to you rather than try to involve yourself, the more you'll all be able to enjoy each other's company, I think.
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Re: Advice please on friend/lodger - Time for tough love?

Postby David020549 » Mon May 14, 2018 8:19 pm

If you do increase the rent do it for economic reasons, everything has gone up in 10 yrs so there is good justification.
You introduced these two and you should be happy that they enjoy each others company but it is a triangle, you are the gooseberry.
Relationships change over time, he is moving on and you should do the same, spend more time with the activities that you enjoy, that does not mean excluding them. It is very easy to start a jealousy spiral where one friend or partner innocently does or says something to upset the other, offence is taken and the atmosphere changes, it sounds like he is becoming more assertive because he has a new friend instead of relying on you.
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Re: Advice please on friend/lodger - Time for tough love?

Postby mike_maple » Tue May 15, 2018 8:28 pm

Thanks Reckoner & David for your replies. I needed to hear that, although it's hard to face up to. Moving on is going to be hard - you sense that I'm outgoing, but I'm not really, as much as as I like going out and doing things, they are my only 2 real friends, difficult though it is to admit before anyone. Of course I know plenty of people from past social groups/gatherings/holidays/pilgrimages etc, and of course through work, but actually making friends that stay with you through life has always been hard for me - I'm not alone here I know it, it seems to be the modern condition. I'm quite introverted, and mostly content that way. I'm lucky to have a close family, especially as my brother has 4 kids.

You're quite right, raising the rent in reaction to my frustration would be catastrophic. I'll certainly not be doing that.

I'll be taking your advice and stepping back, letting them come to me if they want to. It's pretty much what I've been doing for the last couple of months anyway, although so far I've been making sure to join in every couple of weeks to keep our friendship going as I thought that was prudent. It's up to them now.
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Re: Advice please on friend/lodger - Time for tough love?

Postby reckoner » Wed May 16, 2018 10:33 am

Many thanks for getting back to us. As you haven't actually asked for further advice, I hope I'm not overstepping the mark by adding this...

mike_maple wrote:making friends that stay with you through life has always been hard for me - I'm not alone here I know it


No you're not, and I have wondered how real in some cases, or desirable in others, a friend through life is, and I don't think you have any reason to feel ashamed of not feeling you have them. I live in London and all my school/college/uni friends have long since emigrated to Australia/China/Somerset ( :D ). I do have two living close by, and though they are certainly my oldest and closest friends, we all have our own lives going on with kids and partners (I was very late to the party on that one). My cousins out in the country have a close circle of friends they've known since nursery but I actually find them quite insular and a bit frosty to outsiders, which I don't find attractive or appealing.

It sounds like you have a wide and varied network around you and I think it would be a shame if you undervalue this because of a form of friendship you're hoping for that I doubt is the ideal you imagine. A meaningful relationship can happen tomorrow if you're open to it. But I'm a firm believer that expectation is the mother of all disappointment so perhaps if you scale back what you consider to be a true friend, your satisfaction at what you have or can make can only increase.

Lastly, I think relationships happen in curves and just because your two friends now are apparently more interested in each other than you, I can imagine that's partly to do with the part of the curve they're on in their relationship. Once you're over your frustration and expectation with them, I think the situation will settle into something you can all feel comfortable with.

All the best :)
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Re: Advice please on friend/lodger - Time for tough love?

Postby mike_maple » Wed May 16, 2018 1:56 pm

Thanks Reckoner, No you're not at all overstepping. All comments welcome :D

Interesting to get your insight on what a friend is - it does make me feel better about my situation. I'll take your advice there and scale back expectation. Funnily enough, last night after posting my reply, my lodger friend stopped by for a catch up, and we ended up watching a film together. Sometimes I feel he just comes to talk in order to keep in contact so I won't ask him to leave (which I doubt I'd ever do anyway), but maybe I'm being too cynical.

Thanks again!
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Re: Advice please on friend/lodger - Time for tough love?

Postby boulding » Fri May 18, 2018 11:26 am

Hi Mike

You sound like a lovely loyal generous friend but I am really struggling to get a handle on this problem. I'm not sure your friend is really doing anything against you and if he's only working part-time perhaps you can't expect too much in terms of rent or petrol but why on earth hasn't he got a full time job? What work does he do and why is he quite so dependent on you. Does he really have no ambition or plan for himself for the future. You say he spends all his spare time with this female friend which seems an awful lot for a platonic friendship. Does he envisage a future with her? Does she see herself as his "girlfriend" in which case why are you taking her out to safari parks?


Going out for a drink or whatever once a week sounds a really nice thing to do but what are you doing the rest of the time, evenings, weekends, holidays? Why aren't you out there having a good time and looking for a partner. You say you are not outgoing but surely there's some social life connected with your job or interests. You can have a good friend but it do0esn't mean you have to be totally dependent on him to go out. What needs to change for you to have a happy life?
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Re: Advice please on friend/lodger - Time for tough love?

Postby mike_maple » Fri May 18, 2018 9:31 pm

Hi Boulding, thanks for your input. No, perhaps he's not doing anything against me as such - I just wish he'd be more of a friend, although I've accepted now that expecting more from him is only going to lead to more frustration and disappointment. As for the rent and petrol, I don't need him to contribute more as such, so it's not really an issue now.

OK, some backstory. My friend came to live with me (along with another friend he shared a flat with, who moved out years back), originally to try and make a go of becoming a writer. He has long wanted to make a living that way, but over the years since moving in, he's realised I think that it's not going to happen - aside from the odd long distance writing course, he's never submitted anything, likely due to fear of rejection I think - though he rarely speaks about his writing, it's a sensitive subject. So that's why he works only 3 days a week, staff catering at a supermarket. As for why he's not changed back to a full time job, it's partly because he doesn't want to - he's got no interest in career, property etc - and partly because my other friend fills his time.
So why does he spend so much time with her? No, it's not because he wants a future with her. Indeed, soon after I introduced them, they did have such a relationship for a few weeks, which ended because she wanted to become more deeply involved and he was all for keeping it casual. In the end they remained fast friends and have been so ever since.

OK, on to me now. Other than going out with my friends, seeing family, I spend my time thus: evenings in my house, watching films, console gaming, reading etc; days off are spent gardening, cooking, baking etc, whilst holidays consist of backpacking around Europe - just me, but I don't mind that - or short breaks with family. In the past, I've been part of community choirs, I was a committee member of a community supported agriculture project, and attended my local church. Over the last two years I've cut off these activities, to free up time or simply because I've had enough. I sometimes think about this and wonder if I'm drawing in too much. Yes, there's the occasional work related event - I'm planning a cocktail bar crawl with someone at work at the moment - and there's a get together planned next Friday. As for looking for a partner, I gave up that idea long ago! I've never been one for dating, and aside from the odd encounter (I'm gay), I've never really gone down that route, and I don't think it would suit me. I'm happy being permanently single.

So what needs to change? Though I'm fine in a work situation, in social settings with people I don't know, or know well, I find myself tongue-tied and awkward, and I tend to avoid those situations more - for example in the community choir I used to attend, I was fine with the singing, but social interaction was difficult. Same with church - I used to dread the bit at the end after the service. Has to be said though, I feel I do have a happy life mostly, like most people, there are areas of strength and weakness.
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Re: Advice please on friend/lodger - Time for tough love?

Postby boulding » Sat May 19, 2018 8:50 am

Hi Mike

now I understand. Your life does seem fairly happy but I do think you should do something about your social shyness. You sound like a really nice man and you deserve just a little bit more .
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Re: Advice please on friend/lodger - Time for tough love?

Postby reckoner » Sat May 19, 2018 7:10 pm

mike_maple wrote:I find myself tongue-tied and awkward, and I tend to avoid those situations more ... I was fine with the singing, but social interaction was difficult.


In case it helps, I once read something that I found very personally helpful. It was about the importance of having curiosity. Actually, in the specific example, I think it was more to do with managing conflicts and strong opinions (being curious about why people think and do what they do, rather than trying to force your opinion on them - more relevant to me than you, I think!), but I've found it helpful in all kinds of scenarios.

Perhaps if you can foster a sense of curiosity in other people, their attitudes, interests and activities and so on, it can help you manage your sense of awkwardness. I think people generally appreciate it when people show an interest in them, and asking questions is an excellent conversation strategy, and it might help you find a way in when talking to people and take the pressure off you when it comes to finding something to say. Listening is generally a more helpful and useful skill than talking, I think.

So many times in my life I've felt like I'm the only one out there without the script of what to say, so I hope this helps you as much as I think it's helped me.
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Re: Advice please on friend/lodger - Time for tough love?

Postby mike_maple » Tue May 22, 2018 8:32 pm

Thanks friends for your very welcome advice. Sorry It's taken me this long to reply. I am feeling much better about my friends now, and will take them as they are with no expectation. As for meeting new people, when the opportunity next arises I'll take it.
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Re: Advice please on friend/lodger - Time for tough love?

Postby reckoner » Wed May 23, 2018 7:14 pm

Great to hear you're feeling better about everything, all the best :D
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