Isn't Three a Crowd?
Q: My girlfriend and I have been dating for about two years, and she recently moved in with me at my house. She has a male friend that she has known for at least 10 years who has had at times been homeless. He lived with her as a boarder in her house for 6 months prior to her moving in with me. Now she has asked me if he could live with us "temporarily" until he gets back on his feet. They have a chummy relationship as they talk and text on the phone frequently. My girlfriend is a great cook and very caring and I'm sure he likes that very much. We have a great relationship and are talking marriage. I feel that this will adversely affect our relationship and am totally against it. Am I overreacting?—Jack, 55
Dr. Susan: You are in no way obligated to take on your girlfriend's enabling of this old friend of hers. If it were her parent or child, it would be a different matter. Homelessness is a terrible thing, but unless you and she want him living with you from here on out, or whenever he finds himself in need, it's time to set some boundaries. It would be much less entangling for you and she to pay for a hotel for him for a month so he can get on his feet. However, the six months he boarded with her previously didn't seem to do the trick.
Guests get comfortable and often have a way of overstaying their welcome. Quite a strain on any relationship! Invite him to dinner as often as you can stand, but you don't have to invite him to move in. Hook him up with every resource available in your vicinity that might help him avoid his current fix. You and your girlfriend had better work this out long before you send out those wedding invitations, lest the three of you end up walking down the aisle together.
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Susan K. Perry, Ph.D.
Susan K. Perry, Ph.D., is a social psychologist, relationship expert, and bestselling and award-winning author. Her books include Loving in Flow: How the Happiest Couples Get and Stay That Way, and Kylie's Heel, a novel for adults.
Pamela G. Chollet, Ph.D.
Dr. Pamela Chollet has a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and Master degrees in educational psychology and fine arts. Her passion has been helping people face and get through those times when they feel trapped and unable to move forward.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist, stress management expert, and author. If you're feeling overwhelmed, stressed out, or struggling to make changes in your life, Anna can help.