Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

“My Boyfriend’s Mother Snoops In Our Closet!”

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My boyfriend and I have been dating for three years and live together, rent-free, in the house his parents bought for him to live in while he’s in college. His dad is in the Air Force and recently received orders to Afghanistan, so his mom moved to the same city we live in. Now that his mom has moved here she drops by unannounced. I realize she owns the house but she does not live here, so I feel she is out of place coming over whenever she pleases.

We were out of town and asked her to watch our animals, and, when we came home, we discovered that not only did she take care of the animals but she did our laundry, washed our dishes, and cleaned our house. Some people would be excited about this but I am not. I do laundry very differently than she does and she shrunk some of my clothes in the dryer. I feel she is out of place doing these tasks, but my boyfriend does not agree. I explained my laundry concern and he didn’t care — he still thought she was doing me a favor (I didn’t ask her to do this!). Then, I was out shopping one day and she texted me and asked me if I was home. I replied I was not. She texted me back telling me she was at our house. Once I got home, I noticed she had actually come in the house. Not only had she come in, she’d gone through our closet to retrieve a pair of shoes she’d purchased for my boyfriend.

I raised my concern to my boyfriend and he doesn’t understand why I’m upset. He says she can come into the house whenever she wants because she owns it. Does she have the right to come into our house unannounced? Even worse, our bedroom? We don’t agree on the issue which is even worse than the issue itself, I feel. I’m not opposed to her coming over but I’d appreciate a call or text first. We have a roommate (who pays rent), but he doesn’t care that my boyfriend’s mother comes over unannounced. Usually, he’ll look at us and raise his eyebrows but doesn’t say anything. How should I handle this? — Tired of His Intrusive Mother

Well, it’s illegal for a property owner to enter a home with tenants without giving the tenants reasonable notice, but since you and your boyfriend don’t pay rent — and I’m guessing you probably aren’t even on a lease — you aren’t tenants and don’t have the same rights and protections that a tenant would have. Your roommate pays rent though and if he’s on a lease; he certainly is within his rights to demand that his landlady — your boyfriend’s mother — give reasonable notice before coming over. Since your roommate doesn’t seem to care that she comes over unannounced, you may have to make him care. Or, at the very least, make him aware of his rights as a tenant. Doing that means risking your relationship with your boyfriend, of course. If he’s already siding with his mother and thinks you’re overreacting to her unannounced visits and “favors” and snooping through your closets, then I can’t imagine he’ll be happy with you pointing out to your roommate that he doesn’t have to put up with a landlady who doesn’t respect boundaries (or the law, for that matter). Worse than putting your relationship at risk, you risk getting kicked out with no place to go. When you aren’t on a lease and you don’t pay rent, you put yourself in a precarious situation.

Honestly, if I were you, I’d move out and get my own place. You’re awfully young to already be dealing with a meddling mother-in-law figure, and since you and your boyfriend don’t agree on where to draw boundaries between her and your relationship, moving out would help all of you find natural boundaries and give your relationship a private place to develop, away from your boyfriend’s mother. If you can’t fathom moving out, then I would ask to be put on the lease if you aren’t already, agree on rent payment, and then make a request directly to your boyfriend’s mother that she please give reasonable notice before coming over. Just be warned that staying in the home your boyfriend’s mother owns is going to put stress on your relationship. You are no longer just her son’s girlfriend but a tenant too, and mixing business and pleasure is challenging for anyone to navigate — especially an inexperienced college student.
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If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at wendy@dearwendy.com.

290 comments… add one
  • avatar

    lets_be_honest June 13, 2013, 9:15 am

    All I can come up with is you being naked next time she comes over. There’s really nothing you can do that isn’t going to make waves (which I don’t think you should be making).

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    • Fabelle

      Fabelle June 13, 2013, 9:19 am

      Ahh, this comment reminds me of SATC when Charlotte is married to that guy (forget his name) & his mother (“Bunny” I think?) stops over constantly, & even barges into their bedroom to rub Vix on the husband’s chest one night. Finally, she opens the door on them fucking. And then never comes over again.

      LW…well, there’s always that^

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      • avatar

        GatorGirl June 13, 2013, 9:46 am

        That was going to be my suggestion. Let her walk in while you’re getting busy. Or leave lingerie or sex toys laying around. I would think that would scare her off a little.

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      • bagge72

        bagge72 June 13, 2013, 1:38 pm

        I think a strap-on left on the bed with a ball gag would probably do the trick.

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      • avatar

        lets_be_honest June 13, 2013, 1:44 pm

        I would doubt she would even know what they was Bagge. Might end up going through the dishwasher 🙂

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      • bagge72

        bagge72 June 13, 2013, 1:47 pm

        Haha, imagine if she was like ” I used that new headband mixer to bake that cake you are eating!”

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      • avatar

        lets_be_honest June 13, 2013, 1:50 pm

        Bahaha!

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    • avatar

      bethany June 13, 2013, 9:35 am

      My coworker did that to the Jehova’s Witnesses. They stopped coming over.

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    • fast eddie

      fast eddie June 14, 2013, 7:49 am

      Keep it simple, change the locks.

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      • avatar

        GatorGirl June 14, 2013, 9:04 am

        Changing the locks on a building another person owns is illegal, I’m pretty sure. And it’s going to create a WAY bigger problem. Sorry Eddie, I think this is a terrible idea. If the LW (or her BF) owned the home I would say go for it, but since the mom does I don’t think the LW/BF are with in their rights to change the locks.

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  • avatar

    artsygirl June 13, 2013, 9:20 am

    LW – Have you spoken to your BF’s mother? You mention multiple times in the letter that you have told your BF that you are uncomfortable with her being intrusive, but I think I would go to the source. After all, there is nothing in your story to suggest she is being manipulative or even snooping. Rather, I think all of this is coming from a good place – perhaps she is lonely since her husband is overseas and she is hoping to become a part of your and your BF’s day to day life. If I were in your shoes, I would invite her to coffee or a glass of wine at a nice restaurant in order to catch up – maybe even suggest this become a once a week ritual for you so she will feel included. When you are speaking with her, be nice and use positive language. I would thank her for the favor of watching your pets and even doing your laundry but then (again being positive) say that you would love some advance notice when she is planning on coming over. Say something about how you would love to have warning so you can clean up after the boys before company. I would also offer to start paying at least part of the rest/utilities/etc. No matter what, I would try to look at her as someone who likely still sees her son as a child and therefore has not yet figured out that he and his GF need privacy.

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    • becboo84

      becboo84 June 13, 2013, 10:22 am

      I agree so much with this comment. As I was reading through the letter, my first thought was that she’s simply lonely without her husband. Not only that, but perhaps she’s used to cleaning up after her husband, and since he’s gone, she’s now doing that for her son as a sort of replacement. I think getting together with her on a weekly, or even biweekly, basis would be so nice and helpful. The poor woman’s husband is deployed, and she’s living in a new town where I’m guessing she essentially knows no one. As a final note, if you’ve never directly thanked her for letting you live in this house rent free, I would certainly do so. That is literally amazing of her to do!

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      • KKZ

        KKZ June 13, 2013, 10:44 am

        I had a similar thought. Mom is being Mom. When her son was living at home with her, she probably did his laundry, cleaned up after him, had access to his closet, etc. because she was Mom. I suspect this is true because he does not find her behavior is intrusive.

        Could it be that she sees this as Son’s house, where Girlfriend happens to live, rather than Son & Girlfriend’s joint & private home? Maybe because she not only owns the property, but still sees herself as House-Mom, she doesn’t automatically assume that her roles and rights have changed, especially since it seems no one (not Son or Girlfriend) has said a word to her otherwise.

        (I see now Katie is saying the same thing below – Katie, you and I have been in so much agreement lately! You’re on a roll!)

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      • katie

        katie June 13, 2013, 11:04 am

        WKKZS!

        Haha

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    • avatar

      sasha June 13, 2013, 11:02 am

      I really like this idea. Since she is new to the city you live in she probably hasn’t made friends yet. Soon addition to get coffee or wine or dinner with her, invite to her to do activities that will introduce her to more people. The city I live in does community classes that are cheap but vary widely in interest. You get to know her and her interest while also introducing her to new people. Win-win. She may even start having less time to just drop by.

      Once you have had a chance to get to know her you can casualty mention that would appreciate a phone call or text to let you know she was dropping by because sometimes you are just to busy with homework and would be so disappointed that you wouldn’t have time to sit and catch up.

      As for the snooping while she animal sat for you for free why couldn’t the roommate do that? It may be just a fact of having this woman in your life she will snoop when she comes over. Sure it sucks but you are not paying rent and she owns it. This battle is going to be hard to fight. Talk with the bf tell him why it exactly bothers you and propose some compromises. If he isn’t willing to listen or talk about the compromises you have bigger problems than just his mom dropping by unannounced.

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      • avatar

        artsygirl June 13, 2013, 6:43 pm

        I didn’t see doing laundry or washing the dishes as ‘snooping’ per say. After all, it is likely in mom’s mind, surprising her son and his GF with a clean house when they get home from a vacation would be a nice thing to do. Also if she was in your house for periods of time, she might have been bored and puttered. If the LW and her BF were gone for more than a day – dirty dishes might have started to smell and have really caked on food if they weren’t washed.

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  • katie

    katie June 13, 2013, 9:22 am

    of course your boyfriend doesnt care- its his own mother. he is used to that, he shared a home with her at some point. im sure if the situation was reversed and your mother owned a house that you lived in rent free, you probably wouldnt really care about her coming over whenever either, because of that familial closeness.

    all you can do is get your boyfriend to understand why its weird *for you*. YOU are not her daughter, you are not her family, ect. but, even that might not work- they might just be a very open and door-never-locked kind of family. thats actually how my family is, like my friends never needed to knock to come into my house, ect, so my mom just coming over and getting something out of a closet wouldnt be weird to me. my boyfriends family is SO not like that- they dont even stay at each other’s houses when they visit, its the weirdest thing to me. his mother and her husband are coming to visit in a week, and we have a freaking guest bedroom, and they are staying at a hotel. it boggles my mind.

    all you can do is communicate, LW. if that doesnt work, then WWS and the only solution will be to move out.

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    • avatar

      Liquid Luck June 13, 2013, 10:16 am

      My family is exactly like yours! We even had a few regular pizza delivery guys who knew to just walk into the kitchen when they got there. And we all pile into one house when we visit home for holidays and such, even if there aren’t quite enough beds, because paying for a hotel seems silly to us when we could all be in the same place and just use an air mattress.

      That said, I respect my partner’s boundaries when he says he needs a break from all the closeness and needs me to set some boundaries. If I ignored him and told him he was overreacting, that wouldn’t be cool. The LW needs to flat out tell her boyfriend that she’s uncomfortable, suggest some compromises, and see what happens. But I think she also needs to realize that, while she can make her needs known and come up with all the solutions she wants, she can’t force her boyfriend to change the situation if he doesn’t want to.

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    • avatar

      LT June 13, 2013, 11:06 am

      When I was dating my husband long-distance, he lived with his mom to help her transition into a place of her own after her divorce. When I would come to visit for the weekends, she would go into his room while we were out, and do my laundry, and complain that my clothes would be everywhere in his room (they were usually in a corner, as I didn’t have any other place to put them). I was very clear with my boyfriend that this was unaccpetable- I don’t want her touching my dirty underwear or seeing what type of lengerie I’d brought for the weekend. The woman also washed and dried everything on hot, so everything would shrink/grow misshapen, and it’s more than annoying to lose pieces of clothing on a limited budget.

      I get what you’re saying- this was the norm, so that’s why it’s still going on. But the boyfriend should be able to hear these reasons and understand them if she presented them as clearly as she did above. Basically, she *did* try to communicate, and it didnt’ seem to work, which seems to be the part that’s bothering her most. He needs to recieve the message and do something about it.

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      • avatar

        Liquid Luck June 13, 2013, 11:14 am

        “He needs to recieve the message and do something about it.”

        But he only NEEDS to do that if he wants to pacify his girlfriend. He’s clearly chosen not to, so now it’s on the LW to either realize it’s not that big a deal and she can live with it, or she needs to find a partner that has ideas on boundaries closer to her own. Forcing this guy to set boundaries that he doesn’t want to isn’t actually an option.

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      • KKZ

        KKZ June 13, 2013, 11:54 am

        I wash everything cold, but dry everything hot – is this bad?

        I am like the laziest laundry person ever. I do HUGE loads sometimes and put the dryer on high just so it has a chance of getting dry on the first go. I’ve avoided buying clothes that need special care in the laundry – I bought a sweater last fall without paying attention, brought it home and saw “handwash only” on the label … that sweater never made it into the regular rotation. Only recently have I bought a lingerie bag for my bras and started air-drying them instead of throwing them in with everything else. :\ Bras for my size are too expensive to ruin in the wash.

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      • avatar

        Liquid Luck June 13, 2013, 1:00 pm

        I wash a lot of “hand wash only” stuff in the machine, always on cold, and then just lay it out to dry. I rarely have problems. There’s a chance it may ruin the sweater, but for me the risk is worth it because if I can’t wash it I’m probably never going to wear it again anyway.

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  • Fabelle

    Fabelle June 13, 2013, 9:23 am

    LW, while I think the mother should know better than to just ~randomly~ come into the house, do chores, & poke through your bedroom, your boyfriend is right that she DOES own the house…and you guys are getting a totally free ride. And Wendy’s right that if anyone should have a problem with this, it should be the renting roommate (who, frankly, should also have a problem with you two living rent-free??)

    If it bothers you so much, find your own place or move back home. You will just not make any progress with this, if your boyfriend is not on your side. Talking to her yourself will likely cause tension & the loss of your living space. Your free living space. (And trust me, usually I’m all, “money/favors/gifts shouldn’t come with strings” but this situation is a little different.)

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    • avatar

      lets_be_honest June 13, 2013, 9:29 am

      Yea, I def would not talk to her on your own LW. That just seems like a very bad idea.

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    • katie

      katie June 13, 2013, 9:31 am

      haha, i think the rent-paying roommate would have a problem with that too! -them not paying anything, that is.

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      • Fabelle

        Fabelle June 13, 2013, 9:40 am

        Right? I like how he was mentioned as an afterthought—“by the way, we have a rent=paying roommate also, but he doesn’t care.” Like, who is this person? Why is he okay with any part of this situation, really? haha

        And to add, I want to say that I like artsygirl’s suggestion above. If you do anything about this, LW, I think inviting the mother out for coffee or meals or something would be pretty effective? I know we’re all going to tell you to move out, but I have a feeling that won’t be your first step.

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      • KKZ

        KKZ June 13, 2013, 12:04 pm

        Man, I have such little experience living with roommates, *I* would be the weird person who probably wouldn’t care that the couple I’m living with doesn’t pay rent but I do. I know roommate situations can get very particular about how exactly costs are split so everything is fair and square, and that makes sense to me, but I suspect I’d be a bit more laissez-faire about it than most people.

        Like in 2010-11, my husband and I were living in a huge house that we rented from his parents (for less than they paid for their mortgage, but what they considered a reasonable portion). One of our friends started renting one of our extra rooms. We paid the entire lump sum rent to my in-laws, plus utilities and internet, ourselves, and our housemate reimbursed us for roughly half the rent. It didn’t even occur to me that, to make things fair, he should really only pay 1/3 of the rent instead of counting me and my husband as one unit. It apparently didn’t occur to him either because he never negotiated or argued the point (because frankly, even paying half the rent, he was getting a *steal* for the size of home we all shared). It wasn’t until a column here a few weeks ago (the “we’re renting a house and about to have a baby and want our roommate to move out”) that it even dawned on me that our arrangement wasn’t Textbook Fair. But it worked for us.

        I guess I generally think any set of housemates/roommates should figure out whatever arrangement works for them. If that’s a perfectly even split of all costs, then great, but if it’s not, people who don’t live in/own that house (i.e., us internet commenters) don’t really get a say in how everything *should* be split up, ya know? Just sayin.’

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      • Fabelle

        Fabelle June 13, 2013, 12:13 pm

        I mean, I do agree to your last point—but I still find it curious, haha. And your situation sounds a little different…I can also imagine not realizing/nobody caring in a setup like that (& I don’t have roommate experience either!)

        But legit, I wonder who their roommate is, & who he pays rent to (like GG said), & what he thinks about having to pay when the other tenants (tenants…? is that right for this scenario?) of the house don’t.

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      • avatar

        GatorGirl June 13, 2013, 9:49 am

        Yeah, I thought that was weird too. And who is the roommate paying rent to?

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      • avatar

        Amber June 13, 2013, 11:09 am

        Unless the roommate was the brother of the boyfriend, I don’t see why the roommate would care/consider it any of his business – it’s the boyfriend’s mothers house. It’s the same as the boyfriend still living at home, and the roommate renting a room there.

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  • avatar

    Lucy June 13, 2013, 9:29 am

    I’m a little surprised Wendy went so easy on the LW. She wants to live for free on his parents’ dime, but she also wants all the rights and boundaries of a rent paying tenant? No. If you want to be treated like a tenant, move out and pay your own way like a real grown-up, instead of playing house and freeloading on his mom while simultaneously complaining about her. Right now you just sound like an entitled brat.

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    • avatar

      LT June 13, 2013, 11:08 am

      This isn’t exactly entitled brat- she expresses her gratitude. However, she does get to set *some* boundaries. I wonder where the line would be for you- “she gets to live rent-free, so of course she has to put up with [insert disgusting horrible thing here].” I agree that she should get her own place, but the mom is out of line, and the boyfriend is being dense for not understanding the problem.

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    • avatar

      Amber June 13, 2013, 11:10 am

      I don’t think she sounds entitled at all, she sounds grateful for being given the place to live.

      But just because the mom is helping them out financially it does not just give her licence to behave however she wants.

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      • avatar

        Lucy June 13, 2013, 11:58 am

        I don’t know if we’re reading the same letter. I got zero gratitude from the LW – just complaints.

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      • Lindsay

        Lindsay June 13, 2013, 1:22 pm

        I don’t think it’s really necessary for her to have to prove her gratitude to us. Not including it in her letter doesn’t mean she isn’t grateful. I mean, I would have because I’d know that everyone would criticize me if I didn’t, but it shouldn’t really change the issue, unless she was being a total bitch to the mom.

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      • avatar

        Sassy but Classy June 13, 2013, 4:37 pm

        In what world is it ok to go into someone’s room and do their laundry? That is not cool. I would complain too. The coming over is a tricky situation because the LW doesn’t pay rent, and the boyfriend doesn’t care. But, if you were staying with a friend at his/her Mom’s house and the Mom came into the room and did your laundry without asking and ruined some items, wouldn’t you be mad?

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      • avatar

        Guy Friday June 13, 2013, 11:58 am

        Oh, she ABSOLUTELY sounds like an entitled brat:

        “when we came home we discovered that not only did she take care of the animals but she did our laundry, our dishes, and cleaned our house. […] I feel she is out of place doing these tasks”

        Clearly, she’s referring not only to the laundry — which, fine, can be argued as a defensible gripe — but the dishes and the cleaning as well, or else she wouldn’t have said “tasks”. I mean, come on. I’m playing the saddest song on my little violin for this poor LW who got her house cleaned while she was gone.

        Here’s the bottom line, LW, and I mean this from a moral AND a legal perspective: go bitch about this to your boyfriend’s mother, and I suspect she’ll tell you you no longer get to live rent-free, AND I suspect your boyfriend will likely be offended and/or tell you to MOA (both “on” and “out”). And guess what? She can evict you whenever she wants, because you have no legal document permitting you to live there. Technically, if she tells you to leave and you try to say no, you’re trespassing on the property, and can be arrested. So, I think it depends on how much you really want to poke this hornet’s nest. Just get some locks on the doors for rooms you don’t want her going in and move on.

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      • KKZ

        KKZ June 13, 2013, 12:09 pm

        Eh, I sympathize a little with the LW on that note. When my MIL visits she cleans everything in sight. She even once got up early on a Saturday to sweep the leaves out of our garage. She’s one of those people who can’t just sit still. And while I was of course grateful for the help, part of me was like … Step off, woman, this is my turf and I’ll take care of it. While I’m far from a domestic diva, I felt a sudden surge of territorialism over “my” domain as woman of the house. Point being, you can be both grateful for help, and bothered by intrusion, at the same time. They’re not mutually exclusive.

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      • avatar

        Amber June 13, 2013, 1:25 pm

        “Point being, you can be both grateful for help, and bothered by intrusion, at the same time. They’re not mutually exclusive.”

        exactly!

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      • avatar

        zombeyonce June 13, 2013, 1:38 pm

        “you can be both grateful for help, and bothered by intrusion”

        THIS. Humans are complex; this is why we need advice columns.

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      • bagge72

        bagge72 June 13, 2013, 2:44 pm

        The difference is that this women did it once, while pet sitting. She did not mention any other instances.

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  • avatar

    bethany June 13, 2013, 9:31 am

    You’re not paying rent, it’s her house. If you don’t want her going into certain areas, put locks on those doors. But, it’s her house, if she wants to take those locks off the doors, she can.

    If you don’t want to deal with this situation, MOVE OUT. Really, that’s the only solution.

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    • avatar

      Sassy but Classy June 13, 2013, 4:40 pm

      Or she can pay rent, and have a lease like Wendy suggested and then the Mom would have to follow landlord/tenant laws.

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  • avatar

    Kate June 13, 2013, 9:32 am

    Wait, why does it actually bother you so much? You mention she shrunk some of your clothes (ok, annoying) and went into your closet. But what is it specifically that’s bothering you? You don’t really say. Is it something about her specifically? Are there things you’re worried about her seeing? I guess I’m asking if there’s some way you could find to just be ok with the situation. I mean, depending on the area in which you live, you could be paying between $600 and well upwards of $1,000 to have your own place or even live with a roommate, and here you’re living in a house rent free (and asking her to watch your pets for free, which, don’t do that if you don’t want her in your house alone). My pet sitter charges *fifty bucks a night* by the way. Some free help would be great!

    Anyway, I guess while I think it’s intrusive, I also think you really can’t complain when you’re saving many hundreds of dollars a month by living there rent-free. If it were me, and I didn’t want to move out, I’d “mom-proof” the house, make sure if she looks through stuff she’s not going to find your diary or your sex toys, and I’d find some private hamper thing to put my clothes in, separate from my boyfriend’s and not in plain sight. And then I’d just deal with it and be grateful I’m living for free.

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    • avatar

      muffy June 13, 2013, 9:42 am

      I completely forgot about the pet sitting thing. So basically you want this lady to give you a home and take care of your pets and you want it all on your terms. I think it’s time you realize that whoever has the purse Strings gets to make the terms. I’m sorry but this lady sees the house as hers and it is except for that other tenant and if he’s not saying anything her behavior won’t change and frankly you don’t have a leg to stand on if you argue with her since you pay nothing.

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    • avatar

      GatorGirl June 13, 2013, 9:55 am

      Being a pretty private person, I can understand where the LW is coming from. Someone going through my closet, washing my underwear, seeing my smelly dishes would be a HUGE invasion of my privacy. My home is my private sanctuary, and there are 110% some things in my home and closet that I wouldn’t want my MIL to see. So, I guess to your question “what is it specifically that’s bothering you?” I would say the LW is probably feeling like this is a huge breech of her privacy and personal space.

      But I don’t have a good solution for this LW.

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      • avatar

        lets_be_honest June 13, 2013, 10:03 am

        Years ago I asked Peter to do a load of my laundry because I was busy or something. So that night its all neatly folded and ironed (even the undies!) in the basket. At first I was so impressed, and then I got to the ironed underwear and knew something was up. He actually brought it to his mom’s for her to do! I could’ve died.

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      • avatar

        GatorGirl June 13, 2013, 10:09 am

        I don’t even let MY mother wash my undies. That shit is way private!!

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      • avatar

        lets_be_honest June 13, 2013, 10:10 am

        The worst was him trying to pass it off as though he did it himself. Ok, not the worst part! haha.

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      • avatar

        Liquid Luck June 13, 2013, 10:21 am

        Oh my god, I would kill him. His mother IRONED your underwear! I’m not easily embarrassed, but that just seems so inappropriate I wouldn’t even know what to do. What did you say to him when you found out?

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      • avatar

        lets_be_honest June 13, 2013, 10:44 am

        So I now know that’s just how she is, so its no longer surprising. His sister and her husband moved in with her (in a mother/daughter type house) and she does all their laundry and cooking, even packing their lunches for them. They love it. She loves it. It works for them.
        I actually laughed when I found out because it was funny to me that he was claiming he did the laundry in a joking way, because it was obvious he didn’t. I wasn’t pissed, but told him never to do that again.

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      • avatar

        MMcG June 13, 2013, 10:03 am

        I agree with you GG… no one washes my undies except me. They screw it up, and plus it’s my underwear!!

        I could see attempting to draw a line between what would be considered more communal property/areas and person ones in a conversation with BF and/or his Mom. I could see mom coming into the house while pet sitting and doing some dishes that were in the sink at the same time as normal, but I can also clearly see that when she goes into the laundry basket and ruins your clothes!?! No, not ok.

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      • avatar

        MMcG June 13, 2013, 10:04 am

        *personAL ones… oy;)

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      • avatar

        GatorGirl June 13, 2013, 10:11 am

        I agree. Maybe the solution is the draw some boundaries. Like give up the dishes but put the foot down about doing the laundry. (Also maybe start washing the dishes before you go on a trip- of any length. It’s a really good habit.)

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      • katie

        katie June 13, 2013, 10:13 am

        great point- why was there even dishes left when they left on vacation anyway? maybe the MIL is not the problem here…

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        Liquid Luck June 13, 2013, 10:23 am

        Seriously, be grateful you didn’t come back to a house that smells like mold and has flies in the kitchen. Geez.

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        lets_be_honest June 13, 2013, 10:32 am

        Ugh, right? I can’t leave for a trip until the house is immaculate.

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        MMcG June 13, 2013, 10:36 am

        Agreed. I LOVE to come home to fresh sheets and clean counters, etc. I have to even wash the last glass I was drinking out of before departing 🙂

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        lets_be_honest June 13, 2013, 10:41 am

        Its the only good part about a vacation ending!

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        GatorGirl June 13, 2013, 10:46 am

        I’m the same way. I clean like a mad woman the day before a trip. It’s SO nice to come home to a pristine home. Husband…not so much. He forgot to run the dishwasher and take out the trash the last time he was the last person home (I left for the wedding a week earlier than he did). So we came back to a funky dishwasher and smelly trash can. And fruit flies. Boooo. (He didn’t vacuum either, and put the grill in the master closet?)

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        Kate June 13, 2013, 10:11 am

        Yeah, I don’t like when people do my laundry either. I hang everything instead of putting in the dryer, and I always use cold water. I”d probably get a frilly pink laundry bag with a drawstring top, and keep it somewhere where it’s not mixed in with my boyfriend’s laundry. The mom probably did the laundry because she’s one of those helicopter parents you hear about and is used to cleaning up after her son. She may not mess with the girlfriend’s laundry if it’s separate.

        Another immediate solution is to find someone else to do the pet-sitting.

        Other than that, I mean, hey, you’re in a relationship with a guy whose mom still likes to take care of him, he has no problem with it, and it’s her house. Not much you can do, so you have to figure out how you can live with it.

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        Kate June 13, 2013, 10:17 am

        Oh and I just thought of when I was in college and living in an apartment my parents paid the rent for. They had keys. One time my mom stopped by and I wasn’t home yet so she let herself in. I am pretty positive she looked in this footlocker trunk thing where I kept illicit stuff like booze, some weed, condoms, etc. She always was a snooper. But you know what? Shame on me for living in an apartment my parents paid for and not putting a lock on that trunk. I totally could have padlocked it.

        Because I grew up with a snooping mom and have privacy issues, my M.O. now is to have my place look like a damn hotel. NOTHING sitting out that anyone could have a problem with, no clutter, everything organized, and anything I wouldn’t want people to see well hidden. The best defense is a good offense, right? I’d advise the LW to try some of this.

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      • FireStar

        Firestar June 13, 2013, 10:39 am

        I think that is truly the solution. Lock away the things that are important to you. Keep your laundry separate from your partners. The invasion of privacy is a trade off in this case for free rent…. so either you move or you adapt since the BF – who really should be the one talking to the mom – isn’t bothered in the least.
        I tend to think that is the LW’s biggest issue though. If your boyfriend doesn’t care about your feelings because HE is unaffected – then that is an issue and that foreshadows exactly how your relations with you in-laws will go in the future. You really don’t want to hear how your husband is okay with his mother coming over unannounced and letting herself in to visit her grandchild whenever she wants.

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        csp June 13, 2013, 10:51 am

        But she invited the mother in to see all those things when she was pet sitting.

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        GatorGirl June 13, 2013, 11:06 am

        Unless the pet food was in the closet/bedroom…I disagree. The kitchen, yes totally fair game. But the mother was invited into the common areas to do a specific task, and that didn’t include laundry that was in the bedroom.

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        Liquid Luck June 13, 2013, 1:07 pm

        But why are you assuming her laundry was in her bedroom? We keep ours in the laundry room, next to the machines, which is a common area. The only time she mentions the mother going into her room/closet is when she talks about her getting the shoes, which I think is fine because she was getting something of her son’s and he clearly doesn’t mind. I feel like she would have mentioned taking the laundry from a bedroom/closet if that’s where it was, based on the tone of the rest of the letter.

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        GatorGirl June 13, 2013, 1:52 pm

        Well unless the pet food was in the laundry room then she didn’t need to be there. You’re the first person I’ve ever heard of keeping their dirty hamper in a room other than where they regularly change.

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        Liquid Luck June 13, 2013, 1:57 pm

        Really? Huh, I always thought it was common practice. I know lots of people who do it, so I assumed it was pretty normal.

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        lets_be_honest June 13, 2013, 2:01 pm

        Our hampers are not in our bedrooms either. They’re in closets in the hallway outside our rooms.

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      • LadyinPurpleNotRed

        LadyinPurpleNotRed June 13, 2013, 2:01 pm

        Some people also keep hampers in the bathroom, which is another common area.

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        GatorGirl June 13, 2013, 2:14 pm

        Depends on if it’s a bathroom attached solely to the bedroom or not 🙂

        Growing up our laundry room was on the first floor, all the bedrooms upstairs. So it literally made no sense to have baskets there. I guess it must just be common where I grew up to have the laundry on a different floor than the bedrooms.

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        lets_be_honest June 13, 2013, 2:19 pm

        Both my parents have their laundry baskets in bathrooms not connected to their bedrooms.

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      • LadyinPurpleNotRed

        LadyinPurpleNotRed June 13, 2013, 2:21 pm

        That was pointed at the the bathroom is a common area comment that I made. Not at the laundry basket placement. (at least I think!)

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        GatorGirl June 13, 2013, 2:26 pm

        Well, FWIW I think it’s really weird to have a laundry basket in a place where other people, especially guests might go. Including a bathroom. My laundry is very private to me. I guess a lot of other people don’t feel the same way. (I just don’t get dirty undies in a place where other people can see them. It’s yucky and private!)

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      • LadyinPurpleNotRed

        LadyinPurpleNotRed June 13, 2013, 2:27 pm

        Oh I’m with you. I wouldn’t want those where people go. I just know people who have them in their bathrooms. So I was just pointing out that possibility.

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        lets_be_honest June 13, 2013, 2:29 pm

        Oh, well ftr, the dirty laundry is never in a place where anyone can see, its in a basket, or a closet. Unless people want to dig through a laundry basket, they aren’t seeing it.

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        Liquid Luck June 13, 2013, 2:44 pm

        GG, that’s why you should always have a hamper with a lid if you put it somewhere people can see it! Although when we have people over, we close our laundry room doors (because really, it’s a laundry closet), but I’m sure if my mom was coming over to do my laundry, she wouldn’t have to go looking for it. It’s right there.

        Also, I love that hamper placement has become a whole discussion of its own 🙂

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        GatorGirl June 13, 2013, 2:52 pm

        Lady, see if there was a lid I would still take that as an invasion of privacy, even if it was in the common bathroom. It’s like going through a medicine cabinet or a nightstand drawer (which is where I keep all my naughty stuff and def off limits to mothers!), know what I mean?

        I’m looking for a new hamper right now. We need round, wicker or wood type hampers in a medium brown color that doesn’t cost a fortune. I’m not having great luck.

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        lets_be_honest June 13, 2013, 2:56 pm

        try BB&B and use a 20% coupon.

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        GatorGirl June 13, 2013, 3:07 pm

        They are all rectangle. This Target one is the closest I can find but IDK if I want to throw down $50 hamper…

        http://www.target.com/p/threshold-global-hamper-dark-brown/-/A-14105214#?lnk=sc_qi_detaillink

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      • LadyinPurpleNotRed

        LadyinPurpleNotRed June 13, 2013, 2:20 pm

        Touche! That’s true.

        Yeah, growing up the laundry was in the basement. Without bedrooms. So it didn’t make sense for us either.

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        LT June 13, 2013, 11:13 am

        Agreed- my mother-in-law used to do this when my husband lived with her and I’d visit. It was a huge invasion of privacy to me, and it was very frustrating when people would call me ungrateful.

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        SpaceySteph June 13, 2013, 10:46 am

        I agree with you, GG- the stuff the mom is doing would make my skin crawl because I like my space to be my space. (not necessarily about the underwear- its just not a big deal for me who sees my underwear when its not on my body, maybe because I’m a boring white Fruit of the Loom person)

        I don’t think the LW needs to justify why this bothers her… but I do think she needs to understand that it isn’t really HER space. It belongs to the mother-in-law and Wendy is right that she doesn’t really have any rights or recourse in this case, except to move out.

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    Liquid Luck June 13, 2013, 9:33 am

    1) As much as it sucks, you aren’t paying rent and she’s doing you a favor to let you live there. Her going through your stuff isn’t awesome, but if you want to keep living there for free then you just have to deal with it, because you have no right to restrict her access to a house she owns and isn’t legally renting out to you. Yes, it sucks that she’s invading your privacy, but she’s made it very clear that she’ll do what she wants, so your only realistic options are to leave or get used to it.

    2) Your boyfriend is siding with his mother over you. That does not bode well for your relationship. Even if he completely agrees with her actions, he should be taking your feelings into consideration and coming to a compromise you both can live with. Since he clearly doesn’t care that you’re upset and has no desire to make any changes that would allow you to feel comfortable in your own home, I suggest you move out, get your own place, and leave the relationship behind. He’s happy with his mom, so let them be.

    3) I’d be pissed if my mother-in-law did my laundry and shrunk my clothes too. If your boyfriend is unwilling to rectify the situation with his mother about that, then he should at least replace the ruined clothes (but he probably won’t, so cut your losses now).

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      oldie June 13, 2013, 9:43 am

      This likely has nothing to do about living free in Mom’s house. It has everything to do with the bf’s relationship with his mother and with the LW. Being on the lease will accomplish nothing. Bf will tell Mom that she’s welcome to drop in anytime. This likely would be his view even if he and LW had their own apartment or house. She can get her own solo apartment and control that, but if she wants to live with her bf then he has equal rights to say who can and cannot enter their place and under what circumstances. LW clearly comes in a distant second to Mom in is view. Will this ever change as the two of them mature and their relationship deepens? For a lot of momma’s boys it never changes. Even wives will be number two as the guy is never able to, and really never wants to, stand up to his mother. He is deeply attached to his Mom, likely doesn’t form as deep attachment to gfs and takes the view that gfs come and go but his Mom is always his Mom and will always be his rock. LW needs to move on and find a guy who is willing to place her needs at least on a par with the snoppy needs of an intrusive helicopter mother. This guy isn’t it. Stay with him and more of this sort of trouble is guaranteed.

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      • katie

        katie June 13, 2013, 9:56 am

        ….or they are just the type of family that doesnt lock doors.

        it doesnt always have to be huge issues, this could just be a different types of upbringing situation.

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        MMcG June 13, 2013, 10:06 am

        coming over unannounced and doing things in the kitchen is one thing… groping through my bras and panties and fucking them up in the dryer in the process just doesn’t make sense at all regardless of upbringing. I mean if nothing else wouldn’t mom just stick with washing her precious baby boys clothes!?!

        I think oldie is onto something… it would be one thing if given the circumstances the bf wasn’t ok drawing a big boundary but he doesn’t even see the issue. does not bode well…

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      • katie

        katie June 13, 2013, 10:08 am

        honestly, no i dont think its weird- “groping through my bras and panties” is a little dramatic, no? its just laundry. that is just a typical, day to day chore.

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        GatorGirl June 13, 2013, 10:13 am

        To some people it’s not. My undergarments are very personal, IMO. Like I don’t even let friends borrow a bra because I feel like it’s an invasion of my personal items.

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      • katie

        katie June 13, 2013, 10:20 am

        ok, i mean there is nothing wrong with that, but you cant then just make the jump that anyone who touches your laundry has a huge issue or whatever, you know?

        if you dont want people touching your laundry you have to let them know that. communicate expectations and all, yes?

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        Liquid Luck June 13, 2013, 10:26 am

        That’s fine, and if you asked me not to do your laundry because it made you uncomfortable, then I wouldn’t. But a lot of people don’t automatically assume that it would be a problem, because it’s not a big deal to them. If my MIL washed my underwear, I’d say thanks and move on because I don’t really care (although it would be super weird if she ironed them 🙂 ). So I think it really depends on whether or not she’s asked her boyfriend’s mother not to wash her clothes and the mother did anyway, or if it was just a case of mismatched assumptions.

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        GatorGirl June 13, 2013, 10:32 am

        See I see it completely opposite- washing another person’s laundry, IMO, is completely off limits unless you have their permission. You see it as- washing someone’s laundry is fine until they tell you don’t.

        And it’s very possible that is the root of the problem- MIL and LW just function, on a basic level, very differently.

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      • katie

        katie June 13, 2013, 10:38 am

        haha, i pretty much live my life that everything is in limits until someone tells me no.

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        GatorGirl June 13, 2013, 10:43 am

        omg I am the complete opposite. 110%. I don’t touch/use anything until I have express permission to. It’s just a fundamental difference in people. Nothing right or wrong with either- but could very well be a forever issue between LW and mom.

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        Liquid Luck June 13, 2013, 1:10 pm

        Yup, me too. It’s how my whole family (both immediate and extended, on both sides) does things. I’m actually kind of surprised at how personal people think their laundry/closets/living space are. (Not that that’s a bad thing, it just honestly seems so foreign to me.) And I’m someone who really loves my privacy!

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        Liquid Luck June 13, 2013, 10:41 am

        I agree, I think it’s absolutely the root of the issue here. Since the son doesn’t mind his mother doing these things, I assume their household was one where washing someone’s underwear or doing their dishes wasn’t a big deal. Like we tell anyone who write in here for relationship advice, if you don’t make your expectations explicitly clear, then you can’t be angry they aren’t being met. Clearly the MIL doesn’t see laundry as super personal, so the LW can’t expect her to know she shouldn’t do it. It’s ok to want to do things a different way than someone else does them, but she can’t assume that her default setting is everyone else’s too, or it will just lead to resentment.

        Now, if the LW went to her and said, “I appreciate that you did my laundry, but in the future I would really prefer to do it myself. It makes me uncomfortable to think that someone else is washing my dirty clothing, so I’ll keep it separate from [boyfriend’s] laundry from now on so there’s no confusion. Why don’t we take you out to dinner on Wednesday to thank you for watching over the house and the dogs while we were away?” and the mother blatantly ignored the request and did her laundry anyway, I would think she had a leg to stand on.

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        oldie June 13, 2013, 12:22 pm

        Sorry, no, that simply isn’t her place or responsibility. This woman is the mother of her bf, not even her MIL. The woman is bf’s mother, it is his responsibility to speak with her and set boundaries. LW has appropriately told her bf exactly how much of an invasion of her privacy she feels this to be. There is not uncertainty or lack of communications. There is simply a blowing off of LW’s concerns by her bf. This is a bf problem and LW would be well advised to MOA and find a new one. I agree with all those who say that bf’s coming from a different family dynamic than LW and views his mother’s actions as normal and acceptable to him. But he knows full well how unacceptable they are to LW and is totally dismissive of her different perspective. Since he decided to be her bf and to live with her, he has voluntarily taken on certain responsibilities. The most basic is to listen to what she wants and to give her views serious consideration. When she says he is facilitating something that she finds totally unacceptable is very disresptful to LW. He doesn’t have to agree with her, but if he is unwilling to seek a workable accommodation, he should not be living with her. He apparently wanted her to move in so he had the benefits of a live-in gf. He seems to assume that since his Mom is letting them stay in her house that the power dynamic in their relationship has shifted from equal to totally favoring him and his Mom. If I were LW, I would run from this situation just as fast as I could, even if I had no choice but asking my own parents to let me stay with them for awhile. This is a very unhealthy situation.

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        Liquid Luck June 13, 2013, 1:14 pm

        I agree that’s it’s not her right to set boundaries in regards to his mother coming over to the house, cleaning common areas, and doing any chores for him. But it’s absolutely her right to ask the woman not to wash (and possibly ruin) her clothes, which she bought and paid for herself and are undeniably her property. She can’t ban her from doing as much of her boyfriend’s laundry as she wants, or washing dishes that belong to both of them, but of course she has a right to decide who touches her underwear. To say otherwise is, frankly, ridiculous.

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      • Lindsay

        Lindsay June 13, 2013, 10:45 am

        I agree. I think it’s just kind of bizarre that she’d do it. When I’m staying at my parents’ house for a visit, they’ll ask if I want to throw any laundry in, but they don’t just grab it and put it in the washer. I think most adults understand that laundry is pretty private.

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      • FireStar

        Firestar June 13, 2013, 10:48 am

        I agree with GG. The default isn’t that it is totally fine to wash someone (unrelated to you) ‘s underwear – the default is no washing until you ask “do you mind?” I have washed my own since I was old enough to reach the machine to turn it on. And not for anything but I have to buy bras in excess of $150 per bra. If someone ruined them I would be beyond vex. It really is a question of comfort levels…But if you don’t know how relaxed a person is with something – with anything really – the default is to ask before you do anything rather than assume they are like you.

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        Liquid Luck June 13, 2013, 11:21 am

        If this wasn’t about a woman doing her son’s laundry (which seems to be the norm for them), then I would agree that ask-before-doing is best. But I assume that they keep all their laundry in the same space (if not actually mixed together), so I think it would have been a safe assumption that it’s ok for the mother to also do the girlfriend’s when she does her son’s. We’re all making assumptions based on what we’re used to, and I don’t think it’s right to fault one person for doing that and not another (the mother assuming doing the laundry is fine, the LW assuming that doing so is an invasion of privacy). Neither assumption is better or has more weight, they’re just different and need to be worked out.

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      • FireStar

        Firestar June 13, 2013, 11:34 am

        I actually think in all things it is better to ask than to assume – unless there is an emergency of some kind. The worst case of not asking and assuming is the ruined laundry (and potentially the relationship) the worst case for asking is that the laundry waits…so no change – regardless of our personal preferences. The cost/benefit analysis to asking outweighs assuming every time (except in cases of emergency).

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        MMcG June 13, 2013, 10:34 am

        “So I think it really depends on whether or not she’s asked her boyfriend’s mother not to wash her clothes and the mother did anyway, or if it was just a case of mismatched assumptions.”

        On one hand I agree with you 100%… especially when it comes to the relationship bw the LW and the mom. However her bf’s dismissiveness is a concern, likely depending on how he reacts to other things. If everything is “her problem” and “what’s the big deal” then I think there are larger issues lurking.

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        Liquid Luck June 13, 2013, 10:44 am

        Yup, the boyfriend is the real red flag here. I think she’s angry that he isn’t standing up for what she wants, and instead of being angry at him she’s projecting the problem onto his mother. But it seems clear that even if his mother did everything the LW wanted her to, there would still be a huge issue in the relationship because her boyfriend obviously doesn’t care about making her feel safe and happy in her own home if it would make like a little less comfortable for him.

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        GatorGirl June 13, 2013, 11:03 am

        I agree he is the problem. Well I guess to a degree he is the problem, IMO. Because until they are married, I think there are some times when you can disagree/voice an opinion other than your partners, etc. But after your married I think you have to work that shit out in private and always present a united front to parents.

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        Liquid Luck June 13, 2013, 11:07 am

        Eh, I would never marry someone until they already proved that they would do that, so to me it’s not a wait-until-marriage type of thing. They’ve already been together for three years and live together, so by now I think they should be at the “united front in public” stage.

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        GatorGirl June 13, 2013, 11:16 am

        Yeah, I can get behind that too. IDK why but I glazed over the length and forgot about living together with my post 🙂 At this point, yes, they should be a united front to parents/outside world.

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        MMcG June 13, 2013, 11:28 am

        Yes! And I don’t even read this as a desire for the bf to go charging at his mom boundaries waving… perhaps some basic understanding and a suggested solution!?! I would be so pissed if I brought something like this up to my bf and instead of even a lame “yeah she always has done my laundry, so maybe we get a separate bag for your stuff?” response I was told I was being done a favor. talk about not getting it!!

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      • bagge72

        bagge72 June 13, 2013, 11:42 am

        I think he is the problem too, he needs to learn to grow a pair of balls, and speak up to his mother about what makes his girlfriend uncomfortable, and I’m sure the mother would understand, because besides the laundry, what the mother did is fine as long as her son doesn’t let he know it’s not fine, and I’m sure he is the one who asked her to get his shoes out of the closet.

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      • katie

        katie June 13, 2013, 1:56 pm

        thats why my advice was to get the boyfriend to understand why its weird for her specifically, not that its weird in general. he might not even get it, you know? he might just be like “oh its my mom, NBD, she means well”- i would totally say that, and im pretty sure i have said that about stuff before. if she hasnt yet, the LW needs to explain why she gets that his family is different but *she* doesnt want to operate that way.

        if he cant fathom that, then i agree there is a problem.

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      • bagge72

        bagge72 June 13, 2013, 11:39 am

        Really people feel comfortable just going into somebodies house, and doing their laundry? Somebody they aren’t related too? That just doesn’t make sense, and I really can’t believe somebody would do that. So if you did a DW meet up, and somebody was nice enough to let you stay at their place you would think it would be ok to just go into their bedroom take out their laundry, and wash it for them, just because they didn’t tell you not to do it?

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        Liquid Luck June 13, 2013, 1:21 pm

        I don’t think that comparison really holds any water. If she’s like my mother (and most mothers that I know who still take care of there adult children this way), then she probably sees the live-in girlfriend as part of the family, a daughter-like figure in fact, and NOT as a stranger. I mean, the LW and boyfriend have been together over three years, live together in a family-owned home, and have shared pets. It would be weird to me if his mother didn’t think of her as part of the family. And this mother is used to doing her child’s laundry, so why wouldn’t she include a surrogate daughter in that?

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      • katie

        katie June 13, 2013, 1:53 pm

        exactly.

        also, if the LW and her boyfriend keep their laundry in the same hamper, then of course it would all get done at the same time.

        also, of course no one would just walk into your house and start doing laundry- but the mom was cleaning in general. she was washing dishes, probably vacuumed, ect, so then in that context its not a stretch that she did a load of laundry.

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        GatorGirl June 13, 2013, 2:02 pm

        But Katie who just walks into someone’s house and starts cleaning??

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        lets_be_honest June 13, 2013, 2:10 pm

        Moms!

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        GatorGirl June 13, 2013, 2:23 pm

        LBH, not mine. And not my husbands. I don’t walk into their house and clean, why would they walk into mine and do so? (I do clean when I stay with my parents during work trips, but that’s part of pulling my weight for not paying to stay at a hotel.) I wouldn’t dream of walking into my sister or BFFs house and cleaning either. Just differences of opinion/who you where raised I guess.

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      • katie

        katie June 13, 2013, 2:42 pm

        yes, moms. and- she didnt just want into the house, she was supposed to be there petsitting. and with petsitting kinda-sorta comes housesitting, to an extent. you do have to clean up after the pets, if you drink some water or whatever, maybe you do the few dishes in the sink, maybe you watch some tv for a little while and let the pet snuggle with you and spill some cheetos, so you have to grab the vacuum- its just not a stretch to me.

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        Sassy but Classy June 13, 2013, 5:01 pm

        Maybe these helicopter parents should teach their kids how to do their own damn laundry and stop babying them. I’ve been doing my own laundry since I was about 8. Everyone in my house did their own. Sometimes someone would say they didnt’ have a full load, did anyone else need to wash some things, but no one would go and do anyone elses laundry without asking. I’m with GG, there is a difference between cleaning some dishes or sweeping the floor when you stay over at someone’s else house, and doing their laundry.

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        lets_be_honest June 13, 2013, 5:08 pm

        Hahaha, doing your kids laundry past age 8 is helicoptering now? Jesus.

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      • Kate B.

        Kate B. June 13, 2013, 10:18 am

        Well, I don’t like people doing my laundry either. It may be laundry, but it’s my laundry. I get where the LW is coming from, here.

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        MMcG June 13, 2013, 10:32 am

        If I didn’t leave something out in a common area… if it’s in a hamper perfectly confined to my closet – then no I don’t think groping is too strong a word. Since she had to SEARCH to find it. Then again my own mother hasn’t touched my laundry since I was 10. I like it done a certain way… if I had to explain to my bf of 3 years why I was a little upset by it and he didn’t care a bit – I would move on. I see this as a sign of red flags to come with boundaries and momma’s boy. But that’s just my take on it 😉

        FWIW I didn’t have the same issues with dishes or trash, for the reasons y’all pointed out above (can cause bugs, other problems for the homeowner) and because I see it as something in a common area of the home versus what I would think is personal.

        Side question – what if it was jewelry or something more valuable? she went into a jewelry box to get out and helpfully clean, that was then damaged. Still totally OK?

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        Amber June 13, 2013, 11:12 am

        In your opinion.

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        Liquid Luck June 13, 2013, 10:32 am

        Exactly. Even if they were to sign a lease and start paying rent right now, nothing would change. They’ve established a pattern with his mother, and the boyfriend is the only one who can change it. If they were actual renters, then I would think she would have a right to complain about it at least (although it probably wouldn’t help in this particular relationship, just that she would be on firmer ground in her argument), but as it stands I think she has no options. She should make it very clear to her boyfriend that she’s not okay with this arrangement, tell him what she needs (e.g., mom can wash dishes but not do laundry, she can only come over uninvited x times per week, etc.), and then be prepared to walk away when he says that he doesn’t mind having his mother around so he’s not going to agree to any of that.

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      • Skyblossom

        Skyblossom June 13, 2013, 10:52 am

        I’m assuming that part of this goes back to the fact that they are a military family and have moved around from place to place and would arrive at a new location not knowing anyone so they had each other. Often with dad stationed overseas where the family couldn’t be with him so just mom and son together. They are used to facing the world together without anyone else around so that’s what they do. Mom probably had trouble holding a job because they moved all the time so if she worked she had to change jobs with every move so she may have taken care of the son and been a stay-at-home mom. Now she is alone and the one job she has had is to take care of her son and so that’s what she’s doing. In a year dad will be back and mom will move to wherever he is located and things will settle down. Not that this is good for your relationship but probably the way it is. I personally wouldn’t want someone digging through my closet. One of the strict rules we have in our house is respecting the property of the other family members. That means don’t touch without asking. So she isn’t respecting you when she digs through your things but you aren’t respecting her property if you leave dirty dishes in the sink while going away for the weekend. Maybe if all three of you living in the house maintain it better, keep it clean, then she won’t feel the need to clean it herself. Make an effort to invite her over once or twice a week so that she isn’t lonely because her son is her family and family does look out for each other. Try to include her at some times that are convenient for all of you and maybe she can look forward to that and not need to barge in at other times. If you invite her for a meal you could ask her to bring a dish that is one of your boyfriend’s favorites. That will give her something to do that she can feel good about and maybe she would need to shop for some ingredients and then spend the time making it so keep her occupied. In general, if you can find things for her to do that make her feel useful it could help all of you.

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      SpaceySteph June 13, 2013, 10:55 am

      Your #2 point is exactly what I was going to say.
      Its fine for your boyfriend to come from a family where there are no closed doors and mom can come in and go through the closet whenever she wants. And its fine for your boyfriend’s mother to enter a house she owns unannounced (except for the actual renting tennant part- but that’s on him to speak up).

      But if its not fine for you, and your boyfriend doesn’t take your side in the matter… I mean, I can only see it getting worse from here. If you stay with him, she’s in your life forever. And he could be siding with her through wedding planning, through pregnancy, through all that crap meddling mothers in law think they know best about child rearing.
      Honestly the fact that a man does not have boundaries with his mother when you CLEARLY want them, is not a recipe for a healthy long-lasting relationship.

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    TECH June 13, 2013, 9:35 am

    When you’re in a relationship, and your boyfriend’s mother is clearly crossing boundaries, your boyfriend needs to stick up for you. Relationships fall apart all the time when men (or women for that matter) are not able to stand up to their parents when their partner’s feelings are hurt.

    Even though you’re not paying rent, it doesn’t give your boyfriend’s mother permission to do whatever she pleases. There are such things as common respect, manners, and boundaries. The boyfriend is the problem here. He needs to stand up for his girlfriend when she’s feeling walked all over. If he can’t do that, it doesn’t bode well for the rest of the relationship.

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    • Lindsay

      Lindsay June 13, 2013, 10:18 am

      I’m not even going to post my own comment because you said exactly what I wanted to.

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      Amber June 13, 2013, 11:13 am

      Yes, exactly.

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    • bagge72

      bagge72 June 13, 2013, 11:44 am

      Nice work!

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    • Just Max

      Just Max June 13, 2013, 12:22 pm

      This –> “There are such things as common respect, manners, and boundaries.”

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      6napkinburger June 13, 2013, 3:30 pm

      “Even though you’re not paying rent, it doesn’t give your boyfriend’s mother permission to do whatever she pleases. There are such things as common respect, manners, and boundaries. The boyfriend is the problem here. ”

      Thank you! Exactly!

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  • avatar

    muffy June 13, 2013, 9:36 am

    You’re getting a pretty sweet deal from this woman living rent free. But every sweet deal has a sour side and this is it. Also let the laundry thing go- seriously.

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      kerrycontrary June 13, 2013, 9:40 am

      Yeh, I think at some point someone is going to do your laundry and shrink/ruin some articles of clothing. Whether it’s your boyfriend, girlfriend, husband, sister, or MIL it’s bound to happen during the span of your lifetime.

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    • FireStar

      Firestar June 13, 2013, 10:52 am

      She just needs a separate hamper and the BF or her to have a quick word with the mother telling her the LW will keep her laundry separate now since she doesn’t like anyone doing it but her.

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      Anna June 13, 2013, 11:20 am

      I can understand the laundry thing. I’m pretty particular about my laundry. As a girl who is not skinny, it’s hard to find clothes that fit right and I don’t have a huge clothing budget. I would be beyond pissed if someone shrank one of my favorite cute tops into a midriff shirt or suddenly my great ass jeans wouldn’t button because they were dried on high heat. So no one will ever do my laundry for me – not even a future spouse. Wash in cold, dry on low heat!

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    SasLinna June 13, 2013, 9:36 am

    Classic case of some strings being attached to getting something for free. It’s going to be difficult to draw boundaries with your bf’s mother with regard to the house because she probably simply sees it as “hers” still. Which isn’t completely unjustified. Anyway, I would give her the benefit of the doubt and assume that she didn’t think there could be any privacy problem with opening a drawer and that she just wanted to do you a favor by doing the laundry. I don’t think it’s wrong to tell her that you don’t want her to do these things, but assume she was just unaware that this could be problematic. In my view, an agreement with her that she won’t enter your bedroom (and of course your roommate’s bedroom) would represent some middle ground here.

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      SasLinna June 13, 2013, 9:46 am

      Oh and I think the “It’s the mother’s property, so she can do anything she wants and LW has no rights” that is going on in some of the comments goes too far. I mean even if somebody lets me live rent-free in their house, I still have a right to some privacy. Like, they can’t just barge in on me at any moment just because they own the space. Going through LW’s stuff IS a problem, even if it’s well-intentioned. I’m guessing the mother was just not considering that she’s invading her privacy, but it’s not wrong for LW to try and bring it up.

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      • Fabelle

        Fabelle June 13, 2013, 9:51 am

        I agree, but I do think that her bringing it up will solve nothing—she doesn’t have the boyfriend on her side, so it’ll be her against bf & his mother (& maybe even the mysterious rent-paying roomie). If she wants to stay there, I think she needs to be slicker about things.

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        lets_be_honest June 13, 2013, 9:54 am

        I still think its wrong. Would you be happy if your boyfriend went behind your back and approached your mom over this?

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        SasLinna June 13, 2013, 10:01 am

        I read it more as “boyfriend doesn’t have a problem with it” than that he’s choosing sides with the mother. But it’s true, she needs to get “permission” from her bf first before talking to the mother, and if he doesn’t want her to, then it’s more of an issue between her and the bf.

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        lets_be_honest June 13, 2013, 10:04 am

        Yea, good point. At least get his ok first.

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      • FireStar

        Firestar June 13, 2013, 10:54 am

        Get his ok or let him know that since he isn’t going to address it – you will? Because those are different things…

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        SasLinna June 13, 2013, 9:55 am

        Yeah in terms of concrete advice, the most the LW can do is trying to bring it up once, and very politely – I mean maybe the mother just didn’t stop to consider the privacy thing and will happily oblige. What I’m objecting to is calling the LW’s privacy concern unreasonable just because the mother is the property owner.

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        Liquid Luck June 13, 2013, 10:54 am

        I agree that they should be entitled to some privacy in their own home. I also think, realistically, that it’s not going to happen here, especially because it’s the mother’s house. His mother seems to believe that because she owns the house (or possibly just because her son lives there, we don’t really know), she’s allowed to enter it and open drawers and cabinets when she needs something. I don’t think that mindset is bad in and of itself, but it causes problems when it’s not shared by all. I also think this mother should be given the benefit of the doubt here. It didn’t sound like she was snooping through their stuff, more like she cleaned up while they were away and once went into a closet to retrieve something specific that was inside. That seems a lot less like “invading privacy” and more like “trying to be helpful” to me. In that case, setting boundaries is appropriate. Berating the mother for being intrusive and meddlesome is not.

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    csp June 13, 2013, 9:38 am

    LW – if you aren’t paying bills, you don’t have alot of say with things. You either start paying your way or deal. I would imagine that if I walked into a house that I was paying the mortgage on every month and found it dirty with dishes in the sink and piles of laundry, i would feel the need to take care of it. I mean, you left dirty dishes before going away for the weekend? gross. It is her skin in the game and this is her investment. I would move out and pay for myself.

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    • avatar

      bethany June 13, 2013, 9:50 am

      True that. It’s HER house, if she wants it kept clean, she’s within her rights to clean it! It’s the mother’s investment, and if they aren’t taking care of it, it could impact the mother when she goes to sell it later on.

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        SasLinna June 13, 2013, 9:52 am

        Dishes in the sink and piles of laundry won’t really cause any damage to the house. But I think the mother clearly wanted to do them a favor with this.

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        lets_be_honest June 13, 2013, 9:54 am

        Bugs that come with them will.

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        SasLinna June 13, 2013, 9:56 am

        Haha OK, I honestly didn’t imagine the situation to that bad, but it could be.

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        csp June 13, 2013, 10:22 am

        They left dirty dishes while out of town. that is pretty bad.

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      • KKZ

        KKZ June 13, 2013, 12:22 pm

        Dirty dishes can be anything from crusted-on pots, pans and casserole dishes, to a few water glasses that have been used but have no food stuck on them. We don’t know and can’t assume the worst.

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        csp June 13, 2013, 12:58 pm

        I don’t think we can assume the mother is a crazy invasive woman either. I just wonder how dirty a house has to be to compell a person to clean.

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        lets_be_honest June 13, 2013, 1:00 pm

        If I’m in a messy house, its VERY hard for me not to try and clean it a little at least. Luckily, no one has ever gotten pissed at me for tidying, and only has really appreciated it, or so they’ve said.

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        csp June 13, 2013, 1:39 pm

        Right, then imagine if you owned said gross house. I would go crazy.

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        Ummm what? June 13, 2013, 1:55 pm

        Is everyone forgetting the other roommate? What if they were HIS dishes? What if ate breakfast then headed out to run errands or work before doing his dishes? Does everyone here seriously maniacally clean their dishes immediately after using them? What is the acceptable time period before not doing your dishes becomes property damage? If your landlord came by during an announced visit, do you think it would be ok for them to yell at you or write you up about your dishes or hamper? Are you people crazy? Everyone here is making the most insane assumptions and harping on oddest items.

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      • KKZ

        KKZ June 13, 2013, 2:04 pm

        That’s a good point, Ummm! I think most of us here have overlooked that possibility. I guess it depends on whether LW and Roommate share dishes or have separate sets – the letter would imply that it was indeed LW’s dishes that got washed. But yeah, good catch.

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        lets_be_honest June 13, 2013, 2:10 pm

        haha, great first comment (and name) Ummmm what?

        If a house is dirty, I will clean it, so that was just a reply to csp saying that. This isn’t a “landlord,” its a mom who has been allowed to come and clean by her son.

        Plus, we know its not the roommate’s dishes, because how would the LW know there were dirty dishes that had been cleaned unless all those dishes were left prior to LW leaving for vacation?

        I would not ever go on vacation without the dishes being cleaned. That’s disgusting and asking for bugs.

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        csp June 13, 2013, 2:39 pm

        @Ummm What? – We put dishes in the dish washer as soon as we are done using them. We run it once a day. We clean the dishes as we use them. And they aren’t tenants, they are freeloaders. If someone was crashing on my couch, how much respect do they owe me especially when they are asking favors like watching my pets?

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      • KKZ

        KKZ June 13, 2013, 2:02 pm

        No, you’re right, and if it really was just a handful of not-clean but not-filthy dishes in the sink or on the counter, I wouldn’t call Mom’s behavior crazy-invasive either.

        The compulsion to clean will differ woman to woman too. My FIL is former military and has always had really high standards for the cleanliness of his home, while refusing to lift a finger for it himself (Grrr), so MIL has bent over backwards for decades to keep things clean to his liking. She tells me recently that she’s started to say “F-ck it” to his demands a little more, though I haven’t seen that in practice.

        Right now my FIL is visiting with us, and I would be lying if I said I didn’t get a small bit of glee from *not* cleaning to his standards. He hasn’t said anything and I don’t think he would, but it’s a little private joy of mine to not be jumping to empty the sink all the time the way he’s used to at home.

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        bethany June 13, 2013, 9:55 am

        You never know. They could be the kind of people who let it get so out of hand that they get mold, or mice, both of which can really damage a house.

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        GatorGirl June 13, 2013, 9:58 am

        I agree about the laundry not causing damage, but dirty dishes or trash will 110% cause bugs, which could cause damage or a costly pest control bill. If they live in a warmer state, fruit flies and roaches can crop up in a day or two. And they are both virtually impossible to get rid of.

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        csp June 13, 2013, 11:00 am

        But if you walked into your own house and saw an overflowing laundry basket, sink full of dirty dishes, wouldn’t you want to clean up. The LW is seeing it as her place and the mother is seeing it as hers. I just think if the laundry was tucked away in a hamper, this wouldn’t have happened.

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        GatorGirl June 13, 2013, 11:10 am

        I don’t see where it says in the letter that the laundry was NOT tucked away in a hamper…

        (I’m totally onboard with the kitchen needing to have been cleaned, FWIW.)

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        csp June 13, 2013, 12:04 pm

        Right, it doesn’t say it was either. When I am thinking about this, I am thinking that the sink was full of dishes and the laundry was piled by the machine. I am thinking that this house was dirty. That could be totally wrong.

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      • katie

        katie June 13, 2013, 9:53 am

        yea, she could even been thinking that this house will eventually be the house she lives in for retirement or something too- like its not her son’s house, its hers, he just lives there.

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        csp June 13, 2013, 10:53 am

        yea, my friend has a beach house and family members will use it but they won’t clean the was she cleans. Thier level isn’t hers and she finds it really frustrating when people don’t respect her house that her money pays for.

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      Amber June 13, 2013, 11:16 am

      To be fair…nothing in the letter suggests that the house is a pig sty.

      I usually have some dishes in the sink, and at least one load of laundry ready to go at any given time, and my house is still clean and tidy.

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        GatorGirl June 13, 2013, 11:28 am

        Yes, me too. (I do wash everything before leaving for an overnight.) Right now there are like 4 dishes in the sink and half a load of 3 different sorted piles. I didn’t get that the apartment was a pigsty either. Maybe not up to the cleanliness level of the mom, but not a pigsty.

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        csp June 13, 2013, 12:46 pm

        See, when I leave to go away, all the dishes are done, laundry done, house clean. I just think dirty dishes left out when you go away for the weekend speaks volumes.

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        GatorGirl June 13, 2013, 2:06 pm

        I don’t think it speaks volumes to the overall cleanliness of the apartment. If we go on a weekend trip we’ll occasionally leave our coffee cups rinsed out in the sink and maybe a plate that’s been pre-rinsed (my husband is often the one who does this, I would probs wash them). That doesn’t give any indication of the rest of our apt- it’s been vaccumed, whipped down, bed made, things put up, etc. I think you’re reading into this like they are hoarders or something.

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        lets_be_honest June 13, 2013, 2:12 pm

        But that’s not really dirty dishes.

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        csp June 13, 2013, 2:45 pm

        right, and if two coffee cups were cleaned and put away, would you even notice? I agree that if this woman was clawing through closets it would be as invasive as you think it is. But I think this place is looking like a bachelor pad (dishes piled up/dirty clothes piled on the floor). I bet this wouldn’t happen if this house looked like a better homes and gardens picture.

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        GatorGirl June 13, 2013, 3:01 pm

        Yes I would 150% notice if something was moved while I was away. Abso-freaking-lutely. And then I would wonder who had been touching all of my stuff.

        Why would you assume it looks like a bachelor pad? There is a long term couple and another male living there doesn’t add up to frat house, most likely. I think people are making a lot of leaps and assumptions here that the LW is living like a pig and the mother is an angel trying to help. I’m trying to see it more middle of the road-ish. Decently clean house and a well meaning but intrusive mother.

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        rachel June 13, 2013, 3:03 pm

        Agreed.

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        lets_be_honest June 13, 2013, 3:03 pm

        Would you be offended if she washed that one mug though? I can’t imagine its one and not a ton, but you’re right, I’m assuming.

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        rachel June 13, 2013, 3:05 pm

        I would feel embarrassed that my house was apparently bad enough that she had the urge to clean it, 1 mug or 20.

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        lets_be_honest June 13, 2013, 3:08 pm

        Its so funny how different people are! Even as a clean freak, I wouldn’t be embarrassed that someone felt they needed to clean my one mug.

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        GatorGirl June 13, 2013, 3:10 pm

        I would be annoyed yes- offended is an awfully strong word. And if it was a reoccurring problem I would write Wendy. (Actually I would say something but.)

        While she does own the house, she doesn’t own the belongings inside of it. How (and when) the LW chooses to wash her belongings isn’t up the mother, unless it is creating a fire, health code, or safety issue.

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        rachel June 13, 2013, 2:12 pm

        Really? You’ve never been running late, say to catch a flight, and left your cereal bowl and coffee mug in the sink? I don’t think a few dirty dishes makes someone a complete slob.

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        csp June 13, 2013, 2:56 pm

        Honestly, If I am catching a flight, I am never running late. We fly 4-5 times a year. If we do coffee we use to-go cups. I hate coming home to a messy house. I don’t let laundry pile up either because I know I will have laundry when I get home. I feel comfortable in a clean house and feel stressed out in a dirty house.

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        rachel June 13, 2013, 3:04 pm

        I wish I had that problem – feeling stressed in a dirty house, haha. Not that I live like a slob…but I wouldn’t necessarily mind an intrusive mother coming in to do my dishes once in a while 😉

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        lets_be_honest June 13, 2013, 3:06 pm

        Funny, I’ve always been jealous of my gf who doesn’t care if her house is messy. She says no one who cares about her family would care if their house is a mess. Its so true, but I can’t be that way. I can’t relax or enjoy myself until its clean. It sucks.
        ps she’s also the friend who loves when I clean when I’m babysitting for her. Her and her husband are laid back though, so they would never feel the way this LW does.

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        rachel June 13, 2013, 3:14 pm

        Yeah, I mean I guess I wouldn’t want to be a total clean freak, but I wouldn’t mind having the motivation to do dishes and vacuum more often.

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        GatorGirl June 13, 2013, 3:14 pm

        But that’s YOU, maybe not the LW. Neither are right or wrong, you’re just different. There are other levels of cleanliness that are acceptable (meaning not a frat house/gross) even if they don’t meet our own personal levels of cleanliness. Which if it’s someone else’s home it’s their choice.

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        lets_be_honest June 13, 2013, 3:19 pm

        Which if it’s someone else’s home it’s their choice.

        Right, and its mom’s home! lol

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        GatorGirl June 13, 2013, 3:25 pm

        I mean yes and no though, IMO. They live in a building she owns, but that doesn’t give her “rights” to handle their stuff. If it was so dirty there was a bug or like fire safety concern then I get it, but if they just have slightly different cleanliness standards than I think the mom is out of line.

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    lemongrass June 13, 2013, 9:56 am

    Beggars can’t be choosers. If you want a free place to stay, it comes with strings and those strings are attached to your boyfriend’s moms apron. Don’t like it? Move out. Also, talk to your boyfriend about his expectation of the involvement his parents will have in your life if you think this relationship will end up in marriage.

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    sophronisba June 13, 2013, 9:58 am

    Hm, you want her when you want her to watch your pets but otherwise she should act like a guest in the house she owns and in which you are basically squatting, rent-free? She may be marking her territory a bit with the cleaning and closet rummaging, but hey! you’re living in a nice house rent-free! Consider the inconvenience of her visits as the price you must pay. Do your laundry regularly and get a locked filing cabinet to keep all your private things in and enjoy this easy life you’ve got!

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    • Lindsay

      Lindsay June 13, 2013, 10:17 am

      I agree that it appears this is the price they must pay, but parents letting a son and his girlfriend live in a house they own is not anything like squatting.

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        sophronisba June 13, 2013, 11:08 am

        Yes, she isn’t technically squatting but neither can she claim any particular “right” to be there.

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      • Lindsay

        Lindsay June 13, 2013, 1:15 pm

        Well, yeah, not like take-someone-to-court right, but having permission from the owner of the house is plenty.

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    temperance June 13, 2013, 10:05 am

    I used to argue with Mr. Temperance over his family doing our laundry – we would bring it with us when we visited so we could take advantage of their washer and dryer, with full expectations that WE would do the washing and drying. His mother or grandmother would get it out of his room and wash it, even if we specified that we were going to do it, please don’t do our chores, etc.. This went on for every visit, up until the time his grandmother pulled out a plastic bag with a pair of my period panties in it, and handed it to me in front of the ENTIRE family, telling me she couldn’t quite get the stain out. I wanted to die, and he then agreed not to do it. lol

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    • Just Max

      Just Max June 13, 2013, 11:54 am

      Every time I visit my mom, she tells me to bring my laundry. I always say no.
      The way I see it is that my using her washer/dryer for my laundry will give her some sort of free pass into my business. Or, in your case, to your panties. 😉

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        temperance June 13, 2013, 12:25 pm

        Oh, we finally stopping bringing it along. It was a fight every time because he wanted to save the $5 it cost to do laundry by using their stuff, and couldn’t understand why I wanted to “waste” money on something so stupid. He’s stupidly frugal in some ways that make NO SENSE because of how his family was growing up (like having a belief that yogurt is okay to eat MONTHS after expiration because it “never goes bad”, eew).

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    lets_be_honest June 13, 2013, 10:05 am

    Anyone else seeing this Chat Now with Wendy thing?

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    • LadyinPurpleNotRed

      LadyinPurpleNotRed June 13, 2013, 10:06 am

      Yes! I was wondering what that was.

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      GatorGirl June 13, 2013, 10:16 am

      Oh that’s fun. I wonder if she has any tips to locate the enormous spider that is inhabiting my bedroom and preventing me from sleeping.

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    cdobbs June 13, 2013, 10:12 am

    LW talk to your boyfriend’s mother and tell her you would like her to respect your privacy….yes you don’t pay rent and yes she does own the house….but there is absolutely no reason for her to be in your house (especially when you are not home)….i think her heart was in the right place when she cleaned and did you laundry while house sitting….but i completely understand how you feel….your home should be where you have privacy and the right to live as you like without having to worry about people entering and going through your things….i know i would not want someone going into my bedroom and rooting through my things

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    • Skyblossom

      Skyblossom June 13, 2013, 11:54 am

      She did have a reason to be in their house because they asked her to take care of their pets. She had to be in their house to do that at least once a day and if there is a dog more than once a day. She didn’t have much reason to go through their closets but she did have to be in the house.

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        cdobbs June 13, 2013, 1:39 pm

        sorry….she was asked to be in their house to take care of the pets….i think she should respect their privacy though….i mean i live in the same house as my parents and i can’t think of a reason why they should ever feel the need to go into my room and look through my closet or dressers….all i’m saying is the mother could ask and/or call first out of respect

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      • Skyblossom

        Skyblossom June 13, 2013, 7:44 pm

        Our son lives with us because he’s still in college and I never go through his things. If his dirty clothes are in his room I don’t touch them. If he puts them into the laundry then I will wash them but he’s been doing his own laundry for years, probably about 8 years.

        We know that his mom went into the closet for a pair of shoes but we don’t know where the dirty clothes were. They might have been in the bedroom but they may have been dumped around the washing machine. So we can’t say that the mom was snooping to find the laundry because it doesn’t say whether that happened. I think if you’re going to be doing someone’s laundry you do need to read the care instructions on every label to make sure you wash them properly. I think most women’s clothing seems to be wash cold now and his mom didn’t pay attention to any of that. So she might have been snooping but she might also have just been cleaning up clutter from the main area of the house.

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  • avatar

    boredatwork June 13, 2013, 10:17 am

    I lived through this LW, and let me tell you the only thing that works is moving out. My bf and I lived in a house owned by his aunt and mother and BOTH of them would just drop by whenever with little to no notice. I hated it, they would clean and organize, which I thought and still think is a comment on my cleaning ability. I also felt that they were babying my bf after all why do the dishes and laundry when mommy is coming over later, right? The more time she spends there doing stuff for him/you the less it will motivate him into becoming self-sufficient. My bf only started caring when they started dropping by when our friends were over, or he had plans etc. He spoke with them and they promised to call but that never happened, there was always an excuse. This continued for the year we lived there until we moved out. So my advice to you is either get used to it or move.

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  • avatar

    Datdamwuf June 13, 2013, 10:26 am

    Isn’t the first order of business working this out with the boyfriend? If the two cannot agree on how much or how little privacy they get from his mother then I don’t see how the LW can’t change anything. I see a problem in her relationship, they should be able to talk this out and decide together what action to take. He thinks it’s fine, she thinks it sucks, they need to find a middle ground and present a united front before anything else. If that cannot be worked out the relationship has bigger issues than Mom wondering in unannounced.

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  • avatar

    Addie Pray June 13, 2013, 10:27 am

    I think this is a matter of you and your boyfriend having different expectations of how close the family should be. You can’t handle it now; what is going to happen when you have kids?

    But I am having a hard time sympathizing with you because the mom doesn’t sound bad at all. I don’t get a sense that she’s doing any of this out of ill will. The laundry? I get that – tell her not to do the laundry. But she’s not really snooping – she went to retrieve some shoes. I dunno, I just don’t see the big deal, but that’s because clearly I’m more of the mindset like your boyfriend. I’m not saying you’re wrong, I’m just saying I don’t think his mother or your boyfriend is out of line. If my mom came over to get something from my (her) condo, and my boyfriend had a problem with that, I’d probably react like your boyfriend.

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    • katie

      katie June 13, 2013, 10:36 am

      yea, i dont get where snooping comes in either…

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    • avatar

      Liquid Luck June 13, 2013, 10:59 am

      Yes! I didn’t see any examples of snooping in the letter. As for keeping a house she owns clean, well, I think that’s within her rights, especially if you’re asking her to stay there and take care of your pets so that you can go on vacation. The woman just sounds like she’s a bit lonely and is focusing on her son and his girlfriend more that usual because her husband is in Afghanistan. That seems completely normal to me.

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      • avatar

        Addie Pray June 13, 2013, 11:43 am

        Agreed. Also, my mom for example can’t stand a sink of dirty dishes. If she were staying at my house while I was away, she sure as hell wouldn’t leave the sink full of my dirty dishes. Someone above (or below) said it – if you don’t want her doing your dishes, do them yourself before you make her stay over to watch the pets.

        Now… I’m sure we’ll get an update with more info: “Oh, I forgot to mention, not only did she go into my closet to retrieve the shoes, she went through all the boxes and pockets and bags and left creepy notes about how she will always be the No. 1 woman in her son’s life….”

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    • Lindsay

      Lindsay June 13, 2013, 1:17 pm

      The “snooping” was a term Wendy used, though, right? I didn’t see anything the letter to imply that the LW thought the mother was trying to snoop, just that she’d clearly had to go through their stuff to get to the shoes she wanted. I just don’t want to get on the LW about a word she didn’t use.

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      • avatar

        Addie Pray June 13, 2013, 3:17 pm

        Oh good point. Ok, criticism about the LW accusing her BF’s mom of snooping is hereby withdrawn.

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  • avatar

    Uuna June 13, 2013, 10:30 am

    I´d say if you didn´t want her doing chores, laundry, dishes etc, you could have cleaned before she got to the house. After all ,you knew she was coming to look after your animals, right?

    What the hell?? I´d be embarrased if any one came to do me a favor and found the house being a complete mess with dirty dishes in the sink. So, yeah, it wasn´t her place to do those things. Because it was yours and your bfs. You should´ve taken care of that.

    I do get the snooping through your closet though. That´s definately on her, and not cool at all.

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    • avatar

      absurdfiction June 13, 2013, 11:04 am

      I keep a pretty clean house, especially when I’ll be having company over, but I have a feeling that the boyfriend’s mother would have found something to “clean” even if the house was pretty neat by anyone’s standards. Like, it doesn’t say she had laundry strewn around the apartment — it sounds like the mother went looking for the hamper and dove in even though it was probably out of the way. Do you really have an empty hamper anytime you have people over, petsitting or not?

      Bottom line is, I don’t think it’s fair to blame LW for someone else’s lack of boundaries. Even if the mother meant well, she shouldn’t have been all over their stuff like that. You CAN blame LW for staying in a situation where she doesn’t have privacy or control over her surroundings, but that’s about it!

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      • avatar

        Uuna June 13, 2013, 12:04 pm

        Dirty dishes in the sink, before leaving for the weekend. I really don´t think the house was neat at all.
        And the hamper was probably on plain sight as well. If the mother went looking for it, then yes, it was way too much, but I´m thinking if they don´t mind the dishes in the sink, they probably don´t mind the hamper on plain sight in the bathroom either.

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        absurdfiction June 13, 2013, 1:24 pm

        In plain sight… in the bathroom? Sorry, I just don’t agree that because it’s there, it’s fair game. If I left my credit card on the table, does that mean she go shopping with it? If I left my hair dye in the cabinet, could she use that? I agree that dishes in the sink over the weekend is gross (not like I’ve never done it…), but that doesn’t mean that’s an open invitation to get all hands-on with her stuff. I get that she’s “mothering” and trying to help out, but this is still way not acceptable behavior, no matter whose name is on the deed. It’s not like she lives WITH them and this is her stuff too. I guess I’ve lived away from home for too long to even fathom my parents doing anything like this, but it really freaks me out.

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        Liquid Luck June 13, 2013, 2:04 pm

        “If I left my credit card on the table, does that mean she go shopping with it?”

        Yes, I think if you’ve established a routine with your mother that she was allowed to do so, then that would be totally appropriate. And the boyfriend has done just that-established a routine that his mother can do his laundry. Why would she sort out the girlfriend’s laundry when her son made it pretty clear (through years of allowing it) that she was allowed to wash his clothes and clean his home when she was there? I think this is all on the boyfriend. He let his mother know that her behavior was fine, despite his girlfriend telling him it isn’t. Why would she assume that the girlfriend isn’t on board with this plan unless she (or ideally, he) tells her so?

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      • Lindsay

        Lindsay June 13, 2013, 2:21 pm

        It it really a routine, though? The LW only mentions it happening once, when they were out of town. And she says the mom only recently moved to their city and only recently began dropping by unannounced, so it sounds like a relatively new occurrence.

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        Liquid Luck June 13, 2013, 9:01 pm

        I meant that it seems to be routine for her to do her son’s laundry and help him around the house when she’s there (especially since she owns the place). I also assume (so if this is incorrect, I withdraw my argument) that they either keep their laundry together or at least have their hampers near each other. To a mom who’s always done her kids laundry to help him out, it probably just wouldn’t occur to her that the girlfriend wouldn’t want her dirty clothes washed while she was already doing laundry for her son. Some moms think nothing of helping out when it’s convenient, and if she was already washing dishes and cleaning other rooms, then laundry would probably be on that same list of chores for her. So while she may have only done laundry for the LW once, I assume she didn’t see it any differently than the hundreds of other times she washed her son’s clothes.

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        absurdfiction June 13, 2013, 2:52 pm

        Oh, I agree this is pretty much all on the boyfriend. If it’s making the LW this uncomfortable, he needs to tell his mom to cut it out. It’s not like the LW is being unreasonable!

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  • avatar

    lets_be_honest June 13, 2013, 10:39 am

    What if you just said “thank you so much for doing the laundry and dishes while we were away, but its totally unnecessary. I’m sure you didn’t enjoy having to go through my dirty undies. From now on, I promise we’ll be sure to get the dishes cleaned before we leave. Sorry you had to do it.”

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    • KKZ

      KKZ June 13, 2013, 12:30 pm

      YES! This is what I would say – a diplomatic thank you with a “you didn’t have to do that” and then prevent there from being an opportunity again. Like I said above, my MIL is a compulsive cleaner, so I’ve started super-cleaning the house before she arrives so she won’t have anything to do and I won’t feel like my toes are being stepped on (even out of kindness). Of course, this only works because she visits from out of town so I always know when she’ll be there. I can see how it would be much tougher if she just dropped in uninvited and cleaned up around the house. That WOULD irritate me.

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  • landygirl

    landygirl June 13, 2013, 10:39 am

    Can you please send your boyfriend’s mother to my house, I have some laundry and cleaning that needs doing. Thanks.

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  • Just Max

    Just Max June 13, 2013, 10:48 am

    WWS.
    What I am curious about though is how does one decides to just walk into someone’s private space (be it a house, bedroom, closet, drawers) and snoop, regardless of the relation to them (relatives, couples, parents, friends). I mean as in purposely snoop for no concrete reason (no, that she owns the house isn’t reason enough, to me, to just go snoop in their closet). What is this woman looking for?
    Are people really _that_ “curious?” Or am I the only one that doesn’t have the least interest in what others have in their personal/private spaces? :-/

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    • Fabelle

      Fabelle June 13, 2013, 11:02 am

      But it doesn’t sound like she was snooping for the purpose of snooping— she was getting a pair of shoes for whatever reason (to return them? I dunno). Although, yeah… waiting to ask where they were, not searching for them herself, would’ve been the safer choice.

      Some people ~are~ just snoopers, though. I don’t get it either.

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  • avatar

    absurdfiction June 13, 2013, 10:54 am

    Ugh, you guys are all being so flip about personal space! I get that it’s the mother’s house, etc., but the mother doesn’t live there, and even if she did, she wouldn’t have a right to bust into the LW’s room any time she felt like it. That is not OK.

    I agree that the best solution though is for LW to move out. It’s not worth the free housing or the strain on her relationship, which, by the way, I think is the real problem. If your boyfriend won’t step up and say something about this, imagine how the rest of your relationship will go. Like, if you have kids someday and Grandma undermines your parenting techniques or shows up uninvited while you are trying to take a much-needed nap — will your guy have your back, or will his mother always come first?

    It sounds like you are both pretty young, but this is worth thinking about. I’ve dated Mama’s Boys in the past and it was always been a nightmare, to some degree or other. NonFic is close with his parents, but there is a difference between being family-oriented and being a Mama’s Boy. LW needs to learn that distinction and decide whether she can live with the repercussions.

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    • avatar

      absurdfiction June 13, 2013, 11:12 am

      OK, reading through some of the other comments, I do have some sympathy for the mother, who may well be lonely. I think that LW should work on cultivating a good relationship with her whether she keeps living with the boyfriend or not. I’m still troubled by the lack of boundaries, but if LW wants to stick it out in this relationship, it would certainly not hurt to get to know this woman a little better and try to get along!

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  • avatar

    Scooze June 13, 2013, 11:00 am

    These problems are way too grown up for a college student. I say move out and experience the fun of being young and on your own. Learn independence. When you’re ready to be a grown-up and pay your own bills, then start a relationship that has future potential.

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  • avatar

    Grilledcheesecalliope June 13, 2013, 11:31 am

    Break up, move out, and make sure you pay rent and so have actual rights in your new place.

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  • Skyblossom

    Skyblossom June 13, 2013, 11:50 am

    If she is doing this because she loves to control her son’s life there isn’t much you can do but move out.

    If she is doing this because she is bored and lonely you can help redirect her efforts. You can visit her at her place with some advance notice. So if you called on Wednesday or Thursday and told her the two of you would love to drop by and visit her at her place on Saturday she would probably clean her own place top to bottom and make something to feed you. That would keep her busy at her own place and she would know that she was going to get to see her son. Just be sure to mention how long you’ll stay and leave when you said you would so that she can’t monopolize your time because she might try to keep you longer.

    Has she ever done volunteer work? If so you could find something similar where you live and direct her toward it. If not, think about what she likes to do and see if you can find a good fit and then tell her about the place that is needing help so much and you immediately thought about how she would be so good there and be such a help to them. Volunteering would give her something to do and help her to meet people so that she knows someone other than her son and you.

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    • avatar

      lets_be_honest June 13, 2013, 11:56 am

      So all these comments are reminding me of my boyfriend’s mom. She is very lonely and wants to spend time with us constantly. She will call me at least twice a day, and texts constantly. I’m understanding, and actually really like her, but it can be bothersome sometimes. We went away for the weekend and she just didn’t stop calling or texting. We are house-hunting and have mentioned a few places we like. She went to the open houses all day Sunday and told us which ones we should get and which ones we shouldn’t. I’ve basically accepted that at this point, she isn’t going to change, and try not to let it bother me. It rarely does, and she means well. But basically, this LW needs to just accept it, or not and moa. I could never tell my boyfriend to make sure his mom leaves us alone. I’d probably dump him if he said that about my mom. Family is family.

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      • Skyblossom

        Skyblossom June 13, 2013, 12:21 pm

        I think the calls would get on my nerves but you’re right, she is his family and she sounds like she means well. I agree family is family and the bf comes with a mother and you take it or leave it unless she is dangerous. There are probably lots of people who would love to have someone come in and wash the dishes, clean and do laundry. I know people who pay people to do this for them, including the laundry.

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        lets_be_honest June 13, 2013, 12:29 pm

        I really feel like I can’t complain. I’ve heard some horror stories about in-laws, so if her “over loving” us is the biggest issue, I’m ok with that! Plus, she’s never been rude to me, but once told my daughter that she didn’t like her haircut, well, that she liked it better long, and Peter got really mad at her and totally “sided” with us, so I guess that was nice to see.

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        lets_be_honest June 13, 2013, 12:35 pm

        Oh and on the suggestion of Iwanna to outsource my work, I told Peter I’d be bringing all the laundry to a fluff and fold place from now on. His response? Let’s just bring it to my mom’s. She loves doing laundry. hahaha.

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      • Skyblossom

        Skyblossom June 13, 2013, 12:48 pm

        I love the laundry joke! Too funny.

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        lets_be_honest June 13, 2013, 12:50 pm

        I’m afraid it wasn’t a joke! He made the same suggestion when I said we should get a cleaning service for our place. Why not just pay mom to do it? Can you imagine? Paying my boyfriend’s mom to clean my house?!

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      • Skyblossom

        Skyblossom June 13, 2013, 1:01 pm

        That would be so awkward.

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      • KKZ

        KKZ June 13, 2013, 12:40 pm

        Oo, yeah, no, that would drive me nuts. My MIL used to text me all the time, she has slowed down recently (texts my husband instead) but she’s still a constant communicator one way or another. If she had done the open-house thing while we were house hunting I probably would have flipped out, because I am so very particular about what I look for in a house and would not respond well to “You should get this one.” Email me a link to the listing and say “Have you seen this?,” sure that’s fine, but not outright opinions on which one we SHOULD get.

        On a related note, last time my in-laws moved, my FIL chose and bought the house they’re in, sight unseen, and without any input from his wife. This made my eyes bug out of my head when I heard about it. I quickly let my husband know that if he EVER tried to pull something like that, he’d have one batshit crazy wife to deal with. (The house itself is beautiful, but I cannot imagine being asked to move across state to a house I’d never seen and didn’t have any input in choosing. That is just beyond insane to me. Dad is a bossy my-way-or-highway guy to begin with so I guess I shouldn’t be surprised.)

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        lets_be_honest June 13, 2013, 12:44 pm

        Haha, I was told I could buy whatever house I ended up liking the most, so he’s very different than you! He didn’t even really want to go to any open houses. Honestly, he’d be happy if we were all crammed in a studio I think. He just doesn’t care.

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      • KKZ

        KKZ June 13, 2013, 2:07 pm

        🙂 To my own discredit, I can be very “Don’t you dare tell me what to do” in some situations – that teenage rebellious streak never quite went away. Even if I agreed with the house selection I’d probably put up a fuss out of spite for not being consulted.

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        lets_be_honest June 13, 2013, 2:12 pm

        I don’t mind the input, but I would not not buy a house because she said not to.

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        6napkinburger June 13, 2013, 4:20 pm

        I think my dad sort of did that to my mom, but it was because she was ready to burst with my sister. It had something to do with pregnancy and houses going incredibly quickly but he just bought it. 31 years later in the same house, I think it was a good call.

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  • findingtheearth

    findingtheearth June 13, 2013, 11:57 am

    I am on the fence on this. I understand living with someone else paying the bills does not entitle you to everything- but I also feel that the LW is entitled to some privacy.

    Her BF’s mom might just like cleaning and might just think this is normal. Some people do have their parents do a lot for them. When I went to college, I was quite surprised by how many people did not know how to do laundry. The BF might just be use to this and not really care.

    I do think that if there is privacy issues, they need to be addressed. Mom might need to realize that her son is an adult and some boundaries need to be re-drawn.

    I am of the mind that you are getting a really sweet deal, and just buck up and deal with it. If you don’t like it, move out. I would have killed for rent free living in college. Or even now. Sometimes to get what you want, you have to deal with issues you don’t necessarily like.

    Also, talk to your bf about if he will always side with his mom over you. That spells out more trouble in the long run.

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  • bagge72

    bagge72 June 13, 2013, 12:03 pm

    LW: it doesn’t sound like you or your BF”s mother are bad people, you just have very different ways of doing things, and your BF is making there be tension between you two were there shouldn’t be. He needs to step up, and tell his mother in a nice way that she needs to give you guys more privacy. Unfortunately it sounds like he won’t do that, because A. he wants his laundry, dishes, and cleaning done for him, and B. he is a bit of a mama’s boy. If that bothers you then you need to either lock up the stuff you don’t want her to see, move out, or break up.

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  • avatar

    Bossy Italian Wife June 13, 2013, 12:15 pm

    If it were me, I would drop the issue, tell your boyfriend you are changing the lock on the bedroom door, give him a key, and then lock your bedroom when you leave. That way, she can come into the house, but not your room.

    As per the laundry issue, if you keep your personal laundry basket in your bedroom it won’t happen again. Or, alternatively, you could do what an adult would do and simply say to her, “I really appreciated that you did us the favor of doing our laundry; I understand you were trying to be helpful, it’s just that I am particular about my laundry, so feel free to do your son’s laundry and just leave mine next time.”

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  • mylaray

    mylaray June 13, 2013, 12:36 pm

    And this is why it is so important to have leases, or at the very least, some sort of agreement upon moving in, especially for you. I think the best solution at this point is to either move out, or sit down with everyone and start contributing some rent. On one hand, the mom can enter the house and make sure the house is taken care of properly, but reading the letter, it didn’t really sound like that was her intention so much. It does sound like she and her son are close, and one or both of them have trouble cutting the apron strings, which makes sense he is living rent free in her house.

    But there do need to be some boundaries, and your boyfriend should be willing to follow through and understand that you are not okay with his mother doing your laundry, and what you feel like is invading your privacy. Just because it’s her house doesn’t mean that your boyfriend shouldn’t get any say in his current living space. There should have been some set ground rules before he moved in, and definitely before you moved in. And I don’t think it’s too late to go over what is okay and what isn’t okay. But be prepared to not have much say since a) you’re not paying rent, b) you’re just the girlfriend, and c) it’s her house that she owns. I would personally think that the consequences outweigh the benefits of living there and would move out if I were you.

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  • avatar

    oldie June 13, 2013, 12:49 pm

    I confess to being stunned by a lot of the comments. I can’t imagine how many of you seem to have taken the “I have no secrets from my bf’s mother’ approach to your lives. I guess I’d even be amazed if this just applied to “I have no secrets from my MIL”. My mother and my wife certainly got along very well together, but they each respected the other’s privacy and that some things are personal and ‘secret’.

    Living together is a period of establishing intimacy and comfort with a partner and letting your hair down in a way that dating doesn’t permit. Not all of our undies are pristine, even if we only where fairly new ones out on dates when some clothes may be coming off. They may be frayed, have holes, urine or semen stains. We’ve reached the point in a relationship where we don’t have to hide such things from our partners. There still isn’t a comfort level with having partner’s parents inspect them.

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    • avatar

      lets_be_honest June 13, 2013, 12:51 pm

      Ew!

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  • avatar

    AKchic June 13, 2013, 12:49 pm

    Oh Gods. My 2nd MIL and I lived together for 5 months. She would constantly do my laundry when I was out of the house, and claim it was a “favor”, even after being asked and TOLD multiple times NOT to do it. It’s not a favor, it’s nosiness masked by “favor”. Anything that was delicate or dry clean only was ruined. Including my bras. I finally presented her an itemized bill of how much it would cost to replace the bras she had shrunk, and then a list of all of the other clothes I could no longer wear due to shrinking or because they were delicate and needed to be handwashed (hand-thrown LACE!) and had been torn to shreds, and told her I could itemize how much that all would cost too if she’d like. 8 bras at $70/minimum a bra – she freaked. Wanted to know why I just didn’t go to Wal-Mart and get the cheap ones like she did. Had to explain that Wal-Mart doesn’t carry my size (and didn’t at the time either) and that I had to go to different stores to ensure I had the proper fit and size to minimize the damage to my back. She threw the biggest hissy fit ever. Both my ex and I explained to her that she could have avoided such a situation if she’d left my clothes ALONE, since I didn’t leave the house much anyways.
    She never did replace the clothes, but she did stop washing them for the last month I was there.

    If your boyfriend isn’t going to care that your clothes aren’t wearable, total it out for him. Is $150 to replace clothes per load really worth the unasked and UNWANTED “favor”?
    That eyebrow raising look your boyfriend’s roommate is giving? That’s the “what the fuck is this” look. He doesn’t like it, but can’t say much because it’s his roommate’s mom just as much as it’s his landlord.

    Your boyfriend enables his mother. I get that she’s lonely and worried about her husband, but she needs to find other things with her time besides showing up unannounced and unwanted (by 2/3 of the tenants) whenever she feels like it. She is a landlord and needs to educate herself.
    If your state gives out Landlord/Tenant Act handbooks, get one (or more). Read up on the laws. Then, leave a copy right in the living room where it can’t be missed. See what happens.

    In all honesty though, I do think you’ll have to be the one to move out of the situation. Yes, it will cost money, yes, it will mean taking a step back from your relationship, but honestly, the guy is allowing his mother to waste money you probably don’t have and glossing over it with the word “favor”. That’s like tossing his shoes into a garbage disposal and calling it a “favor” because they were dirty. Or stripping the paint off of his vehicle because the paint had a small chip somewhere, or the car was dirty and needed washing.

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    • avatar

      lets_be_honest June 13, 2013, 12:53 pm

      OMG AK! Good luck to the LW if she actually does that. haha.

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      • bagge72

        bagge72 June 13, 2013, 1:45 pm

        Can you imagine if you she gave her BF a bill for $150.00 for clothes, and he came back with a bill for $1000.00 for next months rent, and was like, you can just subtract the clothes from that.

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        oldie June 13, 2013, 1:53 pm

        Then she just leaves. I’m guessing her bf wanted her to move into his current living arrangements. I’m guessing he didn’t explain that unlimited snooping from Mom and zero personal privacy were a part of the deal. If he bills her for rent, then she knows where she stands. Good bye and good riddance mama’s boy.

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        MMcG June 13, 2013, 2:27 pm

        I am so loving you today oldie!I am also amazed at the number of commentors that don’t seem to think it odd that a grown man living with his gf of 3 years has his mommy clean up after him… talk about a perpetual childhood!

        At a certain point I need to bring a little Captain Jack to the table because Mr. Joel speaks the truth — “Well, you’re twenty one and still you mother makes your bed. And that’s too long.”

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      • bagge72

        bagge72 June 13, 2013, 2:42 pm

        apprently neither of you new I was joking, nor did you read my other comments. I do think unlimited snooping is taking it a little too far though, she didn’t say anything in her letter about actual snooping around, and going through her things. I think the laundry is going way to far, but I don’t see a problem with a mother doing her sons dishes, or cleaning his house while she is pet sitting for free for them. Getting a pair of shoes is no big deal either especially if her son asked, and she did actually text her to let he know she was there at least.

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      • Fabelle

        Fabelle June 13, 2013, 2:47 pm

        I laughed at your comment, bagge.

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    • avatar

      absurdfiction June 13, 2013, 1:25 pm

      Amen!

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  • avatar

    SpaceySteph June 13, 2013, 12:20 pm

    I can imagine my MIL cleaning our house while we’re away. She doesn’t live here and she hasn’t visited since we got married, but when she used to visit before we got married (we didn’t live together) she would totally clean the whole house while my husband was at work. Also grocery shop, laundry, you name it!
    He and his roommate didn’t really mind though because they were boys and messy and they kind of enjoyed having someone pick up after them. I am totally different though… especially I’m so particular about the kitchen and any amount of kitchen reorganizing would make me crazy.
    Before she visits our now-shared home, we know we’re going to have to set some boundaries on what she can and can’t clean. (And also make sure the drawer with sex toys is known as off-limits!) But my husband and I are on the same page about this.

    Laundry would probably be ok, but now that I’ve read this letter I’ll make sure to tell her beforehand that only underwear and socks get washed on warm, and everything gets tumbled dry on low except jeans! (I thought all women knew that by the way, I’m surprised the MIL shrunk stuff)

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  • avatar

    Doodles June 13, 2013, 1:23 pm

    U LW you are over reacting here I think. You are not seeing the other side to this coin. First of all, this woman is probably extremely lonely, her husband was just sent overseas! She is in a new city all by herself. It is one thing to politely ask her to please not do your laundry because it makes you uncomfortable, but it is another thing to rant and rave about things you do not know is true. You do mot know that she was snooping, all she did was retrieve a pair of HER son’s shoes from the closest. You are lucky to not be paying rent and utilities, instead of being thankful, you complain about a lonely woman trying to help you out. She has a lot on her plate right now, and is probably just trying to keep busy and keep her mind off what her husband is facing overseas. Do you know what it is like to have your husband deployed, then move to a new city all by yourself where the only people you know is your son and his girlfriend? If you don’t want the intrusion, move out. But it seems.like she is lonely and only trying to help you. Look at it from her point of view though, really. She is not being spiteful or overbearing on purpose, she is only trying to eliviate her own loneliness.

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      Doodles June 13, 2013, 1:35 pm

      I guess I am seeing things a little differently than most of the commenters because I was in a similar situation but the circumstances were a bit different. My mother-in-law was allowed by my now husband to come.and go as she pleased and she would come over and clean and do laundry and stuff, but she was in a situation that I was not.privy to and once it was brought to.light, I no longer held issue with why she would just show up.

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      SpaceySteph June 13, 2013, 2:43 pm

      Some comments above captured some of this as well- that she’s likely lonely and doing this to fill a hole. And that’s fine, and she deserves compassion, but the LW is still allowed to have hard boundaries like “your mother cannot touch my underwear.”

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        Doodles June 13, 2013, 6:07 pm

        Oh of course she is. Thats why I said about politely explaining that she is uncomfortable with the Mom doing.her laundry. I think that if put nicely with respect, that the boyfriend’s mom would understand.

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      Liquid Luck June 13, 2013, 9:09 pm

      I feel like a lot of people are being overly harsh on the mother here. Should she have asked before doing the LW’s laundry? Yes, I think so. But it probably didn’t even occur to her that it would be an issue. She’s been a mother for at least the past two decades, and it sounds like she was a very hands-on around the house type. If his father was a plumber, would they be angry if he saw a leaking pipe and fixed it while he was at their house while they were out of town? Because I see it that same way. Cleaning has probably a huge part of her “job” for so long that it just seems so natural for her to do it that she wouldn’t even question it. I think the LW should be able to set some boundaries, but I also think she’s overreacting for what seem like harmless (and well-intentioned) miscommunications.

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      BreezyAM June 14, 2013, 12:15 am

      Oh FFS she’s been a military wife her whole married life, I am pretty sure she’s not some brand new wet behind the ears 22 yr old posting pics of her beloved PFC on fb with some cheesy montage lonely. Let’s not victimize mom too much here. She isn’t lonely; she’s used to being HBIC and taking the lead and getting shit done.

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  • avatar

    sarolabelle June 13, 2013, 2:31 pm

    I just have to say I like the picture that this letter has with it. That is all…

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  • bagge72

    bagge72 June 13, 2013, 2:54 pm

    The more I think about this, the more I really don’t see a problem, besides doing her laundry which I really do think is a problem. But what is the problem with the rest of it? She was pet sitting for her son at the house she owns and he lives for free at, and decided to clean a couple of dirty dishes in the sink, and clean the house. Wow she is crazy, and then she went and got a pair of shoes out of the closet that I’m sure she either ran by her son, or was asked by him to get, and also texted the LW to let her know she was in the house. There are so many crazy leaps and bounds in these comments today, from the LW being a disgusting pig, to the mother being an unlimited snooping, super invasive privacy breaking slum loard. All because the mother cleaned the house ONCE, and got a pair of shoes out othe closet for her son ONCE. Easy fix, don’t ever ask your BF’s mom for a favor again, and make him ask her to call before she ever thinks about even coming over… oh and make sure she knows you are the only one who can giver her permission to get something for her son out of the house.

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    • avatar

      AKchic June 13, 2013, 4:25 pm

      I actually feel bad for the paying roommate. HE’S the one covered by the Landlord/Tenant laws the most as he probably has a lease agreement (even if it is month-to-month), and should be able to expect notification prior to the landlord showing up (unless it’s an emergency).

      I’m sure that when he first moved in, it wasn’t a problem, but all of the sudden, it has become a problem, and now his other two (non-paying) roommates are fighting about perceived invasions of privacy and mommy-issues. It puts the roommate in a bad situation. He either has to be honest and risk the possibility of his lease being terminated (if month-to-month especially), an angry landlord and roommate (the boyfriend/son), or go with the flow and say he’s okay with it (whether he is or not, just because he doesn’t want to rock the boat), and piss off the other roommate (the girlfriend of the landlord’s son) simply because it appears that he has taken the boyfriend and mother/landlord’s side.
      It’s drama that I’m sure the roommate would like to avoid.

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  • avatar

    6napkinburger June 13, 2013, 3:22 pm

    I’m not sure will ever understand why people think that Rent is some inexorable part of american humanity. Like if you don’t pay rent, you don’t have any right to be bothered by anything because you should be so busy kissing the shoes of the landowner.

    People own property. People can charge people to live on that property or they can choose not to. The land does not eat the rent money (though the bank often does). Adults can enter arrangments to do whatever they want (within the scope of the law).

    It is perfectly acceptable to create an arrangment where kids live in apartments owned by their family, but the family treats it like its the kid’s property, if that’s what they want. It’s perfectly acceptable to, in hard times, live at home rent free while they get back on their feet.

    My parents paid my rent while I was in college, just as they paid my tuition (technically, they transferred money into my account for food and for rent and I literally paid my rent). I understand that that is not the case for all people and not everyone is as lucky and not everyone’s parents are as able or as generous, but that doesn’t mean that it is somehow inappropriate of kids in college to take their parent’s money. And when I lived in my apartment, it was MY apartment. My parents treated it as my apartment, even though they paid. And of course, if they were not ok with that arrangment, they could have said so and they held the purse strings, and I would have had to choose whether to deal with their rules or move out. But me pushing back, me saying, “It’s my apartment, Mom, stop rearranging my cabinets!” didn’t make me an ungrateful little wretch who should be happy I am not out in the rain.

    College, for many, is about transitioning into adulthood and establishing and being responsible your own home and being responsible and, for many, things like having your own apartment (though your parents pay) is a step. If it was a better deal to have bought an apartment for me to live in rather than paying rent, my parents probably would have done that, and I would have been in a similar financial situation to LW’s BF.

    I don’t understand the idea that the ROOMMATE should be upset that he is paying rent but the other two aren’t. I didn’t get it last time and I don’t get it now. (Though I would understand if he was upset about the mom popping in and out). There is nothing egalitarian about rent. Would I want to live with two people who didn’t take care of my living space? Not at all, but I wouldn’t be resentful that I was paying to live somewhere that the owner’s son was living in for free. It’s the same as if his parents were paying for his rent. As long as I felt that my rent fairly covered my room and 1/whatever of the space, I would have no justifiable reason to care that they didn’t. I just don’t get how so many people are so sactimonious about rent.

    [LW, I do think the biggest problem is that you and your BF don’t see eye to eye and I don’t see why you are living together still in college — I think that is a huge mistake and you are missing out on the roommate aspect of college. And it isn’t cool that your BF can’t see it from your point of view, which means he probably still thinks of the apartment as his, and that you living with him, rather than living together. Which I think sucks for you, because that means he doesn’t consider it both of your homes. So I suggest moving out as well, but not (just) because you aren’t paying rent and that is somehow morally reprehensible.)

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      lets_be_honest June 13, 2013, 3:26 pm

      I think its because most people in some form or another pay for their housing (and pay a lot for it!) and it pisses them off when they hear of someone who doesn’t have to, yet seemingly doesn’t appreciate it. Just generally speaking, not about this LW.

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        6napkinburger June 13, 2013, 3:38 pm

        And don’t get me wrong, I pay my own rent and have for many years, first in Manhattan and now in a nice part of Boston, so believe me, I understand about paying too much for housing. But I lived at home during summers at college and I crashed at home for a couple months after law school, and it honestly never dawned on me to pay rent. And I think my parents would say that I am an appreciative and doting daughter, but I don’t see why people are so up in arms about it. Like if during that time, I came home and it was clear my mom went through my room, the issue would be about privacy. If she came back with “I pay the mortgage, I can go through anything I want in my house” — I honestly can’t imagine that. (Though when I was a teenager, there was a lot of “my house, my rules”, but i think it means something different when you’re still a kid).

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        lets_be_honest June 13, 2013, 3:40 pm

        I’m not talking about people who live WITH their parents. I agree that’s pretty different. Its situations like these, where they live for free without their parents living with them.
        I also think its different when you have your one bedroom in your parents house as opposed to a situation like this. Idk, I just think that is why people get pissy about it.

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        lets_be_honest June 13, 2013, 3:41 pm

        Also, let’s say you smoked, and your mom didn’t like the smell, but hey, its your room, she gets no say by your logic (even though I know you would agree that it’d be wrong to do that since its your parent’s home, even though its “your” room). And what about your parents saying clean your room? That happens all the time when you’re a kid. You can’t just say its my room, you cant tell me what to do in it.

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        GatorGirl June 13, 2013, 3:52 pm

        Oh come on it’s different when you’re a minor.

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        lets_be_honest June 13, 2013, 4:47 pm

        So its ok for mom to say clean your room in her house when someone is 17, but not 18? I disagree.

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        GatorGirl June 13, 2013, 4:50 pm

        I would say yes. At 17 you are still a child and they are still legally responsible for your well being. At 18 you’re an adult responsible for yourself. Of course there are grey areas. I was picturing a child more tween or 15 aged which I absolutely think a parent can clean their rooms.

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        lets_be_honest June 13, 2013, 4:53 pm

        But even when you’re an adult, you are still living under your parents’ roof and you don’t think they have a say in whether or not you keep your room clean? I would absolutely tell my daughter to keep her room in my house clean at 18+.

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        lets_be_honest June 13, 2013, 4:54 pm

        Basically, no matter what the age, if you are living in someone else’s house, you must respect their rules or leave, is my opinion.

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        GatorGirl June 13, 2013, 4:59 pm

        Respect their rules, yes. Completely agree. Parents going in and cleaning/handling stuff- IDK.

        If a rule is to keep the room clean in a certain matter or the parent will clean it- sure if they break it clean it. But if mom just looks in and there is laundry and decides to wash it for shits and giggles, I think that’s out of line.

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      • Lindsay

        Lindsay June 13, 2013, 6:50 pm

        I agree with GG. The mother here didn’t set rules that dishes can’t sit in the sink or that all laundry must be done before going out of town. If that’s a part of the agreement, then she needs to make that clear instead of just cleaning up for them. It doesn’t really sound like she was cleaning as punishment or out of worry for the house, so much as she was trying to do a nice thing.

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      • Fabelle

        Fabelle June 13, 2013, 4:50 pm

        I dunno, speaking only from my own experience—my parents dropped a lot of rules as soon as I turned 18. Like, I had no curfew anymore effective on my birthday.

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        6napkinburger June 13, 2013, 3:49 pm

        But then isn’t that just jealousy, no? Being pissed at something who doesn’t appreciate something you have… is that really a good place to be giving advice from? Its like when someone complains about their job that pays more than someone else’s or if someone else is unemployed. Just because there are people in shittier situations doesn’t mean that you can’t have legitimate issues with your situation, and ones that you don’t know how to solve. Yes, if you are constantly bitching about your great job with good perks to all your un or underemployed friends, you are being a douche. But if you are asking for advice from an advice columnist, I don’t get why people aren’t being more self-reflective about their responses. It kind of sounds like bitter single people telling an LW that she should be happy she has a boyfriend, even if she has other issues in the relationship. (And I am single).

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        lets_be_honest June 13, 2013, 3:52 pm

        Oh I’m not saying it right or wrong, just offering a potential reason. I can’t stand people that don’t appreciate what they have, no matter what it is. I do agree with what you’re saying though.

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      • Fabelle

        Fabelle June 13, 2013, 3:54 pm

        I do think that some of the responses are a bit, “What you complaining about, you bratty biotch?” but most have just been pointing out that there isn’t ~that~ much she can do to change the situation? It’s like a trifecta of issues she’s up against—one of the most glaring being that, yeah, the mother is allowing her to live there rent-free. NOT that she should be worshiping at the mother’s feet due to this, but just that she *does* have a limited say in things (ESPECIALLY because the boyfriend doesn’t even understand what she’s upset about…)

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    • Lindsay

      Lindsay June 13, 2013, 3:27 pm

      I agree. I was just thinking about how I’m going to be moving into a house next fall that is owned by the parents of one of the women who will be living there. I’m signing a lease and all that jazz, but I’m not entirely sure if she’s paying rent. And I don’t care. I’m going to be paying regardless, so whether she pays or not doesn’t affect me. That’s just a (possible) perk of living in a house owned by your parents.

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    • avatar

      csp June 13, 2013, 4:43 pm

      I don’t think it is the not paying rent but not respecting the rules. So I was funded by my parents until I was married. But there were strings attached to the money that I lived with. Like, when I lived at home, I had a curfew and I wasn’t allowed to sleep over at my now Husband’s home while living under thier roof. When I was engaged, my parents said they would not pay for my wedding if we lived together before they got married so we had two apartments. I had the choice to obey the rules or walk away from the money. It isn’t take the money and the free pet sitting then resent the people handing over all the stuff. It is when someone bites the hand that feeds them that makes people angry.

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        BreezyAM June 14, 2013, 12:20 am

        That just feels so controlling to me.
        Either give someone the money/house/stuff or don’t. But controlling them like that is just… I dunno, not the short of person I want to be for sure.

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  • avatar

    AliceInDairyland June 13, 2013, 2:23 pm

    Guys, I’m a little bit worried about this. I will be moving in with my boyfriend in August after dating for 3 years. I will be staying in his mother’s big farmhouse along with her soon-to-be-husband, and the BF’s two farm interns. There will be 6 total people in the house! We will be moving out to the boyfriend’s house across the road a little ways as soon as it is all fixed up, but I am just really worried. Granted, the BF has lived at this house for the past 3 years so I have seen how he interacts with his mother. He does all his own laundry, whoever doesn’t cook dinner does the dishes, and she is very mindful of the upstairs bedroom/living area being his space. He, in return for living there, provides almost all the food for the house and does basically all the yardwork and outside stuff and cooks a lot.

    However I’m just nervous about being in other people’s space, and not doing enough. And I am bringing 2 cats into the house with me as well, and his mother has never had a cat before. I’m going to be frantically vacuuming up cat hair every day. Also I have said I want to pay at least some rent, or buy groceries, or do both for the house but she keeps refusing which is making things more stressful. I’ve outlined with my boyfriend my expectations and he is in my corner, and has also said that if the house doesn’t look like it will get finished by this spring we can definitely rent out an apartment once the interns move out, so we have a plan in place. I’m just so anxious about everything even though she and everyone in the house is super lovely and I’ve been spending time with everyone/staying over 3-4 nights a week already for the past few years.

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      GatorGirl June 13, 2013, 2:29 pm

      You could offer to take of a utility bill, like the cable or electric. And I would just buy groceries when they are needed with out asking.

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        AliceInDairyland June 13, 2013, 4:22 pm

        I like the idea of trying to pay one of the utility bills, and just picking up whatever we need. His Mom is just one of those ladies that refuses help most of the time, but I am one of those people too! Maybe the BF can stealth mode text me what we need and then I can pick it up on my drive back from school.

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      AliceInDairyland June 13, 2013, 2:24 pm

      Gah, I made this all about me. Sorry LW, listen to everyone else’s advice!! I’ve got nothing constructive to add.

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  • avatar

    Doodles June 13, 2013, 7:11 pm

    After reading through the comments and rereading the letter, I think there is an underlying issue that is being overlooked. Some people touched upon it, but I think the LW is using the intrusion of the boyfriends mom as….hmmm…a scapegoat maybe…not sure if that is the best word for what I mean. Well anyway, yes it bothers her that the mom is coming and going as she pleases, and doing cleaning and laundry, but the real problem is that the boyfriend won’t take the LW’s side. So something that might bother the LW, like the mom doing her laundry, is now being turned into something bigger. She can easily let the mom know that it makes her uncomfortable, especially since the LW and boyfriend have been together for so long, and assuming she knows the family pretty well, she is turning everything into a really huge deal because she is not getting the support she needs from the boyfriend. Now I am not saying that having.someone come over to where you live and doing your laundry, or cleaning your home without your permission is OK, but it is something that she can resolve by saying:
    “I wanted to thank you for helping out with the laundry, but it makes me a little uncomfortable to have someone besides myself washing my undergarments.” She is projecting her disappointment with the boyfriend to what the mom did, that the boyfriend has no problem with.
    **I’m just assuming that this might be the bigger issue, and maybe just a different perspective.**

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  • avatar

    trixy minx June 13, 2013, 8:46 pm

    Dude. You live rent free so stfu and accept her quirks.

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  • bittergaymark

    Bittergaymark June 14, 2013, 12:21 am

    Oh the horror. The horror. You often come home to clean dishes and washed clothes. However shall you survive… Please. Maybe stop living like a fucking slob. I get how there is always dirty clothes around, but who routinely leaves dirty dishes in the sink? God, people today are just gross…

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  • avatar

    Lark June 14, 2013, 1:33 am

    Yes, it sounds annoying but consider the circumstances. She sounds lonely, her husband is overseas in a war zone, and she owns the house and you aren’t paying rent. However, if I was the roommate who was paying rent I would be royally pissed. There’s not much you can do. You and your boyfriend have two very different views on this situation, and both are somewhat valid. I agree with Wendy that maybe it would be a good idea to move out. You are young, and I think everyone should experience living on their own if they can afford it for a while.

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