I don’t think that this is a fair arrangement. Mia and her boyfriend’s argument is that they have to share a room, but not only was it their choice to co-habitate, but also it’s not like her boyfriend only lives in her room — he uses the common areas as well. If we split the rent evenly four ways, we would all only be paying about 420 dollars each, which I think is fair to everyone. Mia has a full-time job for a non-profit and her boyfriend only works a few nights a week at a bar (this is out of choice, he has specifically asked to work fewer shifts). Currently, over half of my income is going to pay my rent (I don’t make very much money and am a student) and the financial strain is getting really real. In addition to this, our rent is going up this year by about 45 dollars. I don’t want money to get in the way of my friendship with Mia, but I am really struggling financially right now. How should I handle this? — Four’s a Crowd
On the one hand, Mia is taking advantage of you, isn’t being a good friend, and has a skewed sense of logic. On the other hand, you’re the one who moved into a stupid situation where you knew you were paying a bigger percentage for space used than your roommates were. Mia’s boyfriend was already living in the apartment when you signed the lease. I assume you understood the agreement of what everyone would be paying in rent — and if you didn’t, that’s on you! — and you still decided to move in. I don’t see how, at this point in the game, you’re going to have any luck getting Mia and her boyfriend to pony up their fair share of the rent when they’ve managed this long to get away with not doing so.
If I were you, I would prepare to move out, along with Jane, when the lease is up. (Perhaps, if you like living with her as a roommate and she doesn’t already have all her plans in place, the two of you can find a place together.) You could make an attempt before you leave to renegotiate the division of rent, but I definitely would NOT count on that going anywhere, and I’d have a move-out plan ready. What I would say to Mia and her boyfriend is: “I’m not able to comfortably afford my share of the rent, and I’m wondering if you’d be willing to discuss re-negotiating the division of the rent to more fairly reflect the division of private spaces and the use of common spaces?” If you aren’t satisfied with their answer, don’t push — simply thank them for their consideration, explain again that you need a more affordable living arrangement, and then move out (and into a place where making rent isn’t such a financial hardship each month).
Evie and I were BFFs in high school and even signed a lease to move to a different city together to go to college. Two weeks before we were supposed to leave she backed out saying that she had just met a guy and she wanted to date him. I was very upset, and I had to live with strangers in order to make rent. She apologized, but our friendship was never the same.
We have kept in touch mostly on FB over the years and through a few messages and phone calls here and there to catch up. She and her boyfriend continued to date, then they were getting married, then they were not, he was abusive, and the last I knew they were back together.
Anyway, my question is: Do you think I should stop by and see her in rehab when I will be home in three weeks? The plan would be to ask her mom if she is up for visitors. When I was 13, I was paralyzed (Guillian Barre Syndrome) and lived in that exact rehab center for months before regaining my walking and all other abilities, so I know (in some small way) what she is going through.
One of my friends thinks that since we have kind of kept in touch, I should reach out to her mom and stop by. My other friend who thinks this accident was caused by her drinking and driving (he lost an aunt that way) thinks I should just send a card, since if it was drinking and driving, it was sort of her fault.
I think stopping by to visit with her could be nice, but I don’t want to overstep any boundaries. She is going through a very traumatic and life-changing experience, and I want to be respectful while letting her know that I care about her and am here should she need me.
What do you think? — Trying to Respect Boundaries
Ok, your friend who’s decided that Evie’s accident was a result of her drinking and driving and, thus, she deserves to have lost her leg, is a serious jerk. I’m sympathetic that he lost an aunt in a drunk driving accident, but that doesn’t grant him carte blanche to be an asshole. So, please, at least in this circumstance, ignore his advice. I think the advice of your other friend who suggested you reach out to Evie’s mom is good. I’d keep the message brief and heart-felt: “I’m so sorry to hear about Evie, and I can’t imagine how stressful and challenging this has been for your whole family. I’ll be in town soon and was wondering if Evie would be up for a visit? At the very least, I’d like to send a card to let her know how much I’m thinking of her. I know you’re very busy, but when you have a chance, would you mind passing along a mailing address for her and let me know if she might be up for a visit from me?”
If you do go visit Evie, I’d also keep the visit brief and heartfelt. Please avoid discussing any drama in your history as friends, and don’t compare her accident to your experience with Guillian Barre Syndrome. It’s ok to say: “I was in this exact same rehab center for several months when I was 13 and was temporarily paralyzed.” It’s not ok to say: “I know what you’re going through.” The truth is that you don’t exactly know what she’s going through, and Evie may resent the suggestion that you do. If she was in some way responsible for the accident, she is likely grappling with a host of emotions that may be very different from what you’ve experienced. Be empathetic and sensitive, but don’t assume you know what she’s feeling. Reminding her of your stay in the rehab center as a young teenager will give her the opportunity to seek similarities or your perspective if she’s interested. Don’t offer them up if she’s not. These are the best ways you can respect boundaries and respect where Evie is right now in the very early stage of her recovery.
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If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at wendy(AT)dearwendy.com.