Help my roommate and I find a fair and reasonable solution
May 6, 2014 1:54 PM Subscribe
Her sister is coming to stay with us for (??) weeks, how do I protect my boundaries
posted by winterportage to Human Relations (22 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I’ve been living with the roommate for about 5 months and I’m moving away in September. We’re trying to work out the details of her sister staying with us for long period of time. How should I go about finding a situation that is fair and where both of us are happy?
We got the place in December. For the last two weeks of that month, I was away at my family’s place for the holidays. At the same time, her mom and sister came and stayed at the apartment. She is from Africa and her mom only visits once or twice a year. Her teenage sister lives in Canada and goes to school in a city about 2 hours away where she also has family. It was totally fine with me that her family stays over during Christmas- I was away, and they don’t see each other often since the mom lives halfway across the world. I know they have other family members in the city where the sister goes to school, but as for immediate family there’s only the two of them on this continent.
Moving always makes me anxious, and once the holidays were over I was ready to get into a new routine at my new place- I just moved out of another place where I had been living with my (now-ex) boyfriend for a year. Unexpectedly, her teenage sister stayed with us another 3 weeks after the holidays were over- apparently her classes didn’t resume til then. I didn’t bring it up until the sister was gone, but I did make sure to let my roommate know that I need to be notified if someone is staying with us for weeks on end. The sister is 16, and doesn’t go out by herself. She spent mostly the whole 3 weeks sitting on the couch with headphones on. Which is fine, that’s probably what I was doing as a teenager.
Over the past few weeks we’ve been having conversations about how much is acceptable for either of us to have guests over. I told her that I would appreciate if her boyfriend doesn’t stay over more than 2 or 3 nights a week (he lives just down the street) and she seems ok with that. I hate listening to other people have sex so this is my way of maintaining peace of mind that at least some of the time there is no danger of that. My problem is that I’m introverted. When I get home it’s almost as if I don’t want to interact with any strangers any more.
But, it seems that her sister’s summer vacation is coming up and the plan all along was for the sister to stay at our apartment. I’m not sure how to navigate this situation. I didn’t appreciate what happened the first time- the least she could have done was to warn me about how long her sister was staying. But, I realize that she’s coming from a different background from me; her family is split up across the globe and I know her sister wants to stay with her. What happened the first time bothered me because I was given no heads up or any explanation whatsoever. But, maybe if we talk it out ahead of time we can come up with a solution we both agree on. I can adapt to someone else being there if I know about it ahead of time.
Tl;dr: The sister is going to come no matter what. Now that I know it ahead of time, how can I prepare, given that I am an introvert and need a lot of alone time? What are some ground rules we can set in place so that the situation is fair? How long is too long before she starts splitting the rent with us / her mom pays part of the rent? I don’t want to make a big deal out of this, I’m moving out in September. At the same time, I’ve had way too many bad roommates stepping all over my boundaries in the past that had really bad effects on my mental health. So, I understand where she’s coming from , I just want to protect myself as well.