How to Avoid Having an Annual Houseguest
December 16, 2018 9:38 PM   Subscribe

So I've had a friend for the past 20 years or so. Well, I don't want to be friends any more... We were friends over a summer when we were teenagers, and ever since, he's come back to my neck of the woods pretty much every year. He likes where I live a lot more than I like where he lives, so I've never visited him there, though he did host a cousin for a week about 5 years ago.

He stays with me for a week or so every year. Fortunately in a kind of "in-law" unit so we don't have to interact daily if I can come up with good excuses to avoid him.

And that's the thing: I avoid him. He's an extremely introverted yet not very interesting soft-spoken kind of person. Every visit involves one painful dinner, either alone with him or with friends like him. I dread it desperately. I know he thinks he's doing me a favor, and he might find those dinners as excruciating as I do, but I don't want him staying with me even if we don't want to hang out with each other. That would just be treating me like a free Airbnb based on a friendship that's long past its due date.

So I want to "break up" with him as a friend but want a tactful way of doing so. If it helps with cultural context in mind, we're both gay men, and he's Parisian. I've been thinking to just tell him we're renovating the unit every time he asks, so that after a year or two he'll get the hint (hopefully...).
posted by oaklandj to Human Relations (18 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
Fib about renting out the in law apartment to a neighbor's nanny?
posted by k8t at 9:58 PM on December 16, 2018 [7 favorites]


white lies: You have a tenant in the unit. Your SO prefers not to have guests on the property. You find you sleep better yourself there so need to keep it empty for that. You use it as a studio now and have removed the bed.

or the truth: sorry, won't be possible, I've made some changes and won't be able to host your visits going forward, hope you have a nice trip!
posted by fingersandtoes at 9:59 PM on December 16, 2018 [25 favorites]


Now is not a great time for me, I have some stuff going on... repeat ad nauseum. Then topic change so he can’t pry any further. He doesn’t have to know that the stuff going on is that you don’t want to host him.
posted by Jubey at 10:11 PM on December 16, 2018 [3 favorites]


I vote for honesty. Yes, it hurts but is so effective. It's possible he's even feeling the same way. You could say something like, "I have appreciated your friendship over the years but I feel we've grown apart. I can no longer host you but I wish you all the best!"

I had a long-term friendship break-up earlier this year. I thought it'd be so hard that I put it off for YEARS. It was hard to write -- via text -- but my old friend took it so well. She actually agreed; we wished each other the best and went our ways. I wish I had done it years ago instead of making excuses and trying the slow fade. It really was so easy after gathering up the energy to send the initial message! I was sad but am so much happier to have this resolved.

You certainly can say white lies and try and a slow fade -- go with what feels best for you. However, please don't be afraid to try honesty if that's what your gut is telling you. A little directness can go a long way. It's ultimately the kindest thing: for you and for him, too.
posted by smorgasbord at 10:15 PM on December 16, 2018 [30 favorites]


A few more thoughts:

- It's your home and you get to choose who can and cannot stay with you.

- He may really want to stay with those "friends like him" but feels it'd be disrespectful to NOT stay with you. By saying you can't host him anymore, you are actually giving him a gift of being able to choose a new place that's a better fit.

- You can tell him that you can't host him but offer to meet up for a quick coffee or do some other activity that YOU actually enjoy. You don't have to meet up but perhaps you'll enjoy his company more when you feel more empowered and less resentful.
posted by smorgasbord at 10:53 PM on December 16, 2018 [10 favorites]


Before he asks, mention in passing (a lie) that you've either redone the suite so it's not a suite any more, or that you have a tenant. Just tactfully prevent him from staying. I wouldn't bother breaking up the friendhip more explicitly than that; it's needless drama. Just allow the growing-apart to happen, facilitated by a lack of visit this year.
posted by pseudostrabismus at 11:03 PM on December 16, 2018 [8 favorites]


A little directness can go a long way. It's ultimately the kindest thing: for you and for him, too.

This. I also would feel super uncomfortable to do it, but yeah -- it's the right thing to do.

Just say no.
posted by tivalasvegas at 12:02 AM on December 17, 2018 [5 favorites]


Personally my policy is to always tell the truth, even if it's uncomfortable or risks offending someone. The short term consequences might not always be desirable, but it almost always works out for the best in the end. You will also find that your credibility improves even among people you don't know that well.

With that in mind, if you need to make an excuse, make sure it's a truthful one. If you deliberately arrange to be somewhere else, the visit can't happen. Do the same next time if you need to and eventually he'll fall out of the habit and make alternative arrangements.
posted by hughbell at 4:02 AM on December 17, 2018 [1 favorite]


I like fingersandtoes's version of the truth:

or the truth: sorry, won't be possible, I've made some changes and won't be able to host your visits going forward, hope you have a nice trip!
posted by gideonfrog at 4:33 AM on December 17, 2018 [4 favorites]


The only time I broke up with a friend, it was someone I'd known for almost 20 years at that point. I'm not big on confrontation by nature and as such would have preferred to do the slow fade thing, but our social lives were too intertwined for that to work and I felt that he deserved to hear the truth from me (he had been, once upon a time, a very close and dear friend). So I called him and we had a long and very difficult talk in which I laid out the reasons I didn't want to be friends any more and politely but firmly held my ground while he tried to convince me to change my mind. It was, to date, the last time we ever spoke (about six years ago). Making that call was one of the most difficult things I've ever done on a personal level, but ultimately I'm glad I handled it that way.
posted by The Card Cheat at 6:07 AM on December 17, 2018 [3 favorites]


"Hey, sorry I can't host this year, but I'd love to grab a coffee when you're in town."

For reasoning, you could be direct, but I also think you could make it about the burden of hosting without specifically implicating them -- I.E., "We've gotten run down from hosting so frequently, so we're taking a break from it. So sorry!"
posted by matrixclown at 6:40 AM on December 17, 2018 [4 favorites]


Ugh. I feel for you! I would have such a hard time doing a break-up conversation. However, I would not at all be surprised if he feels obligated to visit at your place. For sure, it is likely convenient (and free?) but maybe each year he feels like he does need to inform you and then you all do this whole dance and he ends up staying with you and neither of you has much fun with this arrangement. I think a white-lie and deflection are best, honestly. I bet it doesn't come up again.
posted by amanda at 7:18 AM on December 17, 2018 [2 favorites]


I vote for the nice white lie because if he is feeling similarly, then as adults we can sometimes take the hint that we are no longer wanted while being spared ill feelings. Now, if there was a chance to resolve something or if the goal was to change behavior, then I would vote for honesty. And I feel that the vague "Sorry I can't host you but have fun" while effective, might leave him confused.
posted by PeaPod at 8:45 AM on December 17, 2018 [2 favorites]


I would probably go the white lie route and say that you rent out the mother-in-law suite now and that it won't be possible for him to stay with you.

Every visit involves one painful dinner, either alone with him or with friends like him. I dread it desperately. I know he thinks he's doing me a favor, and he might find those dinners as excruciating as I do, but I don't want him staying with me even if we don't want to hang out with each other.

I'm confused about how he thinks he's doing you a favor. Because he takes you out to dinner while staying at your house? That's not a favor, exactly, though it's a widely-accepted standard gift to one's host when staying with friends.
posted by desuetude at 10:14 AM on December 17, 2018 [2 favorites]


I again think the honesty camp at Metafilter gets overzealous. There is not a need to outright state that you feel you've grown apart and don't want to host him. "The in-law unit isn't available anymore, I hope it's not too much of a headache and that you find somewhere nice to stay!" would be just fine. The unit isn't available - you don't want to offer it to him - so this is a truthful statement. There is a difference between not lying to someone and telling them every damn thing that runs through your head and that is both hurtful and not actionable information.
posted by namesarehard at 3:36 PM on December 17, 2018 [16 favorites]


I with the direct but kind route--no need to lay out all the details and reasons. Something like what namesarehard suggests, "The in-law unit isn't available anymore..."

Two reasons for this--one, it is less likely to get you in a long protracted discussion, and therefore is more likely to "stick". You seem like a very caring person, and I could see a situation in which the former friend tries to appeal to that and/or convince you to give it another shot.

Two, I can say that if I were in your friend's position, I would be able to take the hint if you said the arrangements were no longer available. On the other hand, if someone called me up and gave me a list of the reasons why we shouldn't be friends anymore, it would really throw me for a loop. I think personally it would make it hard for me to move on and have other friendships. (Now--that may say something about me, and some things I need to work on my own self, but it's worth considering whether that is a risk).
posted by TheFantasticNumberFour at 3:50 PM on December 17, 2018 [2 favorites]


I would also add that American dominant culture tends to be more direct than many other cultures, and so I suspect that anything along the lines of "I don't want to be friends any more" is likely going to sound commensurately harsher to a French person than it would to an American.
posted by lazuli at 7:07 PM on December 17, 2018


Please, please do not do the friend "break up" thing here and actually tell the guy you want him gone from your life. I really don't think it's called for and will make this guy feel shitty for no reason. You've been given plenty of good little white lies in this thread. (I especially like the one about having a tenant. You could say a relative is staying there.) Any one of these harmless untruths will keep this guy out of your hair without all the drama of telling him you think he's boring and needs to go away.

The way you describe this guy, it sounds like you've built up a lot of pent-up hostility from the frustration of having to deal with him for so long. But is he actually a bad person? If he's just a dull but OK guy, do the kind thing and fade on him.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 7:47 PM on December 17, 2018 [4 favorites]


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