someone else’s freeloader

Reader S. E. asks:

I need your help. I moved into my boyfriend’s house about a year ago, while his roommate still lived there. There was hope of him moving out someday, but now he’s unemployed, has no girlfriend, and is a shut-in who lacks any motivation to leave. All he does is play video games! I don’t think my boyfriend will ever ask him to go, and it’s not my house, so I feel like my hands are tied. How can I get him out gracefully so I don’t look like a bad person?

Dear S. E.:

This is not a girlfriend

This is not a girlfriend, nor is it a job. Image: Arvind Balaraman / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

If your bf was friends with this roommate before they became roommates, you’re probably not going to be able to get the roommate out without something turning ugly. Sorry. It sounds like whatever you try, it’s going to turn into one of those “choose between your girlfriend and your friend” situations, and those suck. Especially for you as the gf.

Yet again, I have to resort to my “you can’t make other people change” speech. While you can suggest to this roommate that he get a job and get out, you can’t make him do it. Also, you can’t make your bf ask him to get out, either. Not without feeling like a nag. Which maybe you should accept is how this is going to go down.

I, too, have had a freeloader on my hands in the past, who also had no job and only played video games all day! Awesome! I would actually look up jobs for him to apply to. In fact, I’d write the gorham cover letters for him. He shrugged off most of my “help”, saying he’d find a job himself, which of course he didn’t. It took nine months for him to get a job, and he didn’t like it (what’s to like about working when you could be playing video games all day?). I finally felt okay kicking him out when he was employed, and life is so much better without him. That’s right — he never changed, and so the only thing I could do was get rid of him.

Unfortunately, you don’t have the kind of liberty I had, because a) the house isn’t yours, and b) the relationship isn’t yours. In the oldest school, most kindergarteny argument I can think of, this roommate was there first. Ouch, I know, but he was. It may be weird and childish and intrusive and very failure-to-launch of him to live with a couple, but facts are facts, and in spite of your girlfriend privileges, I’m sure your boyfriend and his roommate both won’t think you have the right to kick the guy out.

This is especially true if they’re in a bromance. Does your bf play video games with this roommate? Do they watch sports together? Do they hang out outside of the house? If this is the case, there’s a greater chance you’re going to wear down before the roommate does.

I say talk to your bf in private about it first. Maybe he doesn’t know how uncomfortable you are with a third wheel hanging around. (Again, the bromance may have thrown blinders up for him.) Be sweet and non-demanding and patient. Don’t make it a “me vs. him” statement. Remember that this roommate provides a few things for your bf: more money (presumably), a bit of help with the monthly rent check (presumably, although if he’s a real freeloader, that won’t be the case for long), and non-sexual companionship (also presumably). Guy friendships are precious commodities, so keep that in mind.

During your discussion with the bf, come up with a plan of action that encompasses both of your needs and takes the roommate’s needs into account, too. Being unemployed and sans social life is a problem that nobody likes to see their friends go through, and if your bf and the roommate are truly friends, your bf is as concerned about the roommate’s state of affairs as you are.

Get ready for compromise. You may have to come up with a list of things the roommate has to do, like clean up after himself and apply to at least five jobs a week. But don’t expect your bf to be all, “You’re right, that roommate sucks, I hate watching football with him and drinking beer with him and playing Grand Theft Auto with him; let’s kick him out on the street!”

But your bf might be willing to admit that maybe the best way to help this roommate is to throw him out of the nest and make him fly on his own. I hope that’s the case.

Set up a time to meet with the roommate and your bf to discuss the issues. Make sure above all else that you and your bf are on the same page. Make sure you’re on the same team. Otherwise, it’s going to be you vs. them. And that is definitely not where you want to be. Tell the roommate what needs to happen and make sure he understands. And make sure your bf is ready to impose consequences if the promised behaviors don’t happen.

Set up a timeline for yourself, too. How long can you stand living with a third wheel? Is six months too long? Is a year too long? Let your bf know that while you loved him enough to move in, you love yourself enough to move out if you need to. If your bf is really in a more important relationship with this roommate than he is with you, you’re the third wheel anyway. And if you can’t stand living with the roommate, you may have to consider being the one who is going to do the leaving.

Alternatively, you could just take the total bitch route and tell the roommate straight up that you want him to go. When he leaves stuff out in the kitchen or living room (and I’m sure he does; roommates who just play video games are wont to do these slobby things), put them in his bed. Hate him with every fiber of your being and let him know you do. Make it so uncomfortable for him to live there that he has to leave.

This is, of course, not really the route I’d recommend. It’ll take more out of you than you want it to. And if you really do love your bf, you’ll respect his friendships, too.


6 Responses to “someone else’s freeloader”

  1. 1 Jayem
    August 26, 2010 at 12:50 pm

    It sounds like this woman is the third wheel. How can she move in somewhere and then just expect that the room mate who has been living there, who probably had no plans to move out, is going to leave now? I think she should be patient and see what happens. This is not her battle. He was there first.

  2. 2 Tim
    August 26, 2010 at 1:07 pm

    While your reply was thoughtful and reasonable, Kat, you’re making a lot of assumptions based on a paltry amount of information. For instance, you’re assuming the BF wanted and indeed invited her to move in, when all we know is “I moved in.” How do we know it wasn’t all her idea, and he just said OK? It sounds like the guy is rather passive and ennabling to his loser buddy, is he treating his GF the same way? We don’t know. “There was hope of him moving out,” she says, but who’s hope? Hers alone? Her and her BF’s? All three of them agreed that this was the plan, but it never came to fruition? Again, we don’t know. We do know this is what she wants, but we have no idea what the BF wants, and it doesn’t seem like she knows, either. But as you say, if she attempts to force the loser out, it’s going to get very ugly, in (I’m guessing) a very pathetic and passive-agressive sort of way in which she finds herself in an intolerable situation of veiled hostilities leaving her with the only option of moving out herself.
    A much better plan would be to suggest that the BF and herself find a new place, just the two of them. Based on his reaction, she’d know if this relationship had a future or if it’s going to be more of the same. For instance, if he is totally against it, even hypothetically, or just shrugs it off, then start looking for apartments. If he actually listens, considers it a possibility, and is willing to share in her imaginary future living space, it may get the wheels turning enough for him to say, “Hey, instead of finding our own place, maybe I could ask so-and-so to leave, and we could redecorate…” which is of course what she wants to hear anyway. But it’s got to seem like his idea.

    • August 26, 2010 at 1:22 pm

      I should give some full disclosure here. The advice was sought by a friend of a friend; the friend who is actually in this situation (and I do know her situation very well) didn’t actually ask for it. So the question was worded by a third-party in the first place; and furthermore, I didn’t include all the details I actually do know about the situation.
      However, good points, Tim! All good points indeed.

      • 4 Tim
        August 27, 2010 at 2:46 pm

        OK, now I’m even more confused. So please, give us some more details, while concealing the identities of those involved. Who’s idea was it to move in? How close are the BF and GF? How close is the BF to the video game addict? Were they childhood friends? Did they fight in Iraq together, saving each others lives too many times to count? Or is he just some aquaintance that somehow ended up sharing a domicile with the guy? Do tell, Kat, do tell.

      • August 27, 2010 at 3:01 pm


  3. 6 Tim
    August 27, 2010 at 4:26 pm

    OK, Kat, fair enough. But can you do me a huge favor and write an enthusiastic comment over at the Fangoria website where they just put up a notice about Fugue State? http://www.fangoria.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=1853:get-in-a-fugue-state-with-cannibal-dvd&catid=1:latest-news&Itemid=167

    Also, you’re coming to the show tomorrow night, right? 11pm at the airport hotel.

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