Dear Amy: My boyfriend "Wally" and I bought our first home together 10 months ago. Three months ago, his friend "Bart" moved into our guest room.
Three weeks later he had furniture delivered. More is in the basement. Bart is self-employed (he buys and trades stocks) but has been traveling overseas off and on. When I broach the subject of finding other housing, he tells me that he doesn't want to rent (even though he rents from us for $200 a month). He says he'd rather buy a house.
The uncertainty surrounding the length and terms of his stay has caused tension in my relationship with my boyfriend, and more than a few fights. We have had ongoing issues, but before Bart arrived, our relationship was in a good place, although communication is clearly still something we need to work on.
All I want is a rough timeline and clear expectations. After more than a year of living in my boyfriend's parents' infested and cluttered basement, I want our home back. I want Bart to re-evaluate his own expectations, find his own apartment and start building his life, so we can focus on building ours.
I'm not sure I will get Wally100 percent onboard with having this conversation with Bart. I have asked him to, but he said he doesn't want to ask him too many questions because he believes it is none of our business.
I would like to casually start the conversation with both of them in the room so that both of us can hear what Bart's thoughts are concerning his future.
I know what I WANT to say, but HOW do I say it without coming off like I'm kicking him out?
Dear Crowded: You co-own this house. You have an equal right to express how the house is run, and who lives there. I suggest you firmly locate your backbone and freely share your reasonable concern with both men. Because you have allowed this man to live in your home as a tenant, it might be more difficult to get him to leave than you realize.
Most importantly, you are in a relationship where you don't think you have an equal voice. You seem to have agreed to this tenancy beforehand, and either you were too passive to express your doubts at the time, or the reality of this has given you second thoughts.
Don't ask permission to express yourself. Tell your boyfriend that as a co-owner of this property, you'd like to make this casual arrangement "official," including an end date. Call a "house meeting," present a legal short-term lease with a definite expiration, ask "Bart" to sign it and then hold him to it. Bart's future plans are his own business, just as his tenancy in your home is your business.
Dear Amy: I've been with my boyfriend for four years. We have been living together for three years.
Lately, I feel I'm wasting my time with this relationship.
His family always comes first, and I can't take it anymore. I've talked to him about it, many times, and he always says that things will change soon -- but they don't.
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I don't know how to approach the situation. This is a major block in our relationship. We have talked about the future, but it doesn't look bright to me. Can you please give me some help?
-- Almost Done
Dear Almost Done: You and your guy have been together for several years. You don't give details about his family priorities, but in a healthy relationship, partners put themselves at the center of their family life. His family -- and yours -- should accept some realignment.
You have described this as a major problem in your relationship, and despite talking about it he either isn't able -- or doesn't want -- to change.
You already know everything you need to know. If this isn't the relationship you want to be in, you should consider leaving it.
Dear Amy: I just wanted to thank you for your advice for "Burdened," the man worrying about the child he had fathered as a teenager who was given up for adoption. Honesty and truth are the absolute best policy.
As someone who works to reunite adopted children and birth parents, Burdened's other children would probably be far angrier to find out about their half-sibling after his death.
Thank you for encouraging him to be honest.
Dear Advocate: There has been a large and compassionate response to this question. Thank you.
(You can contact Amy Dickinson via email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Readers may send postal mail to Amy Dickinson, c/o Tribune Content Agency, 16650 Westgrove Drive, Suite 175, Addison, Texas, 75001. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or "like" her on Facebook.)