Dear Prudence

Help! My Friend Insists on Using My Non-Guest Bathroom Every Time She Comes Over.

Read what Prudie had to say in Part 1 of this week’s live chat.

Toilet being crossed out.
Photo illustration by Slate. Photo by HomePixel/iStock/Getty Images Plus.

Dear Prudence is online weekly to chat live with readers. Here’s an edited transcript of this week’s chat. (R. Eric Thomas is filling in as Prudie for Jenée Desmond-Harris while she’s on parental leave.)

R. Eric Thomas: Hi everyone! I hope you’re doing well! What’s on your minds this week?

Q. Loo libertine woes: A dear friend insists on using my 24-square-foot ensuite “master bath” when visiting instead of the guest-ready bathroom down the hall. My tiny bath has all my and my husband’s prescription drugs out, bras on hooks, undies on the floor, and a counter full of products, but we have a personal item-free bathroom ready!

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My husband locks the bedroom door when we know she is coming over, but the key is stashed above the door, so she unlocks it and goes on in. She prefers that bathroom because it is more convenient, and it reminds her of a bathroom in her first house. Also, this bathroom is butt-ugly with 1950s various-shades-of-green tiles and is the only room in the house that hasn’t had a glow-up. Am I being unreasonable? Too prideful? And if not, how do I stop this? “Please use the clean guest bathroom” is not working.

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A: It’s your house and you have the right to keep people out of whatever area you want them out of. Moreover, your friend is going to great lengths to ignore a boundary that you set. Perhaps she sees it as no big deal since you’re close friends, but it’s important that she actually listens to you when you express a need.

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I don’t think you’re being unreasonable or too prideful. You should be able to hang up bras and put out prescriptions wherever you want without other people barging in. Change the hiding place of the bedroom key and don’t tell her where it is. When she asks, remind her that you’ve asked her to use the guest bathroom so she doesn’t need the key at all. Hopefully that will put a stop to it.

How to Get Advice From Prudie:

• Send questions for publication here. (Questions may be edited.)

• Join the live chat Mondays at noon. Submit your questions and comments here before or during the discussion.

Q. Homebody: My husband was just offered a very good job opportunity in another country. It’s a huge increase in salary, and the company will cover all expenses: moving, housing, etc.

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And I don’t want to go. We just bought our first house less than a year ago. We got a dog (do you know how hard it to take a dog on an international move?). We’ve been talking about kids. There are very few job opportunities for me in the new country (my field is competitive even where we live now, and much smaller there), and any job I get will offer worse benefits than I currently have, while his benefits are guaranteed not to change. We currently live within walking distance of family, and there, both of our families will be thousands of miles away.

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He’s excited, and doesn’t understand why I’m so resistant to this move. I can’t tell if I’m being unreasonable in not wanting to go, or how I can get used to the idea of a move that will benefit him but is mostly negatives for me.

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A: It’s no surprise that you’re unenthusiastic about an idea that doesn’t offer you much and will, presumably, take a lot away. Every marriage is about compromise, at times, but I’m curious what makes your husband so bullish about this move, aside from the financial incentives. Or, more precisely, what is his vision for your lives abroad? The social isolation and your dire work prospects are serious factors that have the potential to negatively impact your marriage. What does he think you’ll do and how does he plan to be a partner to you during this rocky transition? I don’t think you’re being unreasonable, but if you’re at an impasse, perhaps you can try talking about what life is going to look like—rather than debating about whether you’re going or not—and see if this makes your husband more understanding of your apprehension.

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Q. Look forward with me: My new girlfriend and I are very happy together, moreso than I’ve probably been with anybody, but her jealousy over my exes has become a bit concerning. She will occasionally ask if I got items from or did certain things with my exes, and has looked through my old Facebook photos and admitted to being jealous when she saw pictures of me with my longest-running ex (I broke things off in 2016, and we don’t talk any more). Meanwhile, she is still in contact with men she has dated before (including some that she broke up with for logistical reasons, and her ex of five years), but as long as they aren’t actively flirting, I don’t care.

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Part of me thinks this is maturity-related (she is in her mid-twenties and I am in my early thirties), and I keep reassuring her that I left them for a reason, I only want to be with her, and even that she’s more attractive than them (which is true and she seems to care about). She only knows about my two most recent exes and my longest-running one, but I’m still friends with other people I’ve dated, and I’m afraid of her reacting poorly if I talk to or meet up with one of them (they’re all happily with other people and I wouldn’t want to date any of them again anyway). She also asked me recently, in a jokey-hypothetical tone, if I’d ever let her use my phone, and while there’s nothing I truly believe I need to hide from her, she could easily find pictures or messages with exes if she looked.

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I have never cheated in my life, and yet I’ve never felt more worried about being “caught” than I feel now. I feel like I’m past the point in my life where jealously like this is a helpful emotion, and I just want to know the best way to get it through to her that they’re my past, and she’s my future.

A: You need to have a serious, sit-down conversation about trust. You write that this is a new relationship, so I’m presuming that this may be one of the first places you’ve seriously diverged. Reiterate all of the things you’ve said here, and the things you’ve told her about your commitment and the platonic nature of your relationships with your exes. But keep the focus mainly on the question of trust. Remind her that the constant small comments make you feel guilty and untrusted. Ask her what she needs to feel safe. If she’s feeling insecure, she may not have an answer, but it will be helpful for both of you to put it out in the open. You can’t talk more about your exes; you have to talk about the relationship you’re building now.

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Q. How do adults make friends? I went to high school with “Britney” over 10 years ago, and she was cordial with my younger sister (they’re the same age) but never close friends. Britney is a single mom; a few years ago, she reached out to me to ask if I could help her with filing her taxes because I’m a senior tax accountant. I said of course, and that I usually charge market rates for helping friends/family with their taxes. But when I got her W2s, I saw she lives below the poverty line. I offered to do her taxes for a heavily discounted price and really dig into her income and expenses to maximize her child tax credit, and she was very sweet and grateful about it. That sort of blossomed into a virtual friendship—we message each other every few weeks, she sends me updates about her daughter, but we never actually met up in person because I lived far away.

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However, I recently moved back to the town she lives in (and that we both grew up in) and Britney is pregnant with her second child. I’d love to be closer friends with her, and offer to be a support system for her—I make a generous income, have no kids, and a child-safe home in a quiet neighborhood. I also don’t really have any friends in this town here. Would it be overstepping to offer to take her out to lunch and invite her daughter along? I don’t really know how to navigate making friends as an adult in a place where I don’t know too many people, and I imagine she must be swamped with a 4-year-old and a baby on the way. Should I just leave this alone and continue our texting friendship?

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A: Your sign-off is one of the questions I think about a lot. Oh for the days of just opening your dorm room door and hanging out with whoever you saw for an entire semester. I think your desire to move your text friendship to IRL is probably fine, but be very cautious about putting too much on this lunch. You have a professional relationship that’s rooted in a passing acquaintance from the past. So, she may be open to grabbing lunch now that you’re back in town, but allowing you to be a support system for her and her child is a huge leap forward. That may well come to pass, but if it does it will likely be far in the future.

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Temper your expectations and overcommunicate where you can. I don’t think there’s any harm in saying that you don’t know a lot of people in town and you’d like to get lunch to actually meet in person. But give her a huge out, e.g., you know she’s likely swamped with the kids. You don’t want to put her in a precarious position—and remember, you also offer her a valuable service and she may not want to complicate that. But see if she is open to a lunch and go from there.

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Q. Re: Loo libertine woes: If she’s a close enough friend, have you asked why she’s being weird? There could genuinely be a reason that she hasn’t shared, such as the guest room has black mold that you haven’t noticed, etc. It’s OK to name the elephant in the bathroom and get to the bottom of it!

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A: I’d be curious what the best friend’s response to this would be, but I fear that still prolongs what should be a short conversation. And if there was a problem with the guest bathroom, one would think a good friend would have already said something.

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Q. Re: Homebody: It’s worrying that the husband “doesn’t understand” why his spouse is reluctant to give up her career and home to trail along after him (to say nothing of the dog). Is he always this selfish?

A: Yeah, I agree. There’s more conversation to be had here because as it stands, the husband doesn’t seem to be considering how this will affect the LW at all, which spells trouble in the near and far terms.

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Classic Prudie

My brother-in-law is a great guy, and I’m happy to have him visit. Unfortunately, he always leaves puddles of pee on the floor when he uses the bathroom. This has happened many times, and I make my husband bleach the floor when he leaves. I can’t stand seeing puddles of pee on the floor in our shared bathroom for days on end! Should my husband say something to him before he visits? How does he even start that conversation?

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