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Friday, October 7, 2022
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FRIEND WANTS FREE RENT ROOM BUT DON’T BOTHER HELPING WITH HOUSEWORK

Backstory: I have an old friend (20+ years) that is in a difficult spot. My partner and I have offered to my friend a rent-free place to land for a little while, while my friend gets things figured out.

I am a (F), and my partner is (M). I am aware that females are “trained” / “socialized” at a younger age to be responsible for household tasks while males are expected to handle “outside the house tasks.”

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However, my partner and I aren’t really that way. We have been together for 25 years or so. In my relationship with my partner, we have what I feel is a fairly equitable division of labour inside the home. He helps out with whatever I want him.

But we’ve had 25 years to negotiate all the fine details 🙂

My partner is also very happy to let me do whatever I want with the house. I handle all the household repairs, outside maintenance,  appliance and equipment maintenance… my partner is not skilled in these areas, finds them unenjoyable, and doesn’t find them fun at all.

He tackles things like talking out trashes, fold/sort/wash laundry, tackle dishes, walk the dog, — but he rarely does the household shopping, doesn’t meal plan or cook much, and doesn’t “Deep Clean” the way I do and that’s ok.

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Homeless friend looking a rent-free property

Recently a really old friend of ours (M) reached out and after talking with him it seemed he could really use a safe place to land to get some things figured out. My partner agreed and I offered to let him come stay here for a while.

— As part of the discussion around expectations, my friend and I talked about expectations around “division of labour” and how differences in opinion/ expectation can lead to conflict. I told my friend that this is especially apparent when one housemate (A) feels put upon and like housemate (B) is “always upping the ante” when it comes to house chores and housemate (B) feels put out because housemate (A) isn’t doing their “fair share” or is creating more work that then has to be cleaned up by housemate (B).

— I used cleaning the bathroom as an example. There’s a whole slew of individual tasks that all make up the whole job. Housemate (A) may only think that keeping the toilet flushed, wiping out the sink, and making sure the trash is empty is “cleaning the bathroom”, but housemate (B) may see “keeping the bathroom clean” to include a regular schedule of things like : scrubbing out the toilet, wiping down the toilet, wiping out and cleaning off the counters, washing the mirrors, scrubbing out the tub, sweeping, vacuuming, then mopping the floor… SO conflict arises when partner (B) asks (A) to “clean the bathroom” and then they only do a few small tasks.

— I was asking my friend if they were willing to help with household chores and keeping the space they would be living in clean and tidy as well as be responsible for cleaning the bathroom that they would solely be using. After clearly spelling out what would be expected of them, my friend said that I “Sure seem like a bit more of a neat freak than I was letting on.”

— I love my friend for who they are, and respect them for backing out / choosing a different option if my expectations would be too much for them and risked damaging our friendship.

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Question: WAS I BEING UNREASONABLE? Just trying to figure out if I put too much forward as expected.

I am by no means a neat freak, nor is my house a “show house”. My house is “cluttered but clean”, and I don’t think that it is too much to ask a guest (4-12 weeks was the timeframe we discussed at the start) to pitch in and keep shared spaces (like theitchen) clean and tidy, help with basic yard work, and keep private areas (bedroom, bathroom) clean and sanitary, especially since no rent was expected and everything (including shared meals, laundry, internet, etc.) would be provided.

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