DEAR AMY: I’m a young guy. I went to college in the same town I grew up in, so I lived at home through college. After graduating, I got a job away in the city where my best friend from high school lives. He suggested that we get an apartment together, and now we’re roommates. Everything has been fine, except for this: On a few occasions, I have caught him wearing my clothes. I also noticed that he has been wearing my boxer shorts. When I asked why he was wearing my underwear, he said he has been too busy to do laundry. He does work full time and is getting his graduate degree, but that is no excuse to wear my clothes (especially my underwear). Is that normal? He laughs it off and says it is no big deal and that he and his roommates in college borrowed clothes, even briefs, if they fell behind on laundry. I wouldn’t want to wear another man’s underwear, and I don’t want someone else wearing mine. How do I tell him to stop? I’m not confrontational.
DEAR BUMMED: “Borrowing” is using someone’s belongings — with their permission.
“Taking” is helping yourself to another person’s belongings, because you feel like it. Your roommate is a taker.
Wearing your underwear raises the ante on the infraction. It doesn’t matter if the guys in the dorm did this. Your roommate lives in the world now, and so do you. It is time for both of you to start taking care of yourselves.
Here’s how your roommate can take care of himself: He should do his own laundry when it is soiled, like a big boy. He should wear his own clothes. He should respect adult boundaries, friendship boundaries and roommate boundaries.
His choice to laugh off his own behavior is juvenile. He’s trying to gaslight you into believing that his behavior is — or should be — OK. But it’s not OK, because you don’t like it.
Here’s how you need to take care of yourself: Use your voice. When you don’t like something, express yourself — plainly, firmly and respectfully. You say a version of, “Dude, no. Just no. Please don’t do that anymore. I don’t like it.” This is not a confrontation, but a simple stating of your own needs. Friends and roommates must be honest and respectful.
You two might be able to strike up a deal — if you’re interested. Because he is so busy, he might be eager to compensate you for doing his laundry.
DEAR AMY: Our only son (and the only grandson and nephew on my side of the family) recently got married. Many members of my husband’s family came from far and wide. Absent were my elderly (84) but healthy mother, and my two sisters, who live halfway across the country. My mother’s excuse was she’s petrified of flying; she declined taking the train. My sisters each simply sent regrets. This was a crushing blow for me, and I know my son and his bride were disappointed. I tried to reason with my mother, to no avail. A therapist I’d been seeing for anxiety was sympathetic, but said in the end this would be a blip, and good memories of the wedding would take over. Nine months later, I’m still deeply upset, and relations with my family have been cool. I’ve finally decided to make a brief trip to see them. I’ve already had two very upsetting conversations with my mother and believe it is useless to rehash this. I just need to know how to get past it.
DEAR GRIEVING: It would have been great if your sisters had brought your mother to this wedding, but honestly, I think it’s a stretch to expect an 84-year-old woman to board a train to cross the country alone.
Bring wedding photos to share when you see these family members. Be honest about your disappointment, but leave room for them to see things from your point of view. So far, you’ve pressured and put them on the defensive.
Understand that they missed more than you did. Give yourself the gift of forgiving them, and you will feel liberated.
DEAR AMY: “Losing Patience” was upset by her daughter’s live-in boyfriend’s laziness. The daughter did everything for him. I think you missed something in your response: this daughter might be locked in an abusive relationship. Losing Patience should work hard to stay close to her.
DEAR BEEN THERE: Definitely. Thank you.