DEAR AMY: I am a 31-year-old mother of an 11-year-old girl. I have been dating a 45-year-old man for more than a year. I recently lost my job. My rental lease with my roommate ended shortly after. My boyfriend and I had been discussing moving in together, so we decided that now would be the time. He had always been very excited about this idea, pledging that he was ready to settle down and looking forward to being able to support us and live as a family. We discussed the financial concerns and agreed that I should stay on unemployment while going back to school with financial help from the WIA assistance program. We were both quite excited about this. When he previously expressed concerns, I assured him that I would carry my load. I moved in with him this past weekend and have been here for four days. I know going from being a bachelor to living with your girlfriend and her daughter is a challenge and we have tried to provide him with space and respect for what he is providing for us, but he is not responding well to us being here. At this point in time I have no idea who he is, if he still loves me, or what the future holds. He has been incredibly irritable, disrespectful and rude. He is frustrated with every breath of his being at the slightest thing. He is impatient and feels as though I am not a good mother. It seems as though he would be happier if we moved out already. He confirmed that this was true. Is this just the typical first week jitters of getting adjusted, or should I stop unpacking and start trying to figure out how to live on my own again?
Worried, Lost Mother
DEAR WORRIED: You should chalk this up to a mistake, and seek other housing. Make this change as quickly as possible, staying in the same school district, and doing everything possible to keep your daughter’s external life of school and friends consistent.
Answer all of your daughter’s questions and don’t permit her to pull any of this onto her shoulders.
Can you cohabit with your former roommate? If that was a decent situation for you and your child, you should see if you can renew that housing relationship.
If you need to pursue subsidized or short-term housing, get in touch with a social worker who might be able to direct you.
DEAR AMY: I hope to offer some wisdom to people concerned about “toxic” relationships. I’ve been in an interracial marriage for 40 years and have experienced every manner of prejudice and hostility — some of it from my own mother. That lasted for more than 25 years until she finally “got the memo” that I wasn’t going to budge. During that time I let her “pretend” my husband didn’t exist. It was her problem, not mine, and she missed out on much of my adult life as a result. My husband was neutrally supportive; i.e. whatever worked for me, he was fine with. To this day people still insist that I harbor resentments when I make general comments about not needing my mother’s approval. I don’t on both counts: No resentments/no approval. It’s simple — you extricate yourself from the toxic family members who bully you, or you become their servants. You don’t have to cut them off, just invite them in on your terms. Passive-aggressive remarks must be cut off the moment they occur. The response should be swift and certain.
DEAR HAPPY: I appreciate your smart, sensible and successful technique for dealing with a family member who is also a bully.
It is all about boundaries and maintaining a neutral attitude of, “Hey, that’s your damage. I can’t change you, but I also won’t play.”
Ultimately you should also save a shred of sympathy for the person who is so angry and limited.
DEAR AMY: “WelcomeMat/DoorMat” described having friends with a great “side hustle” of renting out their place on Airbnb.com. The problem was that the friend then crashed at DoorMat’s house. My wife and I did exactly what you suggested when we had a friend who rented out his condo and then kept crashing with us. We started charging him a cut of his take. We treat this like a business arrangement and it has worked out well for all of us.
DEAR HUSTLE: It’s the trickle-down economy. Well done.