Dear Newsweek, I don’t want my best friend’s felon boyfriend to move into our home. My friend Michelle and I are due to move into a three-bedroom apartment soon, and her boyfriend, Jared, was going to have the third bedroom, but he is currently in jail. He is getting out soon, and I don’t think it’s a good idea for him to move in again.

We have previously all lived together, when they met during the pandemic. He had committed a few felonies in the past, but was clean and sober as of 2020. Michelle found herself “catching feelings.” But, from my perspective, he seemed to use her in order to get laid whenever he wanted.

Michelle moved to California, and we all parted ways at the end of our lease. But, now, two years later, she is back in Virginia and dating Jared again. Within two weeks of her return, he was back to his old habits, expecting her to do the shopping, pay bills, and clean, all whilst she looked for somewhere to live. I suggested that we both live together again, so I’ve been looking for a two-bedroom apartment, just for her and I.

There are plenty of three-bed apartments, so Michelle invited Jared to live with us. We decided, due to his felony past, that he would not be on the lease, as that could jeopardize all of our chances to get the apartment, and it was becoming dire. But, the day before we were to move in, Jared got into an argument with his neighbor. He had a gun, which he took out and waved around.

A stock image of a stressed woman moving house and a man in prison. A Newsweek reader has asked for advice about her living situation as her house mate wants her boyfriend to live with them when he gets out of prison.
LightFieldStudios / Jelena Danilovic/iStock/Getty Images Plus

As a felon, in possession of a firearm, he was immediately arrested and sent to jail. Michelle and I panicked because we had just signed a lease for a three-bedroom apartment. Luckily, a co-worker was looking for a room so she is going to take it. However, Jared might be getting out of jail on bond soon and has nowhere to go.

I’ve told Michelle repeatedly that I don’t think they should live together without separate rooms—that they’re too explosive, they need personal space, and they need places where they can go and be apart from one another.

I considered offering to empty my room and go downstairs, but I don’t feel like it’s fair to me to give up my bedroom, in the first apartment I’ve actually been on the lease for, and which I was instrumental in finding and choosing.

I also don’t know how our third feels about this, as she came from a stressful environment, herself, and is significantly younger than the rest of us.

Since going from, “I recognize you at school”, to “roommates”, to “this woman is one of my best and closest friends”, over the last two years, I’m extremely concerned about Michelle adding Jared, and all his issues, to the mix. How do I talk to her? Is this really a good idea? Should I be more forceful?

Nikki, Virginia

Newsweek’s “What Should I Do?” offers expert advice to readers. If you have a personal dilemma, let us know via [email protected] We can ask experts for advice on relationships, family, friends, money and work and your story could be featured on WSID at Newsweek.

Put Yourself in Your Friend’s Shoes

Melanie Ross Mills, Ph.D., is a friendship and relationship expert and the author of “The Friendship Bond.”

Friendships can be complicated, especially when we add in other people, financial obligations, and life struggles. Seeing that Michelle has become one of your best friends, you should be able to talk to her—but timing and delivery should be heavily considered. I encourage you to take some time for self-reflection and “digging” as I call it before you approach this tough conversation with Michelle. Journal through a few things before you instigate your conversation. You could take some time to put yourself in Michelle’s shoes and try to understand her reasons for allowing Jared back into her life. You need to figure out how willing you are to share your concerns and implement boundaries that may potentially upset her.

Anytime we confront conflict or tension, we take a risk because we cannot control the response of the recipient. However, looking at all sides (as it seems you have been doing) before we broach a sensitive topic helps us on our part, empathize with where they are coming from, and cultivate coming from a place of love. We cherish our besties and treasure their friendship, which is why we seek to handle their hearts with care. We remind them that it is not a one-sided friendship—which is why we want to reach a mutual solution.

Hopefully, you all can come up with a solution that will benefit the group, bring you closer, and set the stage for many more friendship memories in the future.

You Need to Be Honest About Your Feelings

Ulrika Lilja is the CEO and co-founder of Gofrendly, a female-focused app for making and finding friends.

It’s always tricky to watch our close friends be in relationships that are potentially harmful. As friends, we want to offer advice and be open about our friends’ partners, but sometimes we have to take a step back to avoid unnecessary harm. If a friend’s partner rubs you up the wrong way for whatever reason, then it might be something that you have to distance yourself from. But if a friend is in genuine danger, this can be tricky, and you may need to have an open conversation with them—if you are genuinely concerned for Michelle’s wellbeing, as well as your own, then I would recommend you find a way to sit down and openly communicate this. Communicating about feelings that might cause conflict can be hard, but one of the keys to a long-lasting friendship is to be genuinely open with one another, to listen, and to work through that conflict together. A friendship will often be far stronger for it.

Boundaries are also essential here and while it’s important to be there for our friends when they might be having a difficult time, it would be unfair for you to take on Michelle’s problems as your own. This case is especially difficult as you can’t easily remove herself from the situation, because Michelle is trying to bring it directly into your home.

Living with friends can present its own difficulties in any case; no matter how much we adore them, seeing friends for activities and catch-ups and living with them day in and day out are two very different things. These friends need—for the sake of their friendship —to respect each other’s boundaries as roommates first and foremost. If you believe Jared might be dangerous, or simply a threat to the peacefulness of the household, then you need to raise this. It’s also important that you communicate these happenings with the third roommate, out of respect, so that they are able to voice their opinion and put down their boundaries, too.

I think you need to have an open conversation, to help Michelle find a way to respect your needs, what she wants from her relationship, and your friendship. It’s not always easy in friendship problems, especially when partners and living situations are involved— to find a quick fix. But you need to find a way to communicate openly and honestly with one another in order to reach a solution.

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