I have been dating this man exclusively for two months. We both have pretty strong feelings and see this being a long-term thing. Our only problem is that I can't invite him over.
He asks why and I've told him I'm embarrassed by the shape of my home, which is 100% true. It is old and just absolutely falling apart. There are so many things that need to be repaired and I don't have the time, money or skill to do them myself, so some of these things have snowballed into bigger issues. He has seen the outside of the house, so he knows I'm not making that up. He tells me constantly that he won't judge me, he doesn't care, and he wants to help me get things on track. I believe him, and based on that alone I would swallow my pride and let him in. The only thing holding me back now is that I have... roaches! I am so ashamed. I haven't told him that part.
I keep a clean house. They came from my next-door neighbor, who had roaches and set off bug bombs. I have tried everything short of setting off my own bug bombs and calling the exterminator. (No bug bomb yet because I have indoor pets and can't figure out where to take them for the process, and no exterminator because I am broke and ashamed for even the exterminator to see inside my home.) I don’t know what to do…
Olivia A. — Memphis, TN
Wow, what a dilemma. That sounds like an unmanageable environment you’re dealing with there. Where are Chip & Joanna Gaines when you need them? For sure, here’s what you don’t want to do: Invite him over for dinner, not tell him anything, and pray a roach (or four) doesn’t march across your kitchen table.
I’d really like to see you let your new guy walk into your home with his eyes wide open to see what you really need help with, because he’s actively offering to pitch in. If you’re unwilling, I still recommend the truth: Say, “I can’t have you in right now, because you’ll get the wrong impression of how I like to keep house. I’m a clean person, but my next-door neighbors inadvertently sent their disgusting roaches packing over to my place when they set off their bug bombs. I’m sorting that out with my own bombs on (insert date within two weeks here), when I can have the pets out of the house to bomb the place. Can I spend the night at your place that night?” And as for the bug bombs, if you don’t have a single friend who could watch Fluffy and Fido for the day or two, you can board them with a local pet sitter. I have used Rover.com and my experience was excellent.
Your problem isn’t your boyfriend; it’s your living conditions. It sounds like you’re kinda broke right now (no shame in that; I totally get it) and you own your house; otherwise, you’d call the landlord, yes? Have you thought of downsizing into a petite condo that doesn’t have any maintenance problems? Or could you put the house on the market, and make your way into a nice, little apartment? I have downsized all the way down to a 500-square foot rental at one point, but it was a clean, pristine 500 so the trade-off in size was worth it to me. Look at your options and do what you can do to obtain and maintain a space you can call home that’s a reflection of who you truly are.