Dear Dr. George,
I live alone and I love it. My personal space and time are invaluable. Recently, I began dating a man who lingers long after our date has ended. I understand spending the night every now and then, but he often stays well over a 24-hour period! How do I politely tell him that he has overstayed his welcome?
-- Begging for Boundaries, Los Angeles
Dear Begging for Boundaries:
I appreciate your frustration with guests that overstay their welcome. You want to open your home to this man but also want him to respect your boundaries. Kudos to you though, for creating such a space that he wants to linger long after the date has ended. It must be the stocked fridge, unstained couch, flat screen and fluffy pillows. Why would he want to go home? It's not everyday he gets to climb into a freshly made bed with clean sheets that smell of Herbal Essences Hydralicious shampoo and Flowerbomb perfume.
Speaking as a guy, who himself probably overstayed his welcome on more than a few occasions, I can offer a few suggestions that will allow you your space and also keep the guy coming back.
1) Preemptive Approach: At the onset of the date, suggest that you have plans or work to do later in the weekend. Then if you're actually enjoying his company you can "cancel" the plans, making him feel he's super important to you.
2) Funny Approach: When you're getting close to your breaking point, as he's helps himself to your fridge for the fourth time, simply give him a big hug and tell him you're "looking forward to the next date." If he doesn't take the hint, add jokingly "....'cause this one is over." This direct, but funny, approach should send the message without offending him.
3) Honest Approach: When the date is going well and he feels confident in the relationship, tell him the truth---you need your space and will let him know during the date when you feel this way. Ask him not to take it personally as you're the same way with girlfriends or family that stay over.
I prefer the last one. It sets the tone for an honest and open relationship based on clear boundaries. I like it when a woman sets appropriate boundaries for me. It actually makes me feel more secure in the relationship, defining us a separate autonomous individuals.
Without boundaries, a guy's sense of independence feels compromised, leading us to do stupid things to reassert our individuality (e.g., buying a Hummer, watching Glenn Beck or going on three day bender in Vegas with the 50K you received from the wedding).
Enjoy your space!
P.S. I encourage readers to offer their own thoughts on setting boundaries. Scroll to bottom of the page to give Begging for Boundaries your comments.
Recommended Reading: Where to Draw the Line: How to Set Healthy Boundaries Every Day By Anne Katherine
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