Not long ago I received word from my Uncle who’s been living in Hong Kong. He wanted to let me know that he was planning a trip through America this holiday season to visit our family. He’s always lived an alternative vagabond type lifestyle.
I had been talking with him through email but now I regret telling him where I live. I just know he’s going to want to crash on my couch for a good amount of time. I don’t want him to.
I love my uncle, but I never see him. He’s also been known to have some odd characters with him. He’s quite a character himself and I love hearing his crazy travel stories. I would really like to see him, just not have him staying here.
There’s another problem. I just started dating this girl and she would be really weirded out with my Uncle on the couch in my small apartment.
I’m afraid he will be hurt if I tell him to find a hotel. What should I do?
This is a good time to practice being assertive and to practice some decision-making.
Decision #1: Do you want him staying at your apartment?
If you’re ok with your world traveler, vagabond uncle skeezing up your place for a few nights, you can quit reading now. You don’t have any further decisions to make.
But, from what you wrote, it sounds as if you don’t want your Uncle staying even one night in your apartment. If you don’t want him camping out at your place, you will have to be prepared to hold fast to that decision.
If he’s known for crashing on couches across the country and mooching off his hosts, prepare yourself for some crazy antics that may net him a few nights of free lodging. Those antics could be anything from begging and whining to feigning that he’s sleeping or sick.
I’d love to be a fly on the wall to hear what the charade might be, because I’m sure he’s a pro at getting freebies. And, at the very least, I bet his maneuvering would be entertaining!
Decision #2: How will you manage his expecting to get an overnight stay out of his visit?
OK, you invited him to your place for a visit but now he is pulling your strings trying to get you to let him set up camp at your apartment. How will you respond?
Will you tell him you’re apartment’s too small and you don’t have room? Will you direct him to a few inexpensive hotels, or to the local homeless shelter, or to the nearest dumpster? If he’s used to the vagabond lifestyle, I’m sure he’s used to staying wherever he can find a place to lay his head down for the night.
Come up with your reasons for why he can’t stay, give him some alternatives, and hold your ground. Grit your teeth and swallow your guilt. He chose this lifestyle and, dammit (!), there won’t be a chance in hell of getting laid by your new girlfriend if you piss her off, or weird her out, by letting him sleep over!
Decision #3: Where can you have your visit with him?
Having him visit at your apartment is optional. If you can’t stomach that uncomfortable situation of throwing him to the curb at the end of the evening, consider where else might you visit with him when he’s in town. Is there a place you could meet where you could make a hasty escape when the visit is over? Even if you have to pick up the tab for drinks and dinner out, it could save you a lot of grief, and be worth every dollar spent!
Decision #4: What will you do if he shows up on your doorstep, duffle bag in tow, unannounced?
You’re the stupid schmuck who emailed him your address. You will probably invite him in, but the question becomes, how will you get him back out the door?
Could you offer to take him out to eat then drop him off somewhere else for the night? Line up your own bag of tricks and excuses and play him like a chess piece. If you can master the game of getting him back out the door, I promise to never call you a stupid schmuck ever again!
Decision #5: How will you manage the feeling that you might “hurt” him?
Enduring some feelings of discomfort now could save you from a super, duper confrontation if you should allow him to stay and he resists leaving. Take a deep breath. Channel your manly-man confidence and hold firm tohe decisions you’ve made. Be a good little boy scout and prepare for all eventualities, and you’ll be able to relax and enjoy your visit with your Uncle.
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