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Veteran coming to Jesus to the beautiful world poster
Danny M. Lavery is online weekly to chat live with readers. Here’s an edited transcript of this week’s chat. Veteran coming to Jesus to the beautiful world poster
Q. My non-rent-paying roommate: I have a friend living with me temporarily due to losing both their job and apartment. They found another job but still need to save up to get into another apartment. I am on a strict calorie-counting diet, and they know this. Yet they continue buying soda, cookies, cupcakes, chocolates, multiple containers of ice cream, bags of chips, boxes of sugary cereal, etc.—filling up my fridge and kitchen with this stuff that presents constant temptation. It also bothers me that they’re spending twice as much on groceries as I do, when they should be saving up to get their own place and give me my space and privacy back.
Would I be within my rights as a host to say no more junk food in my home, or only one junk food item per week, or it has to be hidden among my friend’s stuff where I can’t see it? How can I keep them from taking this as a sanctimonious attack on their weight? I absolutely don’t care about their weight, except now that their eating habits are affecting me.
A: You have grounds to tell your temporary roommate how much longer you can extend your arrangement (and to make that decision with your own interests in mind as well as theirs). I don’t believe you have grounds to say, “You need to spend X amount of money on groceries as long as you live with me and no more.” While you have every right to choose whatever diet you like, and I can appreciate the difficulty of recalibrating your relationship to junk food when someone else in your house has a great deal of it to hand, I don’t think you should try to dictate what food someone else purchases or eats, whether they’re a houseguest, a roommate (temporary or otherwise), or a partner.
Offering your friend a place to stay was a generous thing to do, and I hope they’ve been helpful around the house and displayed their appreciation for your kindness, but I don’t believe that act of generosity entitles you to dictate what groceries they buy or their access to the kitchen. You may find their relationship to food a difficult one to live with, and I do have sympathy for your situation, but I don’t think the answer is to say, “Since I’m letting you live with me without paying rent, you must stop buying food for yourself that I find tempting.” You can ask if they would consider storing some of the nonperishables in their room—I hope they honor that request graciously—but you shouldn’t attempt to dictate it. Beyond that, instead of trying to manage your friend’s budget for them, just give them a clear sense of how long your arrangement is going to last and let them make their own financial or logistical decisions from there. Good luck!