Dear Margo: Hey, Handsome. Why Are You Here?

Margo Howard’s advice on how to beat the green-eyed monster

Hey, Handsome. Why Are You Here?

Dear Margo: I have been with my boyfriend for six months, and we are very much in love. He actually moved 150 miles to be with me. However … he is 30 and very handsome, and I am 38 with two small children. I can’t quite believe he would want to be with me, and this has translated itself into extremely painful jealousy and doubt. I have no reason to distrust him, but my jealousy is like a burning coal in my chest, and I hate it! How can I defeat it before it ruins our relationship? — Becky

Dear Beck: You definitely have to go to work on your insecurities. I would hope you could defeat your fears with understanding. Not all good-looking guys are shallow — e.g., needing a woman to be as great looking as they are so that they are an attention-getting “stunning couple.” Sometimes the movie-star-gorgeous guys fall for women who are only just this side of attractive. (Often these women have something called “personality,” and they know how to make a man feel important and valued.) Not all men judge women by their looks, and very often, emotional comfort trumps appearance. Do remember that some extremely attractive people — both sexes — have insecurities and neuroses, too.
The boyfriend you describe has basically proved he cares for you by moving. (And it’s an old canard that men are reluctant to marry women with young children; I did it twice.) In any case, I hope you can accept the idea that he is with you because he loves you and that his good looks are just an exterior facet. I can tell you that I have known some knock-your-socks-off handsome guys who don’t wear well because there is nobody home. It doesn’t sound like you have one of those. I do hope you will calm down and enjoy the romance. — Margo, sensibly

Freebie Annoyance

Dear Margo: We have a vacation home with a big open-door policy, and friends and family happily take us up on the offer of a free vacation when we’re not there. The problem is that some of those family and friends don’t do a good cleaning job when they leave or pitch in when it’s clear that some maintenance or upkeep is required. They mean well. It’s just that they don’t participate in keeping the house going.

It’s quite irritating when we get there afterward and have to clean up after other people or clear a path through the brush they must have gone through themselves. These are not people I can speak frankly to without causing serious rifts. How can I say, “I’m glad you like our house, but could you pitch in a little more?” without actually having to say it? — Hassled Hostess

Dear Hass: There is a great way not to say things, and that is to write them! I would post House Rules somewhere in the kitchen where they are sure to be seen. List the things guests need to do, saying basically how you expect to find things upon your return. Anyone who reverts to Old Sloppy Guest Mode should wind up off any future advisory bulletins of when the house will next be free.

If the new regulations are ignored, I would not be shy about bringing up your problem with such behavior. Such a discussion need not be confrontational … more along the lines of “Can you help me out here?” I think anyone who is so passive aggressive as to disregard your requests, in exchange for a free vacation house, is asking for a rift. People will only take advantage of you if you let them. — Margo, neatly

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Dear Margo is written by Margo Howard, Ann Landers’ daughter. All letters must be sent via e-mail to Due to a high volume of e-mail, not all letters will be answered.


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56 Responses so far.

  1. avatar mayma says:

    How can I say, “I’m glad you like our house, but could you pitch in a little more?” without actually having to say it?

    This is a joke, right? Right? “How can I get people to read my mind?” Oy.

    And you want them to clear brush? And “keep the house going”? If I were a guest in your home, I would absolutely do my part (i.e., cleaning and a gift or two), but I wouldn’t take it upon myself to decide what maintenance you wanted on your house. That’s known as “strings attached.” I’d rather pay for the rental, personally.

    • avatar Karrin Cooper says:

      This is a joke right? Seriously, the peeps are using a vacation house FREE, only seems fair and polite to clean up after ones self, replace food consumed or even do a little yard work if you see it needs to be done. Wow I guess common sense and courtesy have gone out the window…..

      • avatar GabbyM says:

        I would always clean up and restock, but I would never do yard work. For all I know, the owners could have some prize winning flowers that would die if I cut them wrong.

        If the owners really want their yard kept tidy, they should invest in a monthly lawn care company. They shouldn’t expect people to automatically say “the lawn is more than 3 inches, I should find the mower and cut it.”

        There is a network of “vacation rental by owner” that my family uses when we travel. At every house there is usually a binder with rules. Most of them simply say “do your own dishes, don’t leave a mess, please throw the sheets in the laundry before you go.” It’s not confrontational and if people don’t like it, they don’t need to stay there. It’s as simple as that. If people are treating you like a free hotel, it’s because you’re letting them.

        • avatar Karrin Cooper says:

          Really? I would, but then I am a female who owns a wide variety of power tools (everything from Maint tools to woodworking) and know how to fix most household issues. Mowing a lawn? I like doing that so I would…..If you don’t want to get sweaty, they have hotels…..

          • avatar GabbyM says:

            So because I’m afraid of ruining someone’s plants, I’m incapable of cutting the lawn, don’t own tools and lazy? I didn’t say I didn’t know how Karrin, I said I wouldn’t do it because there are people out there who are as finicky with their lawns and plants as people are with children and dogs. If someone staying at my house came over and cut down my 25 year old Columbines because they thought they needed pruning, they would never stay with me again.

    • avatar Sheri Dedmon says:

      Just a thought– but maybe what the letter writer in L#2 means by obvious maintenance is that a lightbulb needs changing, a shutter is loose, etc.. those kinds of things are not unreasonable for someone to just go ahead and “fix.” Now if it was that the water heater went out or something that was a major repair, that I would say would require a call to the owners and a discussion on how to get that fixed because those types of repairs can be costly. As for the yardwork– free is free and good deeds all deserve another. Anybody can run a lawnmower or pull some weeds just to lend a hand to the people giving you this token opportunity to get away. It should be jointly discussed between the owners and all the parties to find out what the best solution might be (either hiring someone to take care of the yard or everybody splitting up the chores so they don’t pile up). Communication is a wonderfully marvelous thing– when people actually use it heh

    • avatar A R says:

      Well said, Mayma. I would absolutely clean up and return the house to mint condition (probably even better than I found it), but trim hedges? No way.

      That’s the kind of thing that the owner should do.

      I’m willing to restock items I used liberally, replace a burned-out light bulb, and even purchase something I noticed was needed (like a new dish sponge or oven mitt).

      Yardwork? No way. I’m with Mayma—sounds like a rental calling to me. Unless my  name is on the deed, I’m not touching lawn, shrubs, or flowers.

  2. avatar Constance Plank says:

    On the vacation home front, I think it would be reasonable to ask them to either do a list of chores for the next guest, or to hire your cleaning team when they leave- the price is $X. That ensures that any guest who comes arrives in a tidy house, and any guest who leaves, leaves a tiny house. The price should be entirely doable- $150? And then find a house-cleaner/gardener who’ll do what’s necessary.

    I remember coming down and house-sitting for a weekend for a friend in Capitola- a pretty West Coast beach town. The house was utterly filthy when I arrived to take care of the pets- the previous sitters had been *pigs.* I spent the “relaxing weekend” cleaning up, and my friends were still rather miffed when they arrived home.

    The vacation home owners are paying the mortgage, taxes, utilities, etc. It seems reasonable to me to expect to expect the house to remain tidy, and stocked with necessities like toilet paper, and dish soap.


    who would be happy to avail herself of a “free” vacation destination in return for leaving the place tidy- and for that matter, stocked!

  3. avatar Katharine Gray says:

    LW#1:  Listen to Margo

    LW#2 and mayma: for the rental..I’m guessing if LW#2’s *guests* were asked to pay they would find somewhere else to spend their vacation.  LW#2, I understand where you are coming from because I am now sitting in the modest vacation home we have owned for 20 years.  My too generous husband had an open door policy for 15 of those years.  I WISH I had made some house rules but at the time I was working 70-80 hours a week and the people taking advantage of the open door policy were his colleagues and I just let it go and enjoyed the 2-3 times a year we were able to enjoy our home together.   However, I did resent the fact that the first 2 days of our time together were spent fixing things that the guests had broken,  my husband cursing at the mess they had made of his computer, and trying to figure out where in the heck they had decided to relocate the night light.  Next to last straw was the group who was too cheap to rent an extra car and piled 4  adults  and 5 kids in our sedan  and destroyed the muffler driving it on beach paths, broke the lock on the deck door, and came back complaining about the terrible time they had because the family had a huge falling out while they were there.  Then the wife joked about my husband’s porno when her 15 year old son had been on the computer looking up same.  

    Final straw…family brought extended family (this was a constant)…left a window open above my husband’s computer, and wife decided to install curtains at my windows.

    Some guests did realize that the rental on our place was at least $2500 per week and gave us more than a candle or two as a thank you gift.  Others did not.  The ones who did the most damaged and complained the most were the candle givers. 

    After the open window incident, I took charge, said no one comes unless its immediate family or we are here.    Funny enough… none of the *friends* who were so eager to come to our place when we were NOT there have come to visit us when we are.  

    So…LW#2..close the open door policy.  If you cannot do this, publish house rules. 

    Ironically, my husband has always said that people think something is worth exactly what they pay for it.  Somehow, he failed to understand that the *friends* who he gave our house to for free would think that our generosity was worth what they paid for it…absolutely nothing.




  4. avatar David Bolton says:

    LW1: Oh, where to begin… personally, I wouldn’t be so concerned about the jealousy part as some of the items listed below.

    1) You’ve fallen in love with someone after 6 months, and not only agreed for them to move a significant distance to be near you—but to actually move in with you…
    2) …And your two small children.
    3) There actually is no item 3, since 1 and 2 should be enough to horrify the average person with any common sense.

    To be blunt, you don’t know this person well enough to be living with them (and I’m assuming it took some time to get to THIS point, which means the move and the move-in actually happened even before the six-month mark). Dating is one thing. Playing house and exposing your kids to this is something entirely different. And the fact that you’re only six months in and already having some sort of issue with “burning coals in your chest” smacks heavily of rebound or previous-relationship baggage. Someone needs to get their own place ASAP (whether it’s you or him doesn’t matter), and both of you need to grow up and try this again, without being so ass-backward about it. And in one of the rare times I disagree with Margo—moving in with you doesn’t automatically mean he loves you. But it definitely means that the rent is split in half, at the very least.

    LW2: “We have a vacation home with a big open-door policy…BUT…”

    Yeah, yeah—whatever. We’ve heard it before. But here it is again: if you invite people to your home, have the balls or common sense to set up rules to keep your guests from taking advantage of your hospitality. Quit being a doormat, and your problem is solved. And if they don’t like it, direct them to WowOWow and they can write a letter to Margo.

    • avatar Katharine Gray says:

      Or direct them to the local listings for rentals in your vacation home community.  Trust me, it will be the last you hear from them because they only wanted a freebie,   My former next door neighbor asked me about *renting* our place for a week.  (We were not *friends* but friendly.  When I gave her quote of one half of the market price (considering she was a neighbor) she acted like I had asked for her first born son.   Haven’t heard from her since and believe she still is pissed I didn’t offer it to her for free.

      • avatar moonrevenge says:

        That’s outrageous. I would offer to pay a friend for the use of their vacation home if I was the one who wanted the favor. I wouldn’t think of asking an acquaintance for a freebie.

      • avatar Lila says:

        Some friends have a beach house on the Outer Banks which rents for $1500 per week. Family and friends invite themselves to a week’s vacation there, and expect to pay nothing. Generally they are considerate and leave the place tidy and well-kept, but they fail to realize that — especially in peak season — occupying the house for a week and paying nothing deprives the owners of much-needed income to cover mortgage, property manager fees, maintenance, utilities, etc etc etc. It is all getting to be a bit too much for my friends. Hubby and I have considered spending some time there off-season, and if we do… we will pay the going rate.

    • avatar Sweet Dream says:

      I agree with David, something doesn’t look right here. Not about the difference in age. As a mother LW#1 should make her children her priority, taking in a strange man who moved 150 miles to be with her, it’s questionable at best. Unless he really really wanted to play daddy, even then I will still be curious. it is different if you’re both single (meaning no kids); you can do whatever you want without endangering anybody.

    • avatar GardenGnome says:

      David, you have read my mind! Very well put.

    • avatar stateoflove_N_Trust says:

      Yours is a reasonable interpretation, but I did not see it specified that he moved in with her.  He moved 150 miles to be with her in a relationship. 

    • avatar Lourdes says:

      On LW1, exactly my thoughts, David!

    • avatar A R says:

      Well said on both counts, David. She’s taking a big risk by getting involved that fast with a dude ten years her junior after only six months. Not the best idea by a long shot. With children in the home, she ought to date this dude for quite a while to see what kind of fellow he is after he’s done putting his best foot forward. Hell, anyone can be on their best behavior for six months.
      On the vacation home issue, I maintain that yardwork and trimming bushes (as the writer mentioned) is a bit much to expect. She could just insist that all who stay there fork over $75 for the maid who comes to clean up at the end of a week.

  5. avatar NYCGirl says:

    Letter 2: If you can’t “speak frankly to [friends and family] without causing serious rifts,” then why are you friends with them?

    • avatar moonrevenge says:

      And in the case of family, if you can’t speak frankly without causing that rift, you’re clearly not close enough to let them mooch off of your vacation home!

  6. avatar Lisa Cornell says:

    LW #2 It is very simple. My parents had a similar problem and solved it quite neatly. They engaged a cleaning service and handyman. Anyone who wished to use the property would now have to pay the nominal 200.00 per stay charge. The cleaning cost was about 100.00 and my parents put the additional 100.00 toward the handyman maintenance costs. My parents were happy, the relatives still got a cheap vacation and the property was kept up.

  7. avatar Chris Glass` says:

    There is no description of where the property is located but on a personal note all vacation property should be inspected by the owners before it is opened for the season. Any brush or over growth should be cut back at that time unless there is a prior agreement that family will do it in exchange for free lodging. That can be a liability issue. If you can’t do it someone living nearby can be hired ahead of time.

    I like the idea of posting house rules but there should be a written agreement signed ahead of time to protect you from liability and negligence. It should state that in exchange for using the home it must be left clean or those using it will get the bill for the cleaning service. Garbage must be taken off the property when they leave. All guests will assume personal responsibility for any damage or repairs caused by their family. Visitors understand are using your vacation home at their own risk.

    When we are invited to stay at vacation homes we ask what the expectations are ahead of time. We wash sheets and towels before leaving and stock up on commonly used items, paper towels, disposable plates, soap etc. On returning home we send a generous restaurant gift card to our hosts to show our appreciation.

  8. avatar Cindy Marek says:

    L #1: I can relate, but in a different way. If the age difference is an issue with you, stop letting it be. Let go and let LOVE (yours!). And if he likes your children and wants to be dad? Wonderful! You’ve apparently got a dream come true on your hands — enjoy it. Let go your anxieties and fears. He obviously accepts and loves you; do yourself the same favor. 😉

    L #2: I’d keep the “please do’s” at a minimum and reasonable. For instance, “If a stray dog poo’s on the step, could you please pick up and discard it?” Or “If a wind storm blows up and there are small branches scattered in the yard, could you please clear that up and away?” Or “If a window gets dirty, please clean with Windex and a soft cloth.” You’ll want to avoid people getting the notion they’re to be free maid/maintenance while there, right?

  9. avatar Barbara says:

    LW#2 You have an open door policy….why? You seem to resent the people you’ve given carte blanche to. Grow up and quit complaining. The solution is very simple, as Margo says. I wouldn’t play cute and leave a list where they might see it. It should be posted prominently:
    Before you leave, clean the bathrooms, restock all the paper towels, toilet paper, kitchen basics you used. Wash the floors. Dust and vacuum. Close all the windows. Change the beds. Wash the sheets and towels. Stow away all the beach toys, boats, etc.
    Be complete and clear. You can only be taken advantage of if you let someone.

    • avatar Anais P says:

      LW2: Indeed, all vacation RENTALS have a posted list of requirements tenants must complete before they leave. And they also require a deposit fee. Why not you, who are GIVING AWAY your home for however long the freeloaders stay? The deposit fee would be insurance against rain damage and cover the cleaning costs. I say it would still be a bargain. Just tell your open-door “friends” there’s a new policy (and with friends like these, who needs enemies?).

  10. avatar moonrevenge says:

    LW#1 She sounds like she’s setting herself up for a self-fulfilling prophecy. Even if he loves her, that’s not going to survive her insecurity, especially if she’s the type to put herself down out loud (For instance: “You could be doing so much better than me. I don’t know why you’re with somebody as homely as me”) or question him (along the lines of, “You wish I looked like her, don’t you!”)

    I also agree with David Bolton regarding the fact that the LW let this man move in with her *and her small children*. While I believe that two people can know they’re right for each other very early on, it doesn’t seem to be the case here. Even if it was, I’d question somebody so willing to rush a partner into her children’s lives.

    LW#2 Who cares if this causes drama? People who cause drama over stuff like this do so only because they’ve learned that throwing tantrums lets them get their way. Why behave better when they can pitch a fit and everybody backs down?

    • avatar ann penn says:

      LW#1: I did not get that he had moved in with her, though that may be the case, but only that he had moved near her.

      As to children, especially if he is living with them, I do hope she had him checked out to see if he is a child abuser. Her local PD could advise her as to how to go about it. He need never know, unless the info on him is bad news.

    • avatar stateoflove_N_Trust says:

      I agree with Ann.  It is not specified that he moved in with her, only that he moved to be near her.  That fact changes the whole relationship dynamic.

  11. avatar D C says:

    Am I missing something?  Commenters are talking about LW#1’s guy “moving in with her.”  Where in the letter does it say they are sharing a house?  She says he moved 150 miles to be with her.  That doesn’t mean he’s living under the same roof.  My husband moved 200 miles to be closer to me before we married, but we weren’t living together.   

    • avatar David Bolton says:

      Yes, you are correct about that. I hope that they do actually live apart, and indeed—this may be one of the reasons she’s jealous of him (since she can’t keep an eye on him at all times).

    • avatar Briana Baran says:

      You are correct…but I think I was picking up on something in the underlying tone of the letter. Perhaps it was the “no reason to be jealous” bit that made me suspect that they were cohabiting. Also the “very much in love” after only six months (yes, all right, I am a terrible cynic…but I have 52 years of excellent reasons to be that way). Also that so many people are extremely premature of late (how many letters to Margo have been from people whose inability to exercise any patience was at the root of their problems? Plus society, and internet dating practically scream, “Hurry! Hurry” Hurry!”).

      And she has a serious tone of desperation…38 is not old, for goodness sake, and having two children is not a death sentence. Also, handsome is as handsome does…and Mr. Beautiful may be gorgeous in her eyes only…and 30 is not a 20-something baby. I feel something amiss here…especially since she seems to be hinting that her jealousy is something of recent vintage. I am not saying that he is cheating, let me be completely clear. But something is making her uncomfortable and insecure…and frequently, when one cannot accurately analyze one’s feelings, one goes with what is familiar and acceptable…”I’m too old, not attractive enough, and have the added burden of children, so why would this handsome young man want me”…rather than, “I’m getting uncomfortable feelings, I don’t know what’s causing them, and I need to look deeper to get to the bottom of this”.

  12. avatar Tulip O'Hare says:

    As always, LW1 may or may not contain the whole story, but I see two possibilities that haven’t been mentioned yet:

    – LW1 feels she doesn’t deserve the man and so she’s poisoning the relationship
    – the man IS roaming and LW1’s picked up on it

  13. avatar Lila says:

    LW1’s jealousy will make the guy miserable at a minimum, and could eventually destroy the relationship. She seems to recognize that, and to recognize that it seems to come from her own insecurity. All I can think of is — TELL yourself, when in the grip of a jealousy fit, that it is not rational and he has given no cause to suspect him. It’s like self-talk therapy and can be effective when you identify where feelings are really coming from.

  14. avatar mmht says:

    You need to learn to communicate. I completely understand the cleaning up after oneself and replacing any used items, but maintenance and repairs around the house? Sorry, but no, I would never think of doing that unless someone specifically told me that was expected. Honestly, since it is a vacation home, I would assume that the owners have hired someone to take care of that. And what exactly do you mean about helping pay for repairs on the home? Unless someone broke something, they should not be paying for the upkeep of your home. As a homeowner it is your responsibility to deal with those things. If you want them to begin helping you financially with that then you need to begin renting your vacation home.

  15. avatar Briana Baran says:

    Regarding L#2: A friend of my ex-in-laws had a very nice beach condo that they frequently allowed friends to stay in free of charge, with the only request being that it was left clean and and stocked. We stayed several times, and I always laundered the sheets, cleaned the bath and kitchen, took out the trash, and vacuumed. Small price to pay for a free weekend.

    The offer of free visits came to a grinding halt after two separate groups of visitors (both were sets of two couples far older than myself at that time) left the toilet clogged, shrimp shells in the sink, sand everywhere, and the beds a smelly, damp, mildewed mess (the sheets and mattress covers had to be thrown away after the second disaster). A stay in a condo next to the beach with a pool, laundry services, close to all of the nicest restaurants and clubs, etc., at that time, for three days, cost about $900. My opinion was that cleaning up after myself was a small price to pay.

    I’ve also had a female house-sitter trash my apartment…and two young men leave it spotless. She was paid…all they did was watch TV and eat take-out. I’ve always felt that it was a privilege to be invited to stay in a vacation home, alone, at no cost…not a right.

    Re: L#1: You are immature, and, as a woman who remarried with a small child, I am a bit revolted by your extremely previous decision (6 months? Really?) to allow someone to move 150 miles to actually live with you…and your two small children. Your very words indicate that your children were given no time to get acquainted with, or familiarize themselves with this man (o, but you love him, and he’s so handsome) to the point of coping with him, much less acceptance. What, precisely, was his, and your, huge hurry? Afraid he’d find someone better? Were there subtle, subliminal messages from him that caused you to hasten his hasty move, and perhaps premature cohabitation with you?

    I ask because you are burningly, bitterly jealous. And sometimes, there are reasons for these feelings. You are 38, not a child (you noticed I didn’t preface “child” with “foolish”…because I really can’t be sure about that), and I have an inclination to believe that Mr. O-So-Handsome (how did you meet this fellow who previously lived 150 miles away? Internet romance? How do you know that you will be compatible in person after only long distance dating? And have your children even been truly introduced?) may have exerted some subtle pressure that has brought out your green-eyes monster. Or, alternatively, you are suspicious of his…or your own…motivations.

    I do believe that the relationship between established partners is the most significant in a family situation in which children are present. Why? Because if the parents are disrespectful of each other, unable to communicate, dishonest, lacking in affection and time well spent, and ultimately miserable…how can they nurture and adequately parent their offspring? However, it is a vastly different thing when one is considering bringing a brand new partner into a situation in which one already has very young children present. I can’t apologize for what I am about to say: love is not enough. Certainly not enough to allow a handsome fellow who is suddenly willing to move 150 miles from his previous home to live with you, and your two young offspring after only six month’s acquaintance.

    Who is this Mr. Wonderful? What is his background? Does he have a job that allows him to transfer to your place of residence, has he already found employment there, has he got the sort of profession that is in demand anywhere (and I don’t mean grocery sacker or fast food clerk)…or is he “looking”? Has he any experience with children (and if so…what is it? Divorced, perhaps with no contact, or baby daddy?)? What are his habits, his hobbies and his aspirations (other than paying half rent)? In fact, who is paying all of the bills? Does he have a record (yes, I would check…again, no apologies. Children are utterly, absolutely helpless. Read the news…and find out for yourself just how many children are victimized by boyfriends…and girlfriends…who are resentful of being left alone with them…or just don’t care. Might just make you rethink) or a drug or alcohol problem?

    No apologies for my harsh comments. This has nothing to do with ageism (I was 35 with a three year old son when I married my then 25 year old husband. We’d known each other as good friends for 8 years, and been “together” as a couple for nearly a year before we married. My son knew him and accepted and loved him, and Rusty loved him as his own, and proved to be an excellent, caring parent. We’ve been together 17 years…no mean feat, and raised both my son, and our son, together), or “love”. You are being irresponsible as a parent, and my gut tells me that your gut is telling you that something is wrong. Take a long hard look at your relationship…assess it critically even if it hurts so much you think you’re going to die. It may save you even more agony in the end.

    Been there, done that.


    • avatar D C says:

      I will point out again… nowhere in the letter does it say she is living with the man, much less married to him at 6 months. 

      • avatar David Bolton says:

        Again, you’re right. If they ARE living together—then I’ve offered my observations above. If they AREN’T, then LW1 needs to watch out for a few things.

        1) Make rational decisions about your relationship, especially since you have two young children involved. DON’T allow jealousy to overwhelm your common sense, and DON’T offer to move in together as a method of keeping an eye on your BF, or as a way of tying him down. If you do, you’ll very likely regret it later.

        2) DON’T become financially dependent on your BF, and likewise, don’t let him become dependent on you. If things don’t work out, you have the ability to cut ties.

        3) It’s probably too late for this, but involve your children SLOWLY, and DON’T overlook their needs and feelings. Kids fall in love with people quickly, and it’s also extremely easy for them to get hurt. This person is not a parent (not in six months, anyway), and he shouldn’t be treated as such.

        4) Be very aware that your jealousy may have legitimate roots. Are you being used or manipulated? Look out for yourself and DON’T stay in something because it’s “better than being alone.” It’s not.

        5) The flip side of that coin is: are you mature enough to be in a relationship and realize when someone is actually good for you? DON’T sabotage what could end up being a good thing by bringing up past baggage.

        I’ve made all of these mistakes, and moved in with someone far too soon. And let me tell you, there’s nothing worse than the realization that you’re trapped—and that you better be able to think of a way out.

      • avatar Briana Baran says:

        D C: and I will point out that I addressed this issue, in response to your previous post, above. And that my comment here had a lot more to to do with my “gut” response to her surety that he is not cheating (if they are, indeed, living apart, it would be much more difficult for her to be certain of his activities in her absence), the feeling that her jealousy is a thing that has developed over time, and come to full flower recently, that people seem to be in a very great hurry to cohabit in recent years…and that it is very typical in cases in which one partner moves a significant distance to be with the other for them to immediately move in together. Almost a cultural norm, and one that obviously has its dangers.

        I also have very deep concerns when children, especially young children, are in the picture…and a parent is showing any signs of desperation (I’m too old and saddled with kids…so who would want me…). I read the news…and far, far too many children suffer terrible injury, abuse or death at the hands of partners hastily allowed to move in with a parent who is desperate for “love”, support, financial help…and blind to other, frightening issues. It’s almost a societal constant.

        I always go back and scan the comments when I reopen a thread, looking for new posts. That is why I replied to your previous post on this subject. We both posted on Friday, August 26th…my reply appears directly below David Bolton’s comment. I guess you missed it. It is always helpful to check…it avoids redundancy.

  16. avatar ybrenner says:

    Start charging.  That way you can bring in a cleaning service after they’ve left and bring in people to do maintenance and yard work.  Let everyone know, that’s what the money is going towards.  Also, use some of that money towards the mortgage.  They’re starying for free and leaving you with all the costs.  $100/night is not unreasonable.

  17. avatar Artemesia says:

    my brother had a beautiful house on the Pacific (so nice it was featured in one of those decorator magazines) when family members used the place, they were expected to pay for the cleaning cost. there was a management company that saw that it was cleaned between tenants. this was just part of the deal.

    since this is a problem, the homeowner needs at minimum to have a punch list so that the place is cleaned for the next person who uses it. and if that doesn’t solve the problem, then a local cleaning agency should be on tap and part of the deal in using the place should be paying the cleaning fee.

  18. avatar Nikki Sunset says:

    I just borrowed someone’s home and was confused that there were no directions for closing up the house. Was I supposed to wash the linens and remake the bed? It was so clean when I arrived maybe they had a cleaning service. am not a mind reader. She did email me directions for opening up the house.
    I DID wash the linens and vacuum but apparently I wasn’t expected to. Sure wish they’d posted some house rules on clean up. I could have spent that time entertaining myself instead.

    • avatar amw says:

      I like your idea (and others) of posting house rules. That leaves no one second guessing and the expectations are communicated clearly.

  19. avatar sandra b says:

    So many of the comments are worded directly to the letter writers in the column that it makes me wonder if they check Margo’s site every day for their letter and then read the comment stream.

  20. avatar Kathy says:

    If LW1 were a knockout herself, she wouldn’t be fixated on her boyfriend’s physical attractiveness.  We can assume she considers herself to be, at best, plain-looking.  So, we have a handsome, 30-year-old, never-married guy (guessing), who moved 150 miles to be with an average-looking, 38 year-old woman with two small kids who is consumed with jealousy.  Yeah, some alarms going off, here.

    • avatar Briana Baran says:

      Kathy, aren’t you being just a bit judgmental? We have absolutely no idea what LW1 actually looks like…and being 38 and the mother of two young children is no guarantor of her being plain, or even homely. Also, we have no idea as to whether her boyfriend is actually all that…or this is specifically her perception, through rose-colored-glasses, of him.

      She may be lovely…and he may be plain as day. Her issue seems to the matter of her being the elder partner, by eight years, and “saddled with children”. Society doesn’t typically view motherhood as a sexually attractive state…unless you happen to be a Christina Aguilera, Madonna, or Angelina Jolie…in other words, rich and famous enough to buy your profile. Motherhood is letting one’s self go, sweat pants, vomit stains and diaper rash ointment, carelessly pony-tailed hair, mini vans, dark circles, house shoes and Le Boutique Target instead of haute couture. Sagging breasts and spreading buttocks, bulging bellies and muffin tops. I mean…what virile, attractive, intellectually stimulated younger man would want both an aging, gravity challenged woman…and a mother?

      I can see precisely how the accepted societal norm might affect any woman in her mid-thirties with still young children who met and was attracted to a younger man. I can see it because my husband was 25, and myself 35, and I had a 2 year old son when our friendship turned into something much more. Turns out, those hierophants of convention, sexism and ageism were wrong…we’ve been married 17 years, have a son of our own, now 14, and are still in love. My husband is not a male model, but women are attracted to him. I am no beauty queen, and I have the additional pressure of body dysmorphia…but I know that he has not strayed. Even though I am still bemused because of what I see in his eyes when he looks at me…I accept it as real.

      In a sense, I could have been this woman 17 years ago. Assuming that she is unattractive, and he is gorgeous…and that is why trouble is looming…is presumptive and insulting. Beautiful women can be manipulated too, my dear. They can be just as insecure as anyone else, and are frequently far more severely afflicted.

  21. avatar amw says:

    LW1: Part of being in love is trusting that person that you love. There are many reasons why you could be experiencing these feelings. A past relationship? An inability to trust yourself? Subconciously noticing something about this man that doesn’t add up? Whatever the reason may be, its important that you keep the lines of communication open with your beau. Don’t take any “next steps” in the relationship until you come to terms with these feelings and either put them to bed or validate them. Not only does this affect you…it affects your children. Tread lightly…and do what’s best for everyone involved.

    LW2: I can understand expecting a guest to tidy up after themselves. Considering you expect them to clear brush though, I wonder what your definition of tidying up is. Invest in a lawn service…if not only for your peace of mind but that of your neighbor’s as well. If you have unrealistic expectations as to how the house should be left, it may be wise to also have a maid service come at the end of each visit. I don’t think any of your relatives would object to contributing to the cause considering their stay is free of charge…and if they do, that’s their problem. You will no longer have to worry about them messing up your place.

  22. avatar BeanCounter says:

    Dear LW#1 – the guy you’re in love with is a figment of your imagination.  You forgot to take your medication, and you’re just crazy.   no one has a boyfriend that looks like brad pitt, other than angelina jolie.  

    Dear LW#2 – I sorta kinda wanna kick you in the head for being such a wuss.   you don’t want to create a rift?   How does it feel when you’re lying on the ground and people are walking all over you?  Is it painful?

    • avatar Briana Baran says:

      Ugh. Explain to me precisely who would want a boyfriend who looked like Brad Pitt. I’ve always thought he looked like a simpering, spoiled, slightly myopic inbred. Worse when he’s sporting the billy goat chin hairs.

      And, I would truly be fearful regarding his judgment considering his apparent standards of quality in women, both physical beauty and, well, character and personality considerations. No thank you.

  23. avatar Jennifer Bowen says:

    LW2:  I can see where your guest should make sure they run the dishwasher, clean out unused food from the fridge, and strip the beds.  However, this is your property and it is your responsibility to clear the brush and maintain the property.  These people are guests, not co-owners.  Are you going to want them to start chipping in for the mortgage next?  If you don’t want the responsibility of maintaining your property, sell it or hire a yard service/handy man.

  24. avatar Amy says:

    Margo’s reply to LW#1 left me with a bad taste in my mouth. Not once did she say that she may be a beautiful person physically after all, and isn’t giving herself enough credit. She simply said “you have a gorgeous guy and you’re not, but you must have a nice personality to have attracted him.”

    Beauty really is in the eye of the beholder. LW#1 may think her boyfriend is Playgirl material while many others would think he was a 6 at best. Maybe some people wouldn’t find her attractive, but her boyfriend may think she’s the hottest woman alive. It’s all relative.

    • avatar Briana Baran says:

      Amy: this is part of what triggered some of my alarms. It is true about beauty being relative…in fact, I mentioned in one of my posts that this very handsome 30 year old man may only be so genetically blessed in the eyes of LW1…and that 38 is far from being hag-like, and mother hood does not equate to the proverbial “letting-one’s-self-go” stereotype. How do we have any idea that this woman is anything less than attractive? Because she is showing insecurity with her relationship with a younger, “handsome” man?

      Society still does not condone relationships between older women and younger men. It accepts the still “virile” paunchy, sagging, geezer wearing his trousers up around his armpits with the buxom, nubile young arm-candy (after, old men can still father children…it makes biological and anthropological sense…even if it is anachronistic)…but a 38 year old woman and a 30 year old man still all too often raises eyebrows. And older women who seek out much younger male companionship swiftly earned a specific label…cougars. LW1 may be reacting to this antiquated societal and cultural double standard.

      Or, alternatively, she may perceive herself as unattractive. Body dysmorphia is very real, and an insidious condition that is often behind eating disorders such as anorexia, agoraphobia, and even an obsession with cosmetic surgery. I suffer from body dysmorphia…I can go for days without looking in a mirror because I don’t want to see the “ugly girl”. To be brief, this was reinforced constantly throughout childhood and my teens…then by two o so darling ex-husbands. People have told me that I am attractive…including complete strangers…and my dear and very much beloved Rusty…but all I’m usually capable of seeing is the fat and ugly girl.

      Perception is everything. It is hideously unfair to make statements such as “he must love you for your personality”. Hah. If anyone had told me that, as prickly, cynical, suspicious and sarcastic as I can sometimes be…I think I might have to assume that they were thinking of someone else.

  25. avatar says:

    To Margo AND the lady above thats been dating a man for 6 months that she allowed to move in with her and her small children..  I’m not sure why either of you are only worried about your looks and if this man MIGHT be looking else where.. what about the fact that you have only been dating for 6 months and you moved him in with you small children??!!

    Does this man work?  What did he leave behind?   BUT  even more important are your children safe?

    As a single mother who was raised in a home with sexual abuse – we as mothers HAVE to make sure our childrens safety is priority.     

  26. avatar Belinda Joy says:

    Letter #2 – I’m with Margo. You MUST post the house rules and call out the culprits when it is clear they are the ones violating those rules.
    The success of the show Hoarders is rooted (IMO) far more in the fact that millions of Americans can relate to these stories than simply voyeurism on our part. People can be pigs. People can live quite happy lives not picking up after themselves or dusting. Live in homes with a layer of filth that they walk by everyday all day and not even notice it.  I personally would not be as understanding as letter writer #2. I would have told those I loved point blank “You can’t use our home anymore unless you can assure me it will be returned to me in the clean state it was in which you received it.”  I find this type of disrespect for someone’s property unacceptable.
    Letter #1 – Becky….poor Becky. This is a tough one.  Sometimes a duck is just a duck. And sometimes it’s a chicken.
    What I mean is, I am a big believer in listening to that little voice inside of you. I don’t know about you, but in my life I run into problems each time I don’t listen to that inner voice. From big decisions in life to small ones, we have a whisper that tells us to pay attention. Some may hear it louder and more clearer than others, but make no mistake about it, it is there.
    The problem for you as I see it is, is that nagging voice in your head that is telling you everything may not be okay a sign warning you of potential pit-falls or is it indeed jealously? You say he has not given you any reason not to trust him, but what does that really mean? Women all over the world are betrayed by the men in their lives and they never saw it coming.
    A healthy dose of skepticism in this case is justified. I personally would never be attracted to someone younger than myself, but I have to say this Becky, you could have the same problem with a man your age or older. It’s not about his age, it really isn’t. What if (my husband in my mind) George Clooney was your guy? Because he is older than you – you wouldn’t have any pangs of jealousy? I think you would.
    It’s all about being secure with who you are and what you have to give your guy. Are you being a good lover, friend and confidante? Are you communicating well with him? Are you his best friend? And conversely is he all of that to you? And does he have a good relationship with your kids? If the answers to all of the above are yes, I say enjoy it. Enjoy the relationship but keep your eyes, ears and heart open for any warning signs.