Adapted from a recent online discussion.

Question: Ever since my boyfriend and I moved in together this year, I have been uncomfortable with the amount of time his friends Jim and Dave spend at our house. They come over anywhere from two to five nights each week, often showing up unannounced. They will say they're just coming over to watch TV and have "a" beer, which usually turns into three, and don't leave till after I've gone to bed. This happens weekdays and weekends, whether or not my boyfriend and I already have plans with each other.

At first, my boyfriend acted helpless about it ("I can't stop them from coming over"), but when I called him on that, he switched to a new defense: "I shouldn't have to give up my friends just because we live together." I'm at the end of my rope. Any suggestions?

Answer: One:

Question: I appreciate your response, and I'm sure you're right - but assuming I do want to stay in the relationship, do you agree with me that it's reasonable to want a few nights a week with no drop-ins?

Also, I wonder whether the rules are any different since we are not married and hence my rights are more those of a roommate versus a wife. If I promise to check out rentals, will you please offer a tiny bit more guidance for the interim?

Answer: Oh all right.

First, the rules are not different with or without marriage, because this is about your consideration of each other's needs, and that would apply if you were 50 years' married or just good friends and roommates.

Next, his current defense cuts both ways: "I shouldn't have to give up my friends just because we live together" turns around nicely to, "OK. And I shouldn't have to give up my quiet time just because we live together. So doesn't it make sense that we both have to give a little, out of respect for each other?"

If he's a tool about it even after you put it that way, then:

Comment: Being "a tool about it" includes his going along with it, while painting you as the shrewish mean-mommy girlfriend who won't let him have his guy fun. (Watch a few beer commercials and you'll see what I mean.)

Answer: Yes, seen them. Thanks.

Why those commercials are so offensive, and why I'm not inclined to suggest ways to fix or save this relationship, is that they both rest on the idea that Woman wants only to snuggle with Man, and Man wants only to hang with Buddies. Ugh. Not only is that worldview an insult to human complexity, it's also a self-fulfilling prophecy: It trains both men and women to accept as "normal" a relationship where one or both halves of the couple would rather be somewhere else or with someone else. I just can't see the point in that.

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