• Resolving Problems

My friend is moving in on my space

Published: July 20, 2016 | Last Updated: July 20, 2016 By | 5 Replies Continue Reading
A woman worries that a friend moving to her country will encroach on her life.


Hi Irene,

A friend of over 40 years wants to leave the U.S (she is British) where she has been for 20 years to move to where I live in Europe.

We have not seen each other for 14 years. She has not been to the country where I live for over 30 years. She thinks she can ask me for every bit of advice she needs to move, rent, find a cattery, etc. She will not take my advice on getting a professional to help her, as she doesn’t speak the language spoken here.

Her husband is in his early 70s; she is 15 years younger. We have a settled life here and she seems to think she can slot into it. She is looking at life through rose-tinted glasses.

It is making me feel ill. The responsibility of someone moving to a country she has not visited for over 30 years, and knows only one person is too much. I’m at the end of my tether!

Signed, Margaret


Hi Margaret,

It sounds like your friend is acting as if from her perspective, the friendship hasn’t skipped a beat. Perhaps, you need to remind her that you haven’t seen each other for 14 years and over that time, you and your spouse have settled into a satisfying life with a network of friends.

It does sound presumptuous of her to assume you would be willing to provide on-site logistical support for such a complex move—unless you encouraged her and/or offered to do so.

Since you find the thought of her coming so unsettling, you have no choice but to be frank and let her know that you can’t assume any major responsibility for arranging her move; tell her your already have enough on your own plate.

If you aren’t direct and don’t do this upfront, she will continue to depend on you.

If your friend’s moving decision has been hasty and ill-considered, you could point out some of the pitfalls that she should anticipate. You might also suggest that she and her husband visit the country for a several weeks on their own to see if they truly would be happy there.

Unless she is tone-deaf, raising all these concerns should make her think twice before asking more of you. Moreover, you’ve handed back responsibility for the move to her.

Hope this helps.

Best, Irene

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Category: Dependent friends, RESOLVING PROBLEMS

Comments (5)

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  1. Maddie says:

    Advise this person that you are very busy with your own life and don’t know much about local rent or catteries or anything else she requests. When she brings up the move ask her if she has family and other friends in the area. If she replies that you are it politely advise her that you are very settled and busy in life but would love to see her every month or two.

    If she continues to push this be very slow to answer or don’t answer at all.

  2. PeachPie says:

    I once had a distant relative who I don’t like call to tell me she’d decided to move across the country with her wild children to live by family (meaning me).

    I told her not to move here for me because I had all I could manage with my own family and wouldn’t be able to help her with hers. It got back to me that she was badmouthing me all over the place but that was a small price to pay for not getting saddled with that mess.

    I agree with the others, the time to speak is now. Also, be sure to not be reliable and helpful now, so she sees that you won’t be a resource she can pressure. Her blowing off your solid hint that she call a professional to help her with it sounds to me like she is not the type to take a hint. Good luck!

  3. Amy F says:

    Set clear boundaries. “I don’t have the energy to help you with your move.” I think you need to be honest with yourself, you don’t consider her much of a friend, despite your history. She has become an acquaintance. She deserves your honesty about where she stands in your life and part of that honesty is appropriate boundaries. She may be expecting a friend when she moves, and you are not going to be that friend to her. That’s okay. Your life, your boundaries, but not setting them is unkind and unfair.

  4. Sandra says:

    Moving to a new country is a huge move, nothing to be taken lightly. Because of that — as Irene points out — you need to be honest and open about your concerns right away. If this woman were a close family member, it might be a different situation. But a friend that you haven’t seen in so many years is different.

    Some people are stuck viewing things from their own perspective and needs, but that doesn’t mean you have to live according to their wishes.

    I was reunited with an old “best friend” from my teen years, not long ago. We started getting together, and suddenly, she made the assumption that we were best friends again, and she expected that she would immediately jump into my life with both feet. I had to find a way to tell her, in the kindest way possible, that a lot had changed in my life since we’d been friends — and that I was spending time with other people who were very dear to me– and things couldn’t possibly be the same in our friendship. She eventually got the point, but I had to create strong boundaries.

    You will need to set up your own boundaries right now, and be clear on what you are willing to do and what you cannot do for her.

  5. Mary says:

    Suggesting that she & her husband visit first is a good first step. He may see things she doesn’t and start to dissuade her.

    When you do eventually confront her as Irene mentions, I suspect she’ll think all manner of ill towards you (based on the personality type it sounds like she is). You may lose her friendship over this. Sad but it happens when someone finally decides to grow a spine and say “no” to boundary tramplers.

    OTOH, she may start studying the culture and learning the language. She may sprout wings and fly on her own.

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