Savage Love Letter of the Day: He DTMFA'd But She Won't Leave His House

Comments

1
I feel the issue is difficult and a less tonally abrupt response is needed. Not about breaking up the relationship--because that should already have happened, and the choice for that lies with the LW alone--but with how he can help her ease out of his house and into a life where she's OK (or even just more functional than she is now).

The ex-gf would seem to me to be depressed. No job for five years, no sex for three years, a refusal to accept her ex's breakup decision and an inability either to raise her voice against it or to make any alternative plans.... All these seem symptoms of her being in a bad way. He wants to help her, but this needs to be separate from any care he might show her as her partner, or as indicative of his being still there for her romantically; and perhaps he might not be the best person to take her welfare in hand practically like this. But he will know whether there's anyone else--and maybe the issue is that there isn't....

He needs to be emphatic with her, and with himself, that this is no longer about the relationship, but about something else. Without shaming or criticizing her in any way, without bringing up the lack of sex, or any discontents they might have had, he needs to ask her whether she thinks she's depressed and get her to think what help she needs. Maybe more than anything, he needs the support of her other friends, relatives and close work colleagues. Forget about any embarrassment that they're breaking up. His line to them should be that she seems to be unhappy, and he doesn't want to leave her without a proper support network in place or new arrangement in which she has a better chance of picking herself up.
2
GO, This would be one time when I would suggest reaching out a lawyer for a consultation, and I would not limit myself to someone whose practice is only in tenant-landlord law. There are a lot of wrinkles here, including the fact that you've been supporting this woman for the past five years (unless she had some significant saving that she's been living off). In any event, your house is a significant asset, which you need to protect, and you should want to limit, if not completely avoid, having any further financial obligations to your ex-girlfriend.

GO, you may very well need a court-ordered eviction, which can take a few months, depending on your jurisdiction. You'll want the assistant of legal counsel to make sure that is done right the first time. That court order should then empower you to get the assistance of the sheriff's office in enforcing the eviction, should your girlfriend not willing leave. You mention that you've only had sex once in the past three years. I would certainly recommend that you don't have sex again during this process. You want the cleanest fact pattern possible if you appear before a judge, who will not want to learn that you just had sex this month.

GO, your letter also suggests that your girlfriend may be depressed or have certain psychological issues. You might want to read this recent article about a disturbed woman who killed her father after he had her evicted from his home, and consider getting her help in conjunction with this process.

http://nypost.com/2017/05/13/rich-girl-c…

When she's gone, change the locks, and make sure her property is gone, and her mail is forwarded to a new address.
3
LW, I agree with the advice that Harriet @1 and Sublime @2 offered - and I will add this: you are NOT a monster, far from it. You should not feel an ounce of guilt for wanting to move on from this quagmire. Whether or not there are clinical reasons for her behavior, the fact remains that this woman has not even been a good roommate for you, let alone a lover. No sex for three years, no help with the rent or other home expenses - you are practically a saint to have put up with her for this long. Unfortunately she seems to know just how to push your guilt-pity-caring-responsibility buttons in all the right ways to keep you from kicking her out, even though your brain recognizes the need to move on with your life. Get a lawyer, get some professional help for this woman if she needs it, and get her out of your life. Good luck!
4
@GO: I'm with @1 Harriet_by_the_bulrushes, @2 SublimeAfterglow, and @3 Capricornius.
Good grief, what a nightmare! Good luck to you and that you truly can move on.
5
It depends on your jurisdiction GO, but a court may find you to be in a common-law marriage. Lack of sex would be difficult to prove and may be immaterial to the status of your relationship since you're still in the same house. As such, extricating your, uh, wife from your household and life may be neither easy nor painless. Seek legal advice, and in the mean time, don't antagonize your ex!
6
@5, only a handful of states still recognize common-law marriages and all of them have specific statutory rules about it (in all of them, to my knowledge, you have to present yourself as married to the public or acknowledge each other as husband/wife). He should go to an attorney, but there's no reason to panic the poor guy with false information.
7
Yes. I thought too of the legal power this woman has, though she may not realise it. So, maybe the LW should get her out of the house asap. Get her to take her basic provisions, give her enough money for accomodation somewhere for a few weeks and get the rest of her stuff out once she's got a job and a place to stay. I suggest just doing it. Now.
8
@6: Duly noted. I speak as a Canadian - and even so, not knowledgeably about this stuff. I stand by my recommendation to get legal advice, though.
9
I ad a variation on this, the girlfriend who can't keep a job. After we finally broke up and I moved to a different city, I had dreams that I'd run into her at the airport and she'd had her feet amputated because she couldn't afford proper medical care, or some other malady had befallen her. The guilt can run deep!

I'd advise against helping her apply for jobs or anything of that nature. She's already dependent on you. It's been too long to nurture it any more. If she hasn't worked for years, a helping hand from her living breathing rent check won't help her.
10
@2 ("When she's gone, change the locks, and make sure her property is gone, and her mail is forwarded to a new address.")

Yeah, that. But also, BEFORE she's gone - while she's going - install a lock on your room or home office (it could be a key-pad lock so you can't lose the key). Since this has the potential to get ugly, you need a secure place to keep legal documents, valuables, etc.

And if you're not sleeping in DIFFERENT bedrooms, change that situation yesterday, FSS.
11
I understand that the letter writer feels guilty and responsible for this woman, but he needs to tell himself over and over that it's not up to him to run her life. It's up to her. Whether she is depressed/unskilled/whatever, it's not his responsibility to support her indefinitely. Even though we should treat others with compassion, we need to remember that we can't save anyone, especially from themselves. Consult a lawyer right away, figure out the minimum you need to do to extricate yourself from this situation, and take care of yourself. Break-ups are bad enough without this drawn out misery.
12
You've been enabling her, you need to cut her off. If you are still amiable just buy her a flight to her hometown so she can live with her parents. Say goodbye at the airport and keep in touch over the phone every few months. People step up for themselves when they have to. So far with you, she hasn't had to. This is the best thing you can do for her.
13
In addition to what was said above, I would like to emphasize that the LW should seek legal advice from both a family law attorney and an attorney who deals with tenant/landlord rights and laws.

The family law attorney should be consulted because common law marriage is still recognized in a few states, the legality of those common law marriages is recognized as binding by all states (i.e., if you are common law married in one state, that marital relationship is recognized as legal if you move to a state that does not have common law marriage), AND, if you are common law married, and wish to dissolve the relationship, you have to get a "regular" divorce. http://family.findlaw.com/marriage/commo…

I hate to be cynical and excuse the hyperbole but the LW is setting himself up for a potential disaster of possible epic proportions at the hand of his ex-GF. She has the keys to his home, access to his personal and valued belongings, and very possibly the passwords to his accounts. Yes, she is likely depressed. Yes, he has enabled her for a very long time and is likely realizing the error of allowing this to continue as long as he had. However, if he wants her out with a minimum to no damage to his health, wealth, outside relationships, and well being, he should err on the side of caution and seek legal assisitance immediately.

14
Lotta history here...six years together has gotta count for something, even if the last three have been shit. So, I'm gonna go against the tide & say you just can't throw her out on her ear. She obviously meant something to you (probably still does), but @12 is right, dude, You are an enabler, and just like giving an alcoholic a drink, supporting her "habit" isn't doing anyone any favors. Time for a heart-to-heart. Lay it out, compassionately. 1) We both know this relationship is dead in the water. 2) We both know it's time for you to move on. 3) I'll help you with the transition in any way you can accept, but in two–three–four months, you've gotta be gone. Watch closely over the next month...if she's making progress (looking for a job, looking for another roommate, etc,) all is good. Help as much as you can. But if she shows no sign of accepting the new reality, start planning ahead and ratchet up the pressure. 4) Move her shit out of your bedroom. If she has to sleep on the couch and live out of boxes, then that's what she'll have to do. Put a lock on the bedroom door. 5) Start spending time away from her as much as you can. 6) Stop paying for her entertainment, any food beyond mac & cheese, clothes, etc. 7) Talk to her parents & siblings, talk to her friends (If she has any), enlist their help. Talk to the county about subsidized housing & financial aid. I know it sounds like a lot of work. It is. Talk to the police and find out what you can legally do if she refuses to leave, and what groundwork you need to do if you need to evict her. In Minneapolis, you can rent a "pod", fill it up with furniture, etc, and then have it delivered to a new address at a date of your choosing. Consider that, as a way to get her shit out of the house even if she doesn't have permanent housing lined up when the deadline arrives. They can deliver it whenever she does.
15
Do you rent or own?

If rent, just don't renew the lease and move your shit out to somewhere new. Problem solved!

Or at least pushed onto your landlord.
16
@15, biggie: "Do you rent or own?"

LW: "Shortly after moving in with me in the house I own, she quit her job. She's been unemployed for five years now."

Indicating that he owns the house. Hence the concern raised by many commentators about his assets potentially being at risk.

The rest of that quote suggests either a highly coincidental onset of her depression/whatever OR that she would have treated any BF-landlord as a free meal ticket and have not contributed to the household budget, their relationship, nor her own personal/professional growth.
17
Does common law exist and is it applicable? Do you live in a community property State?
18
Does common law marriage exist ...
19
Wow, what an awful story. Some commenters are far more sympathetic than I to this girlfriend, who comes across as a selfish leech. LW, you're the victim here. If she does have depression, she needs help -- but it's been easier for her to mooch off you than to get it. I agree, speak to her friends and/or family -- it's high time she became somebody else's problem. Good luck!
20
I'm with BDF on this one; whatever issues the gf has, LW is not on the hook to house and help get treatment for someone he isn't dating anymore and who is clearly being manipulative. LW has been enabling his gf for years it sounds like - the best thing he can do for her is to knock it off asap. Get her friends/family involved and take legal steps to start the clock on her eviction.
21
I find it very suspicious that this letter describes all the ways in which this woman is behaving poorly and inconveniencing the author but doesn't discuss emotions at all nor discuss how this relationship went from healthy to deeply unhealthy.

For example:
- What was the woman told when she moved in about the future of the relationship? Was she expecting marriage and kids? A life partnership? Did she expect to be working full time or not working?
- Why has there been no sex for three years?
- Why did she quit her job? What was her job?
- Why has she been unemployed for so long?
- Does the author consider her to be mentally/emotionally stable?
- How has the author tried to help her get mental health resources, get a job, etc?
- Does she have money of her own? (I don't mean handing her money to leave, I meant on a day-to-day basis, does she have access to a bank account or etc)
- If asked, would she say that she was being treated with respect and compassion?

Relationships aren't a charity case. But people don't just wake up and find that they've randomly been financially supporting a partner for years either. If that happens, something is very wrong that goes way beyond a credit card bill. Ignoring the actual issue and dumping the person is a convenient way to ignore your role in it... paying bills != being a supportive romantic partner and to me it sounds like she needs a very different kind of help than money. There's few experiences more crushing than having your partner/friends abandon you when you become depressed. It implies that your worth as a person is primarily dependent on your income, convenience for others, etc -- aka all the things this letter is saying. I don't see the "I'm so worried about this person I love" in this letter at all. And it isn't normal to watch a person you care about wither and crumble and feel nothing beyond annoyance & a desire to lawyer up.
22
@14 +1, I'm with DonnyKlicious, after a while a live-in LTR is more than an STR, sex or no sex.

There's no bright line but 5 years together under one roof certainly is on the marriage-like side in SOME respects.

Not as big a deal as a divorce where there are kids, but still more than a "bye it's over."

Yes, she was leeching, but LW was enabling her behavior to some extent and unless LW is a sociopath he "owes" her something in my humble opinion. Was she doing housework for you, taking care of cooking, etc.? That has an economic value in spirit if not in law.

Set a clear timeline for her move out, make it clear the break up is final no matter what, and make it clear there will be legal consequences after a reasonable period of time if she's still present in the house, but give her some time. Definitely get legal advice.

How much money do you have to help her out? If you're flush, find a short term place for her and pre-pay for her a few months -- she signs the lease not you, and move to evict at the same time -- so it's a carrot and stick, harsh but not too harsh.
23
If she's not paying rent, and they haven't signed any documents, why would landlord/tenant law apply?

Does she ever leave the house? If so, change the locks the next time she's out, and direct her to the hotel where you've made a reservation in her name (and paid for a week's stay). Have her stuff moved to a storage facility you've rented in her name (and paid the first month's rent on). Pay cash for this stuff, so she'd can't just extend it indefinitely.

It sounds as if she may have mental health issues, so helping her connect with free or low-cost treatment would be a good idea; most places have community mental health centers, and some therapists have sliding scales or even take a pro bono client or two.
24
@23 In my state, ejection is legally distinct from eviction, and it's faster, but it still takes time. It concerns exactly the situation being described: A person lives there but there is no contract. No, you can't just throw somebody out immediately. It's a process.
25
@23 why do people owe alimony after a divorce?
26
Cory @23, are you from Canada, or one of the many other countries in the developed world that provide universal health care for their residents? Unfortunately, here in the US, very few places still have community-based, low-fee or no-fee mental health centers - and where they do exist, doctors and therapists generally have their hands full treating acute psychotic or bipolar individuals who need immediate intervention, or providing methadone treatment for recovering opioid addicts. If LW wants to get some counseling or treatment for ex-GF's mental state, he will probably have to pay out of pocket and wait some time before she can get an appointment. He's already concerned that she may end up homeless, and indeed many of the homeless people in the USA are struggling with undiagnosed and/or untreated mental health problems. Sad...and in the richest country in the world, almost entirely preventable.
27
I wouldn't bring up the law until she does. This woman has found her daddy again and the LW needs to help her go out into the world.
LW, help her by finding others where she can stay or like a poster above says, fly her back to a family member. Or straight up money to stay in cheap digs until she gets herself a job for several weeks, if you can afford it.
Keep an eye on her, as she has been dependent on you for years and As stated above, often, you've enabled this dynamic by letting it go on for so long.
Bringing the law into it could get her alerted to the fact she may have rights, in Australia she would have, and it doesn't sound like you two need to be nasty about it.
28
[Say goodbye at the airport and keep in touch over the phone every few months.] This sounds like a bad #12. This will only nuture her unhealthy dependence on him. Stepping into the role of Best Friend isn't going to be healthy for either of them.

Send her off and then cut her off. She maybe depressed or whatever but that's not a 'get out of being a decent human being' free card. I wouldn't be surprised if she does just fine once she realizes her meal ticket is done.
29
I don't know what state this former couple is in, am not a landlord-tenant lawyer, don't know the law of all 50 states, etc., but I think some of the legal advice here is off-base. Even here in California when you invite a romantic partner to live in your house, don't charge them rent and share all of the space, I do not think the law will convert that guest into a tenant. There never having been an expectation of rest is kind of a strong indication that she was never a tenant. In fact, I think trying to reach an agreement with her based on the - probably mistaken - assumption that she has rights as a tenant, which could look like an admission, would be just about the only thing that could give this guy trouble proving that she's a mere houseguest with no right of occupancy.

By all means, consult a lawyer about both issues raised here, but what that lawyer will likely say is that she's not a tenant and, even if they're in a common-law marriage state, because they never held themselves out as married, she's not a wife. A decent lawyer might tell you that with no charge since it would probably only take 5 minutes to figure out.

He should be free to toss her out on the curb, although a more gentle approach would be better.
30
As for those commenting on what a leech this woman is, I take the LW at his word on what he says, but I don't assume that everything he doesn't say supports the idea of him as a victim.

She moved in and almost immediately quit her job, but he doesn't mention anything about a job search or encouraging her to try and find one. I think it's quite likely that he kinda liked having a stay-at-home not-quite-wife. He may have encouraged her to let him support her as part of their relationship.

Before we started running low on money, the time when my wife was at home taking care of the kids was really nice. These two don't have kids, but I'd imagine it still might be nice.
31
@30/dcp123: I couldn't help notice that you created a fact pattern in which GO may have induced his girlfriend to quit her job and/or not search for employment because having her at home satisfied GO's needs. Isn't that just the kind of argument her lawyer would make in objecting to GO removing her from the house, or in demanding financial compensation? Maybe that's not a basis for a viable claim in GO's jurisdiction. But I would still advise GO to consult a lawyer who can hear the whole unvarnished story, and then advise GO about how to get out of this situation with as little difficulty as possible.
32
@31 As dcp123 said, there is almost no chance they are in a common law marriage. Most states don't even have that any more, and the ones that do require the couple to very explicitly identify in public as a married couple. All he needs is google to find out if he lives in a common law marriage state. If he does, he can also talk to a lawyer just to be safe. If they're not married, there is no case she can even try to make. It doesn't matter how dependent she is on him. Alimony is only a thing if they have to divorce, which they won't have to do because there is almost no chance they are married.

Aside from that, I'd simply suggest that it's fine if LW wants to help her transition to independence, but that assistance should be 100% contingent on her acceptance of the fact that the relationship is over, and that she is moving out in some reasonable, and clearly defined time frame.
33
Legally speaking: It's LW's house, which means that the only right that the ex has to be in the house is LW's permission for her to be there, which he can revoke at any time for any reason at all. He doesn't need grounds, he can tell her to leave, and if she doesn't he is within his rights to call the police and have her removed for trespassing.

I have to say, I agree with Dan's less-charitable interpretation of ex's behavior. The reason is that the ex does not respect LW's decision to dump her. Which means she does not accept that LW has a right to make decisions. I consider it entirely possible that this guy has been a doormat for her for a long time, and she's basically keeping him under her thumb and having a free ride at home with "If you don't take care of me, forever, I'm going to die on the streets and it will be all your fault!" This is reinforced by the LW being convinced, based on the tone of this letter, that he's in any way responsible for his ex's situation once he's ended the relationship.
34
"He owes her something after so long" is precisely the kind of guilt trip that she's probably using! I'm horrified so many people are endorsing it.

Let's face it, if she's flat out gaslighting him about their breakup, she's going to latch onto any reasonable-sounding, boundary-crushing excuse like "we've been together so long, you owe me something!"

He even offered her help! She turned it down, because it's clear she will settle for nothing less than everything she wants, his wants be damned.

She has issues? So does he, obviously. He's some kind of codependent.

Not only does he not owe her any help, I'd say any attempt to "help" her would be counterproductive, precluding both of them getting the help they actually need.

He needs her out yesterday!
35
Professional landlord here. 23, 29, and 33 are basically correct. Housing laws differ quite a bit from state to state, but even in my pro-tenant state, someone who shares the owner's living quarters, (and has never paid rent) has very limited rights to occupancy.
36
Maybe he can talk to local women's shelters, homeless shelters, or low-income assistance offices to see if he can to get her signed up for HUD funding to help get her own housing.
37
@XiaoGui #34

The optimist in me thinks she might be scared to venture out on her own. I just wanted to emphasize that there is a precondition that she must be able to accept if there is any chance of moving her out peacefully. Personally, I tend to think your pessimistic evaluation is more likely to be true.
38
I don't think tenancy or common-law marriage are likely to be concerns for LW, but "palimony" might be, depending on their circumstances and income level. I know a woman who won a huge palimony award from her one-percenter BF, claiming that he had coaxed her to quit her job and let him "pamper her," and she had advanced his career and maximized his income-producing capacity by handling all the household duties and hosting lavish parties for his clients and business associates. When he broke up with her, she hired a good attorney, won the palimony suit, and walked away in her early 30s with enough monthly income to live quite comfortably for the rest of her life.
39
@33 "He doesn't need grounds, he can tell her to leave, and if she doesn't he is within his rights to call the police and have her removed for trespassing."

Sorry, but no. If she's living there, she's not trespassing. She can be ejected, however, but again, that takes time. It's not an immediate kick-out.
40
I think it's wonderful that so many self-described progressives are so giddy about the idea of somebody being thrown out into the street. So kind.
41
Late to comment here but I will weigh in as no one has mentioned the most obvious solution. He should move out.
Of course, he should consult an attorney beforehand to make sure he is not giving her rights to his property. But, if what he wants most is to not live with her, and it might take him some time to get her to move, the option of him leaving first should be considered. Sometimes, the one who most wants to break up has to be the one to vote with their feet. Move out, sue her, evict her, make her sign a lease and pay rent, sell the place out from under her....some combination of the above could work.
42
@32/DrVanNostrand: First, I've never suggested that they were in a common law marriage. Second, I believe you're wrong when you say: "If they're not married, there is no case she can even try to make. It doesn't matter how dependent she is on him. Alimony is only a thing if they have to divorce, which they won't have to do because there is almost no chance they are married."

What I have said is that we don't know all of the facts, however, it appears that shortly after GO and his ex-girlfriend began cohabitation she quit her job and appears to have been wholly supported by GO. How and why that came to pass are important facts, as are any domestic tasks that GO's ex-girlfriend has performed over the past six years. This isn't to suggest that obtaining "palimony" will be an easy or straightforward case, but GO's ex-girlfriend arguably sacrificed her financial independence for the relationship (at least initially). That could be the basis for an oral agreement or an implied contract, in which case she would have a colorable case.
43
I stand corrected. Palimony exists in some states, and now I'm furious about it. Pardon my ignorance.
44
Squidgie @41: HE OWNS THE HOUSE. Him moving out is not an option.
45
Is there maybe some sexual double-standards going on here? I suspect if this were a woman owning a house, living with a boyfriend who wasn't working or having sex with her, there would be much less kindness or gentleness towards the "deadbeat" "leech." It's goose/gander time. Treat her like a woman ought to treat a man who was doing what she's doing. No means no. Broken up means broken up. Call the cops if you have to, because she may be extremely dangerous.
46
@45: Yep. The pity wells are much deeper for a female subject, but if it were a man doing this, people would recognize how downright scary and repulsive it was.