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to want to say something to proud friend re filthy house/ bad lifestyle

(35 Posts)
inEmbarrassment Mon 15-Jun-15 10:12:38

Staying with a friend. He's very generously hosting us and he is a very good friend of DH's. We have known him for years, he is lovely, very highly intelligent, and in his own very unpretentious way, very sociable. Before the inevitable suggestions, he isn't autistic. He is extremely proud and stubborn though.

He has always been a complete slob about most things that don't interest him (very basic levels of housework, eating properly, doing any exercise, following conventional social norms that he thinks are snobbish or wankerish). He grew up on a farm, so is used to dirt, insects, mice etc.; and his mother was a hoarder with a personality disorder, and his father has always said little about the mother's habits, and neither parent could really clean or cook, so he's used to the house being dysfunctional and his diet being terrible, as he has never really known anything else.

A few years ago he had an illness that left him partly disabled. It was life-changing for him, and I am in no way criticising the fact he has responded by burying himself in work and letting a lot of other stuff go. However, I honestly think he needs help.

His house has gone from being a real mess, to being a completely filthy mess that is very dysfunctional. It is grimly dirty, centimetres of dust, cobwebs and dead insects all over the furniture, mud on the floor, crumbs on tables from years ago; sprouting mould on the taps, walls, curtains, shower curtain; shower that doesn't work, loos that have never been cleaned, etc.. It's stuff that could easily be kept under control with a weekly visit from a cleaner - but at the moment he's been in the place nearly 4 years and has evidently never cleaned any of it.

He has gone from being someone who did a bit (not enough) of exercise, to someone who does no exercise at all beyond walking slowly (he can't easily do stuff on his own - though I bet physios and gyms could help him a lot). He eats absolutely crap food, and drinks too much beer - and it shows - he is obese, unfit, red in the face, and looks 10 years older than his age.

He is usually too proud to mention it, but he hasn't had a girlfriend in years - and I suspect that a lot of that is down to the fact he's delightful in the pub/at work, but when potential girlfriends see his house, they run a mile. He says it's because of his disability, but I think that is vastly less of a problem than the filthy house and personal habits of beer/burgers/ crappy computer games/ no exercise.

DH, the friend's father, many other friends, have all stayed with him over the years. (Until this trip I've only ever met him in the pub, at work, or at our place.) Not one of them has told him "you need a cleaner, the place is a tip, if you don't currently have mice and bedbugs it's not obvious why not; you need to sort out the lack of exercise, the beer and the burgers or you will be dead in 10 years". DH and I discussed last night whether i would offer to clean the place today while they are at work together, and decided friend would be too proud and hurt if I offered.

Friend thinks I'm a bit amusingly twitchy and overly concerned with wankerish social norms. Compared to his social circle (computer guys; friends from the parents' remote farming district) I probably am a bit uncompromisingly clean and clean-living (I eat properly and do exercise). My DH has gone from fitting easily into the friend's circle 10 years ago, to perhaps also being a bit too clean/clean-living.

Thus, I think that if I say "seriously, you need to sort this out", he will ignore me. How can I get the message across? Should I even try?

FenellaFellorick Mon 15-Jun-15 10:17:56

It might be better coming from your husband.

Maybe next time he talks about not having a girlfriend, your husband - his friend of many years - can say mate, it's because your house is minging and you are a slob. Let me help you.

If they have the sort of friendship where they can speak honestly in a loving way, of course.

Or maybe your husband can ask him if he is happy with his lifestyle and see where that conversation leads.

At the end of the day, people have the right to live even like pigs if they want to. If he doesn't care, (and he doesn't have needs that mean he is not competent to make his own choices) then there's nothing that anyone else can do.

UsedtobeFeckless Mon 15-Jun-15 10:21:05

Ummm ... I'd say you run the risk of coming across badly and offending him if you do - maybe make a joke of it and just tack Really though mate, you do need to get a cleaner before the cockroaches take over! on the end ...

VanitasVanitatum Mon 15-Jun-15 10:21:24

I think I would have asked to clean in a kind of Monica Gellar style.. 'Please let me clean up a bit I'm such a neat freak...' Tricky one though as I can see how easy it could be to offend. The lifestyle stuff I would say nothing, it's his choice ultimately and he doesn't sound depressed etc.

TheChandler Mon 15-Jun-15 10:22:31

I'm torn between leaving him alone in peace and intervening. If you intervene, you have to do it very gently and mildly, as you are a guest.

The thing is, if no one tells people, sometimes they don't realise. And that us the role of friends too. I dont think you can under estimate tge influence of other people in our lives. I'm pretty sure if i wasn't with DH, he would have gone down a similar, if less extreme, path.

But the girlfriend thing - does he even want one? Its not compulsory.

Its terribly sad to see friends deteriorate when they are still young enough to do something about it. But at least your friend is still holding down a job, which is a positive.

NomiMalone Mon 15-Jun-15 10:23:00

As disgusting as he sounds I don't think it's your place to say anything. If he doesn't think he's got problems then we'll just see it as you interfering and being harsh. And he won't take it on board at all.

Eww though. Ewwwwwww.

WorraLiberty Mon 15-Jun-15 10:23:02

I wouldn't ask to clean, I would just do it while they're at work.

When he came home, I'd just apologise and say I was bored.

That way, he doesn't lose face and the cleaning's done.

BreadmakerFan Mon 15-Jun-15 10:23:58

Just ask him if he'd like some help cleaning. He might surprise you.

inEmbarrassment Mon 15-Jun-15 10:24:50

Yep. He's completely competent mentally to make his own choices.

They're just such bloody awful choices!

DH does have that sort of relationship with him, but they're computer scientists as well as "blokes" - so probably the least likely people on the planet to actually ever hold that conversation. We live on the other side of the world, and the friend group is distributed across the UK and various other countries (we were all working at one university together until 5 years ago - university work means people disperse very widely), so can't help friend organise things - I suspect if DH said "dude, you need a cleaner and a gym subscription" he'd agree with us to get us to shut up, but then do nothing about it.

Someone needs to bite the bullet and then poke the friend about it all repeatedly until changes are made. He almost needs a social worker...

LovelyBranches Mon 15-Jun-15 10:27:40

It depends on your personality. I am known for being quite blunt, direct and capable of speaking my mind. If you are usually reserved, shy or careful with words then it would be worse in a way because he would know that you've really thought about it.

ImperialBlether Mon 15-Jun-15 10:29:16

I am aghast at the thought that you and your husband discussed whether you should clean this guy's house. What would stop your husband doing it?

inEmbarrassment Mon 15-Jun-15 10:29:41

I think Worraliberty's approach is probably the one required...

Unfortunately I opted for spending the day at the uni library rather than at his house, and we're leaving this evening, so I can't do it. I think we need to organize another visit soon though and sort things out...

He's actually now shining at a very high-powered job and is constantly being offered more responsibility as - having been a mediocre postdoc and an unenthusiastic university lecturer - he's turned out to be a very good political animal in the university hierarchy. Maybe the point at which he's required to actually wear a suit or a tie (or heavens, even a shirt rather than a crappy old tshirt) there might be scope for intervention on the personal-style front...

inEmbarrassment Mon 15-Jun-15 10:31:09

Imperial - sorry for the confusion - that was because I'm here on a free day, DH is visiting friend's university department and giving seminars. So i was in a position to do it until I decided to go to the library instead... now i don't have keys to get back into the house.

Lariflete Mon 15-Jun-15 10:32:01

Just do it while they are at work.
For a start, if there aren't children around to be looking after that's what I would be doing in a normal day.
Secondly, unless you want to go sightseeing, there won't be much to do because I can't imagine relaxing in a house in that state.
Worra's suggestion is good - just tell him you were bored.

Lariflete Mon 15-Jun-15 10:34:02

Sorry, posted straight after Worra, but obviously type slowly as cross-posted with you OP!

inEmbarrassment Mon 15-Jun-15 10:42:41

TheChandler - yes, I think deep down he does want a girlfriend. I've only discussed it with him once, when he was thinking of asking out someone deeply unsuitable. I was probably too blunt and made it about the wrong things.

I talked about her vulnerability and age, which of course were very important; but it would have been much more effective if I had said "not this particular girl, for all these parenthetical reasons; BUT move forwards - here are the things you do well, and here are the things that you could optimise, and here are the things you do well again, and you are such a lovely guy... so here are the things you could optimise again, move forwards with a plan".

As it is, he still talks about the girl and the reasons she was unsuitable (far, far too young, volatile, angry, vulnerable, looking for parent figure, needed to find her own identity rather than that of a 40 year old slob, and had already turned on him and screamed at him in front of us for no particularly good reason), but he doesn't seem to have any insight into the fact she would probably have run a mile anyway once she got to know him better.

Gottagetmoving Mon 15-Jun-15 10:42:44

First you need to ask this friend how he feels about his house. I don't think it's your place to do any cleaning or tell anyone how they should live. Or you could ask him if he would like you to do some cleaning up. If it is so bad you could be blunt and tell him you find it uncomfortable staying there because of the dirt. Is he entitled to any help due to his disability? If he is intelligent like you say, he must be aware there are things he can claim?
Even if he agrees to you doing some cleaning, what happens later? I doubt he will maintain it.

inEmbarrassment Mon 15-Jun-15 11:00:26

GottaGetMoving - I think you're right that he wouldn't maintain anything - which is why I think he really needs a weekly cleaner.

He is probably not entitled to much help re: the disability, and he doesn't need personal care or house adjustments really, though it's hard for him do do stuff like cook and clean, or exercise. It's difficult to say how much is motivation vs. actual disability though.

I think a reliable and thorough cleaner coming in weekly, a gardener coming round once every couple of months, and visiting the gym 3x/week with personalized help to work around his disability, would go a long way to fixing it all. If he could also move to basing his dinner plans around M&S salads and fruit salads (even eating three of each per meal, i.e. far too much food), rather than pub burger and chips, ice cream and 3 pints, that would also be a very good idea and would probably cost less.

Gottagetmoving Mon 15-Jun-15 11:23:38

But does HE want to make these changes? I know you mean well but it seems to be more about what bothers you than what bothers him?
You can offer suggestions to him but it is his life and his choice. Sorry, but you don't have to like the way he lives.

stairbears Mon 15-Jun-15 11:32:48

Is the state of his living conditions such that if a social worker or a healthcare professional visited, there would likely be a safeguarding alert for a vulnerable adult?

Sounds like my father's living conditions, which he hid from us all, until he died suddenly last year of alcoholic liver disease (also concealed).

Otherwise, if he doesn't see anything wrong with how his house is, then it's his choice. You can only choose whether or not to stay there again though..

inEmbarrassment Mon 15-Jun-15 11:35:32

With the salads and the gym visits, I'm probably thinking more about what is bothering me, you're right. It is unfortunately other people's own choices when they self-destruct over perfectly preventable atherosclerosis.

However, he's at a stage where intervention is probably necessary re: the house.

For example last night when we were cleaning the futon after unfolding it, I swept off a couple of handfuls of dead insects and dirt - some of which looked like mouse droppings. It was entirely plausible that they would have been mouse droppings rather than insects, given the clutter, grime, and food scraps.

His real estate agent apparently "constantly whinges" about the state of the garden, which is basically an overgrown mess of weeds. Agent clearly hasn't been inside the house...

inEmbarrassment Mon 15-Jun-15 11:40:27

stairbears - yes, it's at that stage. I'm sorry to hear about your father.

However the complexities of what constitutes a vulnerable adult are a bit beyond me. He's living like your father was, suggesting a severe lack of insight re personal choices; but he's also holding down a very high-powered job requiring considerable insight. Thus my use of slob in posts above - this isn't cognitive decline or depression or poverty. However, people who end up in these conditions usually start from the same position he's in, of social isolation, being too proud to ask for help, and probably being fairly messy/ slobby to start with.

0x530x610x750x630x79 Mon 15-Jun-15 11:46:37

ahh he rents, that might be an angle, "you wont get any of the deposit back if you leave it like this"

stairbears Mon 15-Jun-15 11:50:02

Thank you smile

Choosing to book a regular cleaner and make different self-care choices will no doubt have occurred to him, as an intelligent man... These are fairly simple things to do.

But for some reason he isn't doing them. Your suggestions won't be a revelation to him, but I rather suspect he truly isn't bothered by his health or living conditions.

There may be something else going on deeper down, but aside from keeping an eye on him for now there's not a lot you can do, apart from talking to social services for either general or specific guidance.

Iliveinalighthousewiththeghost Mon 15-Jun-15 11:56:16

Well you have to approach it sensitively. You are after a guest there.
He is not stupid. He knows how his house is. Now there are a couple of reasons. He's either happy to live like that and doesn't care. He might like living in mess and if he does. I'm afraid that's his business, Or he has got to the point where he doesn't know how to change.

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