Some people love hosting guests in their home. (They even specifically seek a house or apartment with a spare bedroom for such a purpose.) Some of us, however, hate the idea of opening up our homes to overnight guests—but it can be difficult to be honest about this. There’s a certain amount of societal pressure behind the expectation that friends and family should be able to crash at your place whenever they visit.
If you want to stop the cycle of annoying—and frequently selfish—people using your bathroom all the time, here’s what you need to do.
Skip the spare
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One of the main reasons people want to stay at your house is probably because it’s a comfortable option. We all instinctively want to make guests feel comfortable, even if we don’t want them in the first place, and having a dedicated space for them can send the impression that you do, in fact, want them.
Thus, the most important thing you can do to discourage houseguests is to turn your home into an unwelcoming space for them. Convert your spare bedroom into an office or exercise room. Replace your sleeper-sofa with a non-sleeper model. Get rid of anything designed for the benefit of guests. If you don’t really have a place for folks to stay, it’s easier to say that when people try to invite themselves over. Your most determined guests will insist they can make it work, but by removing the easy accommodations, you’ll discourage the bulk of your guests.
Don’t be a hypocrite
If you’re going to refuse to host overnight guests in your home, you should practice what you preach. It might seem perfectly fair to accept other people’s hospitality—they’re adults and they can choose to host you if they want! But like it or not, this creates a bit of social debt. You’ll be expected to return the favor, and no amount of logical argument concerning our respective freedom to make our own decisions about the use of our property will make you seem like less of a hypocrite. Stay in hotels when you visit people just like you want them to do when they visit you.
Also, don’t issue insincere invitations. It’s easy to say, “you can stay with us!” when someone is casually talking about a trip you doubt they’ll ever take, but people aren’t mind readers. If you invite people over, however casually, folks will assume you mean it, and they will show up. To avoid having to grit your teeth through a visit you didn’t want in the first place or harming a relationship when you awkwardly refuse to honor your invitation, don’t issue it in the first place.
Don’t negotiate—or lie
One of the more difficult aspects of refusing houseguests are the pushy relatives and friends who either assume you’ll host them—and therefore don’t even ask before making plans—or attempt to carve out an exception for themselves despite your clearly-stated desire to never have someone else using all your hot water in the morning. When this happens, the worst thing you can do is start bargaining or negotiating. Offering scaled-down hospitality reinforces the idea that you’re somehow required to host guests, for free, in your home. If this is truly something you don’t want, you have to be firm in your refusal despite the social and emotional pressure being used on you, because it’s not the details of the arrangement that bother you, it’s the arrangement itself—and you have every right to not want guests in your home.
One bad idea? Lying. If someone’s being pushy about staying over, you might think inventing a reason why it’s not possible will solve your problem, but it won’t: It will just delay your problem. And it leads to your friends and family either discovering your lie or suspecting that it’s just them you don’t want, and taking it personally. It’s awkward, but being honest about your desire to be alone in your own house is the way.
Announce your policy
Finally, don’t keep your desire to never host guests a secret. Again, people aren’t psychic, and most people assume that hosting guests is pretty standard and no big deal. Make your policy loud and clear so there’s no confusion. This can be awkward, and you can expect pushback from some folks in your life, but having those awkward conversations now will spare you a lot of trouble later when people don’t even ask you if they can stay over, because they know you won’t allow it.