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Carlton Senior Living Pleasant Hill | April 30, 2018 | By Denee Coleman

Ask The Elders: Clash of the Cohabitating Cousins

Carlton’s residents love sharing the wisdom they have gained through years of experience and do so regularly through Elder Wisdom Circle, an online community which connects advice-seekers with insightful and thoughtful seniors who offer their advice on a range of topics.

We hope you’ll enjoy our Ask The Elders series and our second letter comes to us from a frustrated advisee who is tired of dealing with her conceited cousin who is also her roommate:

Dear Elders:

I currently live with my self-centered cousin in a house we rent together and I’m planning to move in August because I just can’t deal with her anymore. When she comes home from work all she does is drink, smoke and complain about how stressed she is. I try to support her and to be a good listener but she never does the same for me. Everything with my cousin is always about her and I’m never able to say anything without her making the conversation about herself. I’m really starting to dislike my cousin and am concerned about the future of our relationship.

I’m also concerned because my cousin insists that we should divide the furnishing of our 50/50 when I move out this summer although I am the one who purchased all of it. Her sense of entitlement is really getting to me and I’m not sure what to do to tolerate living with her until I finally move. How should I go about managing the rocky relationship with my cousin? I need help! — Cousin in Conflict


Cousin in Conflict:

CSL Elder Advice PanelThank you for reaching out to us. It is very sad when personalities clash within families resulting in resentment. Unfortunately, there is very little you can do to make your cousin understand your perspective if she is not willing to communicate openly.

Based on your previous confrontations, it seems that your cousin is quite narcissistic and likely values her opinion above all others. Because of this, we suggest that you make an effort to avoid getting into anymore arguments with her while you are living together. To do this you may need to simply walk away from conversations with your cousin that could escalate into arguments. This may also require distancing yourself from her and staying in your room or leaving the apartment altogether when she is present in order to keep the peace and reduce your stress level for the time being.

As far as your apartment furnishings, it’s wrong of your cousin to claim the items she wants as if they are community property when you purchased them with your own money. Based on your letter, it’s unclear as to who has a claim to the actual apartment but we suggest writing a letter to your cousin expressing your intent to move out in August and that you will be taking any items you had purchased with you when you move. It would also be wise to list the specific items you will be taking so that you have a written record of your communication with her to protect yourself in the future – be sure to date the letter and include the date you intend to move.

We urge you to be cautious when selecting future living partners and that you should put written agreements in place regarding any possessions that will be used in the common areas of the home prior to move-in to prevent any similar situations. Family is very important and we hope that once you are no longer roommates the relationship between you and your cousin will improve and grow with time. We wish you all the best and hope that your August move will bring you closure and relief. — Carlton Elder Advice Panel

Need Advice?

Contact Carlton with your question or conundrum and your submission may be selected to go before our panel of thoughtful seniors who will offer the kind of guidance and wisdom that can only be gained from years of experience.

View additional advice letters: Ask the Elders