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A Man Of The Sloth

I've been living with this guy for three years, and it clearly isn’t working anymore. Neither is he -- working, that is. He isn’t a complete loafer, but he brings in the mail, not an income. He does some stuff around the house, but both money and sex are nonexistent, and he’s never gotten serious about looking for a job. I’m ready to say “Adios, amigo.” Problem is, he’s a decent guy: emotionally present, genuinely kind. How can I push Mr. Nice Guy out when he has no job, no money, and nowhere to go?

--Vexed and Vacillating

"Parasite seeks new hostess”? He’ll get right on it. Well, sometime. If only he weren’t so busy bonding with the upholstery on your couch, he might find time to pore over the classifieds for a position that suits him: one in which the job description matches that of a throw pillow. To you, of course, he’s more than some couch accessory. In fact, with those long, perilous treks to the mailbox and those work-like motions he occasionally makes with a feather duster, he’s practically CEO of your couch.

You can’t complain that the guy’s ambitionless. He’s actively seeking to remain as inactive as possible. That’s where the “decent guy” show comes in handy. Then again, maybe he really is “emotionally present” -- except when the subject of his departure comes up, and he takes an emotional sick day. Regarding his being “genuinely kind,” if only he’d be genuinely kind enough to blend into his native couch environment, much like those insects that look just like twigs, so you could start taking applications from potential new boyfriends. All he’d have to do is get a full-body tattoo in bold florals or subtly-striped velour, whichever matches the pattern on your couch. If you date men with bad eyesight and keep the lights low, who’s to say whether that’s a should-be ex-boyfriend or a should-be ex-boyfriend-shaped throw pillow on your couch?

Finally, in cataloging his many good qualities, you forgot to mention how practical he is. Why, indeed, would he go looking for a job, money, or an apartment? You already have all those things. What you don’t have is a boyfriend who will have sex with you or sometimes spring for dinner, and you won’t until you close the homeless shelter for lazy upper middle-class men. This requires ditching your self-image as someone too “kind” to drop-kick a man who doesn’t seem to care about money (just as long as you’re bringing it in).

Give the guy a two-week deadline to find another woman to sponge off -- uh, get his life in order and get it out of your house. Whether his life is actually in order on the appointed day is unimportant; what matters is that it no longer remains in your house, and neither does he. Although it isn’t your job to pack his stuff, since his stuff is unlikely to grow legs and hop into boxes, you’ll probably have to do it anyway. Get a friend to help -- someone beyond tired of advising you to scrape the giant barnacle off your hull.

Make an appointment with a locksmith for “Barnacle Bye-Bye Day,” which you might refer to in his presence as “The Day The Locks Will Change.” This should let him know you’re serious. It should, but it probably won’t. Be prepared for him to continue modeling his behavior on that of natural-born upholstery, and be prepared to act accordingly: like a woman ready for a boyfriend who accompanies her to BED, BATH, AND BEYOND because he might buy something, not because he identifies with decorative objects designed to lie around the house.

Copyright ©2003, Amy Alkon, from her syndicated column, "The Advice Goddess," which appears in over 100 papers across the U.S. and Canada. All rights reserved.