‘She expects us not to do anything of a sexual nature’

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I'm in a complicated situation. I have been friends with Z for almost a year and a half now. Everything was really going well. We were never that close but we had a good relationship that didn't have any drama. Then I decided it would be fine to date her younger brother. Fast forward a couple of months; her brother and I are doing really well, and at this stage he is one of the best things in my life. Z and a friend and I moved in together at the start of this year. Cue deflating balloon noise.

In our house we each have our own rooms. My room is on the opposite side of the house as Z's, and I have my own private bathroom. A few weeks ago, my boyfriend and I were in the shower together. Z needed something from him and was knocking at my room door, only to be extremely upset with me for opening the door in a towel – because of what it meant that I was in a towel. We had a massive fight about it later with her accusing me of being insensitive to her. She expects us not to do anything of a sexual nature unless it's at night when she’s asleep or when she isn't at home. I don't know what to do now. My boyfriend and I have always been discreet in our activities and have never even made out in a shared space. The woman who lives in the room right next to mine had never even hinted that she knew what we were doing.

I don't know if I'm comfortable with having restrictions in my own space just because Z struggles with the idea of it. And I know it's difficult with it being her brother, but I've honestly tried very hard to make sure we don't make her uncomfortable when we're all together. But she has just been making it so hard, I can't even make a dirty joke around her because she cringes and gets uncomfortable. Am I wrong for not wanting to have rules in my own private space? Please help me navigate this situation.

- desperate


You're not wrong, but I'm not sure it matters. If Z is uncomfortable with this setup, it might be time to move. You want to feel relaxed in your own home. You're happy to respect boundaries, but that doesn't mean you're willing to hide all of your happiness. That means you might be better off with roommates who aren't your friends. It's annoying to have to pick up and leave, but ... it'll be pretty annoying to stick around, right? You don't have to pack up right this second, but maybe commit to finding a new space by the time the lease is up. The next few months will feel better if you have a plan in place.

I'm not sure how news of the move will go over with Z. She might be disappointed, offended, and maybe even embarrassed. But you can tell her you're doing this to make everyone as comfy as possible. She might retreat from you, but let's remember what you shared in your first paragraph. You were quick to tell us you were "never that close" with Z.

I keep thinking that the move will be necessary no matter what happens with your boyfriend. If this relationship doesn't work out (for the record, I very much hope it does), you probably won't want to be looking at his sister all night. No matter what happens, you'll want to have space to let the relationship grow or run its course.

– Meredith

Readers? Should the LW's boyfriend step in to deal with Z? How involved should he be in this conversation?