A recently widowed acquaintance of mine (and her two-year-old toddler) just moved in with me. They are wonderful housemates, however, we have completely different social styles. I am very much an introvert, and she is more of an extrovert. I work very long shifts, and at the end of the day, I want to come home and spend time watching TV or reading. I also relish enjoying a cup of coffee on my own in the morning. She, on the other hand, wants to talk as soon as she hears I am awake. Same thing when I come home from work. She has even come in to chit-chat while I am working in my home office. I realize she may feel lonely after losing her husband less than three months ago, and want to be there for her, however, she's driving me crazy. I need alone time to function and maintain my sanity. What should I do?
Please help me!
You're right on that she's probably feels lonely. I'm guessing she's taking care of her toddler all day (who probably isn't much of a conversationalist). Even if she does go out to work, she's used to having someone around to talk to at home and suddenly that person is gone. I'm glad you're sensitive to this and it sounds like you're already being an amazingly supportive friend.
However, it's your home too and you need to set up conditions that make you comfortable and that you can sustain over the long run. That means having a conversation with her. Just as she feels comfortable talking to you, you should feel comfortable enough to say, "I really can't chat right now, I have to do some work in my office." Make sure to mention that you love chatting with her and you want her to feel like she has someone she can talk to if she's feeling sad, but that you also need to schedule some alone time for yourself to recharge; that's just the way you are and it has nothing to do with her.
Once you've established that that's your M.O., you can nip future problems in the bud. When she's getting on your nerves, you can just cheerfully say, "I need a little alone time!" and then take some!