For comfort in a strange environment, nothing beats the hospitality of a host, especially if you can’t afford to live on your own. A relocation is a stressful life event, and a host can supply a support system for everything from dining options to transportation.

Such arrangements typically materialize when someone visits you first and demonstrates interest in an exchange, as indicated when you hear phrases like these:

  • “I don’t think you should touch that.”
  • “Let’s get out of this dank cave.”
  • “We don’t need a sample.”
  • “Do. Not. Touch. That.”
  • “Are you taking your helmet off?”

While it’s natural to romanticize a new life, the accommodations may not live up to the fantasy. There can be structural imbalances, with weight distributed on just two legs. There could be a lack of insulation — no armor, scales, or even fur. Your host could have an all-too-apparent predilection for Taco Bell, detritus permeating everything, including major arteries.

It’s tempting to treat a space with abandon, especially if the host is doing that, but humans reach breaking point unbelievably fast. You’ll feel quite small if ejected someplace far from home, in touch with no one, a wriggly speck in a hostile world. Worse yet, you could lose the friendship.

The difference between a pleasant stay and a disastrous one may be your manners. Put yourself in your host’s shoes,  and you’ll feel how draining it is when a guest occupies all your intimate spaces.

Prevent ugly scenes by adhering to the following:

  • Give the host a heads up. Hosts enjoy good surprises like lottery wins or remembering why they went downstairs. A guest who’s clingy, especially to the head area, isn’t a good surprise.
  • Get in synch. Let a host find its way to bed or to a hypnotic state that you provide free of charge and then impose yourself into mouth, nostrils, ears, etc.
  • If a host has been alerted to your arrival, avoid being late. A worried host could go searching for you. If delayed, call! Be as human as possible when you explain you’ve picked up a Cheesy Gordita Crunch and they should wait by the door.
  • In exchange for the extra laundry, you’ll generate, bring a small thank-you gift —possibly something unique to your home planet like a mind-control fungus. Or offer something humans enjoy, like news of a rival’s unfortunate tattoo.
  • Be flexible. This shared space is temporary for you, but a full-time home to your host. To avoid eruptions—identifiable by white foam from the mouth—adapt to habits like breathing and digestion. If a tumor was already underway when you arrived, what are you doing to nurture it? Consider all the host’s needs during your stay.
  • Be tidy. If you have showered in body fluids, towel off before excursions.
  • Do things without being asked. This could include enhancing a host’s low brainpower, exterminating nosy neighbors, or using a coaster.
  • Share meals. Accept that the host lives here, too.
  • Don’t eat the host’s food, especially free-range dogs and cats in the home.
  • Shapeshift into something useful, like a Roomba.
  • Don’t rummage around in a host’s brain for memories they don’t wish to share.
  • Limit wifi use when contacting brethren.
  • Don’t use the host’s home for sexy time. This should not need to be said, but it is especially crucial because hosts may expel you on the spot due to all of the open orifices involved.
  • Do not rely on the host for long-haul transportation. Under no circumstances should you drive the host’s car, not even if summoned someplace. And don’t suggest the host chauffeur you around—this will only breed conflict, resentment, or stress-induced larvae. The safest bet is public transportation, which is better for the environment and also provides a great opportunity to meet people to care for offspring you’ll shed on purpose.
  • Don’t treat your host like a stranger. In some cases, a host is a family member, often a twin who enveloped you in utero. This relative probably consumed your resources and your parents’ attention, so it’s only natural to feel unseen. With bad blood, you could be treated as “alien,” even if you’re a local. But try to view the situation as a chance to be the bigger person.
    • Take care to bend joints forwards when you lower yourself onto the davenport. Bending a host’s joints backwards could be construed as malignant behavior.
    • If your disgustingly large twin must attend a work meeting, feel free to tag along. But do not speak, not even if the supervisor invites a “brain dump” and you have a lot of ideas.
    • Don’t disappear for days on end, hiding your face in your twin’s hair, leaving her wondering what you’re up to. This isn’t a HairBnB.
  • Take note of passive-aggressive comments. If the partnership is going sour, a host might imply you’ve transgressed, even though you haven’t. Watch for claims to have “taken up too much of your time” or that a broken grandparent requires repair. Be vigilant for all signs a stay could come to a premature end. Does the host:
    • Complain about your activities to others, especially people wearing glasses or PPE?
    • Suggest you check out other nearby hosts with better amenities? Upon closer inspection, do these “swimming pools” smell of formaldehyde?
    • Manipulate the thermostat in the shared space? Some hosts would rather freeze or boil you out than engage in open exchange with you.
  • Learn from each experience. The next time, choose a host who’s more compatible, someone who’ll be forthcoming about all feelings, plans, and intentions, such as an online influencer or an undergraduate at a liberal arts college.
  • End on a strong note. When you decide to move on, do so deliberately. Don’t forget to leave the space cleaner than you found it. Make sure all the garbage that’s inside, finds its way out.

Say thank you. Turn out the lights.