Thursday, April 17, 2008

In Your Shoes

Dear Aunt Babz,

I have been best friends with my roommate since 3rd grade. Two and a half years ago we got an apartment together and everything has been great. About 6 months ago she started dating a new guy, which is great, but lately it is starting to become a problem for me. He stays at our apartment 3-4 nights a week and I am starting to feel like he is almost living here, except he doesn't chip in for rent. When he is here the two of them take over the apartment so I often end up sitting in my room for the evening. I like her boyfriend and I am glad my roommate is so happy but I don't really want to live with a couple. I don't want to tell her not to hangout with him so often but I really can't take this living situation much longer. I want to move out and get my own apartment but I'm not sure how to go about that without destroying my friendship. My roommate doesn't really have anyone else to live with and I know her parents wouldn't let her live with a boyfriend before marriage but on the other hand I feel like I have to do what will make me happy because I know they won't change. My roommate has also become very distant and confrontational since she started dating this guy so I have a bad feeling that whatever I say she is going to take it the wrong way. Am I over reacting? What should I do? HELP!

Dear Friend,

No, I don't feel you are over reacting, at all. I could immediately feel and I get the distinct feeling that you are being more than fair. I also think you are only trying to be considerate too. But when it's all said and done, you are right; You have to do what will make you happy.

This is one of those sticky situations where you'll be damned if you do and damned if you don't. Might as well grab the bull by the horns and be damned on your own terms.

If it were me, I would write a carefully orchestrated letter. I am a huge fan of writing letters and here's why. As well, I would choose my words rather diplomatically. I mean, where you can, be diplomatic, I would but you'll have to be assertive and state your needs.

If I were you, in that letter, I'd try to put things into perspective for your BF. By explaining things in terms, she can't help but understand, you may be able to save your friendship? You'll be smart to start the letter out by stating that, while you realize that writing her this letter may seem a bit impersonal, you care enough about her to design this letter so that you would minimize any bad feelings. Yes, you care enough to think it all through and the last thing you want to do, is jeopardize your long term friendship

Go on to tell her that the reason you are writing is that you have become quite uncomfortable with your living arrangements as they are. Tell her, "You must admit, that when we moved in together, it was with the understanding that it would be just the two of you. And before you think anything of it, you are not implying that your boyfriend is living with you both. But just imagine, if the shoe was on the other foot and your boyfriend spent so much time here, would you be uncomfortable, as I am?"

I would make sure, at this point, you let her know that you are more than happy for her. You are glad she's found love and you enjoy seeing her happy. You wouldn't want to change a thing, in that respect. "However, I have become uncomfortable in my own home, as I believe you would also be, if you came home and I had my boyfriend there. You would feel like the 'third wheel', in the way and so on. To afford you privacy, I feel I must stay in my room, stay out of your way, simply out of consideration. This then limits my freedom within our home. I am not saying this is your fault but am simply stating the facts, my emotions. I think you would feel awkward as well, if the situation were switched? Would you or would you not feel that you wanted to be the considerate roomie, as I have tried so very hard to be and stay out of the way, so I might enjoy my time with my boyfriend? After all, when [insert name] comes to our apartment, he's there to visit you, not me? Therefore, I feel the need to go to my room. Again, I am not finding fault here, as if it were me, I would want my boyfriend around as well and I want you to be happy."

Now, I would not mention your knowledge as to her situation or rather the demands of her parents concerning her not living with a guy before marriage. I hate to say it but that's her problem, not yours. In fact, I don't mean to be cruel but she's placed you in a rather precarious position and none of this is fair to you. Sure, we want her to be happy but not at the extent of your happiness, comfort in your own home and feeling every time he comes over, as awkward as that 3rd wheel. It's just not fair but it is a situation, I just know you can relate to.

Yes, I would write the letter, making no demands upon her but simply stating your intentions, reasoning and your wish for her happiness. Making the latter clearly stated, you state that you are moving so you'll both have your privacy. Maybe then, you could point out that "she knows how private you are and that you hope she understands that you feel rather uncomfortable, as things are."

I would reiterate that you wish her the very best, it makes you so very happy that she's found love and that, you "pray, she cares enough to understand your feelings and can put herself in your shoes with an open mind and heart." If you word it this way, if she does go off about it, it'll be self evident that she obviously does not care enough to place herself in your position with that open mind and heart. In short, she was never your real friend, to begin with.

I hope she'll see things as they truly are but if she can't or won't, the eventuality of it all is short-n-sweet; You deserve a better friend, one which she obviously was not from the word go. Let's hope she can wear your shoe size, huh?

Keeping It Real,

Aunt Babz

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