Pinings: Third Wheel
by Sherry Hughes email@example.com
Please help me! My roommate has a boyfriend I canít stand! This man has no respect for her or anyone else. He comes over all the time, despite the talks Iíve had with her about my dislike for him. He is super inconsiderate, disrespectful and absolutely self-centered. Any time they go out, she pays, and itís always some place expensive. Instead of paying his bills or spoiling her, he buys things for himself and does the absolute minimum for her. She leaves him at our house when sheís not home and instead of looking for a job (he works part time and is always calling out) he sits around, eats our food and plays video games or watches TV. He never picks up after himself, and sheís not good at picking up after herself ó let alone herself and someone else ó so I end up doing it. I know I shouldnít and Iím not trying to enable the situation, but she just gets defensive or pissed off, and itís easier than fighting about it. Iíve told her how his inconsideration of her (and me) bothers me, and how she and I deserve better, especially in our own house, but she doesnít listen, and is convinced that heís going to change for her. Itís so hard to watch, because while the rest of us were all partying and having fun, she was living at home and paying her own way through college, and all I can do is sit back and watch her throw it all away. Is there anything else I could be doing, or say that might make a difference?
Disgruntled @ Home
I donít know if there is much you can do about your roommateís dating habits, but there are plenty of things you can do to change the atmosphere you live in.
First off, unless you discussed it ahead of time, itís not OK for the boyfriend to hang around the house when your roommate isnít there. You are entitled to your privacy, and if he isnít paying rent, itís not fair for him to eat your food and watch your TV and in general, mooch off you two without everyoneís consent. I doubt youíd have a problem with him being there a half hour before she came home from work. Itís the big chunks of time when you and he are alone, right?
It also might be in your best interests to shop separately for food and be clear about what food belongs to which roommate. Itís a tough situation to negotiate (because you may be perceived as being selfish), but when a former roommate of mine was constantly using my pricey cosmetics (without permission) I knew we needed to establish more clear boundaries. Sometimes, you just have to draw a hard line.
In terms of your roommateís relationship, thereís not much you can do and anything you say may fall on deaf ears. Itís too bad that she is in a relationship that seems so one-sided, from your perspective. But she may love the guy and she may believe he will change. And he may. People change all the time. The key for you is to stand up for yourself and not allow this guy to manipulate you the way he manipulates his girlfriend.
Sherry Hughes welcomes letters from readers at firstname.lastname@example.org