Cohabitation Consternation

by admin on April 13, 2011

I am currently in a horrible situation where I feel etiquette has been breached.

I am a resident at my college, and my roommate and I have been close all year. What happened the other night changed all that.

We had agreed in the beginning of the year that we would not entertain male guests overnight, as it made me uncomfortable, and feel morally wrong. My roommate, E, began dating a young man (whom I don’t care for) during the school year, and had asked for him to stay a few times, which I allow due to extenuating circumstances, and out of respect for our friendship, although I was uncomfortable.

E Facebook messaged me the other night, when she was at home, asking how I’d feel if she brought him home. I said it would make me uncomfortable, as I didn’t want to be taken advantage of yet again. She continued to force the issue, calling me. I told her that if he came down, he would need to sleep across the hall in the boy’s room (co-ed dorms; I have asked the occupants if it was ok). She freaked, cursing at me, saying she would “never forgive me for this,” “F- you, you’re being f-ing unreasonable, we’re coming whether you like it or not.”

Well. I was horrified, having never been spoken to like this, least of all by her. We have been very close, and I couldn’t believe she was reacting like this. She did bring him back, but they slept elsewhere. She refuses to speak to or look at me.

E’s boyfriend goes to a different college, about an hour away from our school. E didn’t tell me her whole story; apparently, her BF had no ride to his school. She could have either dropped him off, and come back, or stayed there. She instead decided she must have both, because she wanted to go clubbing with a friend that night, and be with her BF. She wanted me to be miserable so she could get what she wanted.

I believe her behavior is way out of proportion, and childish. She knows I dislike her boyfriend (he gives me the creeps, and other friends are in agreement, and he cheated on her multiple times), and I was not going to go sleep elsewhere, and be kicked out of my home because they wanted to have sex, and I believe I had the right to. I feel very disrespected; both as a friend, and as a roommate whose contract has been breached. I’m terrified to even speak to her, and don’t even want to be in my room anymore due to the hostility felt. She also blocked me on Facebook, and when I told her I wasn’t here to fight, but that I needed to protect my privacy, she ignored me.

So she asked me a question, expecting an answer, but got one she didn’t like, and threw a hissy fit. I know there are only a few weeks left of school, but living like this is not fun.  0322-11

When you allowed the “contract” to be breached due to “extenuating curcumstances”, your roommate had already tested the boundaries and found them weak.    So, the first step is to figure out where your line in the sand is and then don’t cross it.   Your line keeps shifting which somewhat negated the social contract you had, at least in the mind of your roommate.

When you revert back to the original contract agreement, all hell breaks loose because E has been allowed to get away with murder, she likes this arrangement and boy, is she going to fight to keep it that way.  E morphs into one of the weirdo aliens from Planet Booron and throws a tantrum of galactic proportions.  Poor baby.   Her wings got clipped and she’s a fluttering frustrated moth.

No one should feel guilty for having a polite spine.   We should be the calm in the storm of self-absorbed tantrums, blissfully carefree as to the drama unfolding around us by those with less refined restraints on their emotions.  One should become like the Margaret Mead of etiquette…quietly, with academic stoicness, studying the odd behaviors of alien beings as if conducting field study for an anthropology degree.

{ 58 comments… read them below or add one }

LMVattimo April 14, 2011 at 9:43 pm

Ah, roommates.

OP, I feel for you. Your best bet is to look at this as a learning experience. Next time, make sure you have set out rules IN WRITING that cover things like having friends/boyfriends over. When my boyfriend and I moved in with some roommates I wanted a written contract detailing how we would take care of bills, cleaning stuff, guests, etc, but he thought that it would be childish to ask other people to participate. When we were all arguing about who would pay for communal apartment supplies he changed his tune.

The point is that expectations need to be clear. When ambiguity enters the situation there is room for people to get hurt.

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Anonymous April 15, 2011 at 1:52 am

@Anderlie–OP can still be taken advantage of if she allowed the boyfriend to stay over under “extenuating circumstances” (snowstorm, car trouble, etc)., and now E just wants her boyfriend to stay over so she can go clubbing and “play Scrabble” on the same night.

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Bint April 15, 2011 at 7:54 am

I’m surprised at posters who think the OP committed to something when she allowed the boyfriend to stay before. The OP has every right to change her mind on E’s boyfriend staying whenever she wants. Just because she has OK’d it in the past – even if they’d never had a contract – doesn’t mean she suddenly loses her right to say actually, I don’t want him here this time.

My old roommate and I often did this. We both had boyfriends, and occasionally one or the other would stay over. Every time we asked each other, and we were free to say no.

The OP was polite about it and explained her position. E responds with a screaming tantrum.

I also think accusing the OP of being self-righteous just because she explained her position to us is a bit rich. She didn’t say she thought E was morally wrong – she merely said it made HER feel morally wrong. Her personal morals, which E accepted at the time, not E’s or anyone else’s. She has also let the BF stay despite feeling uncomfortable several times, so she’s been pretty generous. She’s entitled to put her foot down whenever she likes. It’s her room too.

The OP did nothing my own roommate didn’t. The difference is I didn’t have a screaming tantrum but respected her position. Probably why we’re still best friends 17 years on.

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Enna April 15, 2011 at 9:57 am

I think both OP and E have committed and ettiqute breach here for not communicating in a constructive way in the first place. OP is being a bit high and mighty with her attidute and she has let E’s BF stay a few times. The best thing the OP can do is to learn from it.

1) If you decide to go back on the orginal agreement maybe admend and improve it instead? As in if the roommate’s bf is going to stay it can only be once in a blue moon or in special circumstances.
2) If the BF makes you feel uncomfortable because he is a “creep” and a serial cheater these are geninune grounds for him not to stay.
3) Communicate with your roommate in a constructive non-confrontational way and listen to what she has to say back. Try to find a middle point and comprimise so it is fair for all involved.
4) Being melodramatic, over reacting, arugmenative and swearing will not help the issue. If it is heading that way call it a day, go off for a coffee or tea to calm down.
5) It’s nautral for housemates/roommates to fall out. Best thing to do is try to mend bridges if you haven’t tried to proctet them form being burnt in the first place. Learn from it.

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anonymous April 15, 2011 at 10:56 am

@Mike Johnson – but her roommates don’t have to change their moral views to match hers, either. Clearly this roommate thinks that overnight male guests is fine, and she shouldn’t have to change her views on that just as the OP shouldn’t (I do think the OP has every right to her views and to make requests about overnight guest rules – just that she has no right to insist that they be the house rules if others don’t agree).

I guess what I don’t like about the OP is that she thinks it’s morally wrong to have overnight male guests, which is fine *for her* but she wants it to extend to the roommate, as though her morality covers both of them. I don’t mind if someone has strong feelings about these things, but the second they ask me to live my life as though those moral compunctions also rule me, well, we’d have a dealbreaker.

This happened freshman year of college – three girls who felt overnight male guests were fine (one with a long-distance boyfriend who intended to visit – although even I was annoyed with how they took over the room while he was there), and one who felt it was “wrong”. Three to one, she lost. Sometimes it rolls that way.

But. “E” agreed to the rule, even though if she disagreed she shouldn’t have. The time to voice disagreement was when the agreement was made, at which point I’d have been on her side. She didn’t do that, so she has no-one to blame but herself, and her antics are still inexcusable.

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Anonymous April 15, 2011 at 6:50 pm

@Enna–That’s a good list, but what about the fact that the OP’s been kicked out of her own room when E’s boyfriend has come to stay?

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Margo April 20, 2011 at 5:48 am

I agree that OP’s roommate has behaved badly. Particulalry as OP seems to have been quite constructive (checking out that B/F could stay in the male dorm etc)

It sounds ast though speaking to the RA or senior student to mediate would be sensibke, to try to sort out some boundaries for the future.

I would however comment that OP’s explanation did have a strong flavour of ‘holier than thou’ when I first read it. I do not in any way critisise her for wanting to stick to her guns, or for following her moral princiapls, but sometimes *how* you say things makes just as bog an impression as *what* you say, and I wonder whether OP’s room-mate felt that she was being judged, and if so, whether this was part of the reason for her inappropriate reaction. (I don’t find OP’s position unreasonable – her roomie knew from the outset how she felt, and the two of them agreed the ground rules, but I wonder whether her manner may have been part of the reason why Roomie reacted as she did, rather than in a more civilized way)

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Patricia April 20, 2011 at 1:22 pm

OP was perfectly in the right. It is her room /and/ the roomie’s, not just the roomie’s. OP was being generous by letting the BF stay /multiple/ times before, when she had stated it was something she’s uncomfortable, and her roomie /agreed/. She has a right to put her foot down, even if she has made exceptions in the past.

OP, I’m sorry you are stuck in this situation. I know it’s uncomfortable, but you’ll have to stick it out. Talk to your RA if they can talk to your roomie (because she did try to violate the contract, no matter whether you let her before or not), or due a mediating session, but because the year is almost over, they probably won’t be able to do much. You were very sweet for letting your roomie’s BF stay the night multiple times. She tried to take advantage of that and got angry when you put your foot down, it’s not your fault. Props for saying “no”, don’t let yourself be a pushover. :)

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