Potential roommate drama?
November 17, 2009 12:40 AM   Subscribe

Is it a bad idea to rent a room to a friend who expressed potential romantic interest once?

I have a spare bedroom that I'm renting out. I'm tired of posting a craigslist ad and interviewing strangers, then going through the adjustment period of living with a stranger.

I have a guy friend who I've known for years who is looking for a place to live. (I'm a woman.) This is a friend with whom I fell out of touch for many years, but we got back in touch last year. I let him crash with me for a week during the summer, and we got along well as roommates.

The one weird thing is that last month we were discussing who I could date, and he said, "I've been operating under the assumption that you're not interested in me. Is that correct?" I said that in fact his assumption is correct. He pushed for a reason, but I refused to give one. We then continued our friendship as normal, discussing people we're both dating, etc.

Is it a bad idea to be roommates with him (thereby spending a lot of time in the same physical space)? The lease would be month-to-month, so I could ask him to leave if it gets awkward. Is it naive to think that he can put the possibility out of mind, now that it's very clear?
posted by cheesecake to Human Relations (37 answers total)
 
Yes, this is a bad idea. Maybe not 100% of the time, but often enough that it's almost certainly not worth risking it.

I know this from personal, painful, drama-filled, stupid, ugly, unfair, friendship-destroying experience.
posted by Netzapper at 12:56 AM on November 17, 2009 [8 favorites]


if it had been 6 months, a year, five years ago, where the friend had long term relationships in between, i would say full steam ahead! a month ago, where you never really hashed out the particulars? yeah, no. don't do that to you or him. there are plenty of roommates in the sea.
posted by nadawi at 1:11 AM on November 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


I wholeheartedly agree that you should not let this guy move in. The odds of it getting messy are way too high. Speaking as a woman who lost several straight male friends, one after another, after they moved in with me & another female roommate. In all three cases, there was some little spark of attraction buried in there, but we're all adults, right? Yeah. Everything seemed soooo peachy but it all fell apart, three times with three different men of widely different temperaments. The dramas were horrendous. Avoid.
posted by twistofrhyme at 1:29 AM on November 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


Absolutely, yes, very bad idea. One of my boyfriend's roommates is currently dealing with living with the unwanted affection of a third roommate, who claims he's over it but clearly isn't... Trust me, it's terribly uncomfortable for everyone even peripherally involved, the object of the affection especially. To get over a crush, a person needs time and space. Seeing you every single day, especially in roommate situations (in a towel after the shower, lounging in PJs without a bra, etc.) will guarantee you stay on his mind, romantically speaking, and will absolutely prevent him from being able to get over you. Plus the awkwardness and jealousy that could arise if you bring a guy home, or the terrible aftermath of you two getting drunk and making out one night... Seriously, don't do this. The potential for badness is astronomical.
posted by Captain Cardanthian! at 1:35 AM on November 17, 2009


As someone who has had a huge, unrequited crush on a former flatmate, I can confirm that this is absolutely not something you want to put this guy through.
posted by creeky at 1:39 AM on November 17, 2009


Bad idea. Next question.
posted by meadowlark lime at 1:44 AM on November 17, 2009


An absolute disaster waiting to happen. Danger, Will Robinson.
posted by Justinian at 1:51 AM on November 17, 2009


Alert. Warning. Danger.

Just no.
posted by zippy at 2:07 AM on November 17, 2009


Don't do it. Never ends well. Friendship destroyer.
posted by dabitch at 2:31 AM on November 17, 2009


That your intuition is nudging you to ask the question is all the information you need ...bad idea!
posted by LivinginYes at 2:57 AM on November 17, 2009


Phewy! I had a crush on Man X, moved in with him 8 months later (this was 5 years ago) and we have become the closest most dear friends. Living with him made me realise that I was not really romantically or physically attracted to him, but it also let me understand what an amazing beautiful human he truly is. I love him dearly in all the best ways.
posted by Kerasia at 4:01 AM on November 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


Drama alert, abort, abort.......

Really, this sounds like a bad idea. It might be just fine, but it could be incredibly awful and painful for both of you. It's not worth the risk.
posted by caddis at 4:06 AM on November 17, 2009


Phewy! I had a crush on Man X, moved in with him 8 months later (this was 5 years ago) and we have become the closest most dear friends. Living with him made me realise that I was not really romantically or physically attracted to him,

I deduce from this statement that you are female. I don't presume that, I deduce it from the fact that it worked out all right, and that you had the crush.

The situation would not have ended so amicably had he had the crush. Likewise, were you a homosexual male, this would not have ended so well, either. (Or you would have wound up as fuck buddies, but whatever.)

While I'm sure there are exceptions, for the most part, a man cannot live with the object of his unrequited affections without those affections becoming stronger. I have never heard of it not ending in disaster; and I have heard many stories of it ending horribly. In my case, it very nearly ended in my suicide--and I don't mean that humorously or flippantly, I mean that as in lying-nude-in-the-tub-with-a-loaded-pistol.
posted by Netzapper at 4:25 AM on November 17, 2009 [6 favorites]


Look at the words "He pushed for a reason".

I (male) could, under similar circumstances, well imagine myself asking "I've been operating under the assumption that you're not interested in me. Is that correct?". That is, assuming I myself am not "interested" in you but would like to rent the room. (fwiw, I would typically have done this when I was in my early twenties, highly interested in the dating game, but inexperienced, insecure and ridiculously afraid of any attention by/attachment to the "wrong" girl.)

But the 'why not' question does it. Either this was Narcissus speaking (wondering why in the world there can be such a thing like a girl not interested in him), or he plain old Wants You (taking the room as an additional bonus); no matter, it won't work, ever.
posted by Namlit at 4:59 AM on November 17, 2009 [3 favorites]


It's a great idea for him. For you, no no no.
posted by rahnefan at 5:03 AM on November 17, 2009


You told him no, and then you say he "pushed you for a reason".

The worst case scenario is that, if he were living with you, that it'd be awfully easy for him to come into your room in the middle of the night and "push you for" something else. Granted, the chances of that happening are VERY remote, but that "pushed you for a reason" is a bit of a warning flag for me.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:24 AM on November 17, 2009


Is it naive to think that he can put the possibility out of mind, now that it's very clear?

It's so naive that I'm worried about you being home alone in your apartment with sharp objects and a stove.

It's possible that he could be over it and things work out fine, but the odds are probably stacked against you. Craigslist sounds like a better option for finding a drama free roommate.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:44 AM on November 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


If he pushed you for a reason, you guys have negligible chances for even remaining friends. Guys won't ask for reasons unless they are really seriously into you. A couple minor "oh, maybe my friend wants to get it on" thoughts just don't prompt those nagging introspective questions. Oh, a smart guy wouldn't ask that question under any circumstances. Forget about this friendship.
posted by jeffburdges at 6:29 AM on November 17, 2009


Sounds like a bad idea, but I suppose there's a possibility he accepted your clarity last time, and has already moved past it.

"I've been operating under the assumption that you're not interested in me. Is that correct?" I said that in fact his assumption is correct.

I mean, he heard that, right? So if you do want to live with him now, be sure to restate that again first. "Okay, you remember that this is NOT going to be a romantic thing, ever, right?"

Just so you're not later accused of leading him on, or something.
posted by rokusan at 6:35 AM on November 17, 2009


I'll take the contrary position and say that this could be fine.

So, he may have a crush on you. What's the big deal? He doesn't sound like the pushy obnoxious type or the flameout type. He may have some wistful romantic feelings floating through his head. But if you make your position clear, it needed be a problem.

As a boy who has often had crushes (requited and unrequited) on my roommates, I can state that it really doesn't need to interfere with successful roommate life.

Given that the other choice is random joe (or jane) from Craigslist, I'd talk with him and go for it.
posted by alms at 6:51 AM on November 17, 2009


i'm going to go against the flow, and say it would be okay. you like this guy enough to be friends with him. you had a discussion that made it clear that you weren't interested in him romantically. if he's willing to move in, i'm guessing he's gotten over you--or never really had a thing for you in the first place.
posted by lester at 7:54 AM on November 17, 2009


I've heartily agree with EmpressCallipygos here. The expectation that you provide a reason for not being interested is a big red flag. I can see myself asking that when I was a much younger man and it makes me cringe to think of it. It's indicative of mindset that will require you to continually provide status updates and justification for how you feel. Possible upside - tolerable roomate. Possible dowside - daily existential nightmare.
posted by Babblesort at 8:04 AM on November 17, 2009


- er.. got to heartily...
posted by Babblesort at 8:04 AM on November 17, 2009


I agree this is a bad idea but...

The worst case scenario is that, if he were living with you, that it'd be awfully easy for him to come into your room in the middle of the night and "push you for" something else. Granted, the chances of that happening are VERY remote, but that "pushed you for a reason" is a bit of a warning flag for me.

Wow. Rape is a long way from asking why someone isn't interested in them. And I think this is reading way too much into the phrasing "push for a reason". We don't know what that really means, but we do know the go didn't really push too hard because:

We then continued our friendship as normal, discussing people we're both dating, etc.

For all we know, "pushed for a reason" means he asked twice; which doesn't lead me to creepy rapist town.
posted by spaltavian at 8:06 AM on November 17, 2009 [4 favorites]


a thousand times "bad idea"
This never, ever, ever ends well.
posted by Seamus at 8:17 AM on November 17, 2009


Rape is a long way from asking why someone isn't interested in them. And I think this is reading way too much into the phrasing "push for a reason".

Which is why I issued the disclaimers that this was probably unlikely and a worst-case scenario.

And yes, the "pushing for a reason" could have indeed simply been "asked twice and then dropped it", but to me, it feels a little creepy/needy/clingy, and people who are needy and clingy sometimes get a bit confused about boundary issues -- and I personally wouldn't want to live with someone with boundary issues, is all.

My scenario was somewhat far-fetched, and I acknowledge that, but still -- boundary issues + roommate who was into you could equal verybadthings is all.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:35 AM on November 17, 2009


I'm gonna hit the other side of this, too. I asked a guy out freshman year of college, fairly early in a really intense friendship. He said no, we hung out with his family that night (awkward), were mostly inseparable for the rest of the school year, and were roommates a year and a half later. We each happily dated other people throughout. There was no lingering weirdness from my asking, and he remains one of my best friends on the planet.
posted by lauranesson at 8:46 AM on November 17, 2009


I don't think anyone is saying it would NEVER be able to happen, laura. The difference between your scenario and the op's is this:

and were roommates a year and a half later.

You got past it, but it was a YEAR before you tried being roommates. With the OP's case, it would only have been a MONTH. That....may not be the best idea to do this so SOON, is all.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:53 AM on November 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


This is a BAD IDEA, if only because it's too soon. I have to agree that if there was a long time, and a serious relationship or two between the "you're not interested in me" conversation and moving in, it might not be such a bad idea...

Sometimes being roommates with the most platonic of friends (even those of the same gender) can be a nightmare. When an unrequited crush is involved, it's almost always a nightmare. The jealousy alone, in a similar situation, lost me a very good friend.
posted by MuChao at 9:27 AM on November 17, 2009


There's the possibility that he was just worried that you're flirting with him and wanted some reason from your end so that he can tell himself "no, she's not flirting with me seriously, she hates redheads!" It's more likely he was looking for a reason in order to know what to improve in order to date you, and in that case good call not giving one and probably good idea not taking him on as a roomie either. But he's your friend and you'll have to judge. I would like some more time, if it were me, to make sure that he isn't going to keep pestering you for reasons and to be sure that he isn't going to use roommate status as a way to prove your compatibility. Can't you just see it now - "but I do the dishes every day, and I pick up all my own laundry, and I'm nice to your other friends, why won't you daaate meeee?" (in subtext if not in words.)
posted by Lady Li at 9:32 AM on November 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


And to add one more voice to an already very full chorus:

Don't do this.

As Netzapper suggests, living with your friend would probably just magnify his attraction toward you.
posted by darth_tedious at 10:31 AM on November 17, 2009


Those of you who had this work out "8 months later" and "a year and a half later" are not getting that these folks had this conversation one month ago.

So the OP's question is "Should I be roommates with someone one month after we discussed his romantic interest in me?" and of course the answer is HOLY FUCK NO.
posted by Sidhedevil at 11:08 AM on November 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


The reason why this doesn't work, for the record, is that dude is probably not over you yet. And having your fabulous presence in his home every single day will not help facilitate that one iota. Hell, it might amplify it.
posted by jenfullmoon at 2:55 PM on November 17, 2009


Only you can say for sure whether this was an off-the-cuff curious question from a guy who's got few hangups and is dating lots of women OR if he's got a legit crush. If you're at all leaning towards "massive crush", avoid. But I can totally see myself asking a female friend this question just to satisfy my own raging ego and not thinking about it again.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 2:59 PM on November 17, 2009


I agree that the fact that he pushed you to give him a reason is a BIG RED FLAG.

It indicates that he doesn't respect that you just aren't into him, that you have to have a reason for your preferences and likes, and it indicates that he thinks he can "convince" you to be into him.

Bad, bad, bad. Don't do it.
posted by kathrineg at 4:01 PM on November 17, 2009


It's a bad idea.
posted by ixohoxi at 5:02 PM on November 17, 2009


Bad, bad idea. All sorts of creepy possibilities come to mind. Do not live with this guy.
posted by TooFewShoes at 1:52 AM on November 19, 2009


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