My roommate, for the "most generous, altruistic reasons," is making my possessions disappear and become disfigured.
February 10, 2011 8:54 PM   Subscribe

Help me find a new strategy with my "good-hearted, altruistic, generous" roommate who lends out my belongings to neighbors, damages and uses up my stuff. Please.

MeFites, my roommate is a mid-twenties free spirit who is a lovely spirit, generous to a fault, but has very little respect for others' things. When she moved in, I set the tone for our household to be one of sharing; I wanted to frequently share my dinners with her. I made it clear that things I own in common areas are fair game (kitchen stuff, etc). I've specified what is mine, what I choose not to share, what is NOT fair game for her use.

I love this roommate, but since the beginning, there has been major boundary crossing. My things go missing. My food, shampoo, mouthwash, household cleaners get used up. Worst of all, when I can't find things, she turns white and tells me they are at "so-and-so's house" and rushes off to get them.

When she ruined my good towels by using them at the school, she said, "Why do you need good towels anyway?! We're so spoiled in this country!" implying I was being selfish and materialistic. Guilting me for expecting my roommate to exercise normal, healthy respect for others' property.

I've had at least four "boundary clarification" talks with her. I have expressed that while I am happy to let her use my things IN OUR HOME, they are NOT to leave the house without my permission. I have clearly stated, "Hey, I am the one who gets to decide whether you use my belongings. You don't get to decide for me."

After a major episode when she lent my sewing box out to one neighbor and our vacuum to another, I set a tangible boundary to keep my things safe and put a lock on my bedroom door. But she STILL is taking things to the school where she works...things she presumes are "No big deal." My grandmother's rolling pin. My only nice set of dinner napkins (both now ruined or gone.) I've told her the next time I find something missing, rent will go up $50 a month for each missing thing (and that's in addition to her replacing what's gone.)

She offers me her food, to use her clothes or hair products, etc. "any time" which is lovely and generous and selfless...buys little presents, has offered to lend me money, helps and cleans up around the house, etc...and I genuinely like her as a person, but I'm really struggling with how to deal with this. In some ways, I feel like I'm dealing with a stubborn, incorrigible, spoiled teenager.

Please note: right now for various reasons, I cannot ask her to move out, so please help me come up with solutions to the situation I'm presently in.

Since being laid off, I have been seriously underemployed and barely paying the bills. I'm starting a new job next month so this stress will lighten soon, but in the last few months with her using up the little I have, it has been very difficult. Knowing she might be sneaking my shampoo and eating the food I bought for myself has been threatening my sense of well-being. I realize deep mistrust has set in.

I've said and done all the constructive things I can think of. But clearly, she doesn't "get it." Healthy boundaries and grownup considerations.

Can anyone help? I'm at my wit's end.
posted by sleeping beauty to Human Relations (51 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
You need a new roommate.
posted by fifilaru at 8:59 PM on February 10, 2011 [19 favorites]

Can you rephrase the taking of your items as theft, as opposed to a mere boundary violations? Maybe a threat of an arrest and conviction will wake her the hell up.
posted by murrey at 8:59 PM on February 10, 2011 [3 favorites]

i would rethink your description of her as a 'free spirit'. what you're describing is a thief and a bully. murrey is right. give her a final warning, and then call the cops. she's counting on you being easy to take advantage of.
posted by facetious at 9:02 PM on February 10, 2011 [7 favorites]

It's very easy to be "generous to a fault" when it's not your stuff. This description put me over the edge:

When she ruined my good towels by using them at the school, she said, "Why do you need good towels anyway?! We're so spoiled in this country!" implying I was being selfish and materialistic.

I KNOW this person: happy to use your utilities while criticizing you as brainwashed for having them. (See: cable TV, internet, washer/dryer, etc.) Helping themselves to everything then picking on you for being materialistic. Reaping all the benefits from stuff, none of the costs, then lecturing you when they wreck it. Grrr...

Since you have reasons that she can't move out, I suggest the following (note: these will be a pain for you, but may help the situation come to a head):
- Get a mini-fridge and put it in your locked room. No food in community refrigerator.
- Have a tote with your bathroom stuff in your locked room and carry what you need as you need it.

I'm typing this, and it sounds awful... but if having her move out is not negotiable, this is what you need to do.
posted by sfkiddo at 9:23 PM on February 10, 2011 [10 favorites]

Either move out, or break down and scream at her for 5 minutes. If you make a SERIOUS impression that you are crazy and seriously pissed off, that may do it.
posted by Slinga at 9:41 PM on February 10, 2011 [4 favorites]

Slinga, that was my response too. You've done the nice thing of having 'boundary crossing' chats. When this happens again, and it will of course, give a very serious performance of anger and frustration. Now it's time to go ballistic. Make an impression that this shit really matters to you.
posted by honey-barbara at 9:59 PM on February 10, 2011

Withhold your entire share of the rent and utilities until she stops? If she doesn't mind using your stuff like it's hers, then she shouldn't mind you using her money? What does she need that extra money for anyway, we're so spoiled in this country.

Good god, if it wasn't for the self-righteous bit, I would've asked if she came from a really large family. My dad does and he has no concept of private property (being one of six kids) and never truly had a roommate, but also is very generous to everyone and doesn't care what of his you borrow or use. Still, I was totally embarrassed when he came over to my place one time in college and helped himself to my roommate's beer without asking.

Still, this is not her. She just seems disrespectful and passive-aggressive. Dealbreaker to me, forge an exit plan and maybe hold off on buying nice stuff until you or her gets out.
posted by deinemutti at 10:06 PM on February 10, 2011

I don't know where you live, but I very much doubt that the police will be interested in hearing about a legal co-resident's misappropriation of stuff from a shared living space.

If you only need to tough it out for a few weeks or months (and really, you should be getting her out of there as soon as you possibly can), go with sfkiddo's solution: take every single thing that you wouldn't want to see disappear out of the common space and put it in your locked room.
posted by AkzidenzGrotesk at 10:10 PM on February 10, 2011 [2 favorites]

She's obviously not suffering any consequences for her behavior, so she has no incentive to change. It sounds to me like she's got you wrapped around her finger. She gets to behave like a selfish brat and the worst that happens is that you lavish her with compliments to strangers on the internet.

If you truly cannot make her move out at this time, then you really need to clear your head and open your eyes to her true nature (someone who behaves like she's behaving is not "lovely" or "generous" or "altruistic"). Once you do that, you need to call her out assertively and DEMAND that she respect your property and your wishes, regardless of her passive-aggressive justifications for her actions.

If you can't do that, and/or if she refuses to change, then you'll have to start locking up everything you own in your own room.
posted by amyms at 10:41 PM on February 10, 2011 [1 favorite]

Since you can't evict her right away, I say remove anything you don't want disappearing into your room or into a locked cabinet. You've tried being reasonable, but she obviously doesn't care about her relationship with your or your things.

and it is not petty to be pissed off about such abuse of trust. Because that's what it is--she's sharing your space, but not taking care of it.
posted by smirkette at 11:12 PM on February 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


You're being too fucking nice. Quit being a pushover.
posted by shoesietart at 11:15 PM on February 10, 2011 [21 favorites]

You are setting gray lines in her mind, "you can use my stuff as if it was yours, but do not actually use it as if it were yours."

Set VERY black and white lines, "you are not to touch any of my belongings, they are off limit and should not even be looked at. If you did not buy it, it does not exist to you. Be forewarned, I will evict you when I get the chance if you do not follow this rule."

Be fair, but forceful, remember that it is not a negotiation but a rule that you have made, there is no changing it, modification or timeline.

I should tell you, If I told someone once and they did not get the hint. I would tell them again, not politely,I would downright shove the concept down their throat and come up with a really good punishment for not changing, something harsh.

If I told them a second time and they did not change, Bad things would happen, really bad things. I would pawn there possessions to recoup my losses. I would do something that made a point, something that they had agreed to in the previous conversation.

A third time would not happen, if it did? Crazy batshit insane roommate.

Fourth, murder.

This is my order of operations for roommate mistakes. I have followed this path for the last 7 years and it has not let me down yet. AND my old roommates all like me. Why? I was fair up front about what I wanted, and very clear.
posted by Felex at 12:10 AM on February 11, 2011 [1 favorite]

There is a word for taking shit without asking. It's called stealing. Tell the bitch next time she steals something to expect a visit from the fucking police. This isn't some kind of ha-ha-my-bad misunderstanding. She's taking things that don't belong to her and lending them out as if they did. That's not just wrong, it's illegal-wrong.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 12:33 AM on February 11, 2011 [1 favorite]

People like this often only learn when the shoe is on the other foot. How about you lend some of her stuff out. "Your laptop? Oh I lent it to so-and-so. I knew you wouldn't mind."
posted by essexjan at 12:52 AM on February 11, 2011 [1 favorite]

Tell her never to touch any of your stuff again.

Also tell her there's a penalty of n% of this month's rent for everything of yours she has ruined. Enforce the $50 penalty for everything she even touches from now on, let alone ruins.

Also tell her that you are going (or preferably, have gone) to each neighbour to retrieve your stolen property, and that you are going to explain to them that what they have is stolen property, and that she is a thief and they must not accept anything from her again and should check their own belongings after being in her presence.
posted by tel3path at 12:53 AM on February 11, 2011 [1 favorite]

Sorry it's not working out for you, but it sounds like you already voiced your concern to her and she doesn't get it so it's time for a new roommate or apartment. Until then you will have to lock up literally everything you don't want her to use.

It'll be inconvenient if you have to tote your shampoo and stuff around but if you don't want her using it
then that's what you have to do.

You don't need to be dramatic about it. If she asks about borrowing anything then tell her that you are simply done sharing things and don't get any more into it. When it's time to renew the lease or find a new place let her know that she'll need to figure something out for herself since you cannot live with her any longer.

I know it sucks to be stuck in a uncomfortable living situation. Unfortunately you are going to have to accept that she is the kind of person that does this. If she can't even acknowledge that you don't appreciate her actions then there is nothing you can do to convince her to change.
posted by grizzly at 12:57 AM on February 11, 2011

I get the impression that somehow, you're not the kind of person who who ask her to move out, even if it were possible right now.

You've told her rent will increase if things go missing, you've had the "clarification talks" four times and STILL nothing has changed?

Perhaps you could give us more information about why exactly you can't ask her to move out. Because that is what needs to happen - either that, or you need a new place to live.

If you can't accept that, next time anything goes missing, just call the police.
posted by Juso No Thankyou at 2:02 AM on February 11, 2011

I say just lock your shit up. Put locks on cabinets, tell her to buy some plates and utensils for herself. Lock whatever you can lock up, and be very matter of fact about it. "I don't want to share my things with you anymore, but talking about it doesn't seem to help, this is what will work for me, thanksbye"

If you really like her and in other ways as a roommate she is fine, (and kicking her out is not an option) I can totally understand why you'd want to keep her around. She could be like this AND be a really disagreeable, difficult person and then you'd be really unhappy.

Raise her rent, replace the things she ruined, but keep them in a locked cabinet or in your room.
posted by Locochona at 3:16 AM on February 11, 2011 [1 favorite]

Why is she not paying to replace the things that she "borrows" and ruins?! Seriously. She needs to buy you a replacement for everything she has borrowed and ruined or lost. None of this bullshit "I'll lend you money!" stuff. No. She OWES YOU MONEY. You might just have to write off the stuff that's already gone, but the instant that you notice that something else has gone missing, you go to her and say: "Hey, I noticed that my blender/shampoo/cereal is gone. I need it. Let's go to Target right now so you can get me a replacement."

She's not going to be so free with your things if it costs her. Don't make it $50 at the end of the month. Make it hurt now. And make it hurt in kind. She owes you.
posted by stoneweaver at 4:16 AM on February 11, 2011 [10 favorites]

Invoice her:

"OK, I've totaled up the replacement cost of the things you lent out and ruined. I'm not sure if you realized that the dinner napkins were so expensive, but, they are."

But I'm a little confused by this: "I made it clear that things I own in common areas are fair game (kitchen stuff, etc)." followed by Knowing she might be sneaking my shampoo and eating the food I bought for myself has been threatening my sense of well-being.

Aren't the shampoo, food, and household cleaner "fair game common area" items?
posted by orthogonality at 4:32 AM on February 11, 2011 [5 favorites]

She sounds either really dense and young or just selfish.
Using your pots and pans is one thing. Lending them to a neighbor without even asking is another.I don't think she understands this. And you've given her no reason to.
If someone took anything of my grandma's and lent it without asking I'd fucking freak out on them. Have you yelled and gone nuts? She may get the idea youre a materialistic whatever but you'll also be crazy and she wont want to deal with that.

If your job is a definite, I'd give her notice now that she needs to be out in a month.AND also do the freakoutyelling thing so she gets the idea. Find another roommate. Either that or your grandma's rolling pin will end up missing.
posted by sio42 at 5:20 AM on February 11, 2011

One small bit of advice: be perfectly willing to admit insanity.

It sounds like she tries to reason you out of being angry. "Oh, X? Why do you need X? It doesn't matter!" And then that diverts the discussion, so you get stuck having to justify your desire for X, instead of dealing with the fact that you are unhappy about what she did. So, if she tries to rationalize away your complaints, stand firm: "Look, this matters to me. It's going to keep mattering to me. I don't care if you think I'm crazy for caring about this, but I do. You need to respect my boundaries, even if you think they're insane."

In the end, it doesn't MATTER if you're selfish or materialistic or not. The discussion shouldn't in any way be focused on your qualities as a person; it should instead be focused solely on her qualities as a roommate.
posted by meese at 6:49 AM on February 11, 2011 [1 favorite]

"Lovely spirits" sometimes turn out to be manipulative or flaky.

Type up a list of everything that she's lost, ruined, or consumed. Include quantity, brand name and description, price you paid and/or current retail price. Give her a copy and save one for yourself. For everything on the list, she must return in its pre-borrowed condition, replace with an identical item, or reimburse in cash. No bartering or gifts or favors. She has until Monday. On Tuesday morning you are calling your lawyer. (IANAL, TINLA, this may be really bad advice.) She pays for what she's used; if she argues that Suave shampoo is just as good as Bumble & Bumble, she should have taken that into account before she used your Bumble & Bumble. If she doesn't have the money, same thing, she shoulda thought of that before. If she argues that she only used half the bottle (and you agree), she pays for half a bottle or she finds a half-sized replacement. If she argues further, tell her you'll be happy to discuss that matter with your lawyer. In the meantime, you're locking ALL your belongings in your room or storage and she can't borrow so much as a pencil for five seconds without your express permission. She's abused your trust and goodwill and this stops now.

If you half-assedly put your foot down or don't follow through on it, she'll know she can get away with this. Fucking mean it this time and don't back down.

I'm not good at confrontation or on-the-spot rebuttals, so if I'm approaching someone and I'm familiar with the arguments they commonly use, I like to think of counterarguments in advance. For example, if she says something about how Americans are spoiled with their nice things, reply that she's been using the exact same nice things, but the difference is you paid for them and she's been mooching.
posted by Metroid Baby at 6:49 AM on February 11, 2011

I have expressed that while I am happy to let her use my things IN OUR HOME, they are NOT to leave the house without my permission.

This isn't working. You need to tell her: "Previously, I told you that you may use my things in our home, provided you do not take them elsewhere or lend them out without my permission. You have repeatedly, abused that privilege and then you've tried to tell me I'm being selfish or unreasonable when I object. I'm not willing to live like this anymore. Do not use anything that belongs to me--vaccuum, pots, dishes, towels, tools, soap, anything. I cannot trust you with my things. It's sad, but it's because you've shown me, repeatedly that I cannot trust you with my things."

Because you can't keep trying to have a mature, adult roommate relationship with her--anything she has permission to use, she believes she has permission to ruin, lose, or give away. Thus, you can't say, "You can use my stuff but don't ruin it," because she translates "You can use my stuff" into "You can ruin my stuff."

And make plans to move or kick her out, depending on what your options are, legally: life is too short to live with a roommate like this.
posted by Meg_Murry at 6:58 AM on February 11, 2011 [2 favorites]

Ya'll should have had RULES before you entered into a lease. I'm a free spirit you can say, coming from a large family. There were so many things I had to learn living with other people. But once they told me, I never did it again. But STILL rules are so important. Even though everything is up for grabs unless we have our names on it, I still feel weird about taking stuff, unless there is a whole abundance of it. But, this whole guessing game as to whatis what and who. It needs to stop. Unless it has my name on it, my stuff is up for grabs as well but without concrete rules... you're going to be guessing all the time.
posted by InterestedInKnowing at 7:09 AM on February 11, 2011

Your threat to charge her for the things that go missing was a good idea - now follow through on it. You should be asking her for money for everything that she ruins/loses. And by asking, I mean you should be hounding her for it. Every conversation should start with "do you have the money you owe me?"

I think your main problem is that you're trying to deal with her is though she was a reasonable person, when she quite clearly isn't. Calm, rational talks aren't going to work here. Doesn't it make you furious when she steals your stuff? Make her aware of that. At present, she doesn't experience any consequences for this behavior - she just occasionally gets a calm talking-to that obviously has no effect on her. Time to dial your response way up.
posted by Ragged Richard at 7:32 AM on February 11, 2011

1) Yes, echoing what others have said about keeping everything, absolutely everything you care about inside of your locked room: perishables, consumables, heirlooms, etc.

2) Obtain or otherwise watch Season One, Episode Nineteen of Farscape and acquaint yourself with Stark's "My side, your side" speech as preparation.

3) A statement somewhere along the lines "If anyone other than myself causes these items to leave the square footage of this apartment for any reason other than said items A) leaving with my express item by item permission to individuals stated to and agreed by me with an additional stated return date, B) having spontaneously burst into flame at that time, INSERT PENALTY HERE. All other justifications mean absolutely nothing to me because these are my things and my things do not go anywhere without my knowing, to anyone, ever. I don't care about other countries; we're not in them. I don't care if you don't think I need this. These are not things you may decide for me. I decide who has my things. I do not care if you want to lend them to the homeless, to your friends, to Lady Gaga, to neighbors, or to the Holy Ghost. You get to want about your things, I get to want about my things." (My side, your side; my side, your side!)

4) Take steps to either locate another roommate or otherwise alter any factors preventing you from bailing, as I do not expect #2 and #3 to be successful.
posted by adipocere at 8:18 AM on February 11, 2011 [1 favorite]

Put non-perishable food that you don't want eaten in your room.

Perishables, put post-it notes on them saying "do not eat".

If she eats them, flip you shit. And/or buy a minifridge.

Tell her not to use your shampoo, etc., but don't leave it in the bathroom either.

As for other things, I suggest hiding anything you don't want used or destroyed. If you won't flip the fuck out at her (or if it doesn't work) nothing is going to change.

She sounds extraordinarily spoiled. I've been there, having been raised with zero sense of what certain things cost. The only thing that woke me the fuck up was having people FREAK THE FUCK OUT at me and demand immediate reimbursement.

(Although I never would have said "we're so spoiled in this country". This from someone who uses your nice stuff? Not too principled to use your nice shampoo though, hmm.)
posted by the young rope-rider at 8:35 AM on February 11, 2011

I had a friend go through the same thing. It was two roommates against one and nothing worked. All the stuff mentioned above.

So ... there's probably nothing you can do. You've been very clear (at least to me - putting a lock on your door is not subtle) - but she keeps it up.

Lock up what you can, but this is just who she is. It's shitty advice in a shitty situation, but focus on her otherwise decent qualities until you can dump her. I'm not saying this to let her off the hook, but so you don't feel unhinged all the time.
posted by crankyrogalsky at 9:05 AM on February 11, 2011

Refill the shampoo bottle with defoliant and keep your own in your room.
posted by mippy at 9:08 AM on February 11, 2011

Chiming in late here, but will no one stand up for the free spirits of the world? To the OP: it's just stuff. Don't make your everyday life a battlefield. Ask her to replace anything gone missing, but otherwise... let it go. Don't lock up your shampoo. That way lies insanity.
posted by libraryhead at 9:30 AM on February 11, 2011 [1 favorite]

That way lies insanity.

Unless you are out of work (like the OP) and everything that goes missing harms your ability to keep a roof over your head and feed yourself. It's all well and good to tout the "it's just stuff" when you have the means to replace it. When you don't? It's a whole lot more than just a bit of shampoo.
posted by stoneweaver at 9:33 AM on February 11, 2011 [2 favorites]

Okay, folks. I just finished reading all these and cracking up. Thank you, mippy, for that hilarity, and thank you, meese, for the part about being willing to admit insanity, and thank you, everyone else, for the comments like shoesietart's.....I'm being a pushover. It's true.

For the record, I have given her a bit more "batshit" than I expressed -- "this is bullshit and you're stealing from me" has been expressed.

And I have required that she replace everything she has "borrowed" and ruined. And, anything else that was loaned out, I demanded she get it back that day. She has.

However, I think because I hoped she was growing up and getting the message, I have been "too generous" (aka pushover) and let her recently take my shovel to the new school where she works (which she buys stuff for all the time, and that's great, but she expects I will give my stuff to the school, too....)

One bit of advice i can't follow....I HAVE to let her use my common stuff -- we are roommates. She gets to sit on the living room sofa and kitchen chairs -- they are mine. She gets to use the vacuum -- it is mine -- but vacuuming is her job.

We have sat down and agreed upon house jobs. In writing, too. And shared things.

The hard thing is, she's lent me her stuff -- has a great fashion sense and puts her cute hats and scarves on me...I just wish she'd respect my freedom to choose.

So....I'm going to take all your advice and let it simmer overnight, and then plan this weekend on a come to Jesus meeting. Plus, I'm going to the school today to see if anything else is mysteriously there.
posted by sleeping beauty at 9:46 AM on February 11, 2011

Okay....So, I didn't let it simmer.

I stopped by the school to see if other possessions of mine where there. I found a couple of baking items.

We didn't find my grandmother's rolling pin. So she's pissed at me "I didn't steal your grandmother's rolling pin." (but there was my old Clabber Girl baking powder and a couple of other items).

She was pissed that I stopped by at lunch -- "don't confront me at school." I stated that I wouldn't have had to if she hadn't stolen my things, (and "at school" is where I had to look for my things) and "don't you turn this around on me."

Now she sends me a text saying "I will find another place to live."

I replied back with something like "or, you can deal with your problems with lying and taking peoples' things. Just know that these behaviors aren't going to continue to create mistrust and an atmosphere of paranoia in my household."

What now?

I realize she won't be able to change overnight or at all.

I feel really sad. She's been a really fun roommate and in many ways, a delight and joy in my life. She's totally fun and amazing with kids. But I can't feel unsafe. I put up with lying (and paranoia created by it) from a former boyfriend for four years. Wondering if I'm just losing my mind and DID lose my baking soda. I'm just tired.

notsleeping beauty

P.S. What complicates it all is that I DO lose things all the time (I'm one of those ADD artists over 40) and I sometimes am ready to accuse her and then, Oops! I find the thing I've lost.
posted by sleeping beauty at 11:25 AM on February 11, 2011

P.S. What complicates it all is that I DO lose things all the time (I'm one of those ADD artists over 40) and I sometimes am ready to accuse her and then, Oops! I find the thing I've lost.

Don't second guess yourself. I, too, have the tendency to try to trick my mind into becoming skeptical of what I know are the facts when I do not want to believe them. But you know she took your things, you know she has destroyed your things, etc.

I just don't see how you are going to be able to salvage this living situation where you can feel safe. She is "a delight and joy in [your] life" some of the time. But the other times, she is disrespectful, childish, dishonest and untrustworthy.

Good for you for taking a firm stand with her. I know you don't feel like you want her to move out, but once she is gone and you feel safe again, you will see it is for the best.
posted by murrey at 11:50 AM on February 11, 2011 [1 favorite]

Accept her notice to vacate and look for another roommate (preferably a buttoned down type rather than a free spirit.)
posted by vespabelle at 11:59 AM on February 11, 2011

Yes to vespa. The REALLY good news either way is you've now answered your own question.

Confront her at school for the big stuff. She hates it.

But let her move out; it's the only chance you'll maybe end up on good terms someday. Home should be sanctuary, not war zone.
posted by crankyrogalsky at 1:48 PM on February 11, 2011

"I'm certain that you would agree that it is important to respect my wishes, right?"


"So from now on, I want you to respect my wishes and never borrow or use anything of mine or lend it to anyone else."

posted by Ironmouth at 2:06 PM on February 11, 2011

oh, about the household cleaners -- That is only an issue when an inordinate amount goes missing (the bottle of carpet cleaner had 3/4 one day and is down to 3 Tablespoons the next) and I wonder what happened. Otherwise, we share and take turns purchasing replacements. We've kind of worked that out.
posted by sleeping beauty at 2:21 PM on February 11, 2011

Now she sends me a text saying "I will find another place to live."

This is your out! Stop arguing with her and let her go!

I also want to believe the best in people, so I get your reluctance, I really do. But sometimes you have to stop seeing folks as the people they could be, and start seeing them as the people they are. Your housemate has the potential to be a wonderful person to live with, but right now she's stealing your stuff, and when you confront her, instead of being apologetic, she gets pissed. That's not acceptable behaviour, and it doesn't matter if she's great with kids and fun with hats and small woodland creatures follow her around. She doesn't respect your possessions and, more importantly, she doesn't respect you.

Let her go and put this crazy drama behind you.
posted by Georgina at 4:10 PM on February 11, 2011 [4 favorites]

Oh, I love you MetaFilter people. : )
posted by sleeping beauty at 4:41 PM on February 11, 2011

P.S. What complicates it all is that I DO lose things all the time (I'm one of those ADD artists over 40) and I sometimes am ready to accuse her and then, Oops! I find the thing I've lost.

I've lived with people who were clever enough to put things back if they noticed that someone was missing a thing they'd stolen.

But once that starts happening you may as well give up and kick them out- you can't recover trust once it's gone that far.
posted by winna at 6:48 PM on February 11, 2011

For the record, I have given her a bit more "batshit" than I expressed -- "this is bullshit and you're stealing from me" has been expressed.

By what standards is that "batshit"? It's a statement of fact.
posted by tel3path at 5:12 PM on February 12, 2011

She was pissed that I stopped by at lunch -- "don't confront me at school."

Yeah that wasn't cool, as it might threaten her job, or be perceived as threatening her job.
posted by orthogonality at 11:44 PM on February 12, 2011

I would not have visited her at school (which i do frequently -- she invites me) had she honored my requests to bring all of my belongings home from the school. She did not, and so during the lunch break, I non-confrontationally went in and asked, "hey, I wanted to pick up my baking stuff." She made it a confrontational situation by lying and telling me nothing was there...but when she opened the cupboard, THERE were my things. Right in front of her and me.

I feel I had a right to go to the school, where she had taken my things, and get them. The only reason it would threaten her job is if she was not cooperative. Had she just handed them over, "Oh, yeah-- I'm sorry -- Geeze, I meant to get these back to you. Here they are -- oh, and this, too. Thanks," it would never have been a confrontation. She created the drama, not me.

So, "wasn't cool" -- me picking up my things from the school where she took them, after asking her for them repeatedly, is not cool? Really? Hivemind, I'd like another perspective.
posted by sleeping beauty at 12:40 PM on February 13, 2011

I think it was perfectly fine for you to go to the school under the circumstances you've described BUT what's really standing out for me in your latest responses... and I'm trying to be gentle here... is that you are way too obsessed about the situation and way too emotionally invested in her.

Is there more to this relationship than just roommates (perhaps even something unrequited)? Either way, it has become very toxic. It is not healthy for you to be so overwrought about the minutiae (e.g. what you said, what she said, how you said it, where it was said, how many tablespoons of carpet cleaner are left, etc).

She has offered to move out. The healthiest thing you can do now is to let her go.

And then move on with your life.
posted by amyms at 1:33 PM on February 13, 2011

Thanks, amyms.

Both she and I are OCD thinkers, so we're kind of cut from the same cloth. That's the "more to this relationship" and I suppose, too, because she's been like a daughter to me, I feel really overwhelmed by it all, by the thought of losing a person who has become like family. People become precious to me (that's the good side) but then I get separation anxiety about losing them.

It also is pushing a few buttons for me because of the long-term relationship I was in that ended last year, which had the same characteristic lying. I am definitely hyper-sensitive (maybe still a bit PTSD after discovering a string of affairs) in order to protect myself; the pendulum swings to the hyper-vigilant side. Thank you for trying to be gentle.

Things are never simple. We meta-folks are multi-facted, complicated people, many of us.
posted by sleeping beauty at 9:00 PM on February 13, 2011

No, I think it was perfectly appropriate to go to the school, and now you know exactly what kind of person she is. She's not a free spirit, that's now clear; she lied to your face about stealing from you. You caught her at it, and that's the real reason she's so pissed, not the fact that you showed up at her school. She's trying to turn it around to make everything your fault, and don't you let her. She's a liar and a user, and you need to do what's necessary to protect yourself and your valuables from somebody like that.

I sympathize, sleeping beauty; it's a sad, frustrating situation, but it's coming to an end. I would definitely lock up your stuff now, though, because if you're no longer friends and she's moving out, there's even less reason for her to take care of your things.
posted by WorkingMyWayHome at 9:01 PM on February 13, 2011

And sleeping beauty, may I add that I don't believe it's unreasonable or a sign of anything more significant that you're bothered by this. Well, there is something more significant, which is that this episode is the big watershed in your life when you learn to see through, and deal with, liars and users. That's why it's taking up this much headspace - not because there is something wrong with you and/or you have some kind of hots for her.
posted by tel3path at 10:49 AM on February 17, 2011

Tel3path, I want to especially thank you for your strong, forthright wisdom and enCOURAGEment to me. I hear you. I really do.

It really is a watershed time for me.....and liars and users are so good at manipulating and twisting things.

Soon I will be able to cut her loose. Until then, I have clearly outlined boundaries in writing and gotten her agreement in writing. Non-negotiables are spelled out, and it's a no-tolerance deal at this point, after so many violations.

Thanks, everyone.....Most heartfelt appreciations for the wise, kind, hivemind.

posted by sleeping beauty at 8:01 PM on March 22, 2011

And Thanks to WorkingMyWayHome for needed validation. Geeze. When someone weasles the situation to turn it around and make me look like the bad guy, it still messes with me. BUT, comments like yours teach me, inform me, to stand my ground and be aware of game players. Even the kindest, nicest, smartest, most "good-hearted" people are master manipulators and sometimes I forget that.
posted by sleeping beauty at 8:05 PM on March 22, 2011

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