friend to the left of me, girlfriend to the right, here i am
April 23, 2011 6:11 PM   Subscribe

My best friend and girlfriend hate each other.

I am stuck in the middle of two women that dislike each other very much (I am also a woman).

My this is going to be long.

I moved in with my roommate Andrea in September. We became very very close friends (we had known each other for several years before moving in together, but had never been super close before). Andrea was new to the city and didn't have many friends, so felt happy that she had me.

I met Christine in December, and we started dating. Andrea at first felt lukewarm about Christine, and then grew to dislike her. The reasons for her dislike were that she felt that Christine was manipulative and not genuine. She felt like this because I would continuously tell Christine that I wanted space, or wanted to take things slow, but Christine seemed intent on jumping into things head first, all the while giving lip service to the fact that she wanted to take it slow also. I eventually broke it off with Christine.

That didn't last long, however. We started hanging out as friends again, and ended up sleeping together again. This second time around, we realized that we were both very kinky in very complementary ways, and we were thrilled to have discovered this. She's very toppy, and I think it's super hot. We've been very adventurous and very communicative, and have been having lots of hot sex.

So we've kind of ended up dating, but this time it's non-monogomous, and hasn't really been qualified as a relationship. I'm feeling closer and closer to her, though. I've also ended spending a lot of time with her, due to the hot sex, the fun company, and the fact that she lives right next to my school. My apartment is a 10-15 minute drive from my school, 10 minute bike ride. Her apartment is a 45 second walk.

My roommate/friend is less than happy about this. She continues to be vocal to me about her dislike for this girl, and when they are together it is so tense and uncomfortable. I agree that my 'girlfriend' comes across as less than genuine, but I think it's because she's awkward and tries too hard to impress. I also agree that she often says she's okay with things (open relationship, spending less time together) but that really she's not (gets grumpy when I want to go home for the night).

My roommate says that I'm putting our friendship in jeopardy by not spending enough time at home. A few days ago she told me she was feeling lonely, so I spent the next two nights at home. The first night I took her out to a friend's house, the second night just cuddled and watched movies. Now, tonight, she asked if I'd be coming home, and when I said no she got really upset at me.

Add to this that the girlfriend has recently confessed that she's extremely depressed and only started to recently feel comfortable showing me that side of her, with a lot of crying and despair, so it's like they both really need me.

Finally, I just yesterday discovered a lump in my breast. I'm terrified about it and have to wait until at least Tuesday to see a doctor. I don't feel like telling anyone but the girlfriend (who discovered it) and she's been SO supportive and comforting about it.

I just don't know how to please everyone and make everyone feel like I love and care about them. I told friend that I thought she couldn't see that I was trying to balance things and she said I"m not balancing at all. I think she's right that I"m spending a lot of time with girlfriend...this seems to happen to me in new relationships a lot and I guess it's not the healthiest. Also, girlfriend is so available to me. I actually asked her the other day to be less available, so that I didn't feel like I was always the one saying no to hanging out.

Finally, I've been in the middle of exams/papers, which gets me depressed. Staying at girlfriends (who lives right by the library) and having her help with my dog has helped take the pressure off immensely. She has a dog too, and so makes sure that both of them are exercised and paid attention to when I feel like I strained too tight for time to care adequately for him. I appreciate that she does this so much, and try to return the favor by helping with her dog, cleaning her apartment, etc.

I just don't know what to do about friend. I want to spend lots of time with girlfriend. I want to have lots of sleepovers at her house. I feel like I do make an effort to make time for friend but that she doesn't think it's enough. She says that our apartment is close enough to the school that I should just come home to sleep. Also, she thinks girlfriend is bad for me...that she's manipulative.

Finally, I'm leaving in two months, and leaving them both behind. I want to leave them both feeling loved and cared for. I don't know if I would pursue a long term relationship with girlfriend, and in fact don't even want to be exclusive in the time we do have left, but I do have a great time with her and want to have what we have in the time I'm here. I want friend to feel cared for too, though. It doesn't help that neither of them have very many friends outside of me (each has only about one other good friend) and so I feel like I"m both of their main support systems, social networks, etc., and that they're both depressed right now, as am I, and I don't know how to please everyone. If only they liked each other we could just all hang out, but they really don't like each other. Friend acts mean towards girlfriend (passive agressively) girlfriend ignores/isn't friendly to friend.

posted by whalebreath to Human Relations (21 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Wow, your roommate/friend sounds really clingy and manipulative here (you're putting your friendship in jeopardy by having other friends?), not the girlfriend. It's NOT YOUR JOB to make everyone happy. It's your job to treat everyone with respect and kindness while making yourself happy. How does it affect your roommate -- at all -- if you sleep somewhere else? Frankly it's none of her business. If girlfriend is treating you well and honestly, and it sounds like she is, then you have every right to be with her when you want to be. Mostly, it sounds like roommate is incredibly jealous and being passive aggressive and awful about it.
posted by brainmouse at 6:19 PM on April 23, 2011 [6 favorites]

My roommate says that I'm putting our friendship in jeopardy by not spending enough time at home. A few days ago she told me she was feeling lonely, so I spent the next two nights at home. The first night I took her out to a friend's house, the second night just cuddled and watched movies. Now, tonight, she asked if I'd be coming home, and when I said no she got really upset at me.

Do you think it's possible at all that your roommate also has romantic feelings for you?
posted by estlin at 6:20 PM on April 23, 2011 [37 favorites]

Maybe I'm mis-reading something...but the elephant in your post seems to be that the friend wants to be more than a friend to you, no? Have you addressed this head-on?
posted by pantarei70 at 6:20 PM on April 23, 2011 [9 favorites]

Yeah, why are you cuddling with your roommate?
posted by BlahLaLa at 6:30 PM on April 23, 2011 [39 favorites]

Your girlfriend doesn't seem to be doing anything wrong - she maybe needs to work on her approach to other people, but otherwise seems to be good for you, happy to help out, and very supportive.

Your friend seems to make demands on your time (even when there are sensible reasons why it's unrealistic), refuses to accept that a close romantic partner has more of a claim on your time than a friend/housemate does, and is emotionally blackmailing you ('putting your friendship in jeapardy').

You friend may also have feelings for you, which would explain much of this.

I think you just need to make it explicit that a) you enjoy spending time with girlfriend, despite her minor faults, and that you would appreciate it if your friend kept her criticisms to herself, and b) it is not always convenient or desirable for you to come home, and that it's unfair of friend to make those kinds of demands on you.

I'm not sure if that will make friend happy, but I don't think anything you do (short of dumping the girlfriend) will be sufficient for her.
posted by twirlypen at 6:35 PM on April 23, 2011 [1 favorite]

I just don't know how to please everyone and make everyone feel like I love and care about them.

Sometimes you can't, and I think this may be one of those times. If both of them would like to be seeing 50+ percent of you, someone's going to end up unhappy, and you can't do anything to change that. Your only get to pick who. So, who makes you more happy? Looks like GF.

That's usually the way the world works: For the vast majority of people, their SO is their primary emotional support and the needs and desires of their SO take precedence over those of other people in their life. There's nothing wrong with you deciding to do the same, here, and for your friend not to understand or expect that you're going to want to spend a lot of time with your GF is a little weird. A while I am, of course, a useless internet stranger --- the idea that your roommate may have a crush on you would explain so much of her behavior here that I really wonder if you've considered it.
posted by Diablevert at 6:48 PM on April 23, 2011

You need to do what's best for you, what fulfills your needs. Your "friend" seems to think that she's your girlfriend; since when does a roommate get to demand that you stay home with her? Does she have any life outside of you? It sounds like she's way too dependent on you to fulfill her needs and you've let her come to expect that. Your girlfriend sounds like a much better friend than your friend, frankly.
posted by WorkingMyWayHome at 6:48 PM on April 23, 2011 [3 favorites]

The difference between a good friend and a girlfriend besides that fact that you're probably sleeping with one of them is that one of them you have chosen to be your intimate partner. You are expected to be able to prioritize your relationships and clearly communicate that prioritization. This can be tough when maybe you're unclear on boundaries yourself, but in my world, my friends don't get to tell me that I'm spending too much time with my boyfriend and that I need to spend more time with them.

If you have friend issues with your roommate that need working out, that should happen completely independently of whatever you do with your girlfriend. This sounds like bad boundaries to me [cuddling with a roommate is sending the wrong message, letting the roommate tell you to not spend time with your girlfriend is sending the wrong message] and I'm just a random internet person telling you that yes, you are correct, it's not okay with your roommate telling you how or where you should sleep, period.
posted by jessamyn at 7:15 PM on April 23, 2011 [2 favorites]

this kink, does you roommate have an interest in it? i have been in a situation where i was friends with one dom while dating another. this caused weird, clingy, bad boudaries situations.

it does sound like whatever the cause, your roommate wants to be your partner or keep you available to support her at all times. master manipulators like to shift blame by accusing other people of manipulation.
posted by nadawi at 7:44 PM on April 23, 2011 [1 favorite]

It sounds like your girlfriend has been more supportive than your roommate...who seems to be more about her needs than yours.

You shouldn't have to bear the burden of being someone's sole emotional support. If you don't want to spend time with someone, you don't have to. She shouldn't get all pouty because you understandably want to spend time with your non-exclusive sex partner.

So set boundaries for the friend. Tell her that if they're not respected, then you can't be friends and you'll just be roommates.
posted by inturnaround at 8:03 PM on April 23, 2011

Pro tip. Side with the one you're sleeping with.
posted by joannemullen at 8:13 PM on April 23, 2011 [5 favorites]

Well, so you've known these women for 4 months and 7 months? And you're about to leave in 2 months? And your goal is just to leave feeling like you've done your best to demonstrate your love and care for them both*? Here's what I'd do:

- Tell everyone that you are very stressed and borderline depressed right now. You can blame it solely on finals if you don't want to talk about the lump. That should be an established reality: I'm feeling really stressed right now." "I need to take care of myself right now." You can even apologize as appropriate. "I know you wish I were home more, but I'm in the middle of finals, and I really need all the time I can get for studying right now."
- Declare your intent: "I'm leaving in 2 months. What can we do between now and then to really celebrate our friendship / relationship?" Get one or two special things on the calendar that you'll enjoy together, and then that will be your big goodbye.
- Make sure that the plan actually works for you. Politely set boundaries with your roommate as necessary. (Others have already covered this.)
- Feel at peace knowing that you asked them what would show them that you cared, and then that you carried out the plan.

* Note how different this is from "please everyone and make everyone feel like I love and care about them," which is impossible, because you can only control your behavior. You can't really control your own feelings, much less someone else's!
You need to really, really hear that it's not your job to please everyone and ensure they feel loved. You cannot carry that weight on yourself. You're a weak person who has flaws and needs support just like everyone else. Admit your humanity. Have some humility.
posted by salvia at 8:18 PM on April 23, 2011 [1 favorite]

I just don't know how to please everyone and make everyone feel like I love and care about them.

OK, so maybe you can't "make everyone" feel perfect and wonderful. Maybe that's not a realistic goal. So you have to prioritize. So, what's more important for you to be concerned with: whether your roommate feels this way, or whether your girlfriend feels this way?
posted by John Cohen at 8:20 PM on April 23, 2011

"...they're both depressed right now, as am I..."

Yeah. Warning.

Don't try to fix other people. Look out for yourself, first. Like they say on airplanes, put on your oxygen mask, first.

Personally, I think you should woop it up with girlfriend as much as you want! Roommate should understand. You need to spell it out for roommate that this is what you want to do. No apologies. No asking permission. OK?

Go have fun.

PS. I also think it sounds like roommate likes you romantically. How do you feel about that?
posted by jbenben at 8:20 PM on April 23, 2011 [1 favorite]

So each of your girlfriends I mean really thinks that the other is clingy, as well as manipulative of your desire to please people who are important to you. From your description, I'm inclined to agree with both of them.

The trick here will be to set appropriate boundaries and stick to them. You've already gotten a good start with the girlfriend by defining the relationship that you are ready for. Your time is not a resource that belongs to either of them.
posted by Blasdelb at 8:33 PM on April 23, 2011 [7 favorites]

>My roommate says that I'm putting our friendship in jeopardy by not spending enough time at home.

Echoing pretty much every previous poster, your GF seems not to be the problem-- that honor would seem to belong to your roommate.
posted by darth_tedious at 8:46 PM on April 23, 2011

Your roommate accusing your girlfriend of being manipulative is quite ironic as your roommate is actually the manipulative one.
posted by hazyjane at 1:40 AM on April 24, 2011 [1 favorite]

Stop telling your roommate that your relationship "hasn't really been qualified as a relationship" or stop acting like it's a relationship (sleeping over constantly). Make your words and your actions match, in other words.
posted by anaelith at 4:40 AM on April 24, 2011

Andrea likes you. Likes you likes you.

If you can't definitively pick Christine, pick neither of them. As long as there's ambiguity in your relationship with Christine, or your feelings toward Andrea, Andrea's going to think she has a chance. And she's going to do it underhandedly.

I'd actually recommend finding another apartment if you can, because Andrea's too hung up on you for this to end well. The best thing you can do for her, right now, is to allow her ample space and time to get over you. She can and likely will get emotionally healthy, but it's going to take more time than you have and it's not something you can help with.

And frankly, right now, Andrea sounds like the kind of roommate who will pee in your ice cube tray and stuff raw shrimp into your mattress if she's wronged.
posted by Metroid Baby at 7:06 AM on April 24, 2011 [2 favorites]

Is Andrea also known as Jane and Christine also known as Lindsay? If there are indeed four different people, how did Andrea feel about the two women in your previous question?
posted by Blasdelb at 3:54 PM on April 24, 2011 [1 favorite]

I'm going to disagree with the people above who say Andrea definitely has a crush on you. That might be true, but it could also be true that she's just blending your roles as friends and roommates too much. I had a friend in college who ended up having to move out because she was roommates with her friends and they didn't understand that her being home didn't mean she wanted to hang out all the time.

Basically, I think it's possible that Andrea started to think that you used to come home every night not because YOU LIVED THERE, but (at least partially) because you needed/wanted to see her every single day. Now that an SO is in the picture, she feels insulted that you're not spending so much time with her, even though you were never spending all that time with her because you were totally inseparable BFF.

I think that if you imagined that you and Andrea lived separately, but she was still demanding that you spend more time with her or risk your friendship, this would seem more ridiculous. Perhaps you can talk to her and point out that your roles as roommates and friends have been pretty parallel up until now, but roommate relationships change as one person gets involved in new relationships or activities. It isn't a slight to your friendship when something changes in your roommate-relationship.
posted by nakedmolerats at 4:14 PM on April 24, 2011

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