Roommate issues - how to level?
February 15, 2012 1:03 AM   Subscribe

Personal issues with new roommate; two males. How do we resolve this and move forward?

I'll try and keep this under wraps as possible. I want to begin by saying I'm gay; he isn't, I'm a bit oversensitive those days (due to some unresolved issues in my life right now); he's a very blunt kind of person, and am seeking therapy to help with my other life issues

I recently re-met a guy (let's call him Zee) at a party in December in DC, because he used to go to the same middle school as I did. We talked, we somewhat hit it off. He offered me a room (actually, a den) in his small apartment, along with his three other roommates (a family). I thought it over, decided to move in. Due to a situation I was in, the university dorm I was living in prior to here wanted my stuff out of the room earlier than I could make it back to DC, so I begrudgingly asked Zee if he would be willing to move my things to my new room, and offered to treat him to a dinner or two to make up for the time, gas, and other expenses. He agreed, and moved my things. I arrived mid-Jan, all was good. For a while. He then told me some friends were complaining about me (personality issues; I won't go into them) behind my back to him. I digested that; it hurt, but I understood his intentions and why he wanted to share that with me, and it gave me an opportunity to improve as well. I still felt a bit hurt, though, because he agreed with their assessment and used some examples, but I brushed it off. Time went by, and Zee began to become more and more blunt. He would shake his head and laugh at any "weird" actions I did, and tell me actions I did that I was unaware of (such as accidentally cutting a line, which I didn't realize I was doing) and criticizing some actions.

I continued to brush it off, because I could tell that was his personality - he complained about others, and seemed a bit, well, to put it nicely, anal about people. However, I began to put up a distance. I also felt guilty because he drove me around (of course, I reimbursed him with gas, and the occasional drink). One time, at a bar, after being too rude to me in front of a friend (when I used a scissor he had, he said if I broke it, I would pay for it, kind of rudely, in front of his friend, which really turned me off), he treated me to a drink. After asking him why, he said "aren't we friends?" with kind of a hurt look on his face.

Zee came in my room often and complain about our other roommates (a family he feels responsible for, due to their financial and mental limitations). He also complained about girls he was seeing. Again, I maintained a distance, and tried not to take his blunt criticisms to my actions in public personally. Until tonight. We were at a grocery store, and I being tired (recovering from a cold), made a honest mistake at a self-checkout lane - the guy in front of me apparently was struggling with making his purchase. He walked away, and I thought he had paid for his purchase already mistakenly, so I went ahead and processed the payment for my item, and Zee said "wait, the guy in front of you isn't finished" in a very scolding, somewhat patronizing manner. I felt very embarrassed and felt like he was treating me as if he was my dad. He came over and actually took over the screen, doing the payment for me, and even pointing to the cash insert. Like I can't see that, d'oh. I decided at that point, it was time for a talk.

We went to a burger joint, and I told him bluntly that I was fed up. I made my points, explaining that I am sensitive, that's who I am at this point, and as I have social anxiety, it's hard for me to deal with situations sometimes, and I did not appreciate his constant bluntness. I made it a point to explain that while sometimes letting me know I made a mistake can help, too much can become very grating and make me even more self-conscious than I already am. Suffice to say, our discussion became ugly. He didn't understand (or refused to listen to) my reasoning, and said that he felt he was "easy" on me at the beginning, but after repeat situations where he had to explain to me where I did something wrong, he felt fed up, and that he's under a lot of stress at this point with school, and doesn't have the patience. He also said that he felt it was all about me, that I was being selfish, by being choosy with restaurants and places to eat, among other things (he couldn't come up with other specific examples), and said that many friends were complaining about me, and that he was sure he wasn't the only one. He also said I had "closed vision" and didn't consider others. While he was right on the food front, the other information caught me by shock. I explained that I can be admittedly selfish when eating out, but that I would change my habits and become more openminded and go places he wanted to go, not just where I wanted to go, and that I would make an effort to be more careful with my surroundings. I did ask him to meet me halfway and try to tell me in a nicer way if he felt I was doing something truly wrong. He said there was no point, because he didn't have time to explain in a nice way what I was doing wrong. I also told him that I felt he didn't have to point out every fault, and he said he didn't want people to look at him like he was an idiot for being with me (not those exact words, but the same idea), such as the guy who was in front of me at the self-checkout lane. Being Deaf, he also said he felt he didn't want to be associated that way. Needless to say, that really hurt, because he made it sound like I did a crime at the store, and being Deaf as well, I didn't hear what was going on.

Then, to add insult on top of injury, when we were leaving the burger joint, I left my unfinished food on the table. (I wasn't hungry; bad day, frustrated with Zee's unwillingness to work with me and level with me, and other issues.) All other times, I threw the food away, but this time I wasn't thinking due to everything else, and it was closing time, and a worker was cleaning up anyway, so it didn't strike me as a big deal. Well, as we were leaving the joint, Zee asked me about the unfinished items I left on the table. I said I wasn't hungry and didn't want to finish it. He replied with, "well, why don't you throw it away?" I explained that the workers would throw it away. He then said that it was inconsiderate of me, and that I should throw it away myself. At that point, I was fed up. He was doing it again! I told him that, and he said, "well, that's your attitude problem!" I then told him firmly I was going to walk home, and to not talk to me. (Maybe a bit childish, but at that point, I was plain fed up.) I walked to the university, cooled off, and went home. I haven't seen Zee since then. We haven't talked on text.

What should I do? I admit there are some mistakes I made in the process, from beginning to finish, but I feel stonewalled and like there's nothing I can do. Zee has his mind set, and the ending really turned me off. He can be hardheaded at times, but this is going too far. I am an adult, I have a right to not be put up to this, and I am not a child. I have done my part to communicate with him. I am at my wits' end, and am thinking about moving out (am not on a lease). However, I don't want to just move out; I want to try and work this out, but I'm not sure there's any hope or any point to do so.

Thanks, and sorry this was such a long book!
posted by dubious_dude to Human Relations (38 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Simply sharing a home with someone is one thing. Socialising and going for drinks and burgers and one driving the other around is a very different thing.

It really just sounds like the two of you are not compatible enough to be having this kind of relationship.
posted by Diag at 1:30 AM on February 15, 2012 [5 favorites]

It sounds like you two just don't get along. There's nothing wrong with that. That doesn't mean you're a bad person, or that he is, just that your personalities clash in a way that is unpleasant for both of you. This also seems like much ado for someone you've only really been acquainted with for two or three months.

It's hard to be friends with a hyper critical person even if you are not a sensitive, socially-anxious person. It seems best to save yourself the hurt and trouble and just try to move on as amicably as you can.

If you must continue to live there, I'd try to make it a roommates relationship and not a friendship relationship. It sounds like awfully close quarters for that though.
posted by Arethusa at 1:32 AM on February 15, 2012 [1 favorite]

I think you handled all this just fine, from beginning to end.

You have told Zee what you think of his behaviour, and unlike you, he doesn't take criticism as feedback and an invitation to improve. He will therefore probably never speak to you again, as Zee follows a personality pattern that is very predictable.

It's not up to you to chase Zee. He is the one who owes you an apology and an olive branch. Which, as I've said, it's probably not in his nature to offer, but anything's possible.

Pro tip: powerful people don't explain at length why they want respect, because they have social anxiety which means they deserve to have their feelings taken into consideration whereas a person without social anxiety wouldn't, and let me explain in detail the basics of respect and contempt to you, and this is why you make me feel this way or that way. It's possible that Zee is young enough that he just doesn't know any better; unfortunately, you can't necessarily expect adults to have a better grasp of basic manners than would be expected of a five-year-old. But you've said your piece, it's not your place to socialize him further.

Here are things you could say to Zee and his ilk in the future, to get your point across without needless self-justification:

- Cut out the criticism.
- Please keep your comments to yourself.
- Stop judging me.
- Cut it out.

That's it. Like Ding Training. It'll either work or it won't.
posted by tel3path at 1:35 AM on February 15, 2012 [3 favorites]

I think that Zee seems like a decent guy who is being driven up the wall by your behaviour.

Zee has provided you with a room in his home. He's moved all your stuff into that room for you, without your helping. He drives you around. He eats where you want to eat. He offers to buy you a drink when you're offended by something that he's said. He also seems to be watching your back when your friends complain about you doing the same things that are irritating him.

You, by your own admission, repeatedly cut into queues. Insist that your friends eat where you want to eat. Seem to dwell disproportionately on everything that your friends say about you. Don't bother cleaning up after yourself at restaurants.

If it had been Zee posting this about you, using only the occasions that you've mentioned here, my guess is that there'd be a bunch of people telling him to kick you out.

Sorry to be harsh, but that's the way that I see it.
posted by veedubya at 2:18 AM on February 15, 2012 [23 favorites]

Response by poster: veedubya -

a) Yes, Zee did provide a room for me in the apartment we currently are living at (leased; not owned). However, I am paying my full share of rent and bills. In no way am I living here free (I wouldn't dream of asking to stay for free, even if only for two weeks).

b) For the moving thing, that was a bind I was in, and I had already compensated him with two dinners. I asked and made sure upfront, to make sure he felt the arrangement was fair.

c) No argument against the watching my back thing - only, why did he have to add his own criticism/perspective? Keep neutral and don't rub salt in the wound.

d) Nowhere in my post did I say I repeatedly cut in lines - I only did that once, and that was an example. And, it was not even intentional - we were at a huge Target, and the Returns area wasn't well-organized, so I went up the wrong line.

e) The eating situation, I agree with you, and that's something I have recognized and will improve upon in the future, by being more open and not wanting to go to the restaurant I want to go.

f) Where did I say I "dwell disproportionately on everything that your friends say about you"?

e) Like I have explained in my post, this was an one-off, and not something I usually do. I'm sorry, but I'm not perfect. (I'm not being defensive, just realistic.)

I hope I'm not coming across as rude in this reply - I'm just trying to clarify your points. Again, I DO appreciate what Zee has done for me, hence the guilty/sticky feeling.
posted by dubious_dude at 2:41 AM on February 15, 2012 [1 favorite]

I'm with Veedubya. Zee sounds like he has healthy boundaries and is treating you like a normal friend. All of the things you describe strike me as being within bounds. He actually sounds like a good friend because he's giving you the real truth... you don't get that from everyone.

• He offered me a room
• He agreed, and moved my things.
• He then told me some friends were complaining about me
• Zee began to become more and more blunt.
• tell me actions I did that I was unaware of
• he drove me around
• he said "aren't we friends?" with kind of a hurt look on his face.
• Zee came in my room often and complain about our other roommates (a family he feels responsible for, due to their financial and mental limitations).
• Zee said "wait, the guy in front of you isn't finished"
• he's under a lot of stress at this point with school
• He also said I had "closed vision" and didn't consider others.

You on the other hand seem to be making everything into an emotional issue. With the grocery store and food waste and the dad thing, that's on you man. The fact that you are having emotional reactions to everything may indicate a distinct lack of boundaries.

Further, you're labelling both yourself and Zee. Blunt, social anxiety, etc. Those are all descriptors that indicate an aspect of someone's behaviour, not their personality.

I see unhealthy boundaries here. First red flag was the university thing. It's your stuff. Work it out. Second was the food pickiness. Eating is social. Work it out.

• I'm a bit oversensitive
• I brushed it off
• I continued to brush it off,
• I began to put up a distance.
• I also felt guilty
• I felt very embarrassed and felt like he was treating me as if he was my dad.
• I decided at that point, it was time for a talk.
• I am sensitive, that's who I am at this point, and as I have social anxiety
• I left my unfinished food on the table
• Maybe a bit childish, but at that point, I was plain fed up

In terms of how you resolve it, I would start with this: Apologise to Zee. Doesn't matter who was right or who was wrong, do you want to save the relationship or not?

The next step is to start developing healthy boundaries. Throw your trash away. Stop being so sensitive. It may help to repeat this mantra: "It's not all about me."
posted by nickrussell at 2:54 AM on February 15, 2012 [11 favorites]

Give the dude some breathing room! This Big Serious Talk happened like a few hours ago and you are all freaked because he is "stonewalling you"? Does that mean you've been trying to contact him multiple times a couple hours after you stormed off needing some time to cool down? Do you suspect he might ALSO need some cool-down time- and maybe he needs a couple more hours than you?

Honestly, leaving your garbage on the table, demanding to only eat in places you like, and expecting your roommate to find the right words to not offend you when you are doing something to drive him crazy- it kinda makes you sound overly self interested. You keep suggesting that your friends and you are having some conflict as well. Are they saying similar things as Zee?

You Know? none of this is even the point. You don't like the kid. He doesn't like you all that much either. You are roommates- this shit shouldn't even matter. Good God you do not need to "work this out." You need to STOP HANGING OUT.

Next time you see him, say you're sorry for being a pain, and leave it alone. Do not rehash and try to get him to see your point of view. Don't talk about it at all- just go get busy doing something else. Just pay your rent, be polite and wave when you come home and leave, don't socialize with him. You live with him, why in the world do you think that means you should be friends, too?
posted by Blisterlips at 3:00 AM on February 15, 2012

Response by poster: Just a small point to clarify - what I meant by stonewalling was during the "Big Serious Talk" itself. After we parted ways, we did not talk. I didn't text him or try to contact him, and neither did he.
posted by dubious_dude at 3:03 AM on February 15, 2012

He's so in the wrong for "reporting" to you about what others think, I don't even know what the f^ck other posters above are even talking about.

He helps a "family" out of charity, and then you?


This dude has issues. He's a "rescuer." He's trying to rescue you. If you do not feel you need "rescuing" (you don't, no one does") feel free to ignore this.

Find another place to live. This person will continually be trying to "improve" you. F^ck him.
posted by jbenben at 3:11 AM on February 15, 2012 [18 favorites]

I did ask him to meet me halfway and try to tell me in a nicer way if he felt I was doing something truly wrong. He said there was no point, because he didn't have time to explain in a nice way what I was doing wrong. I also told him that I felt he didn't have to point out every fault, and he said he didn't want people to look at him like he was an idiot for being with me (not those exact words, but the same idea)

Seriously? And you're still trying to be friends with him?

Despite his claims that he doesn't have time to be more polite to you, it seems that Zee is putting a huge amount of time into endlessly criticising you and bossing you around. He chose to take over the self-checkout machine for you, rather than just leaving it at "Hey, that one's still in use"; he chose to pass along all these criticisms from your friends, rather than telling them to take it up with you themselves if they have a problem. (And, uh - have you heard any of these problems from them, incidentally? Or is it all coming through Zee?)

If he really was just trying his best to help when he's already stressed and short of time, he would at the very least be able to be specific when you ask him what, exactly, you're doing that's driving him so crazy. The fact that he couldn't come up with any examples other than 'being choosy with restaurants' is telling. He might be playing the "I'm just criticising you so much for your own good!" card, and he might even believe it himself, but that doesn't mean you need to stick around and thank him for it.

Zee came in my room often and complain about our other roommates (a family he feels responsible for, due to their financial and mental limitations)

Zee seems to have a pattern of surrounding himself with people he feels can feel responsible for (them, you), then complaining about how annoying it is it is to feel responsible for them. He might be one of those people who you can get along with fine as part of a wider social circle, but he sounds like a nightmare to live with.
posted by Catseye at 3:12 AM on February 15, 2012 [7 favorites]

Being roommates can be very taxing, especially since you have your quirks and he has his. Why not end the drama and just move out? Doesn't seem like you're getting much out of this relationship besides angst.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 3:33 AM on February 15, 2012

Have you asked your other friends whether they've been talking about you? Are you close enough with any of them to be able to ask them if you've done something to offend them lately? Or is Zee just making this up? You need a second opinion about your behavior because I have a feeling Zee isn't being honest with you, he's just giving his random opinion and pretending to have back-up on it when he doesn't.

My take on it is that he probably looks down on you for being a bit dependent and absentminded and not having confidence in yourself, and he's being nasty to you because of it. You need to get another living situation sorted out and stop spending time with this guy.
posted by hazyjane at 3:38 AM on February 15, 2012 [2 favorites]

I think Zee has a hierarchical view of politeness and sees himself as the alpha friend.

It's true in any system of etiquette that criticism flows downwards, not upwards. That is why Zee gets to criticize you and you don't get to criticize back. In Miss Manners-style etiquette Zee would properly say something like, "Hey, that self-checkout's still in use," or "c'mon, let me pick the restaurant this time, fair's fair." In a hierarchical system of etiquette Zee has to establish his dominance and train you to accept a lower position.

That's also why Zee gets to criticize other friends to you, and also to report criticisms supposedly made about you by other friends. This is a way of driving wedges between people and policing how people feel about each other. Because it's not an egalitarian system, you don't (assuming you would even consider doing this) get to do your other friends the "favor" of pointing out that their bad behaviour is driving Zee up the wall and this is what he said about it, because you don't have the standing in the social hierarchy to "help" and "correct" others in this way. An egalitarian view would be that you don't do stuff like that and Zee shouldn't either, because it's toxic and divisive. Zee's system of etiquette says that Zee gets to do it because Zee is the boss. This is also why you put up and shut up, and don't discuss it or presume to have feelings about it.

If you want to move forward, I'd try to find a new place to live as soon as you can without screwing anybody over, and I'd stop trying to be friends with Zee. Leave doms and subs to manage their systems as they see fit, and recognize that if you don't subscribe to a dom-sub model of social interaction you will only ever look like a presumptuous upstart to those who do.
posted by tel3path at 3:46 AM on February 15, 2012 [18 favorites]

Really surprised by those comments jumping on the OP here. Zee is not your friend. He sounds like a dick and you need to start looking for another place to live.

What sort of friend tells you about all the bad things people are saying about you? Think about that for a second. I have friends who don't like other friends. To avoid drama and maintain friendship, I refuse to talk about one with the other, and I would certainly never tell one of them what other people have said about them. Sheesh. And scolding you like a child when you're out in public? My friends wouldn't do that shit. Ever. My friends make me feel good about myself. They cheer me up when things are low. They support me. Contrary to what has been said in this thread, it doesn't sound to me like Zee has your back at all. He's probably using your perceived flaws (and everyone else's) to reaffirm to himself how how "helpful" he is being. Either way, you need some friends who don't make you feel this bad.
posted by futureisunwritten at 3:57 AM on February 15, 2012 [4 favorites]

The way I read this is that Zee has some serious perfectionism, shame and social anxiety issues that's he's not fully aware of, and he's trying to ease his discomfort by manipulating the outer world (including you) instead of addressing his inner emotional issues. You just happen to be one of the things in his field of vision that doesn't seem right, and he's trying to fix you. Note that he's helping himself by "helping" you. No doubt he's observing some real characteristics of yours, and no doubt some of those characteristics are less than perfect and/or do bother some people, but his sense of scale and the importance he attributes to these imperfections is all out of whack, because every little thing in his world that doesn't fit his idealized mental model is OMG intolerable and he has to fixitfixitfixitOMGfixitNOW!

You on the other hand are eager to please, and in your eagerness to help things go smoothly and be open to addressing real problems you're encouraging his dysfunctional behavior. Instead of being satisfied with any changes you might make, he just moves onto the next thing, not because you're an exceptionally flawed human being but because you yield to his efforts. You are something he can shape, and he so needs to shape things.

You're going to have to tell him, consistently, to butt out and go fix someone else.
posted by jon1270 at 3:57 AM on February 15, 2012 [10 favorites]

He sounds like a "fixer." A lot of people really like to be the one to come to peoples' rescue, making their lives better and being the hero in their own stories. On one end, it's a terrific thing (a guy who'll move you into his apartment, shuttle you around, and help with stuff) on the other end, they can be controlling and really touchy when you disagree with the courses of action they have determined will "fix" your life.

Zee sounds like he's gotten into that other territory, and the fact that he takes care of a family that needs this kind of help makes me think that he's putting you into some kind of category where you need just as much attention. That can be very condescending, and you appear to be in a place where you'll take a lot of "blame" upon yourself.

I think you guys should part ways, living-situation-wise, and take a break from constant contact for awhile. You could still be friends -- a lot of times, when you're on your own and doing your own thing, "fixers" find other people that they deem in need of repair. But it's not healthy for you to be getting "lessons" from someone you went to high school with, even if you have social anxiety and are sometimes a little bit thoughtless. Everybody has some level of anxiety, and nobody is Perfectly Proper In Every Way.
posted by xingcat at 4:32 AM on February 15, 2012 [2 favorites]

Also, I don't like to be that gay guy who sees homosexuality in everything, but two young guys hanging out a lot, one of whom is gay, the other who seems to be grooming this gay guy he has a childhood bond with...sounds like he might have a little more interest in you than just as pals. It's cliche and silly to think it, but the dude is treating you like a possessive, controlling boyfriend would, and if you add in "in the closet," and embarrassment about any little social faux pas you make...yeah, I wonder.
posted by xingcat at 4:35 AM on February 15, 2012 [1 favorite]

Zee probably criticizes himself constantly too. This is his personality and it isn't going to change. It's not against you, as you seem to be experiencing it, but if you want to continue to be friends with him, you're going to have to learn to accept that he has this problem.
posted by Obscure Reference at 5:00 AM on February 15, 2012

Umm.. halfway through, you talk about being 'deaf'. Like, deaf-deaf, or just He doesn't listen to me" deaf? If it's the former, I'm thinking that would have been more pertinent information to include up front.

And Zee sounds like he is used to being the one to take all the responsibility. And really - the situation you describe sounds like a big brother or father-son relationship. Your more reserved/introverted type of personality and his 'take care of everyone and be responsible' personality just clicked into that kind of dynamic.

Your reactions all can be viewed as the petulant child, and his can all be viewed as the overbearing father.

think of things in that context and see what needs to change.

And just get in touch with him forchissakes.
posted by rich at 5:16 AM on February 15, 2012 [2 favorites]

This is an awful lot of drama for a roommate relationship. For a roommate, this level of intensity is not a good thing. You just live together.

Sure, you could try to work this out. Both of you would need to take a big step back from the level of whatever is going on here -- but can you do that? Can he? I think you're better off just moving out.
posted by J. Wilson at 5:20 AM on February 15, 2012 [1 favorite]

Guy's a jerk, flat out. Don't be friends.
posted by Ironmouth at 5:29 AM on February 15, 2012

Zee complains about people behind their backs. People he chooses to be around. Regularly, it sounds like. That's a blatant Asshole Flag, and it's an attitude that takes a lot of time and effort to change -- i.e. don't bet on it happening anytime soon, if ever.

Distance yourself and find another living situation as soon as you can. This guy is an environmental irritant.
posted by Metroid Baby at 5:33 AM on February 15, 2012 [2 favorites]

Yes. I've no idea about the rights and wrongs of this situation, but it's plainly far more trouble than it's worth. Either back away, if you can, or move out. The only thing I would add is that if this is part of a pattern of difficult friendships, you need to look at how you pick the people you spend time with, and whether what you expect from each other is appropriate to the type of relationship you have. If it's just a weird one off, then you probably just don't get on with this guy; it happens.
posted by howfar at 5:35 AM on February 15, 2012 [1 favorite]

Also, as to all the comments saying he shouldn't be telling you what other friends are saying about you, as if he is trying to cause trouble or make you feel bad- I interpretted it completely differently as him basically trying to say "hey man, these behaviors dont just bother me, they are alienating your other friends too."
posted by catatethebird at 7:34 AM on February 15, 2012 [1 favorite]

Mod note: Less tough love more helpful please? Thank you.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:45 AM on February 15, 2012

Being Deaf, he also said he felt he didn't want to be associated that way.

I'm not sure what this means. I know the OP is Deaf, but did Zee say he didn't want to be associated with a Deaf person? Seriously, if so that's extremely messed up.

I can't understand those who are saying it's the OP who's the selfish one. If you're deaf then of course you're going to miss out on some of the things that are going on around you such as a guy not being finished at the checkout in front of you. Maybe the guy said something and you didn't hear it? You and your friends need to cut you a bit of slack for some of this stuff for goodness sakes.

This guy Zee is toxic for you. Just focus on getting your own place and improving your situation away from him. He's only 'helping' people in order to feel all superior to them. And as a general rule, stay away from people who talk badly about their supposed friends and girlfriends behind their backs. These are not nice people and are not out to help anyone but themselves. You don't deserve this kind of treatment.
posted by hazyjane at 8:19 AM on February 15, 2012

I'm not sure what this means. I know the OP is Deaf, but did Zee say he didn't want to be associated with a Deaf person? Seriously, if so that's extremely messed up.

I think it's that Zee is Deaf, as well, and Zee has a sort of hangup about Deaf people being seen as clueless and stumbling, which he perceives the OP to be doing.

Cast me in with the lot who sees Zee as a "fixer" constantly trying to "help" people and then complaining about having to deal with helping and fixing.
posted by deanc at 8:24 AM on February 15, 2012

I don't think either of you two are wholly in the right here. I'm inclined to side with Zee as a few others have done - I think his behavior and reactions are more normal than yours, and that he's being driven up the wall by you.

That said, it doesn't matter who's more right here. Everyone who has posted here would agree that the two of you are not compatible and need to separate.
posted by SollosQ at 8:38 AM on February 15, 2012

Zee has a sort of hangup about Deaf people being seen as clueless and stumbling

I could be reading too much into this, but I see this as the key to the whole situation. When I was reading through your account of what happened, it seemed a bit odd that Zee was acting so much like your significantly older brother: helping you out while giving you constant feedback on what, in his view, you were doing wrong. That isn't a usual dynamic for friends. But then I got to the Deaf part, and it made a lot more sense to me that he would see you as being a bit like family, and why he'd be so preoccupied with the idea that your behaviour would reflect on him. Is there a reason why he sees himself as the 'older' brother here? Are you actually significantly younger, or are there other reasons why you might know less about either Deaf culture or about how to participate in hearing society?

And speaking of Deaf culture, I wonder how much of his bluntness makes more sense in that context?
posted by Acheman at 8:59 AM on February 15, 2012

You explained to him that you didn't like how he was interacting with you, and he didn't respect that. Maybe you are an annoying jerk - you might want to confirm/clarify that with the other people he says are talking about you - but so is he.

The thing that bothers me most here is -- Do you want or need this person to tell you how to behave? The thing I didn't get from your post was you telling him to stop doing that. I don't think he actually CAN do this in a way that you feel more comfortable with but do you feel like you need help with your social skills? And that this is a good person to learn from? And why?
posted by sm1tten at 9:05 AM on February 15, 2012

I've been in this situation. I don't drive, and am extremely picky about my food (I can't eat anything spicy and a lot of seasonings make me sick, so I stick to chain restaurants or places where I know I can at least get chicken strips or something bland). I've had friends get resentful f my inability to explore new foods, and of my needing a ride everywhere I want to go.

I compensate for that by taking the bus when I can, or calling a cab if the bus isn't a viable option, before asking a friend to take me somewhere unless they're already planning to go there. Aka we're both going to a friend's party, they say they also need to go grocery shopping, etc. When I do ask for rides to do errands, I make a point of buying lunch as a way of saying thank you, and offer gas money as well.

The food thing is something I have difficulty with, but there are some possibilities for branching out... if a mexican food place has plain cheese quesadillas (or will make one for me) I can go there with friends who want spicy food. I've found things that I can enjoy at sushi places, I love Olive Garden. Most anyplace you go will have a burger or chicken strips on the menu, so if nothing else looks good there's still something edible. I also try to get them to decide where they want to go, and make it a discussion rather than me saying "Lets go to Denny's" every time. Buffets are your friend, as long as your human friends enjoy going to buffets... its a way that everyone can find something they like :)

It sounds like Zee thought he was helping with telling about friends comments and his own observations, especially if you expressed to him that you saw it as a learning opportunity for self improvement. He may have become increasingly blunt not only out of personal frustration with your quirks, but also because he thought you wanted to know where he saw things you might want to work on.
posted by myShanon at 10:08 AM on February 15, 2012

liketitanic - I asked because it was just casually thrown in there. For those who don't know the OP, like me, it wasn't obvious the casual way it was mentioned. (and the reason I asked to be sure I was correct in the assumption WAS because it was capitalized)

And I think the responses after that sort of show that this is something else that needs to be considered and has some revelance that the original answers may not have included in their read of the problem/question.

So, maybe the OP should look more towards the answers after the clarification sunk into responders rather than those earlier on that may have missed that tid-bit in the read.
posted by rich at 10:22 AM on February 15, 2012

I think you just need to stop hanging out with Zee and find a new place to live (or at least do *one* of these things if you can't do the other). You guys sound like you are not compatible as friends or roommates. It doesn't even matter *why* you're incompatible, because the solution is the same regardless.
posted by mskyle at 1:29 PM on February 15, 2012

I understood the OP was Deaf from the beginning. My answer here regarding Zee's behavior still stands.
posted by jbenben at 2:18 PM on February 15, 2012 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Sorry this update is coming in a bit late, but I wanted to answer some questions, for whoever's still reading this thread.

First, yes, Zee and I both are Deaf. In fact, we are in a large Deaf community. I did not mention it upfront because I did not consider our Deafness to be a contributing factor towards our situation; however, after reading some comments, I now realize that was a factor that should have been included upfront. Apologies for any confusion. As for one person who asked if Zee being blunt because being blunt is a tendency of Deaf culture, my answer is, while many Deaf people are much more blunt than hearing people, Zee's bluntness way exceeded many of those other Deaf people I've known. Many other Deaf people at least exercise tact, but Zee has absolutely no tact.

I have also thought about it, and the more I think of it, the more it seems a bit weird that Zee told me what my friends said. I'm adding a bit of backstory here - in December, on my last night in DC (when I was still living in the dorm, and Zee and I hadn't discussed the possibility of being roommates yet), we visited the same friends that he later told me said those things about me. After we visited those friends, Zee and I went to Denny's. He then proceeded to tell me that he noticed some things about me that made me different from the rest of them (four of them), such as my behavior (seeming nervous, talking fast, not relaxing, etc.). I felt turned off at the time, because I felt like he was cross-analyzing me. My other friends did not mention anything. (They know I have social anxiety.) I told Zee to please not cross-analyze me, and he agreed, realizing that he was going a bit far. Then, during winter break, Zee went over to those people's house often, and we would FaceTime while he was there. Everything seemed normal until one night, when I asked Zee if I could say hi to one person (a close friend of mine). Zee asked the friend if I could say hi, and something weird happened - the friend said something, and Zee looked awakard. He then told me that if I wanted to talk to the friend, to ask them myself (that's what they said). I felt weird about that situation, and planned to clear it up with the friend in question but never got around to it, because I never got a chance to see that friend in person since I returned to DC. That friend, who I consider one of my closest friends, is very busy with her last semester. I'm still not sure what happened, which is why I took Zee's "reports" to me as plausible, as another, completely seperate friend, said similar things about me that Zee reported my friend said. However, it's very possible Zee somehow twisted things, because that friend of mine recently met Zee at a party last December (incidentally, where I re-met Zee), and I have known that friend of mine since 2005. We have had some rough spots, but it's a bit hard to imagine her telling Zee those things about me. I could be wrong, so I plan to clear it up with her and disregard Zee's request to not mention anything. It's possible Zee asked me to not mention anything because he didn't want any drama, but it's also possible he did that because he knew if I mentioned anything, I'd find out the truth.

I also hope Zee didn't say anything that I said to that friend, and took it out of context. I honestly am starting to see that there's no clear answer, and it's very possible Zee twisted everything, but at the same time, why would he do that to me? He was very nice at the beginning, and still was fairly nice up to yesterday.

I know the situation is a bit complicated, with many factors, and the truth is, I'm not sure what to do next. I haven't talked to him at all today (nor has he), and I'm nervous to go home. Also, the problems between us (so far) has only occurred when we went out; at home, everything has been fine, so far. I hope that won't change. I also get intimidated easily, so it's hard for me to stand up for myself. Like some has mused, my lack of confidence in myself may has prompted Zee's desire to "improve" me. Whether or not he has good intentions still remains to be seen - I just hope he does not have a bad endgame in mind!

Thanks, and any more advice/insights based on what I have shared would be great!
posted by dubious_dude at 9:37 PM on February 15, 2012

"if I wanted to talk to the friend, to ask them myself"

Do clear it up with the friend. But consider that it can be taken literally and what that might imply.

Maybe they don't like that communications with you now have to go through Zee. Maybe they think there's something unhealthy about that.
posted by tel3path at 12:50 AM on February 16, 2012

Akshuly I bet this is it:

ZEE: Bonnie is a slut! She wears those stupid hats with the earflaps!
YOU: Mm, well, I'm sorry you're having trouble with her. More peppermint tea? It's good for your nerves.

ZEE: dubious_dude thinks you are a slut and he doesn't think much of your hats with the earflaps either. I believe he finds them "stupid".
BONNIE: Why that lousy loser, that jerk! If he has a problem with my earflap hats why doesn't he say it to my face?

YOU: Hey, is Bonnie there? I want to say hi!
ZEE: Well, I'll see...
ZEE [to Bonnie]: It's dubious_dude I'm afraid... he still has issues with your choice of headwear and was wondering if I'd be prepared to work it out with you.
BONNIE [to Zee]: I call shenanigans. I don't think dubious_dude said anything of the sort. I think you're triangulating and creating conflict among friends out of nothing. If you're not shitting me, call dubious_dude to the phone and we'll talk it through right here, right now, in front of everyone.
ZEE: Oh dear. I'm afraid Bonnie says that if you want to talk to her, you have to be man enough to say it to her face.

And your willingness to take bullshit as helpful feedback? This flags you up to Doms as someone onto whom they can projectile-vomit their general hatred of humanity, which is why you get rageful "he called you a loser because you are a loser! that's why everyone hates you and you should hate yourself too! that's what you were put on this earth for!" pile-ons. Try these scenarios on for size:

ZEE: Bonnie is a slut! She wears those stupid hats with the earflaps!
YOU: Well I think Bonnie's really nice akshuly. I don't think it's fair that you talk about her in this way. More peppermint tea? It's good for your nerves.

ZEE: Your social presentation is bad and you should feel bad!
YOU: Fuck you and your put-downs disguised as feedback, GRAR!

I mean, it's not like Zee has a problem with friends who criticize him, is it? The thing about the Zees of this world - they do have excellent boundaries.
posted by tel3path at 1:23 AM on February 16, 2012 [2 favorites]

Your description of Zee reminds me of someone close to me (let's call that person X), who when they are unhappy with the way i have acted, tell me that various people that i look up to told X ~whatever X thinks themself~.

(X thinks i'm rude because i don't really do chit-chat. After a party when i'v been withdrawn from other people, X tells me Y and Z think i'm rude. I know that's not the case, because they know me better than X does and are ok with my being an introvert. X is not)

With the friend situation with Zee - did you actually see the other friend on camera? Are you sure she was there? Maybe Zee for whatever reason lied and to save face when you wanted to speak to her had to make something up quickly.

In any case, i'd draw some boundaries.
posted by revikim at 1:12 PM on February 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

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