Moving forward after making a mistake, costing you a great opportunity?
October 9, 2013 6:35 AM   Subscribe

I made a mistake that resulted in me missing out on a great opportunity to build a decent support group in my new city, which I have been struggling to adjust to. I feel so much pain and regret at losing what was sure to be a great thing. How can I move forward? Any advice much appreciated.

Hello Mefites, I come to the Green in search of your advice. I've been apartment hunting, having my current housing situation extended until the end of this month. Other housing possibilities fell through for one reason or another, most commonly due to flakey people on Craigslist that changed their minds or stood me up.

Last week, I found the best place I looked at through Craigslist. Most valuable were the people there. I can easily say that they were the most welcoming and kind, funny people I have met since moving, and our personalities just meshed. Things just flowed, and they actually listened to me and got my sense of humor and personality, which is usually awkward at the first meeting, but this was so effortless. I knew for sure I liked the people, with whom I felt I could make good friends with. It even made me rethink leaving Seattle. I did have some questions about the place, and I've been cautious when it comes to accepting new living situations, to avoid an environment like the abusive home I came from. I've been trying to find out if rental info, in particular the address of the tenant, ever goes online, since my family still asks me where I live (and I continue not to respond).

I was corresponding with a roommate who didn't show up (and is trying to rent his room) but his roomies let me in and they were the ones I met. So, I thought I would wait to hear back from him to see why he didn't make it, which was mistake #1 that I made, as I should have just emailed him that I liked the roomies and am interested in taking over for him but have some questions, etc. I heard back from him 3 days later, where he apologized and mentioned that the roommates really liked me. I felt happy to feel so welcome. So I responded back the next day with some questions, and he replied back that evening, stating again that I was a great fit and could likely make good friends with some of the roommates and said if I was interested, we could move forward. I got that email at night a few hours after he sent it, and so I thought to wait until the morning to reply that I was interested, which was another mistake I made- I shouldn't have waited. The next morning I emailed my desire to go forward, and 10 minutes later, he apologized profusely and said that the room was already taken, since he wasn't sure what he would hear from me. He said again that I would fit so well there and wished me luck.

I felt crestfallen and almost in shock that yet another Craigslist chance fell through, but this time, it was my fault for not responding sooner. I was really upset with myself for that.

I don't really mind that I lost the space, per se- what really hurts me is that I lost the chance of a great friendship and connection with them. I emailed him again and put out there that if any of them ever wanted to hang, to drop me an email, as I didn't have any of their contact info nor they mine. I really felt it was a true connection and so I thought to do whatever I could, but it's up to the contact guy to give my info to the roomies, and then up to them to contact me, despite how awkward it may be, and for all I know they may think I just wasn't interested in the place, but who knows. So, I may or may not ever hear from them again, and I hurt at the loss of their friendliness and how well we seemed to mesh. I even emailed the contact guy again and asked him to connect me with one of the roomies so I could ask them a question I had about a mutual interest, but the contact guy said he could answer it, and he gave me sincere advice about it and then wished me well, and I him.

I had a really hard emotional time the day of and after, since I'm left back at square one, my social support group still lacking, and I wish so much that I had just given my interest sooner.

tl;dr: Have you ever had to deal with the aftermath of a mistake you made that resulted in you losing a great opportunity? How can I move forward after this? There's probably nothing more I can do with these particular people, right? I guess I'm hung up on how mutual and effortless it felt, and how rare that is for me, and I wonder if I'll find that with others. And also, I regret that I won't get to know those particular people, as I really felt a connection with them that was very supportive.

How can I best move forward so that I don't let this happen again? Any advice is very helpful. Thanks, Mefites.
posted by independence under the radar to Human Relations (13 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Everybody moves forward in different ways, so I'm unsure if I have advice there.

But to get back in touch with the roomies? You have their names and mailing address. Why not a card with your contact info, thanking them for meeting with you and offering to get together sometime?
posted by xingcat at 6:43 AM on October 9, 2013 [2 favorites]

First of all it's not just you, the guy you were corresponding with was a bit flakey too.

Roll by the house with a six-pack saying that you're sorry it didn't work out, but if there's ever another opening you're in. Chances are, they'll invite you in to chill. What's the worst that can happen? You're out a six-pack? Perhaps a friend of their's needs a roommate. Network a bit.

Keep looking for a new place, you may find another great opportunity.

There's never just one thing out there that's right for you.

No Job Charming, No Prince Charming, No Room Charming.

There are TONS of great opportunities out there! Don't give up, you're a resiliant person, get up and get out there!

I just KNOW you'll make it work.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 6:47 AM on October 9, 2013 [8 favorites]

...what really hurts me is that I lost the chance of a great friendship and connection with them.

You're making a really big leap here, and whatever is between "met these people and they were cool and friend" and "I missed out on an amazing opportunity for great friendship" isn't necessarily reflecting what you describe. You seem to be placing a lot of emotional weight on what is, honestly, a financial arrangement ahead of anything and everything else. By your past questions, it seems that you're in NYC, and that means just about everyone here who isn't really well-off or lucky has to have roommates whether they want to or not. Just because these people get along with you and each other does not necessarily mean they actually want to be friends, or that they want new friends, or that they want to be friends with their new roommate.

You've got nearly no information on the people you describe short of the fact that you think you could be good friends with they were polite and friendly to you. You don't know how they behave when they're not trying to get a new roommate. You don't really have anything to go on outside a bit of conversation. It sounds like you are feeling shitty less because this situation didn't work out and more because you hung your desire for friendship and companionship and support on a situation where that isn't really emotionally appropriate.

And, if you really, really felt a great connection with these people, just call one of them and say "hey you guys are pretty cool and I'm new in town and don't know a lot of folks, and do you want to hang out?" And maybe they'll say yes, maybe they'll say no, but the fact that you will not be living in the same house as they are doesn't really keep you from making friends with them. Just like the fact that you may have moved in there wouldn't have meant you would have made friends with them.
posted by griphus at 6:48 AM on October 9, 2013 [5 favorites]

Thanks, all, for the responses so far. :)

Griphus- Thanks for your advice and perspective, I appreciate it. I just thought I'd point out that I live in Seattle, in case that's helpful to any other posters, but still valid points in your response.
posted by independence under the radar at 7:00 AM on October 9, 2013

I own a house which is a group house and I have more experience with seeking housemates than you can shake a stick at - I've lived in group situations for eight years with a couple of roommates leaving/coming in every year. (And also a couple of long term virtually permanent housemates.)

The house you missed out on is a house of flakes. I'm sure they are delightful human beings and there's no reason not to be friends with them, or even to live there if you have the opportunity later.

Their "process" was not a good process. It was not your fault that you missed out on the room, and it sounds to me like someone in the house made a promise to someone they knew already before/during the time you were meeting the housemates - that's why the time frame seemed so short, because there really was no time frame. It sounds like the group was not communicating amongst themselves and it sounds like they did not set up a good way to figure out who the next housemate would be.

I've been part of the housemate-seeking process and we pretty much plan when we're going to make a decision, what the criteria are and how we're all going to meet with the person. This is essential. There's no way that we'd do some kind of weird overnight-turnaround thing, and neither would most of the group houses I know. It's not a good sign for how the house actually works on a day to day basis.

That said, I have met some great people via looking for housemates and I would not have been put off or freaked out if one of them asked if we wanted to hang out. Keep it shortish - the idea of dropping by with beer/comestible and staying for an hour in a low-key way seems pretty reasonable for a first hang-out.
posted by Frowner at 7:19 AM on October 9, 2013 [5 favorites]

I would actually not try to contact them again. You've expressed interest in talking to them and they haven't picked up on that and responded, so I'd just move on. Also, please keep in mind that it's important not to give roommates the job of being your support system. There's a huge gulf between "amazing perfect support system" and "abusive" and chances are, you'll find something in that space. That is okay. You can build your own support system over time. You'll be fine.

Coming from an abusive household you're primed to see yourself as horrible and bad and ruining everything irreversably. That is simply not the case. Go easy on yourself (and other people).
posted by the young rope-rider at 7:29 AM on October 9, 2013 [1 favorite]

OP, I feel for you, but just some thoughts on this.

My main concern is that it sounds like you are going about looking for roommates as a way to fill an emotional need and create a support group (or meeting these people and letting imagination go in this direction). Now I do think that some roommates can become friends and part of a support group, but it can often be neutral, or even a bad experience. I do think it is important to filter people and select roommates that you will get along with, but remember that this is primarily a financial transaction. The same way that you should probably not look for a job based on "Coworkers can be friends," but rather what you need out of the transaction, whether it be a place to sleep, way to save $, earn money, etc.

But I also understand rarely meeting people that you mesh with or getting your sense of humor, etc.

So forget the past but perhaps make a plan for moving forward.

To be honest, I would spend time also looking for a housing situation, but also time looking for a social support group, but in places that one is likely to do so. Perhaps a few meetups or hobby groups. Or maybe try activities in craigslist and list a hobby and see who replies. But these are places that people are actively looking for friends and support groups. But perhaps spend once a week or once a month doing these type of activities.

At the same time, you may run across someone who is a potential roommate who could be a friend. Perhaps make a plan for this in a future. I have a friend who made a friend from a job candidate interviewing for a job. The person apparently just sent a brief email saying, "Hey, I may not take this job, but liked meeting, let's keep in contact since we have X in common"-and later the person invited her for happy hour and somehow a friendship evolved from that. But I guess what I am saying is in the future, if you see interest X and think "potential friend", drop a brief note/invite to something right then and leave it at that. It may or may not happen, but it is random. I know another person who gives people his business card if he believes they have something in common/could be a potential friend and sometimes it turns into something, sometimes it does not. But I guess you may want to plan in the future to 1) leave your contact info if you see a lot in common, 2) briefly state your interest (hey! X is in common), 3) perhaps even think of something that would be appropriate to invite people to if they have something in common. I would probably not spend time imagining the friendships, etc, as this was in the past and may have never happened and energy is being spent in the wrong direction. Friendships probably are not based on "you did not respond within X hours, it is all over."

Good luck.
posted by Wolfster at 7:47 AM on October 9, 2013 [1 favorite]

Yes, definitely try to seperate the search for housing and the search for friendships or you will most likely end up disappointed. As griphus said, it is mainly a financial arrangement in which most people just hope to pleasantly co-exist.

Don't beat yourself up about this one, the fact it almost worked means there is most likely another chance right around the corner.

More classic advice- maybe search for a support group to help you with some of your background issues, that might be helpful and provide emotional connections as well.
posted by bquarters at 8:07 AM on October 9, 2013

Don't beat up yourself up too badly. I wouldn't blame yourself, your correspondent sounds flakey and excuse-y: "Oh I didn't know you still wanted it bro, had to go with someone else but no hard feelings k?" Geez. In my world a courtesy call/email asking the first person if they're still interested is de rigueur. Unless they didn't really want you in the first place, in which case good riddance.

As for the other point: I don't think you necessarily "missed out" on a new best friends group. More than a few times I've met people, and we hit it off wonderfully.. but then whole the thing just ends up petering out. Couldn't tell you why exactly, must be one of those things that are just like that because you're older (the internet is full of theories on this). My point is, it wasn't a sure thing, and there's no use crying over spilled milk anyway.

I'm sorry you went through this experience. Had this happened to me at a similar point in my life I would have probably second-guessed my actions, beating myself up for spoiling yet another social opportunity. If I could go back I would tell myself that the other guy was more than a bit of a flake, that it's not clear that I would've gotten the room even if I had gotten in touch with them earlier, and that it's even less clear that these guys I met who seem totally cool right now will become my new best friends. The sooner you can accept that most of this was probably beyond your control anyway, the sooner you can move on to finding a great place to live! Best of luck.
posted by papafrita at 8:34 AM on October 9, 2013

You didn't screw up, this guy flaked out.

It sounds like you're feeling really lonely -- are there any old friends you could call or email, just to chat? If you want to drop by this group house with a six pack or hit a few interest/hobby/etc-specific happy hours, I think that's a great idea. But it can also do a world of good to chat with an old friend for an hour and remember "oh yeah, this is what chatting with a friend feels like!" It might take off some of the edge.

For what it's worth, I don't think you're screwing up on the friendship/life front, either. Building a whole new life for yourself in a whole new place takes a lot of time and effort, and a *lot* of mental toughness. Piece by piece, though, you will build it. Just please don't mindfuck yourself into a terrible state in the meantime. Eyes on the prize.
posted by rue72 at 11:53 AM on October 9, 2013

Thanks, everyone, for your responses. They have been very helpful, I really appreciate it. Griphus and others brought up good points about looking for friendship in the right places. I think that's definitely something I need to do, socialize with common interest groups, etc.

What I really want to do is Ruthless Bunny's idea of showing up with a 6-pack and hanging out, but some of the comments make me wonder if they may have gotten my email but chosen not to respond, in which case I wouldn't go. But maybe the contact guy didn't even give them it, in which case I'd like to do that. So, I'm kind of confused about whether or not to do that, but I'm thinking I might do that since I really felt a connection. I am a little weary of running into the contact guy if I stop by with beers- should I let that affect my choice? Should I wait until he moves out, or go soon, while the roomies remember me more? If anyone still has any ideas, please feel free to post. I'll still check this. :)

Thanks for all of the support, and telling me not to beat myself up. It helps a lot. :)
posted by independence under the radar at 3:32 PM on October 9, 2013

I'd hold off on just showing up with a six pack. After all, a lot of people (myself included) would be majorly put out by having a close friend or family member just drop by, let alone a person who is more or less a total stranger. I would either follow up again with the roommate whose contact information you have or see if you can find and message them on social media.

And while I'm sure you guys got along well when you met I wouldn't get too hung up on recruiting them as friends. Meeting up with potential housemates is much more like going to a job interview than anything else-- both parties are on their best behavior, and are looking for very different qualities than they would in a standard friend. In the same way that a job interview that went very well doesn't mean that you will get the job or like the job if you do work there, clicking as roommates =/= clicking as friends. I think it's worth following up to see if they are interested in hanging out but otherwise I'd let it go.
posted by fox problems at 4:34 PM on October 9, 2013

I definitely don't think the guy you were in contact with would have passed on your contact info to his housemates.

I'm in the drop by, say hello camp.

Good luck in your housing search and community building activities.
posted by Heart_on_Sleeve at 1:45 PM on October 11, 2013

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