Roommate Troubles: Should I bother keeping in touch.
May 12, 2014 3:56 PM   Subscribe

I've made my roommate's life kinda shit the entire school year. Should I just get out of her life, or try to keep in touch in case I become a better person?

Quick stuff about me: I'm a 21 year old woman who's graduating college in a month. I'm dealing with incredible feelings of pressure to pass my classes and secure a job before I graduate. Also, I have an incredible feelings of self loathing and worthlessness that I also have to deal with, so those are probably going to show up when I'm mentioning my issues.

Since I needed housing for my last year of college, I became roommates with my friend A. A was a good friend of mine for about 2 years (we're both girls, fyi). Even though she had tons of flaws which drive me up the wall, she was great to hang out with, but I've done the following things to piss her off:

- I've always been jealous of her social and dating skills. I feel like I've made smarter financial and career decisions and that I've shown more perseverance than her in school. Yet all her friends she has seem to love her more than most of mine love me. I know math =/= social skills but it still seems a bit unfair. My social skills were always lacking but only now have I been so self-conscious about them.

- I've been terrible at telling her what I want or need. I have convinced myself she is a more worthwhile person than me (which I conjectured based on how people seem to judge the both of us) so I've followed the belief of "It doesn't matter what I need as long as she's happy," except she still manages to care about me despite the nonsense I've made her endure.

- I've managed to make all of her friends hate me too. I believe our non-mutual friends think nothing of me (compared to her) and so I either make myself detestable by "proving" this hypothesis to them by being pitiful or (worse) by trying to disprove this belief which they probably don't have. I do things which I think will prove that I'm cool even though it's painfully obvious I'm deeply uncomfortable which only makes them dislike me more or begin to dislike me for having no self respect. Or I just act like I've got a stick up my ass and then they go away. Also, my jealousy makes it impossible for me to be in the house while she's having sex with her boyfriend or is having fun with him in some other awesome way. Go me! I've single handedly ruined A's social life and sex life!

OK, to the question finally: Should I make any attempts to remain her friend aside from the random texts I send her (which I plan to make fewer and farer between)?. I'm moving out about a month to my hometown (which is 4 hours away), and we both agree we'll both be happier for that. I just don't see why she'd want to be my friend anymore, especially since I've just been a complete passive aggressive monster this entire year.

posted by bluekazoo to Human Relations (14 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Why not try letting her set the pace of your friendship at this point? I have to be honest with you: I had a lot of good friends in college, including several roommates that I adored and that liked me - and I'm in touch with only two people from college now. I am 31. Your connections to your friends from college will likely get weaker over time anyhow. I would chalk your likely loss of this friend up to that simple hard fact.

Focus instead on learning from this experience. It sounds like you've learned a lot about yourself and how you behave in a friendship. Use that to make new friends in your new city.

Also, it's hard to parse out what in your question is coming from your insecurity and feelings of worthlessness that you describe early on. I think therapy is going to be a common refrain here for good reason. You should consider therapy to work on these things. You don't have to feel this way.
posted by sockermom at 4:04 PM on May 12, 2014 [4 favorites]

Let her make her own decisions about the friends she wants to keep. You sound like you need to find ways to combat your feelings of inadequacy and improve your problem areas.
posted by infinitewindow at 4:05 PM on May 12, 2014 [2 favorites]

Do you want to be friends with her? If so, why? Not to be mean but your question reads a bit like, I've treated someone terribly, how do I undo that? Do you want to be her friend because you think she's awesome or because you feel guilty for having been a crappy roommate? If the former, tell her she's awesome and you'd love to hang out when she wants to, then leave it up to her to reach out. If the latter, cut your losses and move on.
posted by kat518 at 4:11 PM on May 12, 2014

I think it's okay to just keep in touch with random texts. I have a friend--who I still consider a very good friend--who I talk with once every year or so. Different people have different friendship styles, and it's ok if you only keep in touch once in a while.

As far as the social-skill-jealousy thing goes, I experienced a little of that in college. I got over it by realizing that some people are "social hubs" and they are just very, very good at networking. (Most people I know who do that do it instinctively, but it can probably be a learned skill, too.) The rest of us "network" best by being friends with these network hubs. And that's normal. That's just kind of how social connections work.

I think you way, *way* overestimate your ability to influence people. Her friends probably didn't care that much you were socially awkward, other than not hang out with you. She probably had other ways to spend time with her boyfriend. If she's half as nice and socially adept as you claim, then I doubt you could've "ruined" any social part of her life.

So if you like her, then keep in touch with her. At your own pace. (Maybe after a break.) If she doesn't like you, she won't keep in touch with you.
posted by ethidda at 4:16 PM on May 12, 2014

Best answer: From the descriptions you gave, you sound like a shy, studious introvert who respects your roommate's privacy when she's spending time with her boyfriend.

What I see in this post is a lot of catastrophizing self-criticism and I have a feeling much more of this is in your mind than you might think. Has she specifically pointed out any of these things to you as things that piss her off? Has she otherwise indicated that she doesn't want to talk to you or spend time with you? If not, I don't think you should take any of this as indication that you have done anything wrong.
posted by capricorn at 4:24 PM on May 12, 2014 [22 favorites]

Best answer: You set up a false choice where it's already too late and it's doomed, and either you stay in touch and keep treating her poorly, or you stop talking to her. What about the other choice where you treat her well for the next month in-person and then treat her well long-distance after you move away?

Be nice to her. Listen to her, and give her good advice on her finances and career (since you said you're wiser in those areas). Do little things that make her life more convenient, like getting her food when you're picking up food for yourself, or telling her about events she might like.

A month is a long time. You can make up for a lot in a month. Even if you are consumed with jealousy and self-loathing while you're trudging across campus holding an extra sandwich from the deli, she doesn't have to know about all those negative feelings. She can just be happy about the sandwich.

You can be feeling utterly worthless and comparing yourself bitterly inside, but on the outside, you're still giving her helpful financial advice. She'll still appreciate that.

And you know what? After you do enough errands and give enough advice and listen and say nice things, you'll feel less worthless. You'll feel good about yourself. And her friends will include you in more things and treat you well too.

You have a choice. You are not just some powerless pawn in a chess game who is condemned to feeling horrible and treating others poorly. You can choose to treat her well, regardless of what you feel on the inside.
posted by cheesecake at 4:47 PM on May 12, 2014 [6 favorites]

Where are you getting yourself into therapy?

This person will move on with her life. You need to move on with yours and that needs to include someone helping you deal with your feelings of worthlessness. Don't waste energy on fixing this friendship right now. Invest everything you have in finding a therapist you can afford and can see regularly.

Nothing gets better - not school, jobs, friendships - until you get your head together. A therapist can help you do that if you do the work.
posted by 26.2 at 5:02 PM on May 12, 2014 [2 favorites]

I am honestly a little confused here. Have you two recently had a knock down drag out fight about this where she mentioned these things as things you have done? It sounds like you have spent the year resenting and glorifying this person (building her up so that you feel even worse about yourself in comparison, if that makes sense?), but you don't mention what if any actions you have taken about these feelings. It took me a good twenty years to learn that people don't actually notice, mostly, when you're feeling at them - it's the actions that they pick up on. It sounds to me like you appreciate this person and feel like your personal issues have gotten in the way of your acting towards them the way you would like. You are not a monster. Whether or not you choose to continue and work on the friendship is up to you, but please stop beating yourself up about this.

It is also my experience that friendships naturally change based on life situations, so naturally you have a different relationship with a regular close friend than you do with that same person as a roommate, or as a friend in a town four hours away. Concentrate on taking care of your anxiety and getting settled in your new life, and you'll see that this friendship will seem much less fraught if you do decide to maintain it.
posted by theweasel at 5:30 PM on May 12, 2014 [6 favorites]

Best answer: Just be Facebook friends and figure it out later.

It is very likely, as others have said, that you have vastly overestimated your control over other people. That's a thing depression does, makes you incredibly self-absorbed. Obviously a roommate's going to notice a little bit, but she seems to get that you're in the weeds right now.

Start being nice to her now, but don't make any grand gestures. Just dial yourself back a few notches, smile and fake it if you have to. Later, when you have gotten into therapy and maybe a correcting course of medication, you can assess the situation from a more realistic point of orbit and decide what, if anything, you need to do.
posted by Lyn Never at 5:51 PM on May 12, 2014

Response by poster: Thanks everyone for your input. It's helpful to get a bunch of other people's takes on this. Also, since I don't know how to edit the original post:

-I am currently getting therapy once a week, which has been really helpful in deciphering my feelings about this and other stressful stuff I'm dealing with.
-While I have realized I'm probably overestimating how negatively people view me, I do have evidence that I have seriously pissed A and at least some of her friends off through my best friend, B, as she is also friends with A. B has ended up in the unfortunate position of attempting to mediate this whole mess (though I'm not sure how much she minds it).
posted by bluekazoo at 10:04 PM on May 12, 2014

Best answer: People have a lot of recency bias. Even if you were a total asshole for the past two years, if you're nice to her and her friends for a month, their memory will be mostly dominated by that month.

It will feel uncomfortable at first, but it'll get easier. Fake it till you make it!
posted by cheesecake at 10:10 PM on May 12, 2014

It might be helpful FOR YOU if you phase out. Let her keep the pace of the friendship, as mentioned above, but not just for her sake. It sounds like you've pinned a lot of your self-worth on how you stack up to A, and that's not good for you.

Get some distance. Maybe in a few years, when you're more comfortable in your own skin, you can re-connect.
posted by AmandaA at 6:37 AM on May 13, 2014

bluekazoo: I do have evidence that I have seriously pissed A and at least some of her friends off through my best friend, B, as she is also friends with A. B has ended up in the unfortunate position of attempting to mediate this whole mess (though I'm not sure how much she minds it).

Sounds like B might be in it for the drama. If the people who are supposedly "seriously pissed off" at you have not personally expressed any upset feelings to you or asked you to do anything differently, then keep on doing what you're doing. Or maybe ask A if something is bothering her, if you really want to.
posted by capricorn at 12:36 PM on May 13, 2014 [1 favorite]

For what it's worth, when I moved out of my group house, I was so ready for some distance between me and former roommates. About a year later, we all got together for drinks and it was like all of the passive-aggressive notes about dirty dishes and paying bills had never happened. I haven't seen most of them in years but if they reached out, I'd be open to getting together. Good luck.
posted by kat518 at 9:29 PM on May 13, 2014

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