Unstable subletter texting me inflammatory texts
January 28, 2017 8:44 PM   Subscribe

Hi all, my subletter keeps sending me inflammatory texts, and I have no idea how to phrase it so she will stop. I'm not willing to speak to her in person because she makes my adrenaline/cortisol skyrocket; I can't stand her. She has below-average IQ and has untreated BPD. She does not grasp things that most people get. She is also very erratic. How do I word a text that will get my point across in a way that she will understand?

For example, I drew a map for another girl in the apartment on a corner of an old magazine that had been on the table for months, of how to get to the laundromat. I get a text at 11 pm saying "you better not have drawn on my book. Not cool. I'm not saying you did but that is not okay." (It was a magazine not a book). Then later, a text ranting about how the internet doesn't work (it works fine, her computer is broken), accusing me of changing the settings when I was there earlier to pick up utilities reimbursement. She also demands unreasonable things like traveling to her work to pick up the rent cheque instead of leaving it on the table (same with utilities). I would throw her out but I'm too busy to look for a replacement and I'm not currently living there, so the texts are the main issue. She gets along fine with the other two roommates, I'm the only one that she treats like crap, and I have some theories about this (she copies everything I do, conflates us constantly, takes my requests for her to stop doing that with rage and very strong emotion).
posted by Kombucha3452 to Human Relations (14 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
1. Move any pets, and any of your belongings that are financially or sentimentally precious to a secure off site location.

2. "From now on, please only communicate with me by email."

3. Set up an email filter that whisks her emails into a special email folder that you only check when you're feeling emotionally robust enough.

4. Give her notice to move out (whatever period is stated on the lease or is legally mandated in your state.) Seriously, this situation is a ticking time bomb.
posted by Sockpuppets 'R' Us at 9:33 PM on January 28, 2017 [18 favorites]

- Assign her texts to "do not disturb" or assign them a silent tone so that you are not disturbed by her texts.

- Only reply to her texts between business hours from now on. Just start doing it, don't notify her and do not ask her permission. Just make this your default way of coping with her.

- Tell her the next time this rent thing comes up, "That won't be possible. You are responsible for getting the rent to me on time, please do so."

Stop explaining, stop negotiating. Don't respond to her unless it's business related. Just stop engaging. Eventually she'll move on to better targets.
posted by jbenben at 10:22 PM on January 28, 2017 [15 favorites]

A lot of this will depend on the landlord-tenant laws of the city, county, and state you're in.

Depending on your local laws, you may or may not be able to evict her without Just Cause. I would contact your local renters' union and see what they say.

If she is as erratic as you suggest, there is no magic way of wording a text that will solve this problem.
posted by ananci at 10:32 PM on January 28, 2017 [2 favorites]

Is there any way you can outsource the search for tenants? I get that you're busy, but this situation is taking up a lot of your brainspace, too, and is potentially expensive and damaging for your mental health (if she ends up freaking out on you, for instance.)
posted by Omnomnom at 11:41 PM on January 28, 2017 [5 favorites]

Yeah, this person sounds like a ticking time bomb. I would think about giving her notice, but I wonder if she would take the 30 days (or whatever) to treat your property in some unkind way.
I agree that trying to find a new tenant is a good idea--and if you can outsource the legwork, all the better.
posted by blueberry at 11:50 PM on January 28, 2017

(To be fair, you did draw on her property - a piece of emphera to you, but for her, a book- I would be pretty annoyed if a housemate drew on a magazine of mine.)

Ignore the texts as you can, identify your own emotions and irritations and let them go- deal with what you can.
posted by freethefeet at 4:29 AM on January 29, 2017 [2 favorites]

She reminds me very much of a roommate I once had.

That roommate relationship ended with her physically threatening me and pounding on the doors of rooms I was in so hard that things fell off the shelves, me moving out in secret one morning before dawn, and further problems after I was gone with her contacting me to tell me how awful I was.

There's nothing you can do about the texts. If she's otherwise mostly fine now, just sending texts you don't like, use this time to get things in order for another subletter and research the eviction process in your state.
posted by phunniemee at 5:26 AM on January 29, 2017 [3 favorites]

This sounds really awful and stressful. I hope you're able to get rid of her soon.

You say she has untreated BPD. Did she tell you that herself, or how do you know? Just curious if at one point she felt she could confide that in you or if that's just a guess based on her manipulative behavior.
posted by mermaidcafe at 9:44 AM on January 29, 2017

I'd also be very skeptical about reports that she's fine with her housemates. They may have found a way to deal with her, but I doubt that it's a pleasant and relaxed situation.
posted by quince at 10:17 AM on January 29, 2017 [4 favorites]

If you did draw on her magazine, you should apologize and replace it- that might help smooth things over. "Hi Lara, I'm sorry I drew on your magazine. I bought you a replacement copy and I promise not to draw on this one. :)"

Everything else she's doing sounds pretty shitty though.

And yeah, move out your valuables, sentimental items, and pets; she might be the sort to smash things you care about.
posted by spraypaint at 10:37 AM on January 29, 2017

Try not to assign blame or meaning to her rudeness. If she has BPD, she really can't help it. Follow the very good advice others have given you. Call her. Make sure she is calm. Apologize profusely for everything she thinks you did, because it is easy to do and costs you nothing; really, you are dealing with someone who is mentally ill and cannot logic, so think of it as a lie, if you have to. Give her honest feedback on her mood swings, let her know that it is a problem, and urge her to seek treatment. Her mental health is her own business, but you have every right to establish boundaries for what is and isn't acceptable behavior. Don't impose them with the hope that she will be shocked into treating you decently. Be vague and non-threatening. "I know we haven't had a very good relationship, and I'd like to do something about that." Tell her how those texts made you feel. Ask her if she is aware of how you perceive them. Check in with her periodically, and suggest that she move if things don't improve.
Lastly, spend a moment or two thinking about how her illness affects her life. You and I do not and likely will not face the challenges she is going to face. She needs people who are going to be patient and understanding. You don't have to fill that role, but if you have no intention of doing it, try to separate your emotions from the eviction as much as possible. Remember, when she rages against you via text, she's not "driving."
posted by Mr. Fig at 11:49 AM on January 29, 2017

People with Borderline Personality Disorder thrive on drama. Do not walk on eggshells, but do not participate in drama. Be remote and civil. There is no need to reply to most texts. Unreasonable requests are a form of blackmail - Want the rent? I'll make you come get it. Refer any issue to the lease/ agreement. As agreed, rent is to be left in X location. She's looking for you to engage in drama; don't.
posted by theora55 at 11:52 AM on January 29, 2017 [7 favorites]

Part of BPD is also fixating on one person and trying to unite others against them so don't feel bad if your roommates are confused and sympathetic to her. If you think there is some magic approach, something you could do or say to improve things - there isn't and if it seems so then things are just about to erupt in another direction. People with BPD have to agree to be helped then put huge amounts of effort in for years to make any change. You should leave or get her to leave ASAP.
posted by meepmeow at 8:55 PM on January 29, 2017 [2 favorites]

Have a lease that covers how the rent is to be paid. If they want to pay it some other way, refer to the lease.

I drew a map for another girl in the apartment on a corner of an old magazine that had been on the table for months...I'm not currently living there

Don't draw on random things you find in other's homes, even if you feel they are "old" or have been in the same place for months. Use a blank piece of paper, or ask if the person you are drawing the map for if there is something you can write on. You don't live there, and it's not appropriate for you to get involved in how long a magazine (or pamphlet, leaflet, book, whatever) has been on a table, if someone wants to keep it, etc.
posted by yohko at 3:39 PM on February 4, 2017

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