Would my roommate's boyfriend's surprise appearance be unwanted?
December 14, 2007 8:20 AM   Subscribe

My roommate's long-distance boyfriend asked me to help him surprise her. But I'm afraid he might be the one who gets surprised, if she's sleeping with someone else (I'm not sure). What do I do?

My roommate and I have been living together since September. We were assigned randomly (last year of college) and did not know each other before then. We get along well and are friendly, but we aren't friends.

She is from the opposite coast, and is in a long-distance relationship with a guy who still lives there. In October, he came to visit for about five days. I met him briefly and said hi, but we didn't talk. He stayed in her room (we have separate bedrooms). Everything seemed to be going well: they went out every night, she put tons of pictures of them together on Facebook, and they had loud (although brief) sex every night.

Earlier this week, he called me out of the blue and asked for my help. He wants to surprise my roommate by appearing one morning, but because the apartment we share is in a college dorm, he will need me to go downstairs, sign him in with security, and bring him up to the apartment we share. He will be flying in early Saturday morning and flying out late Saturday night (his family has a ton of money, much more than either she or I do). I thought this was an awesome, romantic idea and he was amazingly sweet and dedicated to think of it and to be willing to give up so much (not just money, but a lot of time and effort) to make it happen, so I agreed without a second thought.

Tonight my roommate brought another guy into the apartment late at night, made dinner for him, and hung out with him for hours, talking/joking about a lot of things, including explicit sex talk. Their conversation didn't include any obvious reasons for his presence (e.g. both foodies, or he wanted to learn how to make this meal, etc.). I thought I heard a few sounds of kisses, but they were cooking, so it could have been something else? This was all in the shared area, where I couldn't help overhearing. They also spent some time inside her room. At one point when they were in the kitchen, I went in pretending to get something. Nothing obvious was going on, but they were clearly physically comfortable with each other (touching, standing against each other when I tried to get by in a crowded space).

I have really good guy friends of my own, so I know that could be all he is, but among other things, we live so far away that friends don't want to come over -- they'll ask to meet at their places, or somewhere in between. Literally, in 3.5 months, neither of us has ever had anyone but sex partners visit the apartment. Between that, the late-night circumstances, the possible kissing . . . it seems to add up. But one thing against that interpretation is that when she was having sex with her boyfriend, she was very loud, but when she and this guy were alone in her room, I didn't hear anything, so that argues they were watching a movie or something not sexual. Still, if she was single, I would definitely assume that this was a date.

As it is, I have no idea what's going on. Maybe she's just realized she likes this guy better, and she's waiting to break up with the boyfriend in person when she goes back home for winter break. Maybe she's getting a little on the side and not planning on telling her boyfriend. Maybe she's sleeping with other guys so she can call her boyfriend and tell him every last detail while he jerks off. Maybe she's not even sleeping with this guy! Whatever it is, it's none of my business, and I wouldn't care at all if I hadn't agreed to help her boyfriend go to such great lengths to surprise her.

So what do I do? Call the boyfriend back and be like "You may want to reconsider"? Ask the roommate if she's interested in the new guy, and look incredibly offensively snoopy if they're just friends? Keep my mouth shut, go along with the plan, and have them both absolutely furious with me if she's done with him? The boyfriend is coming this Saturday, the 15th, and I'm sure he already has the plane tickets -- I have to decide fast!
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (30 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Just wait. Keep going as-is. On the morning of the 15th if there's a guy over tell your roommate what's up, and tell her to act surprised. If not you don't have a problem.
posted by true at 8:35 AM on December 14, 2007 [3 favorites]

Is there any way you could call the boyfriend, say that something came up and you won't be around Saturday morning, and then make yourself scarce (stay at a friend's or something) that AM? He could always call her from security at the dorm, providing enough of a surprise, I'd think, and you could remove yourself from the whole potentially ugly situation.
posted by Lucinda at 8:38 AM on December 14, 2007

There may be nothing going on, but you don't want to get in the middle of it either way. I second Lucinda--can you tell him you've got an emergency/plans/whatever and you won't be in town on Saturday?
posted by sian at 8:45 AM on December 14, 2007

I should think that even if you're not awesome BFFs, you're at least good enough friends with her to plan a surprise for her with her boyfriend, and therefore you should be good enough friends to ask casually, "Hey, who was that guy who was over the other night? He looked familiar." That way you have a good reason for asking, and maybe she'll say "Oh, a friend" or "Oh, isn't he hot, we had such a great time". Either way you'll have a better idea of what to do.
posted by olinerd at 8:47 AM on December 14, 2007 [1 favorite]

The boyfriend has to accept (or learn the hard way) that there is always the danger of plans like his backfiring. This is just the nature of long distance relationships.

As for your roommate's behavior. Well, that's her business isn't it? You've established that although you're good roommates, that you're not particularly close friends, and ditto for the cuckold boyfriend. So I don't feel like you have a tremendous moral responsibility to get involved in their relationship drama.

I like true's response - go with the plan, and if the roommate brings home a guy the night before pull her aside and say, "Look, you probably are not going to want this guy here in the morning." Yeah, technically you're covering somewhat for your roommate who is probably cheating actively on her boyfriend, but the bigger goal here is to avoid any type of knock-down-drag-out drama in your home.

Afterwards if you wanna flex the moral high ground muscle you can always confront your roommate about her cheating on the grounds that you really don't want to be put in the position again where you're covering for her misbehavior.

Good luck!
posted by wfrgms at 8:57 AM on December 14, 2007 [2 favorites]

Help the BF. If it doesn't work out, well her fault.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:11 AM on December 14, 2007 [1 favorite]

It seems to me you've only got a problem if your roommate has someone spend the night tonight. If that's the case, then true got it above.

From your post, though, it sounds like you're worried that just helping to arrange the surprise appearance of her long-distance boyfriend is going to get you blamed for whatever ensues. Frankly I wouldn't worry about that too much -- you've acted in good faith, and I doubt either of them are going to hold your responsible for their problems.

[on a more paranoid note, are you sure that you're not being played by a jealous ex-boyfriend here? You may want to casually ask your roommate how the LDR is going (if she's going to see him over break, etc.) sometime today. If it's over and she hasn't mentioned it to you, you might be in the middle of something you don't want to be]
posted by tkolar at 9:25 AM on December 14, 2007 [5 favorites]

Consider the possibility that the boyfriend's motives are less than romantic. Maybe he suspects that your roommate is cheating and wants to take her unawares. But to answer your question, I nth Lucinda... Stay out of it entirely.
posted by amro at 9:28 AM on December 14, 2007 [1 favorite]

Go with what true said, since you've already agreed to help her long-distance boyfriend. It's up to her to decide what happens after he comes to visit.
posted by misha at 9:38 AM on December 14, 2007

Help him out & remove yourself from the ensuing situation, if there is one.
posted by aramaic at 9:40 AM on December 14, 2007

That's much less cute than the boyfriend thinks it is, and there is no need for--and significant argument against--you smuggling him into your apartment. It will be surprise enough if he calls from the nearest breakfast joint and invites his gal to come join him for French toast.
posted by Scram at 9:50 AM on December 14, 2007 [2 favorites]

go with the plan, help him do what he's going to do

all you have to do is open the door, you don't have to do anything else...

i'm sort of with scram tho on this one - gestures like that are endearing but can also come off as somewhat selfish, since one never knows what important plans the other might have for that day

if someone did that to me and i had, say, to study for an important exam, work, or even go out of town that day it would be an unfortunate situation that would hurt all involved
posted by Salvatorparadise at 10:01 AM on December 14, 2007

PS - do let us know how it goes
posted by Salvatorparadise at 10:01 AM on December 14, 2007 [7 favorites]

If I were in this situation I would absolutely not hesitate to say "Hey Roommate, just so you know, BF asked me to help surprise you this weekend and I want to make sure you're cool with that." Then she could have the chance to tell me not to proceed for whatever reason of her own. Since my primary loyalty would be to her, and not some obligation that her boyfriend had placed upon me. To me, the whole idea of a "surprise" visit seems like an invasion of privacy anyway, unless they're really close, and why is it your job to gauge the status of their relationship? If you tell her, the worst thing that happens would be to "ruin" the surprise... whereas other versions of how this story might play out could be much more disastrous for everyone.
posted by eileen at 10:15 AM on December 14, 2007 [2 favorites]

totally disagreeing with everyone who said "aw, help the boyfriend out, if she gets caught it's her fault." she's the one you have to live with, and he's the one on the opposite coast. if one of them ends up upset, it's better to be the one you will never see again.

i'd give her the heads up if anything's amiss, just like true suggested.
posted by kidsleepy at 10:30 AM on December 14, 2007

also, what eileen said.
posted by kidsleepy at 10:31 AM on December 14, 2007

You're already involved because you agreed to help the boyfriend. I'd ask your roommate if she's still seeing the guy. If she says no, tell her she should get that information him to him soon or else she'll have to do it in person. If she says she is, it's on her if things get awkward with the surprise visit.

If you just go ahead and tell her about the visit, there's an excellent chance that both parties will be pissed at you for ruining a nice surprise.
posted by MarkAnd at 10:32 AM on December 14, 2007 [1 favorite]

Yes, I'd give the roommate a heads up. Let the ball be in her court to deal with. It's not your problem, not your affair, not your concern.
Unless you're sworn to secrecy and are already involved, then being prudent would call for getting safely out of any potentially difficult situations.
People are people. The reason for the ld boyfriend to show up unexpectedly may be because he wants to see if she's being true to him, to surprise her and check up on her behavior.
Better to stay clear of that stuff. If she's really checking out the competition, then at least she's got a chance to head off the ld boyfriend at the pass and stop things before it gets weird in your territory.
My two cents, your mileage may vary.
posted by diode at 10:52 AM on December 14, 2007

I'd find some way to ask about the recent visitor tonight. Like, "Hey, what was up with that guy you were cooking with? I got a definite flirty vibe between you two!" Don't make it accusatory, just make it gossipy. Then if she says something is going on, give her the heads-up on the impending boyfriend visit.
posted by MsMolly at 11:15 AM on December 14, 2007

Sounds like a lose-lose. (Rat out the boyfriend or help ambush your roommate, who sounds like she's moved on.) I'd declare myself unavailable and vacate the premises during the target timeframe.
posted by sacre_bleu at 11:21 AM on December 14, 2007

If your room mate has someone else over, get another friend to let the bf in and make sure *you're* out...
posted by DrtyBlvd at 11:54 AM on December 14, 2007

I think the best thing is to remove yourself from this whole plan immediately. You are likely to be considered an accomplice or scapegoat by one or possibly all of the people in this situation. Regretfully advise the LDR boyfriend that you have been called away that weekend and won't be onsite to smuggle him in on the Saturday. Let him know that, as much as you love his spirit of romance, he'll have to make his own arrangements to surprise her since your trip away is unfortunate but completely unavoidable.
posted by hot soup girl at 12:16 PM on December 14, 2007

Yeah, GTFO of that situation immediately by whatever means necessary. Have a torrid affair yourself, if need be.

It's also a bit rude of him to come over, considering that she's probably going to be busy working on finals.
posted by sondrialiac at 1:20 PM on December 14, 2007

without reading everyone elses answers too much... ask her about the new guy, to gauge whether it's what you suspect it is, if it seems that way, (or if he's over the night the bf turns up) then you should talk to your roommate and tell her the bf is coming, she's not meant to know but you realise this could turn to shit.

As others have said, you live with her, not him... so you don't really owe him anything, and the less drama the better. Others have suggested just removing yourself from the situation entirely... but that might just cause the the worst case scenario to happen. good luck :-D
posted by chrisbucks at 1:46 PM on December 14, 2007

Give her the heads up asap. Even if things are fine with her and the bf it gives her time to put some makeup on beforehand.
posted by selfmedicating at 2:47 PM on December 14, 2007

are you sure they're monogamous? i've had plenty of happy long distance relationships that were not monogamous. most of the time i dated casually, often just hanging out with people vs. having sex with them, but occasionally having sex with them too.
posted by groovinkim at 2:55 PM on December 14, 2007

I agree. I thought all long distance relationships implied sleeping with other people.
posted by wfc123 at 9:29 AM on December 15, 2007

So what happened, original poster?
posted by Lucinda at 1:06 PM on December 15, 2007 [3 favorites]

follow-up/wrap-up form the OP:
- Friday morning I posted the question, then went out for the day.
- Friday late morning the boyfriend called to confirm; not having seen your answers, I confirmed.
- I got home and saw the answers and went "oh shit," but since I'd already confirmed, I couldn't call back and be like "sorry, something came up."
- When my roommate got home that afternoon, I tried to sound her out about how she felt about her boyfriend, but she thought I was being snoopy and shut me down.
- Saturday morning, we were waiting for the boyfriend's call, which never came -- I was freaking out worrying he had my number wrong, I'd missed his call somehow, etc. -- basically that he'd flown in from the opposite coast, and was standing downstairs in the lobby of our building, furious at me, because I was the weak link in the chain.
- Saturday afternoon, I was talking to my roommate when she mentioned her boyfriend would be over tonight. I said "Wait, you knew?" and she said "Wait, you knew?" Apparently on Friday evening they'd had an argument, he was pissed off, and then Friday night, another friend had told her he'd been planning to come. On Saturday morning, they made up, apparently.
- Saturday evening, he flew in (I told you this guy had too much money to know what to do with it all). They came back to our apartment Saturday night and started to fool around, but that devolved into a loud fight around 1 AM, followed by silence.
- It is now Sunday morning. When I started writing this update, they were having loud sex, and now they're giggling and fooling around in the shower. This has been your experience in vicarious living.

I still have no idea what was up with the Thursday-night guy. And as I did specifically mention in the OP, I have no clue if the long-distance relationship is monogamous or what. I'm guessing the boyfriend is leaving again tonight, and I know she's moving out on Wednesday, so I'm just glad that whatever dramabomb this is, it didn't blow up in my face.
posted by jessamyn at 6:25 AM on December 16, 2007 [2 favorites]

Thanks for the update, OP.
posted by tkolar at 2:46 PM on December 23, 2007

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