I'm in love with my roommate
August 16, 2008 8:02 AM   Subscribe

Study abroad roommate-love 101! Help me detach!

Right now we are living alone together, but with separate rooms. There are more roommates, but they are on vacation. Two weeks ago when I moved in we became fast friends. We spend hours and hours talking together, cooking, gardening, and sharing drinks. I told myself that it would be bad to fall for him, given that he doesn't speak my language natively and well...because my mother always warned me about men who look like models. Last night we were hanging out together, but later he went to a bar that requires a membership (long story, but it's like an American frat) and this morning I found new women's shoes by the doorway.

Wow, I just became totally distraught when I saw them and realized how far I've fallen for this guy. I'm in a strange country where I don't know too many people and before I left my boyfriend and I broke up... so I'm pretty vulnerable. I guess this guy never made it seem like we were more than friends and he is great, so I want to stay friends. But right now I'm miserable and I literally feel sick. How can I stay sane with this sort of thing?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Start making a mental list of all his bad qualities. As a roommate, you probably have a longer list than average.
posted by k8t at 8:05 AM on August 16, 2008 [1 favorite]

Get out of the flat, meet new people, and if you find the right person(s) do some dating yourself. It's the only cure.
posted by browse at 8:06 AM on August 16, 2008

Yeah, get out of the house. Not as in move out, just go meet some other people. If you've fallen for this guy but you want to stay friends the best way is usually to not see him for a while. Let things cool off a bit.

You have my sympathies, anon.
posted by sveskemus at 8:53 AM on August 16, 2008 [1 favorite]

Wouch. Speaking from painful (and very, very similar) experience, I can tell you what has worked for me in this exact sitauation.

Let's start by calling this what it is--a powerful infatuation--not love, which involves reciprocation and mutuality. This is important because you need to get perspective and not turn an infatuation into something more than it is.

Now, the exit strategy. Your enemy is limerance, intrusive feelings of attachment which cause you pain.

The way to avoid limerance is two-fold. First, you have to look at this as an emotional problem, not a practical one--if you can master your emotional reaction to this person you can get out unscathed.

Second, you have to avoid him so as not to strengthen feelings for him. The trick is to do this in such a way as to avoid him reacting to your withdrawal. We all feed off of attention from others, and sometimes we don't ask ourselves whether what we are doing is karmically the right thing. That's what he's been doing. If you react too suddenly, he will move closer to get the attention back, making your efforts to get space that much harder.

The plan is (1) don't initiate hanging out with him any more; (2) slowly reduce the amount of invitations that you accept from him; and (3) start to meet and develop more outside friends and activities.

Danger zones for your plan include offers of things you like which if not related to him would be great, such as food or a nice glass of wine or a trip to that museum you guys talked about going to. You say yes and your next day will be filled with thoughts of him.

As for remaining friends, I think that acquaintance roomates is all that you can do. You don't want to be friends with him anyway, you want more. Accepting that circumstances sometimes preclude two people who might otherwise be great friends from making it happen is your best bet.

Feel free to E-mail with more if you like--I've been in your exact situation before.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:59 AM on August 16, 2008 [4 favorites]

This is totally about you and not at all about him. You recognized how vulnerable you are right now:
- in a foreign country
- with very few friends
- just out of a romantic relationship.

Wow, under those conditions of course you're upset that he's with someone. He's your connection to your new place; if he finds a girlfriend you'll be alone.

So what!

You're having an adventure. Go and meet new people. Challenge yourself to make one contact each day - not a friend, but a contact. Say hello to the waitress at the café , always buy your newspaper at the newstand. Once you have some familiar people in your daily life, your new place won't seem so foreign and strange. And your roommate won't seem as appealing.

Within a few weeks, he'll be just another roommate. Hopefully one that you like as a friend, but even the best roommates can irk you. Nothing can cool ardor so much as living with someone. Let yourself notice that he doesn't wash his dishes and he gets the walking farts if he eats dairy. He's just one of your sometimes fun, but often annoying roommates.

Have a fantastic study-abroad experience.
posted by 26.2 at 10:08 AM on August 16, 2008 [2 favorites]

Do the above, and remember, dont shit where you eat.
posted by BobbyDigital at 8:17 PM on August 16, 2008

Before you progress any further, you might as well make sure that he is interested in women (i.e. not gay). From your description of him, it's not out of the question... And that happened to me once.
posted by cmcmcm at 9:09 PM on August 16, 2008

Sorry- did you say the women's shoes were for you or from someone else? I might be confused on this.
posted by cmcmcm at 9:14 PM on August 16, 2008

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