Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

“My Roommate Is Jealous I Have a Boyfriend and She Doesn’t”

I am a 23-year-old female sharing an apartment with a good female friend, “Laura,” who is a few years older than I am. The situation has been going very well, with none of the usual roommate drama. She is also a great friend in most areas of life — encouraging me at work, helping me deal with bad days, etc. However, when it comes to dating we’ve run into some issues as of late.

Laura and I have an interesting history in that her dating life matches up with mine almost perfectly for the last two years (with each of us in a seven-month relationship that ended in painful break-ups, then single for three months, then both involved in a few week flings . . . it goes on). We bonded over the shared experiences and they definitely brought us closer.

Then, in September of last year, I met “John” and she met “Tyler.” Everything was peachy for the first few weeks; we both thought we had found someone special. However, Tyler decided he was not into Laura after a few weeks. And to break a two-year streak… John stayed around!

I am still happily in this relationship and, if things continue in the way they have been, I can see this being the “real deal.” However, I get the impression that, if Laura had her way, we both would have been single back in October. Like I said, she is still a sweet and supportive person until the topic of John comes up. She was so excited to hear about him at first, when we could exchange stories about first kisses and decipher texts together. But she doesn’t try hard to hide the fact that she doesn’t want to hear about him anymore.

Now, Wendy, I’m not dumb. I am not going to blab on and on about how happily taken I am to a single friend who desperately wishes she weren’t. But if I so much as mention him in a story about my weekend, I risk her blatantly ignoring me as she texts or gets up and leaves the room! Sometimes she makes comments like “we should just move to NYC together and find hot guys there since there are none here” or a post on Facebook about how single women are ultimately healthier, a post that my boyfriend could see.

So what can I do to deal with this situation? I could just pretend John doesn’t exist, but she is one of my closer friends and I would like to be able to at least mention him every now and then! I still make time for her and we have fun girls’ nights, but I don’t want to feel guilty on date nights when it’s just he and I. She’s been my friend for a while, but this guy is so great and I don’t want to leave him just to appease her tantrums. Is there a way to bring up the subject to her without making things worse? Should I just drop it til our lease is up? Please help! — Sisters Before Misters?

Laura is being a jerk, but I wonder: Is there any plausible reason other than jealousy for why she doesn’t seem to like hearing about John? Obviously, that could be a way you could broach the topic with her. Tell her you’ve noticed that she isn’t as excited to discuss him as she was when you first met him, which you totally understand, but what you can’t quite grasp is why she seems to hate hearing about him at all. Ask her if you’re mistaken about that and, if you aren’t, ask what her reason is.

There’s a good chance she WILL tell you that you’re mistaken or that she has no idea what you’re talking about. She might be embarrassed and angry that you’ve put her on the spot. Any time you broach a potentially sensitive topic with someone you care about — and especially with someone you live with — you risk making the situation worse because you can’t control how the other person will react or respond. But the alternatives — not ever talking about your boyfriend or, God, “leaving him to appease her tantrum,” as you say — are ridiculous. And, what, are you never allowed to have him over because it’s too upsetting for her? Come on. No, I would broach the topic with her and hope that, even if she doesn’t acknowledge and apologize for her behavior (or offer up some explanation you haven’t considered), she will at least begin to modify her behavior and stop being so damn weird. Or, if you’re lucky, maybe she’ll meet someone soon and will snap out of this jealous streak she’s had.

Regardless, this is a good lesson that even great friends aren’t perfect. We — we humans, I mean — are limited by our own flaws — by our jealousy and envy and all kinds of other very human traits. In a perfect world, a friend would be happy for our happiness even despite jealousy, but it doesn’t always work that way, and, if you can find compassion to extend (which it sounds like you’ve done), it can go a long way in minimizing your own hurt feelings and keeping your friendship intact through what is hopefully just a little bump in the road. (I’ve experienced this recently as I share my pregnancy news with friends who would like very much to be pregnant but aren’t). But if the jealousy is so bad that you can’t even MENTION the thing you have that the other person wants but doesn’t have, then you may want to eventually reconsider the friendship (and certainly the living situation) or, at the very least, minimize the time you spend with that friend for the time being. Say, when’s your lease up??

***************

Follow along on Facebook, and Instagram.

If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at wendy@dearwendy.com.

19 comments… add one
  • avatar

    lonemirage14 January 29, 2015, 9:34 am

    I experienced something similar to you with my first roommates (both older than me) in my current apartment – I didn’t know either of them prior to moving in, but we became pretty friendly, and when I started dating someone – it wasn’t even serious – they each had their own negative reactions. I’m not sure if it was jealousy, or they thought I was upsetting the balance of the living situation, but it was odd to see such a negative response.

    One thing I’ve learned with roommates is I’d prefer not to live with a good friend. Living with someone is a completely different relationship than just being friends, and you may be totally compatible as friends but not able to live together. My best friend and I both realized that early on about our relationship and we made a decision that we wouldn’t ever live together long term because it would destroy our friendship.

    You may want to consider moving on from this apartment when your lease is up, it sounds like you’ve stumbled upon an issue that may not be a problem if you didn’t live together, but it has become one.

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    • avatar

      SpaceySteph January 29, 2015, 1:28 pm

      Totally agree. I lived with my best friend for 2 years in college. Sometimes it was really awesome and we did have a lot of fun hanging out all the time… until we had a fight over something stupid like taking out the trash. Then my roommate was mad at me and I didn’t even have a best friend to go hang out with and talk trash about my roommate with… because they were the same.

      Although now I live with my husband (well, duh) but I also have a best friend I can call and complain to when my husband won’t take out the trash. 🙂

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      • avatar

        lonemirage14 January 29, 2015, 3:03 pm

        My best friend and I actually went to boarding school together – we met there – and we had the chance to live together our junior and/or senior year. We decided not to for a variety of reasons, one of them being that she doesn’t do that well in a roommate setting, particularly sharing a room. Our senior year we lived on the same floor, she had a single, and I spent about 80% of my free time in her room but at t he end of the day she had her space and I had mine (with a roommate). Some people just don’t mix in a living situation. My current roommate and I get along great, and we are friends, but I think because we didn’t know each other first (we met through a mutual friend), our relationship grew differently as we lived together.

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  • FireStar

    FireStar January 29, 2015, 10:24 am

    I think Wendy is right and asking if she has a problem with John is the right thing to do. If John isn’t always over or making a mess in the common areas or is at the apartment when you aren’t there or doing any other things that drive roommates crazy then the problem is with Laura – and either she articulates it and you come up with a solution or she herself realizes that she hasn’t been so subtle and is to embarrassed to articulate it and just modifies her behaviour. I think it is important to be sensitive to fiend’s feelings – but that is different from catering to crazy.

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  • avatar

    sarita_f January 29, 2015, 11:03 am

    I dunno. Based on your description I think calling her a jerk or crazy is overreacting, jeesh. I would like to hear a description of these “tantrums.” And are you *sure* she’s blatantly ignoring you *only* when you mention him? How do you even *know* she so desperately does not want to be single – you sure that’s not just you projecting? Or could you be reading into things? I just don’t see in your description how your friend is being a jerk, perhaps she’s just neutral as ever about mundane topics?
    .
    So in my experience, I lived with a roommate who became a very good friend over the time we lived together. I happened to date a guy for the first 6 months we lived together,however I wasn’t crazy about him and I’m just not all that concerned about having a relationship – I often go years and years happily, contentedly single. Ex-roomie very much wanted to get married and have babies and dated aggressively the entire time we lived together. She also valued male attention to a pretty high degree.
    .
    None of this is a problem; what *was* a problem is that she is a person who has a hard time putting herself in other people’s shoes, or understanding other’s perspectives. Basically she couldn’t understand how I was just fine not dating a ton, and you could tell she kind of pitied me. Which I found bizarre, because I was completely happy and content. It was noticeable when she started talking about the/all of the guys she was dating, her tone and demeanor would change. Basically, because *she* would be miserable being single with no marriage prospects to look forward to first-dating, she assumed I felt the same way.
    .
    After a while, all the guys ran together, or if she dated one for a few months the stories were all the same. It got so boring for me to hear the same old stuff, about dates and such where nothing of real note happened that there wasn’t much left for me to respond to. Of course when she had an interesting story, or something of real note were happening, or she needed help talking through an issue I most certainly paid attention and was a good, supportive friend. But normal, every day stuff was hard to engage in as a 3rd party.
    .
    My point is, you may be reading this completely wrong. She is not being single AT you, just as you are not dating your boyfriend AT her. If you do have more concrete evidence that she doesn’t like your boyfriend then start a conversation with her – with specific examples, and just ask what’s up.

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    • honeybeenicki

      honeybeenicki January 29, 2015, 11:42 am

      Even if she is reading this completely wrong, its a completely jerk move to just get up and leave the room when someone is talking to you.

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    • avatar

      Eve January 29, 2015, 1:23 pm

      These things are just felt, they’re more difficult to explain. When you’re such close friends with someone you recognise very well what certain facial expressions or body language signs mean. You can just feel very clearly when friends act this way and what they mean by it.

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  • avatar

    sarita_f January 29, 2015, 11:10 am

    And OMG seriously? “…a post on Facebook about how single women are ultimately healthier, a post that my boyfriend could see.” Just HOW is that seriously a problem? God forbid your boyfriend sees a post from his girlfriend’s friend posting something self-congratulatory about being single???? Are you two her only friends on FB? Is she being single at all of the other friends that I’m sure she has that are in relationships?
    .
    Sorry, but taking something as innocuous as a dumb facebook post as some kind of personal dig on your specific relationship is beyond narcissistic.

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    • avatar

      TheRascal January 29, 2015, 11:23 am

      That was my reaction, too. I agree that I think this LW may be projecting the way she thinks her roommate feels. The LW is also somewhat young — 23 — and may still be in a more adolescent mindset, ie, that everything is about her.

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    • Stonegypsy

      Stonegypsy January 29, 2015, 11:24 am

      See, I kind of assumed that the roomie had posted the link to LW’s page, which I would actually consider kind of an aggressive thing. Like, it would be freaking weird to post something about how people in relationships are healthier to the page of a single person, and it’s weird to post a thing about how single people are healthier to the page of someone who is happily coupled. That would also explain the whole “My boyfriend could see that”.
      If it really was just the roomie posting it to her own timeline… then yeah, I don’t know why LW would give even the tiniest shit about that.

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      • honeybeenicki

        honeybeenicki January 29, 2015, 11:43 am

        I assumed the same thing – that it was posted directly to the LW’s wall. My guess is the roommate and boyfriend are probably not friends on FB? Or maybe they are, I don’t know.

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      • avatar

        TheRascal January 29, 2015, 11:48 am

        I read it totally differently. I thought the roomie had posted it to her own feed. BUT if she posted it to the LW’s wall, then I agree, it is rude. But also…Facebook drama? Ugh. So dumb.

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    • avatar

      MissDre January 29, 2015, 11:25 am

      Hahaha I was thinking the exact same thing, you just put it into words better than I could have!

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  • avatar

    jlyfsh January 29, 2015, 11:23 am

    I would ask myself if I was really being as considerate of others when talking about my boyfriend. Do you not mention him as often as you think? Or maybe you are gushing more than you realize. If after looking at things again you don’t think you have any fault, I’d take Wendy’s approach. And in general just talk to her. I do think that friendships that are built on the two people being in the same life stage all of the time, can take a hit when that changes. But, it doesn’t mean they have to end. You just have to learn to adapt to the change. Like a relationship has a honeymoon phase your friendship might have a phase of learning to cope with that change.
    *
    I went through something similar with a roommate. And unfortunately neither of us gave the other person much room to adapt. Which killed the friendship. She admitted to pushing me away because she couldn’t handle talking/seeing couples/etc (I wasn’t the only one who got pushed away, others in relationships did too) at all and I got so used to not talking to her that we drifted apart. Looking back I wish I had acted more maturely, which you have the chance to do now.

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    • gigi

      gigi January 29, 2015, 11:30 am

      This could be the case, but I think she should still take Wendy’s advice & begin the conversation. She just needs to be open enough to actually hear the rommate’s concerns. If the roomate perceives her as gushing or repetetive/boring, she needs to be open to hearing that & modifying her own behavior. But the conversation has to occur first, so LW please try to talk to her & get to the root of this problem.

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      • avatar

        jlyfsh January 29, 2015, 11:35 am

        yeah i agree, just talking to her is where she should start! i didn’t articulate that well!

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  • avatar

    Eve January 29, 2015, 1:55 pm

    Is your friend showing signs of envy only regarding your love life and nothing else?

    I had a friend who was like this but regarding every single thing. We were friends since the age of 10 and we were both very competitive. I couldn’t share any good news with my friend (academic stuff, boyfriends, hobbies, travelling, etc) without her whole expression visibly becoming dull and unhappy and her just changing the topic instantaneously or just making a snide comment about how bad and horrible this is and how better off she is (citing some ridiculous logic). If there was anything I mentioned to her that I’d like to have or do, but for some reason I couldn’t, she’d then push exceptionally hard to try and do it/have it herself, even if she wasn’t interested in this at all in the first place. In the end I didn’t want to share anything with her and after several fights and arguments, our friendship slowly died.

    That’s why I’d suggest you reconsider whether she’s being supportive of you primarily about things which she also has (job, friends, etc), because her acting like this now may mean she may not be supportive to you in the future when you take your different paths in life and there is a larger gap between your lives. I think it’s quite unusual for someone to show such jealousy signs only for one very specific thing.

    And I totally think this is immature and jealous behaviour. When I go through a break up I admit that hearing about my friends’ boyfriend all the time can be a bit heart breaking, but I always put on a brave face and listen to them because I know they are happy and I shouldn’t take out my problems on them. I don’t feel jealous or envy that they have boyfriends and I don’t, I just tend to feel lonely immediately after a long-term relationship has ended.

    Talk to your friend but be prepared for her to become defensive. The best case scenario is that she becomes embarrassed and at least tries to man up and at least pretend to be happy for you.

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  • avatar

    Kaluu January 29, 2015, 3:13 pm

    I think Wendy’s advice is good and attempting that kind of awkward conversation would probably be educational for the LW. Personally i would be fine to just stop talking about him other than, johns coming over later, I’m going out with john tonight, etc. not 100% or she’ll know you noticed she’s acting weird! I would see how it goes to almost stop mentionning him. It’s the lazy/coward solution, admittedly. However maybe she just needs a breather from all the John talk (however infrequent it already may seem.) and maybe she will eventually be ok with it and act normal again. I would not renew the lease with her though, abruptly leaving a conversation is too odd a personality style for me to live with.

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  • bittergaymark

    bittergaymark January 30, 2015, 3:41 pm

    Honestly, I’ve never had a friend who DIDN’T babble on and on endlessly about their Mr or Miss Right Nows. Truth be told. It gets tedious. Truth be told, they all think that they RARELY mention their significant others… But somehow, it’s every other fucking sentence… NEWSFLASH! It’s REALLY not THAT interesting to prattle on and on endlessly about how he held your hand in the pale moonlight…

    Revisit exactly just how much you are trying to share about Mr. Wonderful. I suspect it’s much much more than you are willing to admit.

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