Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

Your Turn: “My Roommate’s Dating a Psycho”

We have an emergency Your Turn today (the LW needs advice for a situation this weekend):

I’m 29 and my roommate’s 38, and we’ve been living together for two years, which has worked really well so far. About a month ago, she started dating this guy who’s about ten years younger than she is. I get a really bad vibe off him, and all that aside, he’s sending up red flags like the coast guard in a hurricane. First off, they’ve broken up three times in the month they’ve been dating, due to his unstable job situation and his deciding he has to leave the state to find work, and then once because he’s super conservative and had to do some “soul searching” before Jesus would let him date a woman with gay friends.

Personally, he makes me really uncomfortable – he always wants to chat with me about their relationship and my opinion about it, and the first few times he did this, I gave really diplomatic change-the-subject answers which he called “cheap” (“hey psycho, I’ve known you four weeks!”) and pressed me for more information, which I refused to give, and yet he continued on several different occasions. He also makes these observations about things I do or say, like the other night he said something I thought was completely offensive, and out of respect for the roommate I changed the subject, and he interrupted me with, “WOW! I just made you really uncomfortable there, didn’t I? You really want to punch me in the face, don’t you?” I finally snapped and said that as much fun as it’s been to be under his magnifying glass and to hear it narrated back, I needed him to stop. My roommate has asked him to stop doing this crap with me because I told her it made me uncomfortable, and so his new approach has been to wait until she’s out of the room to grill me or to make these nasty passive aggressive comments like, “Well, your roommate told me….oh wait, you don’t want to hear about it, do you? It makes you uncomfortable.”

My own discomfort aside, it turns out he’s in seriously creepy territory and I had no idea. He told my roommate he was a widower; gave specific details about his wife’s terminal disease, had stories about what the aftermath was like, has told my roommate several times he has been dealing with a dispute over life insurance, really specific details. Turns out he wasn’t widowed; he divorced his ex. All of these details were completely fabricated. And my roommate is totally NOT thrown by this. She keeps saying it was a really rough divorce, so she understands why he wouldn’t want to re-hash it, that he was never planning on falling for her like he did, she gets why he lied, etc, and she is taking all of this at face value. Even now, my brain is going, “What the hell else is he lying about?”and she’s just like,”Yeah. Weird, but whatever.”

I don’t know what to do. This guy’s at my house almost every night – he stays late but usually goes back to his own house – and obviously he’s really confrontational. I can’t even avoid him without him pointing it out. I could go stay elsewhere, but he’s just crackers enough I’m worried he might do something to my dog. I’m concerned about my roommate’s safety, obviously, and I’m the only one of our friends who’s met him and knows all the details – and the fact that she’s hiding stuff isn’t like her. I’ve called in backup in the form of one other very trusted mutual friend, and she and I are meeting this weekend to figure out IF there’s anything we can do. Some of this stuff I know about this guy I know in confidence (like the divorced part), but I’m so worried about my roommate I’m considering spilling it all just so this mutual friend knows exactly how worried I am. I know the standard advice to friends seeing friends in the middle of unhealthy relationships is to butt out, but what about the beginning? And if I butt out, at the very least, how am I supposed to keep from punching him in the throat? What if he is actually as crazy as I think he is? What should I be doing to protect myself? — Living with Crazy

100 comments… add one
  • Matcha November 11, 2011, 3:44 pm


    Sorry, but I don’t think you can do much. Obviously your friend thinks this guy is gold, and if you bring in reinforcements, it will only further impress the ‘us vs. them’ mindset she’ll probably be having. I say let the chips fall as they may. They broke up 3 times within a month. It probably won’t be much longer. He sounds crazy.

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    • oldie November 11, 2011, 3:48 pm

      Agree on the crazy. Final breakups with a crazy person can become very, very final for the poor woman who got messed up with him. Our small-city paper has a monthly murder on these lines every other month, it seems, in our little five county area.

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      • Matcha November 11, 2011, 4:14 pm

        Really? Wow. I rarely hear of things like that despite living in a large city. (Not murders, those happen all the time, but they’re usually robberies.)

  • oldie November 11, 2011, 3:46 pm

    I would not go to sleep with this guy in the house. He sounds mentally ill. You cannot save your roommate from herself. Neither can you plus a mutual friend do that job. Take this weekend to move out and remove yourself from this situation. With the amount of focus that this guy is devoting to you, I’m not at all convinced that he’s interested in your roomie, rather than you. Whatever you do this weekend, take your dog with you.

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      Skyblossom November 12, 2011, 11:33 am

      I was thinking the same thing. It seem his focus is on the LW and she needs to get out of there and make sure the roommate doesn’t know where she goes so that he doesn’t know where she goes. If he doesn’t already know where you work also make sure he doesn’t learn about it and try to check your car before getting into it so that he isn’t there waiting for you.

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        Skyblossom November 12, 2011, 12:05 pm

        And if you need to you can board the dog. It may seem mean to do to the dog but better for both of you to be safe than both of you to be injured, missing or dead. So if you can’t find a place for both of you then board the dog and stay where you are safe knowing that it’s temporary.

    • Painted_lady November 12, 2011, 8:04 pm

      You know, it’s funny you say that. The offensive remark he made that I was referring to was his saying he might have a chance with me, only not nearly so tactful. He’s done this a couple of times right in front of my roommate, and she’s got a lot of insecurities about her looks. I know without a doubt she feels like I’m the pretty one – it’s crap, we’re completely different looking so it’s impossible to compare us – and she’s really sensitive about her age, so that’s just not nice. Aside from that, though, the couple of times he’s said it it was so obviously unwelcome that the only reasons he would possibly keep saying it are to keep me in check and to make her aware that she’s not in a secure place with him.

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  • lets_be_honest November 11, 2011, 3:47 pm

    Tell your roommate he’s not welcome in your home because you find him incredibly uncomfortable. She can hang out at his house. Telling her to dump him won’t work. It never does.

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    • rangerchic November 11, 2011, 4:05 pm

      I agree with all of this!

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    • Nadine November 11, 2011, 4:38 pm

      Yeah do this. Then get your locks changed, put a lock on your bedroom door and inform neighbours that there may be a weird guy hanging around, and he is not welcome.

      and, because I am a total dork, and really into advice columns, and have a boring job where I can read lots all the time, Carolyn Hax always recommends a book called The Gift Of Fear. I havent read it, but its for these situations, where you need to be empowered to trust your instincts about people and how to do it. Maybe worth a try?

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      • sarita_f November 11, 2011, 5:02 pm

        I would like this a gazillion times if I could. The Gift of Fear is a really great book, and very appropriate for the situation. Your gut is telling you something here, and it’s not some woo-woo magic stuff. There are clues (actually, there are big, waving red flags) and they all add up to your mistrust and discomfort.

        I’d give a copy to your roommate, too, so long as she won’t take it as some passive-aggressive suggestion.

      • ReginaRey November 11, 2011, 6:18 pm

        EVERY woman should read The Gift of Fear, not just people in these kind of situations. It’s truly amazing. It teaches you how to trust your instincts (that gut feeling you’re having LW is your instinct – and it’s spot on) and how to analyze and notice when people may become violent. I can’t say enough good things about it!

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        Kate B November 11, 2011, 7:24 pm

        Ordering a copy now.

      • Robear November 11, 2011, 7:19 pm

        The Gift of Fear is an amazing book. Read it! I was an interrogator in the US Army in Iraq, where trusting your instincts is definately key. That book is gold!

        I agree whole heartedly that he shouldn’t be allowed in your house anymore. Your roommate may be pissed, but unless you’re renting directly from her, your name should be on the lease beside hers so you have a say in who gets to come into your home. You shouldn’t have to move out, but that is always an option. If he insists on coming over once his welcome has been revoked, call the police. His reaction may open your roommate’s eyes, but if not at least you’ll start the documentation of his craziness.

        Good luck!

      • tinywormhole November 11, 2011, 8:21 pm

        YES! The author is Gavin de Becker. It is a great book and very helpful in this type of situation (and many others in life).

    • Samantha November 11, 2011, 4:42 pm

      Lets_be_honest is totally spot on with this advice.
      It is your home and your safety you’re worried about first and foremost. It sounds like your roommate does listen to you in some small way, especially since she’s talked to her boyfriend about the comments he makes toward you while she is present. State facts about why he makes you uncomfortable and even if your roommate continues to date him, at least you won’t have to deal with him.
      If this doesn’t work, take your dog and find someplace to stay while you hunt for a new apartment.

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    • Ally November 11, 2011, 6:01 pm

      Totally agree with this, just because the room-mate wants this creepy guy in her life doesn’t mean that he has to be in the LW’s life or home.

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    GertietheDino November 11, 2011, 3:47 pm

    Keep the confidential stuff to yourself, it’s no one else’s business. Talk to your roommate, calmly and rationally voice your concerns – not your opinion, but cold hard facts (odd lying, offensive behaviors that he hides until she is out of the room, etc) – of this guy. Maybe if she hears it from someone else it will click in her mind and she will see this guy for who he is – a nutjob. Good luck and if you need to stay elsewhere, bring your pup with you.

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    • Francine November 11, 2011, 4:49 pm

      I agree with keeping confidential stuff to yourself but unless you’ve agreed to keep the fact that the bf is divorced I don’t see why that has to be kept from others. A divorce isn’t usually an earth shattering revelation. The bf made it so himself by lying about being a widower.

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  • HmC November 11, 2011, 3:49 pm

    First off, I don’t think the advice to simply “butt out” applies when you live with the girl, and actually feel physically unsafe. You can’t keep living like this, so something pro-active has got to be done. If that means you moving out, so be it.

    Honestly, if I felt that way you do, and legitimately feared for the safety of my pet no less, I’d pack up some stuff, say my final piece to my roommate, and go stay somewhere else (with my dog!) while I found somewhere new. Maybe people will think you’re overreacting- this crazy couple definitely will. But who cares? I’d rather err on the side of safety. In my line of work, I’ve seen all too many people who ignored their gut only to put themselves in the middle of disastrous situations that could have been avoided.

    There’s being a drama queen, and there’s listening to your gut when it is *screaming* at you. This guy has no boundaries, is a proven liar, and makes you feel threatened. Just get out of there.

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      Tracey November 11, 2011, 4:47 pm

      This is probably best, if you can’t get her to move. And if you do decide to go, don’t leave a forwarding address. If she has it, he’ll have it. You can’t be too careful in this case.

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  • Marie November 11, 2011, 3:52 pm

    If you really do fear for your safety I’d suggest moving out as soon as you can.I like your idea of talking to a friend you trust.The two of you shouldn’t confront her…she’ll feel attacked…but sit down with her and explain to her why you feel this man isn’t a good guy.Leave the part about “he makes me uncomfortable” out–she’ll think you just want her to dump him because YOU don’t like him–instead,bring up the red flags he has exhibited in their relationship.Emphasize they have only been dating four weeks and already have broken up 3 times(that’s about once a week!) and he told a huge lie.Also ask her to think about what it is about him that she likes so much.

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    • Marie November 11, 2011, 3:53 pm

      Essentially,tell her you’re concerned for her well-being and explain why.

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  • LolaBeans November 11, 2011, 4:11 pm

    i think all you can really do is talk to your roommate. tell her what her bf has said/done to you and how he makes you feel (unsafe, etc) when he’s there.
    and then.. prepare to move out. and really do it. you don’t have much option here. a lot of people don’t like hearing this sort of thing and i can imagine the reaction will be bad.

    i would also suggest NOT having an intervention. those never go over well.

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  • Matthew November 11, 2011, 4:16 pm

    First, I want to point out that while your roommate may have fallen for this guy, it seems clear from her letter that she hasn’t completely shunned you for him.

    For example, she did talk to her boyfriend about his bad behavior got him to agree to stop this behavior around you. However it seems you haven’t actually told her yet that the behavior still continues when your roommate leaves the room.

    Second, nothing you have said suggests your roommate is so bad that she doesn’t care about your feelings. As said before by a previous commenter, you absolutely should bring up to your roommate that you don’t wish for her boyfriend to come over anymore. It’s your home, too, and you have the absolute right to feel comfortable in your own home.

    Finally, with regards to ‘butting out.’ You have no business whatsoever telling your roommate who to date. However, you have every right to tell your roommate that her boyfriend’s behavior is uncomfortable to you and therefore unacceptable in your home. If after that conversation, the boyfriend still comes over and still is being ‘psycho’ and the roommate is not taking more steps to ensure your comfort, then it’s time for you to find a new living situation ASAP.

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  • RMM0278 November 11, 2011, 4:17 pm

    Anybody ever read the Gift of Fear? There’s a true scenario in that book that’s EXACTLY like this one — roommate’s bf gave all the other roomies the creeps but no one had the courage to say so. If you haven’t read that book, LW, I highly suggest you do. Your gut is telling you something so listen to it!

    I agree with the others that you should either move out or ask her to not have him in the house anymore. It’s your house too, and you deserve the comfort and safety in knowing that you can be there and not feel threatened. We all do. As for this weekend, I’d get your dog, find a good friend, and crash there for awhile. Then TAKE ACTION.

    As for your roommate, there’s only so much you can do. She’s 38 years old. You can let her know how you feel, give her important phone numbers, etc., but she has to be the one to ultimately take action. Let her know you’ll always be there for her as you hightail it out of there.

    You have to stand up for you. Please give us an update!

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    • Sarah November 11, 2011, 4:21 pm

      That is EXACTLY WHAT I WAS THINKING!!! Btw, EVERYONE should read this book, it teaches you how to respect your instincts and how to spot and stay away from dangerous men.

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      • lets_be_honest November 11, 2011, 4:29 pm

        bad/crappy or just dangerous?

      • Sarah November 11, 2011, 4:53 pm

        Mostly dangerous. The author goes through real life stories with women who have been victims and kind of breaks down the instincts they had. It really scared me when I first read it how much I would have just ignored of what my gut was telling me, just like these women did. I need to read that puppy again.

      • sarita_f November 11, 2011, 5:11 pm

        Yeah, I need to read it again for a refresher, too. I gave my copy to my parents, once my dad actually gets around to reading it I think he’ll appreciate what it has to say (he’s a gun-totin’ libertarian prepper… we don’t see eye-to-eye on much).

    • Nadine November 11, 2011, 4:42 pm

      So this is why I should read all the comments before posting my own! Yes to this.

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    • ReginaRey November 11, 2011, 6:21 pm

      I just said it above and I’ll say it again – The Gift of Fear should be required reading for women. Period. It’s fantastic and has legitimately saved people’s lives, like that girl who read the book and realized that her roommate’s boyfriend was crazy. She and her mom frantically packed up the apartment because they had a horrible sense he was going to do something, and not HOURS after they had left, he came in their apartment with a gun and kidnapped her roommate (who I believe got out OK). Everyone needs to read the book!!

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      • honeybeenicki November 13, 2011, 7:24 pm

        I just requested it from my sister for Christmas, and I’ll be loaning it to her when I’m done since I know she tends to ignore those gut instincts and gets herself in really bad situations.

  • Michele November 11, 2011, 4:19 pm

    I think you should talk to your trusted friend to get insight into how you can approach the subject with your roommate. But I think you should talk to her yourself. If you bring a 3rd person into it, someone who hasn’t met the guy, you run the risk of making her feel ganged up on. Give her specific examples of the lies and disturbing behavior. Tell her how concerned you are about HER well-being. It is best to focus on her, not your own discomfort.

    Do you have a friend you can stay with temporarily? I suggest you prepare for your roommate to brush off your concern since that has been her response thus far. If she does not want him out of her life, then I would pack a suitcase, grab my dog and go stay with a friend. Then I would look for a new place to live. You sound frightened of him and he sounds unstable. Get yourself out if your roommate won’t kick him out. You’ve got to take care of your own emotional and physical well-being.

    If you want to maintain the friendship, remain supportive of her throughout it all, even if you leave. Don’t hound her about him or make it about you or you’ll alienate her even further. Unfortunately, you can’t control who your friend dates. Good luck!

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    AlenaLynn November 11, 2011, 4:27 pm

    I’m going to give you the benefit of the doubt and assume that you don’t feel overwhelmingly uncomfortable around people very often.

    From what you’ve said, you mentioned your discomfort to your roommate in the past, and she was great about it in certain ways: she not only brought up the issue with her boyfriend, she actually told him he needed to stop. However, it sounds like she’s not so great when it comes to dealing with things that should make HER uncomfortable. She just brushes them off.

    First of all, you should probably go to your roommate first. You need to mention to your roommate that her boyfriend’s unwelcome behavior has continued (it sounds like you haven’t mentioned it again, yet). Not only has he continued the behaviors that make you uncomfortable, he’s escalated them. Now, he’s hiding his actions from her, leading her to believe that he’s complying with both of your wishes, and he’s cornering you, alone, to intentionally cause you discomfort. People don’t do things like that unless they get some sort of sick satisfaction from torturing people. Obviously don’t tell her that last part, but do give her detailed examples of what he is doing to you.

    Unfortunately, if she doesn’t want to believe that anything is amiss with him lying about his ex, there’s not much you can do to change it. You can mention to her again that the extent of his lies about the situation make you distrust him, and leave it at that. If she wants justification for you mentioning it, explain that he could have simply said, “My ex and I had an extremely rough divorce, it’s a painful subject for me, I hope you can understand why I am not ready to discuss it with you now.” Instead, it sounds like this guy didn’t just willingly offer up details, but rather forced them upon you. People typically don’t ask for the grisly details of their partner’s (or friends’ partner’s) deceased ex, so unless someone else was a little socially inept too, I’m guessing that this boyfriend told you the unpleasant details when you never inquired.

    Bring this information to your roommate’s attention. Explain that because of how much distress he causes you, you are wondering if they could change the place they hang out together, because you would appreciate it if he did not come over to your place, you’d prefer if she spent time with him elsewhere. Break this gently, she’s not going to like it. If she becomes angry about it, or defensive and refuses, you may have to tell her that as much as you have loved living with her for the past two years, you may have to figure out some new living arrangements, as he legitimately makes you fear for your safety. (You may opt to not mention that you’re afraid for your dog, because gut feelings are often hard to explain with words. However, if he’s made any threats or odd little “comments” about actions toward him, by all means point them out.)

    New living arrangements are not always as easy as just moving out obviously. However, you can opt to not renew your lease, if that option is coming up, and you can likely talk to a landlord (if you have one) and try to figure out ways to either break your lease or find someone to sublease from you.

    As for talking to the mutual friend. Share the common knowledge information first. If you feel like she cannot truly understand the situation without the other information, start going into that. Sometimes talking to another person who has some idea of the people in the situation can be incredibly helpful in figuring out what to do.

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  • MiMi November 11, 2011, 4:28 pm

    There are enough red flags here to justify getting some information and help by calling the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1−800−799−SAFE or looking for information at http://www.thehotline.org to help you put this into perspective. There are tips on the website for how to help a friend in a questionable situation.
    However, whatever assistance your roommate needs, your own comfort and safety should be immediately addressed. Feeling persecuted by this nut job in your own home (especially the sneaky part where he only digs at you when the two of you are alone) and afraid to leave because he might harm your pet is nowhere near normal. If your roommate will not hear you or do anything to insulate you from psycho-dude, confide in your mutual good friend, tell your roommate’s parents, tell your parents, rally all the troops and let the light of day in on this situation. Get support, move out if you need to, reach out to your roommate if you can get through to her, but don’t let this continue. Good luck.

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  • GatorGirl November 11, 2011, 4:29 pm

    You need to have a conversation with your roommate to let her know that his behavior has not changed and it’s not acceptable. Tell her he is not welcome in your shared home and that you will be finding other living arrangements if she can’t abide by your request. I wouldn’t bring any other friends into the conversation, because it really sounds like the issue is more about the unwanted visitor in your home. You’re not going to be able to convinvce your roommate who she should or shouldn’t date, she is a grown woman.

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  • Francine November 11, 2011, 4:30 pm

    Clearly your roommate’s boyfriend gets some sort of satisfaction out of making you uncomfortable. I have a creepy neighbor whose favorite pastime seems to be making people uncomfortable also. Trust me, it’s not that hard to take away that satisfaction and soon he’ll be avoiding conversations with you.

    The key is to turn the tables. When he tries to engage you in conversation give cryptic answers or answer his questions with your own odd question. Works best if what you say doesn’t even make sense and is delivered with a knowing smile. If he says “Wow, I just made you really uncomfortable didn’t I?” you simply give a sly smile and say “I don’t know, did you?”

    I got this advice from another neighbor who I noticed Mr Creepy was avoiding. The first time I tried it I didn’t do so well but coming up with a few nonsense answers in advance helped the next time I encountered him. “So Oblivious yet ubiquitous.” delivered with a wink before turning your back and walking away can work wonders. And if he says “That doesn’t make any sense.”, just say something like “Think about it.” or “You have to think enumerically to get it.”

    Sadly, you can’t control who your roommate dates and since this person will spend considerable time in your home you’ll have a hard time avoiding him. But he’s probably enjoying thinking that he’s controlling your emotions so respond in a way that leaves him wondering what’s going through your head and hopefully he’ll give up.

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    • va-in-ny November 11, 2011, 4:55 pm

      I find “whatever helps you sleep at night” to be a good one. It usually fits with any sort of creepy question.

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  • OneSpiritEternal November 11, 2011, 4:32 pm

    Oh my, LW, you certainly are in a pickle. It is such a difficult situation to get involved with someone else’s relationship; however, you are personally feeling threatened by this man’s presence. You’re afraid of what he might do to your pet if you go elsewhere, so you are not a third-party here – you ARE involved. It sounds, to me, as though you need an intervention.

    There are SO many red flags here with this guy.

    Contact a local domestic violence shelter and see if perhaps they can provide you with some tips, or maybe even a counselor to help you talk with your roommate – they may even be able to provide you with a place to do so. You can call the Domestic Abuse Hotline at 800.621.HOPE (4673) or visit their website at http://www.safehorizon.org; or the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1−800−799−SAFE (7233) or visit their site at http://www.thehotline.org.

    SERIOUSLY look into your options to remove yourself (and your dog) from the living situation, even if only temporarily, and follow through. Tell her that this man has you SO frightened, you’re thinking of moving out. No one should be scared to go home.

    If you need to interact with this guy before this happens, stand your ground. If he says or asks something offensive, just say, completely calmly, “And why would you ask me that?” or “I’ve told you before I’m not going to discuss this, so discussion closed.” Or if he says, like you stated above, “WOW! I just made you really uncomfortable there, didn’t I? You really want to punch me in the face, don’t you?” Respond with, “No, not uncomfortable, but not something I care to discuss in present company.” Again, completely calm.

    I wish you the very best of luck, LW, and may you be safe. Please update us so we know how things went. My heart goes out to you. You will be in my thoughts and prayers this weekend.

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  • Sarah November 11, 2011, 4:33 pm

    Move out move out move out move out move out. Move out. Move out then move out and move out.

    Find a place to stay with your dog until you find a permanent place to stay.

    Have you and your friend stage a little mini-intervention with her after you’ve found another place to stay (because if you do so while you’re still living there, you can bet if Prince Charming finds out about he’s going to really start punishing you.) Tell her you feel that her boyfriend is creep-o-tastic and you feel unsafe in your own home and you’re going to have to move out permanently if he comes to the house anymore. If you’ve already been staying somewhere else, she’ll know you’re serious and that might kick some sense back into her. Just tell her everything you’re worried about, but be prepared to leave permanently if she wont agree to your terms.

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    • camille905 November 11, 2011, 4:49 pm

      Agreed! Definitely have a place to stay BEFORE you talk to her so that you can follow through immediately with your threat to leave.

      If your roommate is receptive and decides to have a talk with her bf and wants you there, I would recommend letting a third party know in case something seriously crazytown happens.

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  • Sarah November 11, 2011, 4:34 pm

    Your gut is telling you the truth. As said above, he is interested in dragging you into this messy relationship, and his insight and witty banter being used to make you uncomfortable are the least of your worries. Anyone who is this manipulative and in-your-face raises huge red flags for possible escalation for me. You’ve stated your preferences; he is ignoring them. What is your guarantee that he will not ignore all of your preferences and make it a physical challenge?

    If I were in this situation, I would make arrangements to move immediately. I would consider this an emergent situation, and enlist friends/family to help me move out to a new location while the roommate was elsewhere. If possible, move to a secure location. *Be secretive about this.* This man does not respect boundaries, and obviously wants to control the situation. Any move to control your own situation will be seen as a challenge to his power.

    It’s clear that your roommate does not share your gut feeling, and since she hasn’t expressed any regrets about the relationship, there’s nothing you can do for her. I would cut off all contact.

    I know that this sounds alarmist. I have dated a man like this, who was abusive and manipulative, and who stalked me for some time after I escaped. Control and power, power and control. I know you care about your roommate. But keeping yourself and your dog safe is a higher priority.

    Good luck and take care of yourself.

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  • caffeinatrix November 11, 2011, 4:39 pm

    I want to chime in with all the advice to move out as quickly as possible. It’s drastic, but I don’t think you have any hope of your roommate taking you seriously if you stay- she may just brush it off as jealousy or bitchiness. If you’re genuinely afraid of him doing something to you or your dog- and it certainly sounds like you have reason to be- you have to protect yourself, even if you can’t make her see the light in time and get her to kick him out of her life.
    Also, I think I wouldn’t mention your plan to move until the day you leave. I also would avoid telling her where I planned to go, if only to keep her from telling the creepy boyfriend in turn. When you leave, tell her why. In person might be most effective, but if you don’t want the boyfriend around for it, just leave while they’re gone and call her to let her know. Be as direct and clear as possible- that he makes you uncomfortable to the point where you fear for your own safety as well as hers. I’d give her the names of a couple of women’s shelters, and let her know that she can call them or you when she’s ready.

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  • GatorGirl November 11, 2011, 4:41 pm

    The more I think about it, creating a story of your ex-wife’s tragic death and insurance battle is very VERY creepy. Fantasizing about the death of an ex is not healthy at all. The other commentors are spot on that this is a red flag for domestic abuse and I would highly recomend you remove yourself and your dog from the home. Give your roommate the contact info for the national hotlines and tell her you’re moving out if she doesn’t kick this guy to the curb. How does she not think its creepy he pretends his ex is dead??

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    • AKchic November 11, 2011, 4:56 pm

      Abusers do this to gain sympathy and to halt questions.

      Would YOU want to ask a widower questions? No. You wouldn’t want to bring up painful memories. That’s why they do it. It engenders sympathy for the abuser, and keeps people from questioning them too much at first, so then they are able to stick around for a while. Idiosyncracies are dismissed as “grieving” for a while, until some lies unravel. By that time, the abuser has already hooked himself into the life of the abused.

      My first husband told me that he had been married before too. While in the military when he was younger. She cheated on him while he was in Panama and they divorced. Supposedly, she was so guilt-stricken over the whole thing that she committed suicide.
      Well – after OUR divorce, I did some digging, proved he never had a daughter from a teenage encounter, never got married in the military, and still to this day cannot find any proof of him JOINING the military in the first place. Working for a private investigator helped me a lot. Part time job, long-term benefits.

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  • AKchic November 11, 2011, 4:49 pm

    Oh dear. This sounds like much of what my 1st husband did.

    What he is doing is making you uncomfortable enough to move out. Why? So he can move in and dominate. He is working to isolate her as much as possible.
    You need back-up. Pronto. In the form of males. The bigger, more physically intimidating, the better. These kinds of guys will NOT press their luck around guys that they cannot intimidate themselves. Women, yes. Smaller men, yes. Big guys that they perceive as better than them, no. Your male friends are your best allies here. Call in the squad.

    At 38, your friend is feeling her age, mortality, and fertility slipping down the drain. She is willing to settle at the moment in what I call “female mid-life crisis”. Once she comes to terms with her “crisis”, she’ll be fine, but unfortunately, she saddled herself with this “charmer”.

    He needs to go, and unfortunately, this type thinks of restraining orders as “I’m playing hard to get, please try harder, and don’t hesitate to damage my property to show your affections”.
    Do a thorough background check on him. If your state has online criminal history listings (Alaska has “courtview”), check that out. Google him. Pay for a background check. Put ALL the pieces together. Talk to the ex-wife if nothing else.

    Your friend is in for a lot of trouble. I normally don’t advocate for meddling, but in this case – time for you to meddle more than Mystery, Inc has in their entire 40 year run. Your dog can be Scooby.

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    • artsygirl November 11, 2011, 5:01 pm

      Perfect response Ak – blew mine out of the water. I said the same thing about the background check. People like this don’t suddenly develop this type of manipulative and abusive behavior overnight. There could be a whole string of restraining orders in this guy’s wake.

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    • Carolynasaurus November 11, 2011, 5:12 pm

      Thank you for bringing up the potential problem of moving out: isolating the friend.

      I think the safest thing for everyone involved.
      1) Find a place to move to if things start to go really badly.
      2) Gather some friends (preferably ones with large husbands or boyfriends) and discuss the best way to help the friend.
      3) Talk to the friend in at the house without the boyfriend present (perhaps station the big men outside so he can’t interrupt).
      4) Make sure you convey to the friend that you are worried about her and her well-being, not just your own safety.
      5) If she refuses to listen, emphasize that you are there for her as a friend, but not as a roomate and get the hell out!
      6) Follow through and keep checking up on her, away from the house.

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      • AKchic November 11, 2011, 5:25 pm

        That’s probably the safest way to do it. I can remember how isolated I was from the majority of my friends because my 1st husband had scared/intimidated them away. The few that I had when we divorced were the ones I had met after we married. One I worked with and had purposely cultivated a “friendship” with my husband to prove that he wasn’t sleeping with me. He alternatively claims that the reason why he didn’t get custody of my son during the divorce was because I admitted to sleeping with this individual and that my son was the co-workers. The other claim is that he got custody and I kidnapped “the kid”.
        The other male friend was the guy I ended up marrying my second go-’round.
        Any other friend was a small female who was not only physically less than him, but meek/shy. If the female was independent, domineering, had an attitude, etc – they were “bad news” and had to go. I had three friends left when I left him. And only one was from before we’d met. The others I had to reconnect with.

        I would suggest a “Movie Night” and invite a ton of friends over so that other people will meet this piece of garbage and get to know the feelings that she has been feeling. By all means, record what he says when he corners her. If he spouts anything legal, ignore it. Verify all laws he may ramble on about. Abusers LOVE to cite laws in their favor, but most of the time, they are incorrect, or interpreting them wrong – but because they sound so confident about it, the abused (and anyone else who doesn’t know much about the law cited) actually believes them because they don’t really know the law word for word, or much at all.

    • ReginaRey November 11, 2011, 6:24 pm

      You know, AK, I was going to advocate her moving out and getting herself out of this situation, but I realize how right you are – I think this guy WANTS her to move out, because it means he isolates the girlfriend. I think the best course of action is to tell the roommate he’s no longer welcome in their apartment, and that they need to hang out elsewhere. If his reaction is too much, then move out if you must. I also second bringing in reinforcements and the background check. Maybe showing the girlfriend a copy of a past restraining order might clear things up for her a bit.

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        bittergaymark November 11, 2011, 8:09 pm

        Whoa, this is REALLY horrible advice RR. The well-meaning LW would be putting herself in right the middle of these two then and that’s simply far too loaded of a position for her to be in because…

        a) There is no guarantee that the roomie will even side with her on this.

        b) It makes HER, the LW, the enemy, not only of the loser boyfriend, but now her best friend, too, potentially as the clueless roomie will in all likelihood once again take HIS side here and say that the LW is being unreasonable. She will be branded the psycho bitch here.

        c) Even if the roomie agrees with her, the now unstable psycho will have a real bone to pick with her and it simply is so NOT worth it. She should in no way make herself the target of his mood swings and instability. I can’t emphasize this last point enough.

        She need to remove herself from this situation. Look, the clueless roomie has already revealed herself to a deluded mess of a fool after NOT flipping out over the bogus dead wife story… Hey, if THAT didn’t make her see the light of day here about this guy then NOTHING will. I mean, come on, guys…everything that the creep has done to the LW is simply small potatoes compared to that whopper of insanity…

      • callmehobo November 11, 2011, 8:22 pm

        I’m going to have to go with BGM with this one RR,

        The LW’s responsibility is first and foremost to her own safety. I don’t think putting herself in a dangerous situation for her roomie (while it is a noble intention) is going to help. She needs to check her lease and move away, so she can be safe and whole when (or sadly, if) the roommate decides to ditch the crazy.

        You can only keep yourself safe. The roommate is a grown woman, and the LW isn’t going to be able to sway her decision to stay or leave this guy.

      • ReginaRey November 12, 2011, 10:55 am

        I mean, I know you’re right. Of course her responsibility is to her own safety first. I guess it just bothers me that this creepy dude might get what he wants…isolating the girlfriend from people who care about her.

  • artsygirl November 11, 2011, 4:54 pm

    LW – I think your friend might be dating my sister’s ex. The only difference is that their marriage is still being dissolved and her husband is British. He would insist that I pray with him despite the fact that I explained numerous times that I was not religious and it made me uncomfortable. He would lie in order to manipulate situations to make him look like a ‘good guy’ and my sister like a money grubbing whore despite the true situation. He also was a huge Gay Basher who would make horrendous statements with a sickeningly sweet smile on his face.
    Unfortunately there is little you can do. You have spoken to your friend and it is not seeping in completely. Kudos for her for speaking to the guy, but it hasn’t stopped the behavior. I would purchase a tape recorded and record all the biting horrible things he says to you behind her back – hell I would even inform him that you are tape recording the convos and maybe that would stop him. I would also invest in a dead bolt for your bedroom door to insure he stays out of our space and there is a creep-free zone in the house. Also, you can check local police databases to see if he has been convicted of a crime or has had a restraining order taken out. Finally I would tell your roommate that because of your continued discomfort that you might need to break the lease and move out. I would give her an end date (maybe a month of two down the road) so she has time to find a new roommate or as someone pointed out earlier – the relationship might have ended. Good luck!

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    • Christy November 12, 2011, 4:13 pm

      I second the recording tip, especially if the things he says are creepy enough to make her fear for her safety. You might want to check the laws in your state, though, if you’re not going to tell him that you’re recording.

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    bittergaymark November 11, 2011, 5:03 pm

    Move out. Sadly, that’s really all you can do here. Move out. Look. if your roommate is so bound and determined to date somebody who is clearly such a prize — and clearly so batshit crazy — let her. It’s her life and she can destroy it if she wants to… Here’s one thing I learned a long, long time ago. Not everybody is worthy of saving. Not everybody can be saved. Moreover, not everybody wants to be saved either…

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    caitie_didn't November 11, 2011, 5:45 pm

    LW, we here at DW will be waiting eagerly for an update telling us all that you’re safely moved out of that apartment. (kidding, but not really because you need to be moved out right this red hot second. And take your doggie with you).

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    • AKchic November 11, 2011, 6:04 pm

      Yes – we will all want to know how this turned out. Maybe multiple updates. One next week, one next month, and if the (possible former) roommate hasn’t dumped the psycho-guy by then, then another update when/if she finally does. Or, an update when you hear she’s ended up in the hospital thanks to him. We want continued coverage on this story because it’s gotten us all up-in-arms on this one.

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  • Painted Lady November 11, 2011, 6:16 pm

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  • Painted_Lady November 11, 2011, 6:25 pm

    Hey guys, it’s my letter.

    First off, thank you. Your comments are really helping me figure out where I need to go with this. Part of me was wondering if I was crazy for all this, but really, I know I’m not. My roommate is one of my very best friends and even if I weren’t living with her, I’d be worried, but as I have myself and my dog to take care of as well, I don’t have the luxury of just keeping my fingers crossed it will all turn out okay.

    I’m not normally an alarmist – those of you who’ve read my comments on here know that. But when I met him about a week after they started dating, all my spidey senses started going off. I was uncomfortable without anything I could put my finger on, but the first time it registered *why* was when roomie, “Jane,” texted to ask if he could crash a few days when he lost his job. The thought of him alone in our house with my dog and all my stuff suddenly made me nauseated. And I found out – he “accidentally” let it slip – that he’s read through a notebook that was clearly mine while my roommate was out of the room, so apparently I have good reason.

    I’m moving in with my boyfriend at the end of next month, so I already have a good out pretty soon. I might be able to bump up the move date, but even better, our landlords are Jane’s parents, and they’re very good to me and love her a lot, so I have a little bit of control over the rent and house situation as well as some leverage if I have to use it.

    I texted Carol, the mutual friend, last night to see if she wanted to get drinks this weekend, and she immediately texted back that she was free and really wanted to talk to me about Jane’s situation, which I hadn’t planned on bringing up till we were face-to-face. I know Carol doesn’t know half of it, and obviously she wouldn’t know what Jane has no idea he’s doing to me, but she’s already concerned. Part of the reason I want Carol to know is because she’s known Jane longer than I have, and Jane trusts her judgment a lot, plus Carol will know how to approach this better than me. Another reason is because I feel like Jane is intentionally keeping the details from a lot of people because deep down she knows this guy is nuts. I think given what I’ve read here, Carol does need to know most of it, but I will only use the dead/divorced info if she doesn’t seem as concerned as she ought to be.

    Everyone’s advice was fantastic; I do need to make sure that Jane cannot possibly misunderstand that her boyfriend frightens me. I have said that he makes me uncomfortable, but I think she needs to know I think he’s displaying a whole bunch of really scary signs. I don’t think I have to move out just yet, but if anything escalates, I will, and obviously, that’s going to have to include telling her parents. Fortuantely, I will be moving out at whatever point with the assistance of my dad, my brother, and my boyfriend, the shortest of whom is my father at 6’3″, and Crazy Dude isn’t even 5’10”, so there’s no question of the intimidation factor.

    Anyway, thanks so much everyone. I will keep you updated!

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    • Greebo November 11, 2011, 6:31 pm

      Saw your post after I wrote mine (below). Good luck to you both.

      Incidentally, I assume you’ve Googled him, but you can run public records searches on people, too, to find criminal records, lawsuits, etc. It wouldn’t be my next move, but it’s an option for you or her or her parents.

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    • ReginaRey November 11, 2011, 6:31 pm

      Good luck, Painted_Lady!! And I want to emphasize how right you were for trusting your gut. One of the things The Gift of Fear talks about is that many people end up victimized or in bad situations because they felt that overwhelming sense you felt (nauseated about him alone in your apartment, just plain weirded out) and convinced themselves they were overreacting and being too judgmental. One of the best points the book makes is that feelings like those don’t pop up out of nowhere. You don’t feel fear when there’s nothing to be afraid OF, so the fact that you feel the way you do means something this guy is doing has set off your subconscious alarm (and your conscious mind obviously caught up quickly). I hope more women will trust their intuition like you have!

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      • Greebo November 11, 2011, 6:45 pm

        I wish I could “like” this a dozen times. I ignored those warning bells only one time for exactly those reasons–thought it was harsh or I needed to keep being nice. I still have nightmares about him.

    • AKchic November 11, 2011, 6:53 pm

      After I read your letter a second time, something else stood up for me as another red flag as an abuser. After your roommate spoke to him about making you uncomfortable; he would say “Well, your roommate told me….oh wait, you don’t want to hear about it, do you? It makes you uncomfortable.”
      That right there is an “Instigative Remark” (my terminology). He did it purposely to instigate an argument between you and the roommate. What he hopes to engineer is this:
      You mention what he said, then ask what SHE said to him. She says “nothing” because she really did say nothing because he was baiting you. You don’t believe him and push the issue and get mad and start laying out his creepy stuff on the table accusingly. She gets mad and thinks that you’re making stuff up, just like you’re accusing her of saying things to him in the first place. You two continue to fight until she kicks you out of the shared home.

      I have no doubt in my mind that he knows that the home is owned by her parents. He feels that she is financially set. So – he’s hoping to leech off of that “cash cow”. My 1st husband wanted that. I was the favored granddaughter. I had a house set to be mine when my grandparents died, money to be left to me (and whenever I asked), etc. My family has a long history in AK and it opened doors for my ex, if he actually had wanted to work. Instead, I worked (and made a name for myself, without him), and he leeched off of MY name, reputation, and my family’s reputation (as well as his own distant family’s reputation).

      Go ahead with your plans to talk to the friend. Dig up what you can on this guy and get everything in writing on him. Court records, divorce info, etc. All needs to be written down. If it’s verbal, he can try to explain it all away as a “he said/she said”/misinterpretted BS. If it’s on paper, it’s harder to explain away. Make sure to call him out on ANY lies immediately, and if he weaves another lie in front of you, call him out on it, and if you remember when he said something different, say WHEN, and quote if possible. Watch the confusion, desperation. Record as much as possible. Let him know it’s all being recorded.
      All of it comes in handy. Especially for restraining orders and police reports if it ever comes to that. I tell you this from experience.

      Good luck. I hope your roommate sees reason. She has good friends.

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      • cookiesandcream November 11, 2011, 7:04 pm

        hehehe, I just posted my comment and we basically said the same things… Great minds really do think alike! 😉

      • AKchic November 11, 2011, 7:11 pm

        and now I want a cookies and cream milkshake 😛

      • blackbird November 11, 2011, 7:13 pm

        This. It sounds like you have the best situations possible surrounding you. I think that her parents are probably your most valuable asset here – if they own your place, then it’s their rules. If she is as well-loved as you say, they are most certainly going to get involved if they think their daughter’s well-being is in danger.

        I think you should talk to your roommate about not letting her boyfriend over, and let her parents and Carol know ahead of time. Like it’s been mentioned before, start taking note of everything he does that makes you uncomfortable. It might help you in the long run. My heart goes out to you, Painted_Lady!

      • Painted_lady November 12, 2011, 7:52 pm

        Sorry, I didn’t explain that remark well. He’ll refer to something my roommate said, as in, about their relationship, like he was about to say, “Your roommate said she hates it when I say I don’t deserve her,” but then he stops himself. He knows good and well I don’t want to hear anything about the inner workings of their relationship, but it’s like since he can’t actively engage me in that conversation anymore, he can’t stop himself from making digs that imply how reactionary and irrational I am. Hence making me look that way to Jane, and making me question myself. Except I grew up with the queen of the passive-aggressive manipulators, so I’m immune to that bullshit.

    • Carolynasaurus November 11, 2011, 6:56 pm

      I know it would have been the world’s longest DW letter, but I wish all of these details were in the initial letter.

      I think you have a great handle on the situation. Maybe consider moving your dog now, if it’s an option. Also, after talking to Carol, you may want to reach out to any more of Jane’s friends to make sure that once you move out, the support system for Jane isn’t just you and Carol. You say her parent’s own the home, maybe talk to them about amending the lease so that anyone who stays at the house for some number of days a month must pay rent/be on the lease/something else legal-y. I’d imagine something like that might scare him off.

      Good luck!

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      • AKchic November 11, 2011, 7:02 pm

        For poor mr. “Down-on-his-luck” who is out of work, the roommate would end up paying his portion as well until he found work.

        Him losing his job is suspect as well. Many abusers have trouble keeping jobs because they don’t WANT them. They work for a bit, but once they “hook” a woman, they quit their jobs, or do something to get fired (or just get fired because they are inept and it catches up with them) so they can seem sympathetic in yet another angle. I mean, someone with a big heart who originally thinks that she is dating a youngish widower who is fighting the life insurance company for the payout just loses his job isn’t going to want to add to his stress and dump him right off, right? She’s going to stick it out a few more dates to see his “real” personality. Give him time to “come out of his shell” so to speak.

        Again – I find it suspicious. In the 3 1/2 years my 1st husband and I were together, he worked for a total of 6 months. 3 while I was pregnant with my first son, and 3 at another job after my first son was born. Then he magically got “injured” on the job and attempted to sue them for permanent damages, but he never went to the doctors for any treatment. He milks that “injury” to this day – 12 years later. Still no treatment, physical therapy, nothing.

    • cookiesandcream November 11, 2011, 7:02 pm

      I’m so glad you’re being proactive about this situation (although it sucks a lot that you even have to go through something like this in the first place).

      If you have a good relationship with Jane’s parents, then I really think that they should know sooner rather than later about the situation that their daughter is in. I also think that you should tell Carol everything. I just feel like when you’re this worried about Jane, then the more people that know and can be there for her throughout this situation the better. If Jane is intentionally keeping details from you and the rest of her friends, then it’s a red flag that she’s isolating herself; from what I can gather, it wouldn’t surprise me if she was too afraid to break things off with him on her own. I mean, he’s had access to her house, so he knows where she lives, how to get into the house, and her general routine. She might be in denial about how much danger she’s in. From what you said in your letter, I really think he’s just a ticking time bomb. The things that he’s said to you are meant to provoke you so he has a really good excuse to inflict harm on someone else. It’s almost like he’s waiting for the day that you snap so all hell can break loose. One other thing that I would recommend is keeping a private written record of everything that’s happened (instances where he’s made you uncomfortable, anything weird that you’ve noticed about him, etc.). You never know when you’re going to need it.

      Also, I think AKchic had great advice about doing a background check. I’d assume the worst and assume that he has easy access to weapons (like a gun or a knife) that are unregistered. If things are really that bad, then you can always run a quick background check yourself by Googling him and calling his former employers or see if you can find contact info on anyone from his past. Why he’s been fired will tell you volumes about his character. Plus I want to piggyback on what everyone has been saying about The Gift of Fear. I HIGHLY recommend it! I had been putting off reading it for a while because I was too afraid to read it, but once I finished reading it I was so glad I did (actually, reading all the comments on Dear Wendy helped me get over that fear! 🙂 ). Once I was done reading it, I felt really relieved because it really taught me that living in a constant state of fear was wrong and detrimental. If there’s anyone else out there that has been meaning to read it but you haven’t gotten to it, read it now!

      Good luck with your situation!

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      • AKchic November 11, 2011, 7:10 pm

        Knives are easily purchased anywhere. You do not need a background check for a knife. Most states do not require a background check for guns if you are buying them from a private seller either (think garage sales, gun shows where there are private sellers with booths, sportsman/sporting good swaps, craigslist or the newspaper). You do not have to go to a licensed dealer to purchase a gun.
        Also, as long as he is not a felon, or on certain probations – he is legal to have a gun. There are a few questions that they ask for the background check, and even then – you CAN lie and there is no way to verify. Those questions are (roughly, as I can’t remember exactly since it’s been a few years since I’ve purchased a firearm, sadly):
        1) Have you attempted to commit suicide in the past 5 (or 7) years?
        2) Are you on probation for a domestic violence crime?
        3) Do you currently have a domestic violence restraining order placed against you?
        4) Do you have a mental illness that would prohibit you from purchasing weapons?

        Some states have a waiting period for gun purchases from licensed dealers. I don’t know which ones.

      • Painted_Lady November 11, 2011, 7:24 pm

        Well, I know legally he can’t purchase a gun at least…felony. Real winner, huh?

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        bittergaymark November 11, 2011, 8:20 pm


        For real, be REAL wary here and be, if anything, overly protective of yourself. A lot of these posts here sound like they would be good plot points if you were the heroine/best friend in some Lifetime TV movie where you’ve already read the script so you know you make it till the last act… but in real life, there are no such guarantees. Actually, now that I think on it, best-friends-who-try-to-help often do come to very bad ends even in Lifetime TV movies…

        Look, I kid, I kid. And I don’t want to come off as some crazy alarmist here either. But do put yourself first. You don’t need to play the hero. It’s just not worth it.

      • callmehobo November 11, 2011, 8:37 pm

        Just be careful, the Brady Act only applies to FFL’s. It is extremely easy to purchase guns from someone who doesn’t ask to many questions.

      • Painted_lady November 11, 2011, 11:48 pm

        Sorry, that was a bad joke. I’m not putting anything past this guy.

      • Calle November 12, 2011, 3:06 am

        Please be careful! Get a stun gun or a taser gun (perfectly legal in most states). Some of the creepiest guys hide behind an unassuming, small guy, nerdy persona and can be capable of some of the craziest shit.

      • DramaQueen224 November 13, 2011, 7:34 pm

        There’s a part in The Gift of Fear where the author states that when potential victims make dark jokes his concern level increases dramatically. Seriously, get out now. Like, right now, tonight. I promise I’m not an alarmist, but everything you’re saying is sending off warning bells right and left. Protect yourself and your dog immediately and then try to help your roommate from a safe distance. Please.

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      Skyblossom November 12, 2011, 11:57 am

      I think you should talk to her parents immediately and explain the entire situation. They can probably run the background searches on this guy while you work out your situation. Please consider sleeping with something heavy against your bedroom door so that it can’t possibly be opened while you are sleeping. Locks don’t always do much. Consider sliding a dresser in front of the door and the bed in front of the door before going to sleep.

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      • Christy November 12, 2011, 4:21 pm

        Good point about the parents! If they are the landlords, it would probably be easy for them to demand his information for a background check, since he’s spending so much time there.

  • Greebo November 11, 2011, 6:26 pm

    Wow, LW! I think, given your justifiable concern for your roommate, that you have moral latitude about that “sworn secret”. You need to discriminate between a good cause (keeping your word) and a better one (helping your friend).

    If you’re in fear for your physical safety: Definitely tell your roommate he can’t stay the night. Try to agree on a curfew. Put a lock on your bedroom door and keep your dog away from him. Have your cell phone on you at all times when he’s around, and have an emergency number on speed dial. Ideally, tell your roommate you feel threatened by this man and don’t want him over; they should hang at his place.

    If he’s reading 10/10 on the Creepy Scale, but not actually scary: Tell roomie about his snide comments when she isn’t there. Tell her that since telling him to knock it off hasn’t helped, and since you’re paying rent and he isn’t, he isn’t welcome.

    You’ve told her you’re worried for her. If she’s close to her family or you know them, tell them if you think she’s in danger (physically, financially or mentally). Recruit friends to keep her active in a wide social circle — do not let him isolate her. And (the hard part) try not to judge him in front of her. She will feel compelled to defend him. Instead, ask open-ended questions about what he’s said, why, and how she felt. Make sure she knows she has an “escape route”. But understand you can’t save people who don’t want help, and if this relationship continues, you may need to look for a new living arrangement.

    I wish you well. Please give us an update.

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  • blackbird November 11, 2011, 6:41 pm

    I would like to give your roommate the benefit of the doubt – from what you said about her in your letter, she was responsive to your feelings and asked him to stop making you uncomfortable. It’s possible that talking to her about banning him from your house would be beneficial.

    HOWEVER – I can’t see any good outcomes after having a talk with her. If she asks him about hanging out anywhere other than your house, do you feel there’s a possibility of him showing up at 3 AM breaking down doors/windows or calling and hanging up all hours of the night? What if they break up during the “I need you to stop coming over” conversation and he turns his anger on YOU? This is obviously a worst-case scenario, but what if he starts confronting you at your place of work, in your neighborhood, etc? I had a stalker for a period of time and leaving the house was a terrible feeling. Even being in my house by myself was scary! I know that moving sucks and moving out under these circumstances is especially sucky, but to me, it sounds like moving is the most drama-free option at this point.

    If you want to give your roommate another chance, then sit down with her and explain everything. Tell your mutual friend as many details as you’re comfortable giving so she knows all sides of the story in case your roommate bring her into the situation as well. Also, I’m sure it would help to have the support. Have a place set up where you can stay temporarily (and move your dog, important documents, keepsakes, and a few changes of clothes) BEFORE you have this conversation with her.

    Best of luck, LW. I hope everything turns out okay for you (and your roommate), and that we’re overreacting. Please give us an update!

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    • blackbird November 11, 2011, 6:43 pm

      Also! When or if you do move out, enlist as many people as possible to help you. This way, it can be finished quickly, and if any nastiness does arise, you’ll have people present to help back you up.

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  • Ally November 11, 2011, 6:42 pm

    Talk to your room-mate and tell her that while you appreciate her speaking to her boyfriend about his behaviour towards you, the behaviour continues whenever she’s out of earshot. Explain to her the plain facts of why he makes you uncomfortable and for those reasons you don’t want him in your home any more. Stress that you wouldn’t dream of telling her who she can and cannot see, but that you don’t want to see him, or have him in your home at all. Remember that it may be her home, but it is also your home!

    The suggestion of you moving out is a very valid option but it seems so unfair to me. Why should you be forced to move out of your home? Go through the expense and stress of moving? Certainly not because of one creepy guy who makes you fear for your safety, because your room-mate has decided to bring him into your life and home. Especially one who has only been around for 4 weeks! I would save moving out as an option in case your room-mate doesn’t take you seriously or is angry at what you have to say. Hopefully she will understand your concerns and respect your wishes about not having this man in your home and hang out at his place. If she doesn’t, then move out. Please send us an update!

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      Skyblossom November 12, 2011, 12:02 pm

      Fair isn’t really the point here. Reality is the point. The guy seems dangerous for many reasons and her choices are to stay and maybe get hurt or get out now and stay safe. So she should get out immediately because it’s better to leave than stick around for whatever he plans to do to her.

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      • Ally November 12, 2011, 8:04 pm

        My thought was that the guy wouldn’t be there to hurt her at all if he wasn’t allowed in the house… but point taken. Unrealistic point of view retracted.

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        Skyblossom November 13, 2011, 11:17 am

        It is unfair and she shouldn’t have to move so you’re right on that point. It just isn’t the overriding concern.

  • Temperance November 11, 2011, 7:34 pm

    My FFIL has similar characteristics to your roommate’s boyfriend. Here’s how I deal with it:

    1. I never, ever, spend any time alone with him. This sometimes takes some creative steps, like when I think FH is going to the bathroom, I pretend to need to do something in another room. (It sounds ridiculous, but if I don’t, he asks me rude personal questions and gets in my face).

    2. I tell FH every time he does something weird. It gets redundant, but there you have it.

    You might have to ask your roommate to hang at his place or something. He sounds awful, and at least if you can get here there SOMETIMES, you mitigate the harm.

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    • Sarah November 11, 2011, 8:22 pm

      Jesus Christ in heaven, what does your fiance do about all this? How has he not stepped in to make this somehow slightly more okay for you?

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  • Yammy November 11, 2011, 9:33 pm

    I think you’re within your rights to ban this guy from your house. You’re roommate sounds like she wants to be accommodating so maybe it won’t be that big of a deal. I think it’s worth having a conversation with her and letting her know that he is not welcome in your home. I wouldn’t approach it as though you’re trying to break them up but rather you’re setting boundaries for being comfortable in your home. Yes, the two of you share a home, and she should be able to have guests, but to have someone who makes you uncomfortable over for several hours every day is just not reasonable. I hope that if you had a friend that she didn’t like, you would avoid bringing them over and would certainly not make them a permanent fixture. Heck, even if this guy was likable I would not be ok with him spending so much time over. But then again, I’m kind of a curmudgeon, which is probably why I’ve only had one roommate (well, before my hubby and son).

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    • Yammy November 11, 2011, 9:38 pm

      Please forgive my you’re/your mix up. Damn you, autocorrect!

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  • atraditionalist November 12, 2011, 1:11 pm

    TELL HER PARENTS. you’re not a bad roomate/friend for spilling the details if you honestly feel frightened for yours or her life

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    katie November 13, 2011, 10:39 am

    Painted lady, I just saw this today, I’ve been at a wedding all week, and I just want to tell you I’m thinking of you and worried about you!! Please stay safe. Let us know that your ok!!!!

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  • Pinky November 13, 2011, 3:26 pm

    Hi LW/Painted Lady,

    Wow. Good luck with getting out of there as soon as you can. Your concern for your roommate is admirable. Maybe if you give your roommate a copy of “The Gift of Fear” and “The Psychopath Test,” it may snap her into some sense.

    I just finished a book called, “The Psychopath Test,” by Jon Ronson. There are 20 clues that you’re dealing with a psychopath (if he’s at least 10 of them, there’s trouble):

    1. Glibness/superficial charm
    2. Grandiose sense of self-worth
    3. Need for stimulation/ proneness to boredom
    4. Pathological lying
    5. Conning/manipulative
    6. Lack of remorse or guilt
    7. Shallow affect
    8. Callous/lack of empathy
    9. Parasitic lifestyle
    10. Poor behavioral controls
    11. Promiscuous sexual behavior
    12. Early behavior problems
    13. Lack of realistic long-term goals
    14. Impulsive
    15. Irresponsibility
    16. Failure to accept responsibility for own actions
    17. Many short-term marital relationships
    18. Juvenile delinquency (you also said he had a felony record)
    19. Revocation of conditional release
    20. Criminal versatility

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    • caffeinatrix November 13, 2011, 10:05 pm

      Wow. My father has more than half those qualities. Explains a lot.

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  • Michelle.Lea November 14, 2011, 2:33 pm

    if he lied about being widowed.. what if he’s not actually even in divorce proceedings yet?

    I would ask her to not bring him over anymore. Doesnt he have his own place? If she cant do that, honestly, i’d be moving myself out of that situation. I wouldnt put up with that crap in my own house. Shared or not.

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  • Miss Lynn November 14, 2011, 6:58 pm

    God, this guy sounds exactly like my ex. He was mentally ill, a compulsive liar, and completely codependent on women. I hope the LW does whatever she can to protect herself because you never know when guys like this could just snap.

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  • plasticepoxy November 15, 2011, 2:40 pm

    Please do a MOSAIC test, it was created by Gavin De Becker and his associates. It can give weight to your position and help you determine how concerned you should be about your safety as well as your friend’s safety.
    If not for a few key details (age, marriage history) I would think your roommate was dating my ex. He loved to make people uncomfortable in their safe environments, he was manipulative and put me down and purposely made me question my value (on my own and within our relationship). He stopped working right when we started dating (aka “lost his job”) which created the drama he needed to escalate our relationship. Enough about me (and him). Taking this survey helped me understand that I WASN’T crazy, he was abusive/manipulative and I did the right thing by leaving him. If you’re able, ask your friend to complete the survey too. But she would have to be honest about their relationship in order for this to work, and I think that right now she’s not willing to believe that she could ever be with someone who was abusive/dangerous. She’s (probably) ignored her internal warning system so many times already she doesn’t trust herself anymore, which could be causing that dismissive behavior (Oh, that? I totally understand why he did that) and he’s encouraging that self-questioning behavior.
    Thinking about both of you!

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    • plasticepoxy November 15, 2011, 2:41 pm

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