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Roommate Doctor: Let her down easy, but honesty is best

By NATALIE CAMPISI TARPLEY
Published May 25, 2007


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My roommate and I hooked up a few weeks ago. It was cool, but now she's acting weird and clingy. She even started showing up at my work, asking people about me and who I go to lunch with. I definitely don't want to date her. How do I tell her without making things even weirder than they already are? I don't want to hurt her.

Mitigating the effects of the weird situation you created is a dicey proposition. Right now, your roommate is analyzing and dissecting every second of your casual encounter, while you're wondering if she's paid the cable bill yet. Her friends are playing straight-talking Dr. Phil to her confused and love-bitten patient. They're trying to talk some sense into her, but it's not working - after all, they couldn't possibly know the way you held her or asked her if she wanted a cold beer post-coital. The only thing that's going to set her straight is you - and it's probably going to get weird, but at least not show-up-at-your-work weird. Her feelings will be hurt and she's probably not going to jump at the chance to wash your socks, but at least she's going to know where she stands without any ambiguity. The lesson here is to avoid physical intimacy with someone unless you're prepared to deal with the consequences. What's a casual night to you is a barefoot wedding on the beach to someone else.

Be subtle, but be firm

I have the nicest roommate in the world, but he tells the same stories over and over. He's about 10 years older than me and he's not doing much with his life now, but he talks about when he was younger all the time. I've heard about his trip to South America probably 30 times. His stories annoy my friends, and I'm sure they annoy his, too. Should I tell him something about his old stories?

Your roommate is probably not going for pathetic loser when he repeats the same worn-out tales of his long-lost youth. He's more likely going for wise adventurer with exciting past ... but it's hard to be objective when you're stuck 10 years in the past. When you know someone long enough, you're bound to get a dose of some re-runs, but it shouldn't be the same episode 40 times a week. Perhaps you can spare your roommate's feelings by talking about a "friend" who repeats the same stories over and over and see if he gets the hint. If he's too far gone for the subtle approach, wait for a time when he starts telling you about his weekend in South America and finish the story for him. Then tell him that it's high time to start planning a new adventure. Even if he never goes anywhere, at least talking about what someone is going to do is more fun than talking about what they already did - for the 100th time.

[Last modified May 25, 2007, 19:04:54]


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