Forum: Adults / 20 Something

Issues With Roommate's Boyfriend
By Ampersandmember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Mon Jan 06, 2014 01:30 AM

Hey all, haven't really been around DDN in awhile but I have an issue that has come up that I would like a variety of opinions on and I don't really know where else to go to get that without talking to people who know the person in question. So here I am!

Quick background info on the situation: I am 26 and I currently live in an apartment with two other women who are 23, so a bit younger but we are all in law school together so generally the age gap isn't an issue since we are all at the same stage in our life so to speak. My two roommates have been living together since August of 2012. We all moved into our current apartment in May of 2013. I haven't been around a whole lot during that time. I was traveling all of last summer, and I have not been in the apartment since Mid-December and I will not be back until the end of May. I include this information because it tends to be a sore spot with my one roommate whose boyfriend I have a problem with. I am very good friends with my other roommate, we get along great and have a fantastic friendship/relationship in general. She will be referred to as Roomie 1. My other roommate on the other hand can be a bit of a pill but in general we get along and I have never had any major problems with her until recently. She will be referred to as Roomie 2. She has been dating this one guy for the past 7 years, which for someone who is only 23 is a very long time. We have met him several times in the past couple years of knowing each other and he honestly seemed like a stand up guy. Fairly normal, holds down a decent job, highly educated, has a dog, great friends and family, the whole nine yards.

In mid-december Roomie 2 had her boyfriend, her sister, and another friend of theirs from high school over for a few days. They were out enjoying the holiday sights and sounds of the city, so obviously they were drinking most nights and coming back really late. On the last night they were there (which was also Roomie 2's birthday) they came back REALLY late, and there was a bit of a scene in our apartment. I was still awake, and so I heard it all unfold. They were really loud coming through the door, and Roomie 2 was afraid her friends would wake up Roomie 1, who had to wake up really early the next morning to go to work. Roomie 2 said as much a little too brusquely to the friends and apparently her boyfriend took umbrage with this and went off the handle a bit. He was yelling at her about how disrespectful she was being, how he spent all this money for her on her birthday, put up with all this nonsense from her, only to then have her shush him, etc. It went on like this for a little bit, I know they knew I was awake because my room is right next to the living room where this was happening and my light was still on. Roomie 1 eventually woke up as well due to the commotion but neither of us left our rooms or went to investigate at that time.

Eventually it died down for a bit, but then about 15 minutes after that we heard continued yelling and Roomie 2 crying. Her boyfriend left and we don't know where he went. The one friend tried to talk him out of leaving because he was still obviously drunk and it was in the early hours of the morning. They obviously didn't want him driving anywhere or doing anything reckless. After that it calmed down a bit and I eventually went to sleep. I didn't want to leave my room to investigate or get involved at all because it was already an escalated situation between 4 drunk people that I know but still don't know well enough to have anticipated this sort of scenario. The next morning I found out that apparently they continued fighting off and on through the night, Roomie 1 heard it, and couldn't get back to sleep. She left her room to check on Roomie 2 because she heard her crying in this small sitting room we have at the back of the apartment. Apparently when she went to talk to Roomie 2 she found out that the continued fighting was because her boyfriend had hit her during one of the arguments, and that apparently this is typical behavior for him when he gets drunk, although the hitting her thing is new. This made Roomie 1 furious but there isn't really much you can do at 5 in the morning or whenever this was, and the boyfriend was still not back, so eventually Roomie 1 and 2 went back to sleep.

I didn't see any of them the next morning. They all were up early to catch flights back home before I even woke up. So Roomie 2 does not know the extent to which I know what happened that evening, and aside from a few texts about bills we haven't talked at all. I discussed the whole situation at length with Roomie 1. Based on her conversation with Roomie 2 about it the night before, we decided that our best course of action was to hold tight over the holidays and see what happened. Neither of us are comfortable with Roomie 2's boyfriend being over our apartment ever again, and ideally we would like them to split up for what I am sure are obvious reasons at this point. That being said, neither of us know Roomie 2 well enough to broach this subject again with her really. She has been posting photos on facebook of him with her and her family and friends during holiday things, so obviously even though she said she was done with him on the night of the incident, they are still very much together. Roomie 1 says that she isn't going to say anything until Roomie 2 brings it up. Which is most likely going to happen in the form of the usual "hey, my boyfriend is coming over this weekend, just a heads up" thing said in passing. Again, Roomie 1 isn't comfortable with the boyfriend being there at all. I would back her up on this, but like I stated earlier, I won't actually be back in the apartment until May, I will be out of the country until then. Roomie 2 can be a bit of a bully to Roomie 1 sometimes, she has a way of bulldozing people if she thinks they are wrong, and I can definitely see her doing that in this situation if Roomie 1 says something.

So my question is, what can Roomie 1 and I do about Roomie 2 in this situation? We care about her despite her personality flaws so ideally we would like her to feel safe to talk to us if she needs help in any way, but she has never been one to divulge personal information, let alone information like this. We would like her to split from the boyfriend or at least take a very long break from seeing him in order to get her mind straight about it. Now we know her relationship isn't any of our business, so we are not going to pry, but is there any way we can quietly let her know that if she needs help or support she can get it from us? I know it would seem obvious to just SAY that, but again she can be pretty dismissive of people, and we think she would just blow us off. Also, what are some better ways to broach the "no boyfriend over at the apartment" topic without turning the situation into an "us vs. him" scenario? The last thing we want is for that to happen. Also, ideas as to how I can help back up Roomie 1 in all of this from an ocean away would be helpful, especially since, as I mentioned before, my absence tends to rub Roomie 2 the wrong way (despite the fact that I still pay my rent and bills). We are at a loss here and the last thing that needs to happen is for this to escalate.

Thanks to anyone who read all that! I really appreciate any and all input. :)

2 Replies to Issues With Roommate's Boyfriend

re: Issues With Roommate's Boyfriend
By slice
On Mon Jan 06, 2014 07:49 AM
Edited by slice (109495) on 2014-01-06 07:50:46
You are adults, so I do think the most obvious route (to just introduce the topic upfront) is best. And as you won't be back until May, I do think this is up to Roomie 1 to handle for the most part. You have barely been around, so if I were Roomie 2 I'd find your involvement a little sketchy and suspect immediately that you've been discussing me with Roomie 1 extensively behind my back. Also since you are older she might even feel like you're ganging up on her, versus hearing this from a peer.

How to broach the subject? Roomie 1 picks a time of day where both her and Roomie 2 will be in the apartment for some time (so, not 20min before they usually go to bed or 1 hour before class) and says, "Hey, can I talk to you about something?" And then she says what she needs to say. She needs to lead with how this affects her versus how bad his behavior has been. If he causes disruption to her sleep habits when he comes over, she needs to say that. If she feels unsafe because of his behavior, she needs to say that. She can offer her support in whatever capacity necessary. These are valid talking points; you all pay for the aparment and one person (+whatever they drag in) does not have the right to disturb the living situation of the other occupants.

What Roomie 1 (and you) cannot and should not do is open this up as a "We want you to break up with your boyfriend" conversation. That will most assuredly turn this into "us vs. him" scenario and that's not what you want. You're without any leg to stand on if you lead the conversation that way. If you were just friends instead of friends+roommates, I could see it, but the roommate thing makes it too messy. If you really don't want him around you're going to need to approach this from a roommate standpoint. That's not to say you can't offer your support, especially if you suspect this is an abusive relationship. But if you go on the attack, she will go on the defensive and that conversation isn't going to be productive for anybody.
re: Issues With Roommate's Boyfriend
By dancin_til_death
On Mon Jan 06, 2014 11:31 PM
Edited by dancin_til_death (92905) on 2014-01-06 23:35:39
You poor thing. I lived through this, and it is disgusting.

She probably knows, and she wants you guys to know what is going on. She was there, the fighting was loud, it sounds like the couple made little if no effort to contain their noise. I have lived in sharehouses for a very long time, and lived in bad relationships. I have had bad boyfriends, I have had many angry arguments with them, and I have had times where I have been desperately upset- it is possible to do this while making minimal noise. If you do make noise, its because on some level - you want someone to hear it.

While there is a general "stay out of people's business" rules in sharehouses there are lines that should never be crossed. For me hard drugs, violence are my rules. Once these things are introduced it is not about the other people anymore - it is about you, and who you choose to live with. You have a right to make rules about what you want to live with. You are allowed to be judgemental and say "I am not going to live with violence". It isn't just about Roomie 1's wellbeing - its about yours and Roomie 2's wellbeing and the type of house you want to live in.

If you ignore this. It has a very good chance of continuing. Also its dangerous for you as well. If he'll hit a girlfriend, he probably will have no qualms about hitting an interfering friend.

When this happened in my house. I told the girl in question that she had to kick him out, that I was going to the police, and if she disagreed I'd want her to leave as well. I told her, with the help of others, that violence was unacceptable, and that we refused to live with it. I also rang her parents, and took her to the police station. It was a hellish ordeal, but I learnt a lot from the experience about setting limits about what you should put up with in a house. I only wish I had done it earlier.

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