Monday, November 7, 2011

Student Giving Thanks For Time Away From Roommate

Dear Tazi-Kat:

I am a junior in college and have a roommate from Hell situation. After living in a dorm for two years, I have moved into off-campus housing this semester. I have two roommates, one of whom I can't stand. She is loud, lazy, and inconsiderate. She leaves her dirty laundry all over the place, refuses to wash her share of the dishes, keeps her stereo on all day and all night, and is generally just a miserable person with whom to live. She is also my best friend since junior high school.

This is "Lisa's" first experience living "away" from home (we are about 1/2 an hour away from our hometown). When we both lived at home with our parents, Lisa's mother made her keep her room clean, her music at an appropriate level, and complete household chores, so I never got to see the loud and messy side of Lisa. When we agreed to live together, it was with the understanding that everything would be split three ways with our third roommate, someone who was introduced to us through my college's housing department. I thought it was understood that this meant housework as well as bills, but Lisa is not holding up her end of the bargain. Although her rent is paid on time she does nothing else to contribute to the running of our household.

Our other roommate - who is a dream to live with - is getting fed-up with the situation and has threatened to move out if Lisa's behavior does not improve; and has asked me (as her best friend) to talk to her about the situation. Thus far, I have not worked up the courage to do it, and Roommate #3's patience is wearing thin. I have been taking my stress out at the gym and not on Lisa, so I don't think she realizes how unhappy I am with her.

Thanksgiving is coming up, and I cannot wait to go home to get away from all of this for a few days; but this year Lisa's parents have decided that they are going to take a Thanksgiving cruise - just the two of them, now that they have an "empty nest". This has left Lisa with nowhere to go for Thanksgiving, and she has been loudly complaining about it for the past week. It is obvious that she is trying to solicit an invitation to my Thanksgiving table, but I really need some time away from her in order to re-evaluate our living situation from a distance and draw up a game-plan for next semester (I may be writing to you again, Tazi-Kat!).

My question is, is there a polite way to rebuff Lisa's hints for a Thanksgiving invite? And do you think ignoring her requests will irreparably damage our friendship?

Seeking Some Peace

Dear Seeking Some Peace:

You are discovering a truth that many young people have discovered over the years: that best friends do not always make the best roommates. Since you have not let on that you are upset with Lisa, it is not fair of you to hold her behavior against her - although she will probably start to think something is wrong if you continue to ignore her hints about Thanksgiving.

Growing up is a process that occurs over time, at different rates for different people. For Lisa, this is probably the first time she has ever been left alone on the holidays and she could be feeling abandoned by her parents. As her best friend, she needs you to be there for her during this time of transition.

I realize that you need some time away from Lisa, but Thanksgiving Day isn't exactly the best day to choose. No decent person deserves to be alone on the holidays. I have no idea what Lisa's parents were thinking when they chose to take off and leave their daughter alone on Thanksgiving - their last chick may have flown the nest, but she is well within circling distance of it. Perhaps they thought their daughter's best friend would extend an invite to her table?

The Thanksgiving holiday is but one day, and most colleges and universities dismiss students the day before, allowing for a 5-day break and a nice visit home. Since you and Lisa only live 1/2 an hour away from home, you should be able to accommodate Lisa at your Thanksgiving dinner and have plenty of time alone to assess your living situation. An invite to dinner is not an invite to spend the entire week at your place.

I suggest that - with your host/hostess' O.K. - you invite Lisa to have Thanksgiving dinner with you, impressing upon her the fact that you have a lot of things do get done over the holiday break and the invite does not mean that you will be spending the entire long weekend together. Do make an effort to get together with Lisa at some point over this time, though, should she seek to spend more than just one day with you. This will go a long way towards reassuring Lisa that you can still be friends should you decide that you can no longer be roommates.


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