The advice I need isn't about my relationship. I'm in a five-year relationship, my boyfriend who lives with me, we're good. My question is about our roommate.

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We've been living with "The Roommate" (TR) for about two years. Mostly they keep to themselves but occasionally they come out to watch RuPaul or for a party. They haven't been great at quarantine. They've been picking up take-out a lot and the roommate's girlfriend (who we'll call TRGF) was inconsistently coming over. (TR was cool enough to ask us ahead of time if we were okay with that.) TR and TRGF recently went through a really messy break up. TRGF stormed out calling TR names and accusing TR of being a compulsive liar. Apparently TR was sexting with people and this goes against their monogamous commitment. It's the sort of relationship that was probably doomed from the start—it started as an affair but then TRGF insisted anything less than monogamy wasn't ideal. Basically the relationship fell apart because they didn't have clear boundaries and communication.

They both carried weird baggage from past relationships but I don't have more info because, as I said, they mostly keep to themselves. But they had the great idea of fighting about the breakup on Twitter so that everyone in their friend circle could see it. This led to some people from TR's past coming out of the woodwork with old accusations of harassment, which reinforced the serial-liar narrative, but TR says these things are false and this is emotional blackmail. But TR's reputation has been completely dragged through the mud regardless.

TR is getting back into counseling for what TR's consider "sex-addiction." I'm writing to ask what my partner and I can do as roommates in quarantine to help TR recover from this relationship? They're really self-critical and default to taking the blame for the explosive end of their relationship. The typical advice for newly dumped people is to "take it out at the gym" or "hangout with friends" or "work on your hobbies." But options for TR are extremely limited. And I'm not sure my partner and I have the mental bandwidth to be everything our roommate needs right now, seeing as they are stuck in a spiral of self-loathing and there's nowhere really to go but the living room.

Plaintive Roommate Obviously Befuddled Leaves Emotional Mess

What a mess.

And while it sounds unpleasant to have this mess playing out around your apartment at a time like this, PROBLEM, I don't think it has anything to do with you. There's really nothing you can do about it or really need to do about it.

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If your roommate kept to themself until the dumb scene with their girlfriend played out in your apartment—and until they made the galaxy brain decision to take the fight to Twitter—then you're free to ignore his self-lacerating, attention-seeking performances in your living room. If your roommate was a good friend and you guys spent a lot of time together prior to this shit, okay, then you would owe it to them to sit and listen to them complain about themself. You would owe it to them to help them see what they might've done wrong and how they can do better and to encourage them to keep getting help and blah blah blah.

But you don't really owe anything to a person you barely know and rarely interacted with prior to that person shitting the bed. Having watched a little RuPaul together doesn't obligate you to rush in with fresh sheets. Express a little pro-forma sympathy without taking sides or offering absolution ("Man, that sucks"), PROBLEM, and then ask your boyfriend what he'd like to watch on NetFlix.


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