How Can He Help the Roommate He Barely Knows?





I'm frequently impressed by Dan's ability to cut through the noise and offer bang-on advice. I guess that's why people write to him. It's also why I've purchased myself a Covid-lockdown Magnum subscription.


Sure, Dan's advice is reasonable, but it sounds like everyone would benefit from getting the giant mope-a-potamus out of the living room. Ask your friends for therapist recommendations. The roommate clearly needs someone to talk to and it sounds like their social network is a shitshow right now.


Whether LW “owes” TR is not the issue here. The real question is how LW is going to fare in quarantine when TR is self-destructing in their shared space. Right now none of us have the luxury of pretending that we can simply ignore what other people are going through when it’s inconvenient. LW is facing this reality head on because if TR melts down with no where else to go, it may make LW’s situation unlivable, with nowhere for him to go. Maybe giving TR space right now is the best way to avoid this. Maybe getting involved would harm LW more than help TR. But ignoring TR because LW doesn’t owe him anything is simply not the way we should be making decisions during this time. We all need to be laser focused on what we can do for each other to help us all survive the coming months (and the coming year). That applies as much our decisions about our relationships as it does to our decisions about whether wear a mask when we go outside or follow social distancing guidelines.


edubs@4 point well taken, but I'm not seeing a whole lot he can do. Being a home base of light movie watching might be the best thing. One thing definitely not to do, if it comes under consideration, is to be an amateur therapist with zero professional distance!

But my reading between the lines is that the roommate is not playing along with the approach Dan suggests. That he rants over the Netflix, or he refuses to accept not getting into conversation about his dramz, or he shuts up but sulks with great vehemence. If that's the situation, it's shitty, and what you've got is a "how do we set boundaries to survive in our house" situation. Devil's in the details, but refusing to engage and being as boring as possible about it sometimes avoids escalation.


Those are some smart comments, @4edubs and @5Mtn. Beaver.

If necessary I think the LW should feel free to pretend he's not ignoring TR. Perhaps by feigning caring (even without actually investing more than a token amount of time interacting with TR) he can safely maintain boundaries and distance, since TR will think the LW's act is someone they don't want to 'lose', and thus maintain a level of civility they wouldn't have if they knew they were being ignored. I know this sounds terrible, but desperate times can call for desperate measures, and the LW is trapped with a crazy person. In other words, I might deceive the crazy person to keep everyone alive and as well as can be. In other other words, sometimes people, and some circumstances, make it so that a lie to keep a situation from spinning out of control is what is called for.

I want to thank Dan for printing PROBLEM's letter. I was laughing at TR pretty early on; until I read @4@5 I was thinking "what a light humorous letter".


“... they keep to themselves but occasionally they come out to watch RuPaul ...”

This sounds like a modified Jeffrey Dahmer approach to life. I’d hide the knives and pray for a quick end to quarantine.


Take 2. “... they keep to themselves but occasionally they come out to watch RuPaul ...”

“It puts the lotion on it's skin, or else it gets the hose again.”


DonnyKlicious @8:

Bwaahaahah! 🤣

Thx I needed that!


Some people are introverts. I barely knew my host when I rented a room. I wouldn't hold it against TR that they kept to themselves.
This is a human in pain. They deserve at least Some kind of outstretched hand. If they chose to bite it, well, that's that. But for once , I find your advice bitter and misanthropic, Dan, and that's not what I expected from you.
Also, what @4 wrote.


Yes @10, I was surprised by Dan’s response too. Bit cold hearted given that a broken heart is involved here and RM has lived with the LW and their partner for a couple of years.
LW, if this person needs a bit of care at this time, is that going to cost you that much to offer it, not every moment of course. Broken hearts do mend, and if RM knows you are emotionally open to them, it does help ease the pain. Asking them how they are going and giving a few minutes to hear their pain, is not beyond your humanity. You guys are locked up together, these are not normal, or how normal used to be, times.


I agree completely with Dan's response. By the time LW got to the Twitter war, I was thinking, "and this ha what precisely to do with you?" Yes, the drama is in their space. But the GF is gone. PROBLEM should ask the roomie, once, what they can do to support them. Are they okay, do they want to talk. Take their cues from the roomie instead of being overly invested in their crap. Roomie is an adult and has other friends, albeit not ones they can see in person. Also, I would not brush away these Twitter abuse allegations. Sure, where there's smoke sometimes there is just smoke, but roomie themself has agreed they need treatment for sex addiction, at minimum. May not affect PROBLEM and their boyfriend but worth bearing in mind for the purpose of future living arrangements and the recurring drama they may bring.

Shorthair @10, perhaps I've lived outside the US too long, but I didn't read either PROBLEM or Dan as holding TR's introversion against them, it was just a factor in their pondering how to help. I agree; if TR never expressed an interest in sharing more than common spaces with the PROBLEMs, TR may well prefer that they keep their noses out of TR's business.


Sounds like LW is looking for a project to occupy the time.


They are sharing a space together, and this person sounds like they are already breaking apart, and have been publicly exposed and humiliated. If RM was some sort of monster, why would the LW and their partner stay living with them for two years.
RM is obviously not keeping it in their room, emotionally, even if physically they sit in their room. Best not to let their feelings fester, because they can’t get out and seek solace elsewhere.
So it stretches the LW and their partner’s emotional range, to offer this man care, that can only be good. To deal with what might be ahead for all of us, emotional resilience will be a plus.


TR can't keep THAT much to themself, given the level of detail their roommates know about their private life. Hmm.


True Fan.
Why not have card nights, LW, or scrabble/ chess/ put on a poetry reading for each other etc. Invite RM into some of your lives, because it’s hard to be the third wheel in a lock down situation. And very hard with a broken heart.


I don't agree at all that Dan's advice was cold hearted. On the contrary, the advice was for LW, not TR, and LW needs to survive lockdown without getting sucked into TR's vortex. Boundaries!


TR (called 'they' by the lw and 'he' by Dan: a side note) can still work out and devote time to hobbies. There are lots of workouts you can do in your room without equipment.

@4 edubs is right that, with the lockdown, a moral responsibility towards an inconsolable or self-destructive friend and a practical concern with sanely maintaining your living space blur. To me, the lw (and partner's) priority should be living tolerably, communicating their compassion for TR's wellbeing (if need be) minimally.

@13. Marty. Also possible.


After reading
@10 shorthairlover
@11@16 LavaGirl
I'm thinking maybe try playing a game or watching a movie.

@12 BiDanFan
"ask the roomie, once, what they can do to support them. Are they okay, do they want to talk. Take their cues from the roomie instead of being overly invested in their crap."

This sounds like a good idea too.

Given that we know TR is an harassing "serial-liar" asshole (which in lockdown with TR I think could become emotionally-dangerous for the LW), they should obviously not feel comfortable getting too close. But perhaps they should equally not feel comfortable being too detached, lest TR create drama for negative attention.

So I continue to feel it would be best to 'manage' TR, and maintain boundaries/balance doing so. (I don't think my calling TR "crazy"@6 was the best word to use, that was lazy of me.)


Lava @16, inviting TR to play games / have a group meal / etc with them sounds like a wonderful way to support them without forcing them to talk about what they might not want to talk about. Gold star.


@13 Marty - I too am going through relationship issues, plus zero income (sex worker), still having to fund my mom’s care, breaking my leg last week, plus all the coronabollocks. I’m surprised I’m as sane and chill as I am, and I credit it to cross-stitching obscenities.

I alternate between easy, quick signs and more intricate portraits. In approximately eight months I will have a pixelated portrait of Bronn from GoT, with writing in the bottom right corner that says, “There’s no cure for being a cunt.” I think I shall put it on my bathroom door.

Projects FTW.


@21 - sorry, eight weeks, not eight months. I think I’ll get it done around the time I get fully back on my feet.


Tell TR to delete twitter.


I completely agree with Dan, and it's not cold-hearted. It's the real-life version of "don't feel the troll." TR may be genuinely hurt, etc., but people who decide to have break-ups on Twitter are drama-seeking, and it's not healthy for them or anyone else to encourage that behavior--which is what giving TR a lot of attention and positive feed-back right now does. It is of course fine to say, "I'm sorry, that sucks." But don't sit and listen to all the ways life has screwed TR over or all the ways TR has now figured out they are a bad person. That's for TR to do for themselves, or at the most, for TR's good friends to do.


Ms Lava - I recommend Skat, an excellent three-handed game, especially under older rules.


Sending sympathy, Sati @21. That's a lot hitting all at once.


"Hey TR, you have to go your room, stay there, and think about what you did." There, that should help.


PROBLEM writes a good, eminently readable letter. However, what couple in all of human history couldn't be described by: "(t)hey both carried weird baggage from past relationships"?


Saz @28: ITS from the weekly column, for one.


We used to play cards all night in one of the shares I lived in, first year at first or two uni stints, a thousand miles from home. Gambled our pennies too.
Bought a pack of cards the other day on a food run, and now I’ve got to remember what game we played, and look up how to play it. That was a fun year.


Having a meltdown over Twitter is funny though.
I had mine over emails. Glad now, such explosions weren’t public.


@24 ciods
"all the ways TR has now figured out they are a bad person"

It could certainly be positive that TR figured that out. Maybe they do just need to let personally marinate with that a while to capitalize on that realization.


LW, you're to be commended for caring enough to write this letter, and for correctly assessing that you and your boyfriend can't be everything TR needs right now.

I'm in favor of the plan several have suggested above: just offer a card game now and then. Let TR see that you're not part of the public shame brigade. (I don't have an opinion on whether TR is guilty of what TR's been accused of, of course, but public shaming in the internet era can have devastating psychological effects — read the book "So You've Been Publicly Shamed" if you want more detail on that — tl:dr you don't — and TR has a right to at least feel safe at home.)

Also, it's good that TR is in counseling. Hopefully TR's therapist is helping TR deal with all this fallout (the breakup, the shaming, the sex addiction, all of it). If TR starts sharing things with you or asking you for advice that feels like too much, there's always the sentence "That sounds like a really good topic for a professional therapist to talk to you about," and the backup sentence "I worry that my amateur opinions on all this might be completely off base" — good sentences to have at the ready.


@19: We do not know that RM is a serial liar. We know his ex is trying to sell that story to his friends, and have, apparently, successfully sold it to him.
That is eerily familiar to me.


Bouncing @34, yes. PROBLEM should be aware that the things TR has been accused of might be true, but as TR is getting therapy to deal with this, they should be given the benefit of the doubt as to whether they are a good person.


@35 shorthairlover
"We do not know that"

Well, we can never /really/ know anything.

But we did hear that "people from TR's past [came] out of the woodwork with old accusations of harassment" which is about as much evidence as one can hope for in an advice column.

If we heard the other side, maybe I wouldn't be so convinced by those apparently confirming other opinions. But really, if we heard the other side of /any/ of the letters Dan gets that would not just be true but more true probably since with this one we're hearing multiple accusations not just the letter writer's.


I'm not sure it's really possible to practice Not my Circus, Not my Monkeys when the circus has set up in one's apartment and the monkeys are running wild. Still, the metaphor may be clarifying, because it reframes the question: how do I get away from this poorly run circus and its mob of unruly monkeys?

Unfortunately, the answer in the middle of a pandemic is, "You can't." Search advice on how to set and hold boundaries with housemates who are causing trouble for you.


@7: Awww, man, Dahmer mudered a friend of Dan's; maybe don't make jokes about him in this space. Granted, he may be fine with such references, with my own sensitivity heightened by my locale and association with Milwaukee's queer community. (I don't personally object so much as read the joke as sad rather than funny. Dahmer isn't some sort of persistent ghostly threat in my experience, but he is a sad fact of our local history within living memory. I also didn't lose any friends to him, so I don't know what that's like.)


@39 John Horstman
I forgot about that. I'm very sorry for your loss, Dan.


@18 - "TR (called 'they' by the lw and 'he' by Dan: a side note)" I also thought this was weird & re-read the letter to see if I misread the first time. What's up with that? People can be "they."






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