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» Scarleteen Boards: 2000 - 2014 (Archive) » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Relationships » I'm at a loss as to what I can do. (Page 1)

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Author Topic: I'm at a loss as to what I can do.
Ketrel
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Without getting into too much details, a situation will very likely come up a little over a year from now that I will not be able to deal with for various reasons. Should it happen, it's a relationship ender. I can't tell my girlfriend about how that would affect me. (She has let me know long before I even liked her as more than a friend how much she hates when she's given ultimatums in a relationship. (As such, I can guarantee it was said to be informative and not controlling)) This is definitely a 'that situation, or me' type deal.

However, this situation is such that, if I were to let her know how it would result, and she did change it, it would be a big enough change in her plans that I would hate myself for being the reason she had to change it.

I don't want to break up with her for any reason, then or now, but if that comes to pass, I will not be able to deal with it and will have no choice but to end things.


(If this is really too vague to give any useful input, let me know and I'll elaborate on what I can.)

[ 07-29-2011, 02:36 AM: Message edited by: Ketrel ]

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loststone
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Ok, so if I understand this right, there is something that might happen, or you are trying to make happen; which could affect your relationship and cause you to break up? And you're asking us whether you should tell your girlfriend?

I really think your girlfriend deserves to know, it's not really fair, and doesn't make a healthy, honest relationship, if you know something about the future of your relationship that she doesn't.

I hear you worrying this will come off as an ultimatum, but I really don't think it has to be. This is about you having an honest relationship and both being able to make the best decisions for you. She can't make informed decisions about the relationship if there is a big thing she doesn't know.

So, how does an honest conversation about this situation sound?

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Ketrel
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no, I guess I will have to be a bit less vague.

She intends to go to grad school in a state where she knows nobody, and as such, she is looking into becoming roommates with an ex. If she does that, its over. If I tell her this, I'm saying I want her to be in grad school in another state knowing nobody.

I can't and won't do that.

If she does, and they are roommates and I don't end it, it will fall apart, because I hate this person and will not volenterily be around him. (He did such things to me as when knowing full well how I felt about her, tried to get me to drive them on a date night when they were still together).

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Kachina
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I think what loststone said still applies - you really should have an honest conversation with her.

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Humans are allergic to change. They love to say, "We've always done it this way." I try to fight that. That's why I have a clock on my wall that runs counter-clockwise. - Grace Hopper

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Djuna
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Can I ask why it is that you feel this would be a relationship ender if it happened?

In other words, instead of framing this as "if you do x I will break up with you," could we think of this as "if you do x, I will feel y"? That, for sure, is less ultimatum-ey. Know what I mean? And you can say, too, that feeling "y" is something you'd likely end a relationship over, and that's valid, but in that case you're allowing your partner access to how you really feel about this, instead of giving her a rule.

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In a strange room, before you are emptied for sleep, what are you. And when you are filled with sleep you never were. I dont know what I am. I dont know if I am or not... how often have I lain beneath rain on a strange roof, thinking of home.

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Ketrel
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First, she admittedly still has some feelings for him, so that's a recipe for disaster to begin with.

Second, I will NOT be around him so that would pretty much mean I wouldn't even be able to visit for the duration of grad school.

If I tell her this I give her two choices, continue as planned and hurt me 100% knowingly, or go out of state to grad school isolated and alone.

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breath
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This is a side comment, but you seem to be very concerned about someone going out of state for grad school "isolated and lone". While going from your hometown can be difficult for many people, many people in their 20s and early 30s often find that such changes aren't so bad. Moving away to another city for grad school isn't usually sad, lonely isolating event, for most people -not for too long. Not to mention that most campus/schools are friendly, social and full of other students who are likely in the same boat, looking for roomates, making friends, etc. So even if someone didn't know anyone before moving in, usually it is often easy to make friends with their peers, other grad students, etc

[ 07-29-2011, 09:24 PM: Message edited by: breath ]

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Ketrel
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That was the reason she mentioned when saying she was looking for a roommate she knew already. (Not dorms, renting apartment)
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breath
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Well, all of this -to me-just support with other people have said before: the important of having an honest dialogue with her about how you feel about this.

Maybe this information and my personal experiences would't resonate with her, but it's fairly common for many people in their early 20s to go to a different city,etc and make friends, develop a social circle, etc. College are great places to meet people etc. So I would still encourage anyone-that even if they feel lonely/isolated etc, it is often possible to meet others in the same boat.

[ 07-29-2011, 10:53 PM: Message edited by: breath ]

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Ketrel
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Regardless, I know if there's nobody she knows there, there's a possibility she will reconsider going there at all.

I will not chance doing that to her.

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atm1
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The thing is, if this is a deal breaker for you (and it's sounding clearly like it is), you owe it to her to tell her in advance.

I have known tons of people, even my extremely shy college roommate, who have had good luck finding semi-random roommates. Googling for other grad students looking for housing can bring up forums for new grad students who are looking to pair up for roommates. Facebook groups can be super useful. There are TONS of ways to find a roommate (other ways I've seen include Craigslist--which is iffy, but sometimes successful--and finding a church that my friend was planning on joining and meeting roommates from there). If that is what she is worried about, she has plenty of options that she may not have thought of yet.

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Ketrel
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Once again she has made it clear that she wants someone she knows as a roommate. It doesn't have to be him, but it has to be someone she knows. Unfortunately he's the only option at the school she wants to go to.

If I say something, and she does drop the idea of him as a roommate, then she will likely reconsider colleges and I will not be responsible for that.

[ 07-30-2011, 09:51 AM: Message edited by: Ketrel ]

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Djuna
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You're not responsible for her choices, though. She is responsible for her choices. Withholding the information that this is a dealbreaker for you means that she's less able to make informed choices.

Sure, your priority for her is grad school, but maybe her priorities are different - you don't know. Maybe her relationship with you is a bigger priority for her than grad school, and maybe it's not, but you don't get to decide that for her. So she needs to know your feelings about her plans.

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In a strange room, before you are emptied for sleep, what are you. And when you are filled with sleep you never were. I dont know what I am. I dont know if I am or not... how often have I lain beneath rain on a strange roof, thinking of home.

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Ketrel
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If it turns out that grad school is not the priority, I would never forgive myself for making that even have to be a choice.
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Ketrel
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I want to be clear, also, my problem is not grad school, its being roommates with her ex.
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atm1
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The thing is though, that by not telling her, you are effectively making that choice for her.

You have said that being his roommate is a dealbreaker and it would cause you to end the relationship. By letting that happen, you are taking that decision totally out of her hands. Personally, I don't think that that's fair to her, and its deceptive to encourage her to do something that will cause you to end the relationship without telling her that consequence.

Honestly, if you're having trouble communicating about an issue this big, you may want to seriously reconsider having a long distance relationship with her at all. Being able to communicate about these sorts of things is crucial to having a successful long distance relationship.

Is this the same relationship you talked about in this thread?

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Ketrel
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For me it wouldn't be any more long distance than it is now based on where we both live. And yes, it is the same relationship, and moreso, in reference to that thread, it turns out I was not imagining things. I finally talked to her about that and it did not end well. That's how I know btw that she does still have feelings for this ex as it turns out being back at the same college with him is the reason for what I was picking up on.

As for how to tell her about this, I can't think of a single way to explain this to her that doesn't boil down to "that or me" and as I told you already, she hates ultimatiums, and I swore to myself I would never do that to her. Doing so would be another deal breaker but from her end now anyway.

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Ketrel
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(I would like to add, I'm in no way adverse to talking to her about this, in fact that's what I want, I don't want to end this. But, I know her, and I cannot do it in a way that can be boiled down to an ultimatum)
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tbelle
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I think you have the right to give her an ultimatum.

In my opinion, rooming with an ex while you're in a committed relationship is absolutely ridiculous.

Have you thought about the possibility that maybe she's hurting YOU instead of you hurting her?

9 times out of 10 if you live with someone that you used to date, you will end up making advances to that person or that person will make advances to you. It's just natural. If you really hated each other, then why in the world would you want to LIVE together, in the same apartment?

I don't think living in a new town without knowing anyone is that horrible. After all, you are one of her friends. Even if you're not there with her at all times, if she truly cared about you, she would be thinking about you, and not about how lonely she is and how she can appease that loneliness by seeing an ex.

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Ketrel
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quote:
Originally posted by tbelle:
I think you have the right to give her an ultimatum.

In my opinion, rooming with an ex while you're in a committed relationship is absolutely ridiculous.

Have you thought about the possibility that maybe she's hurting YOU instead of you hurting her?

9 times out of 10 if you live with someone that you used to date, you will end up making advances to that person or that person will make advances to you. It's just natural. If you really hated each other, then why in the world would you want to LIVE together, in the same apartment?

I don't think living in a new town without knowing anyone is that horrible. After all, you are one of her friends. Even if you're not there with her at all times, if she truly cared about you, she would be thinking about you, and not about how lonely she is and how she can appease that loneliness by seeing an ex.

That's my biggest fear, and is the reason why it's a deal breaker for me. And as for the other part, I would never say or do anything to hurt her, even if not doing so hurts me.
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Michelle Ravel
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You're seeing things in pretty all-or-nothing terms right now, and it doesn't have to be like that. Healthy long-term relationships are based on a lot more discussion and compromise, and I think there's room for that here.

It looks like this potential move will be happening for September 2012, and that gives you guys lots of time--more than a year!--to talk about things and work something out.

First, you have to tell her how you feel. You have to stop thinking of this first discussion with her as you forcing her to make some huge dramatic choice right away between you and school. Instead, think of it as getting your feelings out there, and then she can go and think about what you said, and you can think about what she said, and you can see where you are in a few days or when you talk about it again. This really can be a multi-discussion thing.

I'd suggest something like, "Hey, I've been sort of worrying about something lately and I wonder if I can talk to you about it. I know that when you go to grad school in a year, you're thinking of living with your ex-boyfriend, and I know we've talked about how you have feelings for him. I guess that sort of makes me feel uncomfortable and worried that our relationship won't work out. You don't have to answer right away, but maybe you could think about that and we could talk about it some more later?" Or something.

Then, also listen to what she says in reply and really try to think about what she said, too.

This is a whole year away. Maybe if she is aware of your feelings and wants to reassure you, she can decide to live with someone else (after all, she has a whole year to find a roommate!). And strangers in a new city don't stay strangers forever.

Or perhaps your relationship will feel much more secure in a year and you won't be nearly so worried about her living with this fellow than you are now.

Or perhaps she really does sort of want to get back together with this other guy and she is feeling conflicted about that, and needs to think about it and get back to you.

You really don't know until you've had some talks. Perhaps she's been telling you that she "hates ultimatums" because she knows you feel this way and wants to avoid having these uncomfortable talks. But there's nothing wrong with having discussions and airing feelings in a relationship, and there's nothing wrong with either partner setting boundaries. So have at it!

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Ketrel
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quote:
Originally posted by Michelle Ravel:

You really don't know until you've had some talks. Perhaps she's been telling you that she "hates ultimatums" because she knows you feel this way and wants to avoid having these uncomfortable talks. But there's nothing wrong with having discussions and airing feelings in a relationship, and there's nothing wrong with either partner setting boundaries. So have at it!

I'll address the rest of your post when I get home later as I'm typing through VNC right now. I just wanted to mention that she had told me about the ultimatum thing when we were still only friends and long before I had even realized I had any other type of feelings for her.
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Ketrel
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I'm trying to figure out how if at all I can talk to her about it. I'm just very worried no matter what I say, it'll come across in a way that ruins any chance of solving anything.

I am horrible at this sort of thing.

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Janie Jones
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quote:
Originally posted by tbelle:


In my opinion, rooming with an ex while you're in a committed relationship is absolutely ridiculous.

9 times out of 10 if you live with someone that you used to date, you will end up making advances to that person or that person will make advances to you. It's just natural. If you really hated each other, then why in the world would you want to LIVE together, in the same apartment?


tbelle, I would have to strongly disagree with you on this. There is a lot of area in relationships (friendships, etc) between making advances and hating each other. Maybe I am biased because I live with my ex and it has worked out great, but I don't think a situation similar to mine is doomed to fail for someone else in a committed relationship. I think the key to making it successful is to be really honest about what exactly your feelings are for each other and having good, healthy boundaries. Basically working out any emotional and logistical stuff before you move in together.
That being said, Ketrel said he was uncomfortable with them living together and that is a totally valid and understandable concern. Ketrel, Is there any possibility she could find a 1 bedroom apartment so she wouldn't have to live with strangers (or her ex)? It can be easier to get involved and get to know people in a college/university environment, so she may get to know people sooner that she thinks. I think there is room for compromise in this situation. My advice would be to have a really honest conversation with her about your worries on the subject without bringing an ultimatum into it. I hope everything works out for you.

~Janie

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Ketrel
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She can't afford not to have a roommate.

But lets put all possibility of something happening between them aside for a moment. I would still consider it a deal breaker. He was incredibly hurtful to me, I believe I mentioned one of the worst things he did earlier. If he was there, I would be unable to visit, I can't stand being around him.

Long story short, even if I wasn't worried about something happening if they were roommates (and I am very much so), I still wouldn't be able to deal with that situation.

But she's admitted that she still has feelings for him, so it's a problem waiting to happen.

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Michelle Ravel
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quote:
I'm trying to figure out how if at all I can talk to her about it. I'm just very worried no matter what I say, it'll come across in a way that ruins any chance of solving anything.

I am horrible at this sort of thing.

Take heart! Most people are horrible at difficult relationship talks, and it is the sort of thing where you get points for trying. A few quick tips:

1) Don't have expectations that the talk will go really, really well and that you'll both come to an agreement right away. Think of it as a way to let each other know how you're feeling, and agree to talk about solutions another day.

2) Try to stay calm and not take "cheap shots": no shouting, baseless accusations, or sarcastic remarks. If you feel like you're not going to be able to handle the conversation, just say, "I really want to keep talking about this, but I've had enough for today. Let's put this discussion on pause, because it's hard not to get emotional."

3) Try to let the other person talk and try to listen to what they have to say. You don't have to agree with them, but you should try to see if you can understand what they're trying to tell you.

4) Sometimes it helps to preface your talk with a disclaimer to take the pressure off. "Hey, I really want to talk about this with you, but I'm afraid I won't be very good at getting my ideas out. Do you have a few minutes to hear me out?"

Ultimately, it seems like she's going to have to live with someone else for grad school, and I don't think asking her not to cohabitate with her ex is a totally unreasonable request. See how she feels about it once you tell her how you feel.

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Ketrel
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quote:
Originally posted by Michelle Ravel:
quote:
I'm trying to figure out how if at all I can talk to her about it. I'm just very worried no matter what I say, it'll come across in a way that ruins any chance of solving anything.

I am horrible at this sort of thing.

Take heart! Most people are horrible at difficult relationship talks, and it is the sort of thing where you get points for trying. A few quick tips:

1) Don't have expectations that the talk will go really, really well and that you'll both come to an agreement right away. Think of it as a way to let each other know how you're feeling, and agree to talk about solutions another day.

2) Try to stay calm and not take "cheap shots": no shouting, baseless accusations, or sarcastic remarks. If you feel like you're not going to be able to handle the conversation, just say, "I really want to keep talking about this, but I've had enough for today. Let's put this discussion on pause, because it's hard not to get emotional."

3) Try to let the other person talk and try to listen to what they have to say. You don't have to agree with them, but you should try to see if you can understand what they're trying to tell you.

4) Sometimes it helps to preface your talk with a disclaimer to take the pressure off. "Hey, I really want to talk about this with you, but I'm afraid I won't be very good at getting my ideas out. Do you have a few minutes to hear me out?"

Ultimately, it seems like she's going to have to live with someone else for grad school, and I don't think asking her not to cohabitate with her ex is a totally unreasonable request. See how she feels about it once you tell her how you feel.

At least on that last point, I don't have any issue with her having a roommate of any gender. Just him do I have a problem with.
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Ketrel
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I know everyone has given good advice, but I haven't even been able to begin to approach this [Frown]
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Heather
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What do you feel like you still need for that, Ketrel?

Have you tried having any conversation about this yet, perhaps just starting with something like, "I am really uncomfortable with who you're choosing as a roommate. Can we talk about this?"

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Ketrel
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I don't know, but I've tried many times to say something, and I can't do it each time.
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Heather
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So, am I right in getting the sense that communication has totally broken down around this?

If so, would you say it's only around this? Are you two able to discuss other serious issues still?

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Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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Angus
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Ketrel, you said "If he was there, I would be unable to visit, I can't stand being around him." But I'm not sure why it has to be that black-and-white.

You could, at least potentially, visit and stay with her at a motel. She could ask him to crash with a friend while you were in town. You could crash on the couch of one of the friends she'll make once she gets settled, and only go to her place when he's not around. There are options.

If you don't want to give her an ultimatum, a good place to start would be to try to figure out which pieces of this are problems for you, and how those problems could be addressed short of you breaking up with her. That way, you could say -- or at least think about saying -- "if you do X, that's likely to lead to Y," where Y doesn't mean "we break up." That's not an ultimatum, that's you making your boundaries clear.

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Ketrel
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quote:
Originally posted by Angus:
Ketrel, you said "If he was there, I would be unable to visit, I can't stand being around him." But I'm not sure why it has to be that black-and-white.

You could, at least potentially, visit and stay with her at a motel. She could ask him to crash with a friend while you were in town. You could crash on the couch of one of the friends she'll make once she gets settled, and only go to her place when he's not around. There are options.

If you don't want to give her an ultimatum, a good place to start would be to try to figure out which pieces of this are problems for you, and how those problems could be addressed short of you breaking up with her. That way, you could say -- or at least think about saying -- "if you do X, that's likely to lead to Y," where Y doesn't mean "we break up." That's not an ultimatum, that's you making your boundaries clear.

Money makes any sort of alternate locations for visits not an option on both ends.

Even if it was, that would still be a deal breaker. And I do want to make it clear, if she does have him as a roommate, I will not try to make it work anymore. I don't want to sound like an ***, but she knows how I feel about him, and while she is oblivious about some things, and I'm no saint when it comes to missing the bleeding obvious, I know I make it my priority to make sure I never would do anything I know makes her uncomfortable or upset, and it's well known to her and everyone else who is friends with me, that I can't stand him and I don't even like talking about him, let alone being near him. If she would still have him as a roommate at that point, I would pretty much consider it over before I made any move to break up.


quote:
Originally posted by Heather:
So, am I right in getting the sense that communication has totally broken down around this?

If so, would you say it's only around this? Are you two able to discuss other serious issues still?

Issues that don't involve him are fine. I don't even like talking about him at all, so it makes it very difficult to begin with ignoring any difficulty I'm having with this. Then there's all the problems I'm having with this issue specifically.

So I basically I'm stuck, unsure of what to do, and don't think I could even if I knew for sure [Frown]

[ 08-25-2011, 12:27 AM: Message edited by: Ketrel ]

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Angus
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Okay. As for the money stuff, two o of the three suggestions I made aren't any more expensive than going to crash at her place.

But I hear what you're saying about those kinds of work-arounds not being something you're interested in, and that's a useful thing to have clear -- for you, and for her.

As for the rest of it, what I'm hearing is that aside from everything else, you're hurt that she's even considering moving in with this guy, given how you feel about him. That's important, and it's something you could talk about with her without making any ultimatums.

Heather suggested starting the conversation with "I am really uncomfortable with who you're choosing as a roommate," but it might be useful to get even more basic than that, and just say "I need to tell you that I'm surprised and upset that you're considering living with X."

It may be that she hasn't thought out how you feel about this decision. It may be that she has specific reasons to believe that it wouldn't be as bad as you're thinking. It may be that the decision is her way of distancing herself from you. It may be something else entirely. But you can't know which it is until you discuss it with her.

And that's the core of the issue, it seems to me. Without communicating with her, you can't know why she's making these choices. And until you know why she's making these choices, you can't make a fully informed decision about the choices you may have to make.

Is it possible that part of the reason you can't seem to broach this subject is that you're afraid of what she might say to you if you do?

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Ketrel
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Not really that I'd be afraid of what she might say, but that's there's only two real possible outcomes.

1. She'd find someone else as a roommate. (I'd feel guilty as hell for making her have to do this)
2. She'd continue to get him as a roommate. (If she'd do this even after being explicitly told how it would make me feel...)

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