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New roommate leaves girlfriend conflicted

Published October 10, 2011 1:01 am
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2011, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Dear Carolyn • My boyfriend of six months is looking for a new roommate, and has offered the room to a young woman who has just broken up with her boyfriend. I am a complete believer that men and women can be "just friends," and my boyfriend has earned my trust. Yet I find myself already exhausted at the idea of keeping my own insecurities in check. I don't want to prejudge this woman or make my boyfriend feel like I don't trust him, so should I put the kibosh on my irrational worries unless something actually fishy goes on?

Boyfriend's new roommate

Dear Roommate • Yes. But your worries aren't entirely irrational. While I agree that men and women can be just friends, proximity is also a huge factor in bringing couples together ("The One" mythology notwithstanding). And, yes, Boyfriend can be happy with you and still fall for her. That means you both need to be realistic: If there's any attraction between Boyfriend and Roommate, the rooming situation will fuel it. Of course, there's no way for you to assert your interests here that won't open you up to paranoia charges. "Please don't tempt fate by having a female roommate"? "Please choose someone gross"? Requests like these put your date on the defensive, and leave you marveling at how low you'll stoop. Please note that I'm not taking an "if it's meant to be ... " position; there's definitely a place for thoughtful choices. It's just that, at the six-month mark, you and he are neither established enough to feel beholden to each other, nor new enough to go your separate ways without pain. So, I could argue that both courses of action are appropriate for him to take — choosing only male roommates out of consideration for you (because even couples who are great for each other need to be mindful of gratuitous temptation), or choosing any roommate he wants. Given all that, I think your best bet is just to say, "I think there's an element of tempting fate with a female roommate, but objecting to it feels wrong, too," and let him figure things out from there. Or don't say anything and let the story play out. That puts us right back where we started, but that's not always the worst place to be.

Carolyn Hax's column runs Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.






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