I’m having a situation and need advice. So I’ve been with my boyfriend for a couple years and he spends a few nights a week at my place. I have a roommate, who is a good girlfriend of mine for years, and she is single.
With COVID going on, she hasn’t voiced concerns about my boyfriend coming over. She know he works at home and keeps his social interactions at a minimum and he does takeout and curbside for food and groceries whenever he can. In my opinion, he’s been safe and thoughtful about everything.
My roommate has recently been super active on Tinder. She’s single and she’s trying to meet someone. She has, in the past two months, met up with three guys for first dates. The third guy, she hit it off with, and invited him over on their second date.
I was really uncomfortable with this. I feel like, in a pandemic situation like we’re in, that’s just not responsible. I simply don’t want him in our house. I brought it up and it was an awful conversation. She said I don’t understand what it’s like since I have a boyfriend and that the guy has been super safe. She also said if she can’t have him over, I can’t have my boyfriend over, which seems completely unreasonable. Can you help? How can I show her she’s wrong?
First thing, deep breaths: the time of COVID-19 is hard on us all, and honestly, it’s especially hard on those of us that share households. We’ve spent a lot of time together these past few months and tensions and disagreements are bound to pop up. It’s almost harder with a roommate than with, say, a partner or children. With the latter, you can crumple and lose your cool and sling unintentionally hurtful words that you will tirelessly apologize for later; with roommates, there is a pervasive undercurrent of politeness as you navigate your residential connection.
With that said, let’s acknowledge the validity of your feelings. Of course having a stranger in your house during a pandemic is weird, and makes you unsettled and anxious. Totally understandable! In fairness, it is also understandable that if you’re drawing the line at your roommate inviting over potential love interests, she’s calling into question your boyfriend’s fly-by overnights. And it’s also kind of amazing that to this point, she hasn’t made an issue of the fact that your boyfriend comes and goes, as it’s fairly reasonable to assume that may make her anxious as well.
Here’s the real deal: as we expand our social bubbles, there is a lot of implied trust. We have to trust our close friends and family are making smart, safe decisions, and relaying to us accurate information about their behavior so we can make informed choices about how we go about our lives day to day. I get that your roommate bringing a guy home — yeah, that has a different lens on it in 2020. But at the same time, appreciate that this is a hard time for many people to be solo and she could probably use some support here. So sit down again, have a talk, take those deep breaths, and figure out middle ground. Now’s the time to leverage your trust for each other to compromise on the best path forward for you both.
Well, you could make your apartment Quarantine Central and rule it a Boy-Free Zone. That’s an instant resolution to end the disagreements about who can and can’t visit. Though no more potential COVID carriers entering your shared and sanitized safe space also means no more potential cuddling going on in private behind bedroom doors, but hey: the price is steep for COVID comfort these days.
This could totally work! Instead of having trusted friends over, and being careful about cleanliness and thoughtful of your roommate while your visitors are over, you could both spend your lonely and bored nights at your respective boyfriend’s and boy friends’ places. Doesn’t mean you won’t be bringing back something you picked from their door handles and love handles along the way, but that’s why you’ll place personal laundry baskets at the front door so you can shed your masks — and gloves? — and top layers of clothing before entering Step 2, where you use the industrial-sized bucket of hand sanitizer and extra-large container of sani-wipes to cleanse yourselves and everything you brought with you before fully reentering the safe house.
Sound a tad crazy? Well, things are crazy these days — this is a pandemic and hundreds of thousands of people are sick and dying, after all — and many of us are so stressed and anxious, or so irritated and righteous, that a scenario like that seems perfectly reasonable and many are just throwing fuel on the cray cray dumpster fire. Good friends and longtime roommates should be able cool the fire down long enough to have a calm, civilized conversation about how things are really going with one another emotionally, and create an amended set of House Rules in The Time of COVID. Whether that includes visitors or not, the guidelines have to be fair to both roommates, who I’m guessing are both paying their fair share of the rent and bills and keeping up with their fair share of the chores.
Empathy and fairness: what a concept. Or, you know, Boy-Free Zone!
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