Rule No. 1 in Friend or Foe’s Young People’s Guide to Apartment Dwelling: People with roommates are not, I repeat not, allowed to have sex on the living room sofa! Rule No. 2: Roommates who are splitting the rent are also not allowed to bring new roommates into the equation with renegotiating the terms of the lease. You can’t stand Lisa’s boyfriend, fine. But that’s not the real issue here. The real issue is that you entered into an agreement dictating that you and Jessica will each occupy 50 percent of the apartment. James being there (and it doesn’t seem like he’s moving out anytime soon) leaves you with a measly third—not what you signed up for. Hence, you need to sit your roomie down and tell her that, if she and On Again Off Again want to domesticate, they should find a new place to do so. There isn’t room for the three of you. Nor is he paying rent. Leave your feeling about the guy aside. If she tells you that you’re being selfish, tell her that it was selfish of her not to discuss the issue with you before she handed over her extra set of keys!
Now for my confession: This exact thing happened to me in my earlier 20s. He was always in the shower when I wanted to shower—or in the kitchen making chili when I was trying to make tea. I finally told my roommate she had to choose between him (as a domestic partner) and me. She moved out—and never spoke to me again. (She also married the boyfriend.) But you know what? I got over it. So will you.
Friend or Foe
Dear Friend or Foe,
My high school friend "Thea" and I have already fallen out twice. Our friendship ended for the first time after she felt I wasn’t supportive enough during a drama-filled school year. It ended a second time after she started using me as her entire support system. There were calls at 4 a.m., even when I was on vacation with my family. Or she’d show up at my house to talk to me even if she’d called beforehand and I’d told her I was busy. But once things began to lighten up in her life, I heard less and less from her—and felt more and more like a fool. Two years passed before Thea contacted me again and asked me to dinner. There was another apology, which I accepted. But since this was our third “bout,” I kept her at arm's length and was friendly and supportive without giving too much of myself.
Somewhere along the way, however, she came to believe that I was her best friend again. Now in her early 20s, she just got married to her boyfriend who she's known for less than a year. She's also pregnant—and has asked me to be the maid of honor at the wedding and godmother to the child. I’m fine with being friends with Thea, rather than best friends. But I fear that agreeing to these positions will thrust me into an inner circle of which I want no part. At the same time, I'm worried she doesn't have anyone else to rely on. The friend I thought she’d ask to fulfill these duties recently told me that she stopped speaking to her, as she didn’t want to be hurt again. Thea has been in some dark places in her life, and I don't want my rejections to send her back there—not only for her mental health but for the sake of her kid. My parents and other friends think she’s a user and a liar whose habits will never change. Should I support her or run before it's too late?
To Be or Not To Be
Well, the chances of that marriage lasting are—nil. First, the two of them don't actually know each other. I know readers will take exception here, but less than one year, when you’re in your early 20s, isn’t much of a foundation. Second, the woman has a proven inability to get along with, well, anyone. So if you want to be supportive and stand up there holding a bunch of hand-tied white gerberas for a few hours, I don’t see any harm. (The album is likely to be tossed in a few years’ time anyway.) But kids last a lifetime. So I would definitely NOT sign up to be the godmother of the child if your feelings about the mother are that negative. Some people take the designation seriously (monetary support is implied, as well as emotional support); others less so. Either way, you’re bound to the family for eternity. And here you seem to barely count the woman among your close friends!
I’d send Thea a nice note saying that you’re honored to have been invited to play such an important role in her life. But while you wish her and her husband many years of joy with their bundle of such—and are happy that you and she are reunited—you don’t feel you can fulfill the duty, as it implies a commitment that you’re not currently in a position to make. I’d keep it that vague. Hopefully she’ll read between the lines. I suspect that, over time, your friendship with Thea will grow fainter and fainter. But hey, you never know. She and the boyfriend could prove me wrong, too.
Friend or Foe
TODAY IN SLATE
The Ebola Story
How our minds build narratives out of disaster.
The Budget Disaster That Completely Sabotaged the WHO’s Response to Ebola
PowerPoint Is the Worst, and Now It’s the Latest Way to Hack Into Your Computer
The Shooting Tragedies That Forged Canada’s Gun Politics
A Highly Unscientific Ranking of Crazy-Old German Beers
Welcome to 13th Grade!
Some high schools are offering a fifth year. That’s a great idea.
The Actual World
“Mount Thoreau” and the naming of things in the wilderness.