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Making sense with Mack: Dealing with roommates

The Letter:

Hey Hofstra Chronicle!  My roommate just started dating a guy from her geology class. They’re very much in the middle of the honeymoon phase of their relationship – always together, whether it’s cooking in the kitchen, watching movies in the common room or ... taking showers in our shared bathroom. I mean it’s all fine. We don’t spend as much time together anymore. And I haven’t gotten as much sleep recently because her boyfriend stays the night ... every night. I mean, he has a single dorm in Vander Poel. But I guess they just like our room better. They make a lot of noise. I tried dropping hints like coughing and they got quieter, but it only seems to work temporarily. I want my friend back and I want him gone.


The Hofstra Chronicle:

Hang tight! You’re at a critical moment in your friendship. Your decisions going forward will either result in something stupid or the two of you getting along amiably. Let me tell you about something stupid.

I once had an issue with a roommate. Surprise. He kept leaving stuff on my side of the room. First it was a shirt. I mean ... it was fine. Then books. Fine. Food. Fine. I didn’t say anything. I didn’t want to stir anything up. Until I found a full landscape painting in my closet. Not fine.  So, I confronted him, finally, in the most pathetic way possible. I pulled the painting out and stapled stale bread to it. I scribbled “ART” in all caps across the peaks of the poorly painted mountains and then shoved it back in my closet. I thought I had it down right. He’d come back. I would reveal the destroyed painting. He would slap his forehead and say, “Oh my! Wow. I can’t believe I did this to myself. I am so obviously in the wrong.” We would shake hands, smile and then trot out of the room to the Student Center.




He came back. I showcased what I had done. He stared at me confused. “Why did you do this?” he asked. Each word was deliberate and piercing. I stood there, with his ruined painting, unable to produce an answer that wouldn’t otherwise come from a pouty 11-year-old.

“Because you left it in my closet.”

“So you destroyed it?”

“Uh ... yeah.”

This is not the way to go! You cannot passive aggressively work out an issue. You need to address it. Toss your wounded relationship with your roommate under a stark operating light, no matter how messy or mangled. Put it on the table and talk about it. A cup of coffee is normally a great way to approach this. We’re all addicts anyway. I would suggest the Cafe on the Quad but they ripped that boy down. In the future maybe we’ll solve our issues by rubbing our bacon, egg and cheese bagels together at the new Dunkin’ Donuts. But for now, maybe enjoy some grind-filled Seattle’s Best in the back of the Stu. Or go for a walk. But make sure the only things capable of slicing nearby are your words. Precise language can do some excellent dicing without all of the overdramatic bloodshed.


In her Guardian article, “I love my partner but he doesn’t love me back,” love and relationship columnist Mariella Frostrup writes, “No matter how tempting it is to let love overwhelm us it doesn’t and shouldn’t exist outside the normal rules of human engagement.”


Doing the big bad bang while you’re trying to sleep is pretty inconsiderate with or without “a lot of noise.” So is having her boyfriend spend every single night six feet away from you. Which is fine. You have every right to be upset. They are definitely in the wrong for being so maniacally inconsiderate. But as you pointed out, they are in their honeymoon phase. They are floating so high right now that they aren’t even aware of the increasing distance between them and the soberly single world. However, no amount of stale bread or coughing will bring your roommate back to reality. So talk to her – without him. Explain with great detail why it’s super not cool to have sex while you’re in the room. She’s probably been hoping that you wouldn’t bring it up. Show that you understand how she feels, but that what happened can’t continue. Say that you miss hanging out and reflect on that time you had to piss on the subway. Because that was after the DIIV show, wasn’t it? Yeah! That was when we met up with Jake on 2nd Ave? How’s Jake? I don’t really know. He messaged me the other day. Does he still work at the tattoo shop on St. Marks? I think so. We should grab dinner with him this weekend. Yeah let’s hit up that BYOB Mediterranean place. Wanna check out the Pollock exhibit at the MoMA before? Yeah! I love drunk, dead, white men.

Where surgical language might help locate and dissect a problem, empathy will do the work of healing. At least much more so than stale bread.

The Human of Hofstra - March 13

The Human of Hofstra - March 13

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