On Living with a Taken Roommate

I am single. My roommate is not. In fact, she’s been in a serious relationship since high school, and now she and her steady boyfriend are in a long-distance relationship.

Or at least, trying to be.

First semester seemed to be going okay. They talked on the phone almost daily, sharing the little details about their day and appearing to be maintaining the relationship healthily. He’s currently going to school in a different time zone, but that didn’t seem to stop them from keeping in contact. I didn’t really know much about them–I’ve never met or spoken to the boyfriend–but I was rather impressed and proud of them for being able to hold on despite the distance and time change.

Fast forward to today, the second day of the second semester. I’ll admit that I’m typing this post at this moment because, as I write, my roommate is in a slightly uncomfortable conversation with her boyfriend. Even though I was minding my own business, listening to music with my headphones in, I could hear her conversation going on–and truthfully, I still can. It seems they’re having trouble communicating. When one calls, the other is busy or tired or doing something that otherwise impedes them from being in contact. Their conversations are lifeless. My roommate isn’t happy about it. In fact, she’s claiming that he isn’t making time for her the way she did for him.

I want to gag, but doing so would indicate that I’m eavesdropping. (I can’t help it! This is my room too, you know.)

My roommate seems to be dropping hints that she can’t find a place to speak in private. This, if I’m interpreting it correctly, might be aimed slightly at me, the other tenant in the room; there’s no place she can go because the only space on campus allotted to her is also allotted to a complete stranger. I don’t blame her, I miss having a private place too, but she could easily ask me to make space, and honestly, I would–not because I’m so terribly nice (I am, though, which can be a detriment) but because I do feel awkward hearing all the gush that goes back and forth between the two. (Her phone speaker is so loud that I can actually hear the person on the other line. It’s made for awkward moments in which I can hear her mother sharing confidential bank information and the likes…) I could easily go visit my friend four floor above me, or even just hang out in the common lounge for a while.

Why haven’t I just done this of my own accord? I don’t know. I just feel like it would be awkward if, every time she got on the phone, I stormed out. I’m pretty sure she already thinks I’m a passive-aggressive neurotic neat-freak (alright, I admit, sometimes I am, but I have my reasons for being one, though that’s a different story for a different time). I don’t need her to think I’m so easily irritated that I must get out of the room every time she opens her mouth.

Ultimately, I think one of the reasons I feel most awkward isn’t because I’m involuntarily intruding on a personal matter (though that’s still highly uncomfortable), but because I can’t relate to it anyway. I feel as though, were I also in a relationship, it would be less awkward for me to be there overhearing things because maybe I could even help her out, talk her through it afterwards, offer advice, whatever. Instead I’m more like a sedentary third wheel. I’m not saying my relationship status would help me completely cope with dealing with my roommate, but I maybe it would at least make what she’s going through more familiar to me.

Post-rant, or whatever this narrative is, let me clarify something: I don’t hate my roommate. She’s a really sweet girl. We’re not exactly friends, but I’d say we live in pretty good harmony despite our differences. Most days, we just live our lives, come back to our room, keep operating, and go on. But yes, there is always that time when something of hers will irk me. Not always. But sometimes.

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