When Roommates Become Lovers

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Names and certain parts have been altered in this story to protect the innocent...

In my 10 years of living in Hoboken, I have had, at last count, about 18 different roommates.

Before you get the wrong idea - my first apartment was a "5 bedroom" brownstone. I use that term loosely, since each bedroom really wasn't a bedroom - the basement had two rooms (with no insulation and faux wood walls). The first floor was originally a brownstone first floor, with a living room, dining room, kitchen and walk in closet - which was very poorly converted my our landlord to bedroom #1, bedroom #2, living room and bedroom #3.

Most of my years have been with a mix of guys and girls. I have found that the balance of having mixed genders in a household works out well as long as you can pick the proper type of girl and guy to live with. For the most part, my ability to screen a good roommate had been spot on. One year I let in "Sarah". Boy, was that a mistake.

Picking a girl roommate, I basically use my same rules that I wrote about before. This is my lesson on how I picked with the little head, not the big head - and paid for it.

I was living in my 3 bedroom apartment during this time, sharing it with "Fred". He had been living with me for 2 years, and was an extremely considerate, kind roommate and your average looking guy. He had his quirky introverted nature, and a few times when he got drunk made some bad decisions that affected our friendship. But, then again, who doesn't make bad decisions when drunk? Fred was a solid, standup guy and I liked him as a roommate. He paid his bills on time, shared his pot with me, and was very quiet. Every weekend he would go mountain biking with his friends in New Paltz, NY.

My 3rd roommate was moving out, and I had to start my usual process of putting an ad up on Hobokeni.com for a roommate and interviewing some of the people out there. I saw about 3 people and that summer the interest in my apartment was really low - every year prior I used to beat people away and this summer was just a dead summer for interest in my place. The fourth person I interviewed was Sarah, and I knew right away that I wanted her. As a roommate, of course.

Sarah, to put bluntly, was about as gorgeous as they come in Hoboken. She was about 5'6, bottle blonde hair, blue eyes, lithe body, with enough silicone to make her right in place in Los Angeles, not Hoboken. I have had lots of comely roommates before, and she was by far the most appealing. She was personable and convivial while I was showing the apartment to her. We sat and talked afterwards - she told me that she recently found out her live-in boyfriend cheated on her and she was moving out on him.

This should have been warning flag number 1.

But, I sympathized with her and complimented her on her strong willed decision to leave him. She claimed to be firm in her convictions and I stressed to her that I didn't want a new roommate that would have a psycho boyfriend showing up bothering Fred or myself. Nor, did I want her changing her mind 2 weeks after moving in and deciding to move back in with him. I needed a solid roommate that would stay for a year. She assured me this wouldn't be the case.

Fred and I both agreed that Sarah would be a welcome addition to our three bedroom apartment, notwithstanding that she would be easy on the eyes, too.

She called back the next day and said she was interested in moving in, but the rent was too high for her. Fred and I conferred over the matter. We realized that there was low interest in the apartment and she certainly has an effect upon our male chemistry. We lowered the rent by $50 for her, and Fred and I increased our rents by $25 to cover those costs. She was intersted in acting quickly to get away from her boyfriend, and seemed to like both of us, and agreed to move in.

After she moved in I found out some interesting backstory about her and her boyfriend. It turns out that her boyfriend was actually her fiance. She painted her fiance in a bad light as a guy who did a lot of coke, partied a lot and treated her poorly. But, she just met him a year ago, he, the fiance, was her old roommate. They started to date while living together and he gave her a ring only a few months before this whole cheating incident.

This should have been warning flag #2 - but it was too late now, she moved in.

After I found out this major tidbit of news, I pulled Fred aside when we were alone and told him her story. I remember distinctly telling him that a) she was coming off a bad breakup and b) she has a history of hooking up with roommates. I told him that we should seriously not do anything that would complicate things and she needs to not rebound with one of us. Fred solemnly agreed with me, and I thought he was on the same page.

I thought wrong.

Oh, it was about 1 month after she moved in that Fred was, well, being Fred. The last roommate and Fred were very friendly with each other, in a platonic way, and he started his same friendly ways with Sarah. One thing leads to another when I get home from work one day.

Sarah's bedroom door is open. Nothing strange about that.

Fred's bedroom door is closed. I don't think Fred is alone, he seems to be quietly talking to someone. I go into my room and close the door. I hear Fred's door open and someone scurry down the stairs.

I open my door to see Fred looking a bit abashed, and I have some small talk with him. I hear Sarah downstairs making something to eat.

They continued this clandestine behavior for weeks. I would come home from work and they would be sitting on the couch with a "we weren't doing anything look" like they were 15 year old high schoolers. They would make dinners together and eat together. It took about 3 weeks of this before I got fed up and confronted Fred.

Fred confessed. He said she and her were "Seeing Each Other". It started about a month after she moved in, they got stoned together one night when I was out of town - and started to kiss - which led to more. He claimed that it wasn't him, and I think his aimable personality coupled with her fragile situation equalled a simple rebound effect.

I had many emotions. I would be lying if I said I wasn't jealous. I was. I believed that Fred disregarded what I told him, and, in some ways, I wouldn't put it past him if he used that information to his advantage. I think Fred saw what I saw: a beautiful girl who he would love to hook up with and he went for it. I can't say that I didn't feel the same way about her, I just chose to not act on it and be the better kind of man. In many ways i'm glad I didn't, because Fred's heart was broken by the end of this.

Now I was in a situation where I was living not with two people, but two people dating each other. It was a whole new dynamic.

I would come home from work and they would be snuggling on the couch watching a movie. Or, in each other's rooms with the doors closed - use your imagination. I rarely would watch TV in the family room anymore, like we used to, instead I would watch TV in my room, alone and rarely interact with the two blissful lovers. It was just a constant feeling of being perturbed and resentful, while feeling like an outsider in my own home.

This continued for about 3 months. Fred and Sarah are very much in love and Fred tells me he is thinking of moving in to an apartment with her at the end of the lease. Sarah gets into mountain biking, because of Fred, and most weekends goes with him to New Paltz to bike with him.

Soon it became more and more obvious that this was no longer my apartment, but theirs. It also was obvious, to me, that Sarah was rebounding from her past relationship and transferred the emotions and desires of her breakup on to Fred. I also knew, that it was only a matter of time before the honeymoon stage would end and the problems would begin.

Boy, how did they begin - around the 4th month of their relationship.

Sarah had a job in real estate and needed to meet with her clients to show properties. Sometimes, this also involved meeting other agents and mortgage brokers. Some of them were men. Some of the men liked Sarah, and she used her feminine charms to win people over. She would tell Fred about the creepy guys she met - and he would become jealous. In some ways, she could have been doing it on purpose. In other ways, maybe she wasn't. Sarah learned how to push Fred's buttons and she had a certain habit, from time to time, to push them. I'm really not sure why, even to this day. Sarah just had a screw loose at times. She was very manic depressive and she had wild emotional swings. It wouldn't be raining outside - it would be POURING. It wouldn't be sunny outside it would be GORGEOUS outside.

Soon her manic nature and the constant act of pushing Fred's buttons became a major rift. Fred would respond by keeping tabs on what she was doing and who she was seeing. He would become very jealous and obsessive - something that in my 2 years of being his roommate I never saw in him before.

The second problem was Fred's mountain biking obsession. He loved to mountain bike and refused to get anything get in the way of his hobby. His attitude was that if she wanted to be with him, she would have to embrace this hobby also. At first, when in love, people will do many things to bend over backwards for their partner because of that new-love emotional bond. Sarah got into it, and told me she enjoyed mountain biking - at first. After a while she wanted to spend more time in Hoboken - and Sunday dinners with Fred and her family in Staten Island. This became a major fight over sharing time together.

The third problem was me. Fred and Sarah would both confide in me secrets and problems they had with each other. I was in the middle and they both knew that I was on either side's ear. They both would ask me my advice. Since I knew how the other person felt - I would make suggestions on how to fix things, for example like telling Fred he should mountain bike less and spend more Sundays with Sarah's family. Sometimes I would relay too much information, and soon I was in the middle of the conflict with Fred or Sarah using the information I provided against the other. Soon, I just make an ultimatum: Whatever either of you tell me isn't a secret and that I refuse to take sides.

Fred and Sarah started the slow death spiral in their relationship. They would break up and make up for another 3 months, with drunken fights and yelling matches at least every other week. Since they were living together, they couldn't escape and cool down like people in a normal relationship could. I would be in my room, hearing loud bangs and things breaking, rushing downstairs to find out that Fred shattered a picture or Sarah broke a dish. It was a nightmare.

After about 6 months of their relationship, which started in October, and lasted until early March, I finally told them that someone had to move out. They were no longer happy with each other, and not a couple anymore. They were both going from levels of tolerance to seething anger. I didn't really care who moved out - but this couldn't continue. Sarah told me that she planned to stay longer than Fred. Fred's relative was sick and he was thinking of moving closer to his relative to help them. Fred assured me that this wasn't the case and he would stay with me for another year. When I told Fred that I wanted Sarah to stay, since she would be staying longer, he was enraged and jealous of the idea that Sarah would be living with me. He would make up jealous rambling about me and tell other people that I secretly wanted Sarah. I just didn't want to keep Fred and then have to get a second roommate after he ditched me. He was adamant about staying, claiming that he wasn't going to leave me early. I believed him. It took about 6 more weeks until I finally coaxed Sarah to leave the apartment, since Fred was being steadfast about his refusal to move out.

We got a new roommate, another girl, who turned out to be a good pick, because I was using the big head. Fred stayed with me for about 3 more months and then left - doing exactly what Sarah warned me about. I think he wanted to get the last laugh. It was just so childish and petty to me.

In a normal world - Fred and Sarah wouldn't have been the types to date each other. They were just two different people - Sarah was, in my humble opinion, out of both of our leagues. When the euphoria of the new relationship wore off, the imbalance of their relationship led Sarah to needle Fred. Fred's stubborn nature didn't sit well with Sarah, and a battle of relationship dominance occurred. Maybe Fred felt inferior to Sarah, (did I mention how pretty she was?) and that brought up his jealousy and insecurity. Who knows?

Would I have done what Fred did? Probably. I can't villify him for his action, and like I wrote before I was jealous at the time. But after watching what both of them went through, I am glad that I wasn't the one who dated Sarah.

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This page contains a single entry by Furey published on September 7, 2005 12:58 AM.

A Week of Regression & Getting A Bar Card In Hoboken was the previous entry in this blog.

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