Three’s company, not a crowd

Joey Garcia

In June I moved into an apartment with two other girls I met through Craigslist. I didn’t know either of them until I moved in, but they have been friends since high school. I started hanging out a lot with one of my roommates, and my other roommate was really jealous. She started making rude comments and trying to exclude me. I totally hate her. She told me yesterday that I have to move out. I told her that I don’t want to and can’t afford to. Then I talked to the roommate I’m friends with. She didn’t know I was told to leave. The two of them got into a huge fight. I want to live here. What is the best way to work this out?

By realizing that this is real life, not an episode of Big Brother. Hey, you moved in, sized up both roommates and chose one to be your new BFF. That’s an understandable inclination if you’re the new kid in a classroom of strangers, but this is your nest. By embracing one roommate and keeping the other at arm’s length, you created division and conflict. In a desperate attempt to restore order, the roommate you excluded copied your behavior and began rejecting you. It’s a no-win situation.

It would be valuable to discover what inspired your belief that “three’s a crowd.” Why didn’t you invest in the “Three Musketeers,” instead? Imagine your life with friendships based in honesty, trust and kindness. It’s a powerful way to live in the world. Here are the stepping stones toward that path: Call a house meeting and apologize to both roommates. Admit that you were jealous of their bond and wanted that sisterly connection for yourself. Take care to use only “I” statements and to avoid blaming or accusing the roommate you avoided. Explain that you would like to start over—completely—by getting to know both of them equally. Then, invite your roommates to an outing with you. It doesn’t have to be anything more than a picnic in a nearby park or a free concert. Just choose something you can enjoy together. If either roomie excludes you in the future, ignore it. Commit to the practice of creating kin. That includes forgiving a roommate who has difficulty forgiving you. And, of course, forgive yourself for wreaking emotional havoc on the household. In the future, try to stay aware of your divide-and-conquer tendency. It’s a behavior that causes exceptional drama, not just with roommates, but at work, too.

My father embarrasses me. He is not well-educated, he drinks and gambles too much, and is too loud for every occasion. I am ashamed of my feelings about him because he loves me and is very proud of what I have accomplished. When we are together, we hardly talk. He doesn’t seem to know what to say to me, and I feel the same way. I can’t admit my feelings to anyone or I would feel like a terrible person. What should I do?

Be grateful for who you are, but stop expecting your father to be like you. He may not be able to engage in a rigorous debate on your favorite topics, but he acknowledges what you have accomplished. That’s cause for celebration. Your discontent arises from a fear that your success is somehow disloyal to your father. It’s not. Life invites all of us to evolve beyond the limitations of our parents. So stop judging yourself and your father unkindly. Strike up conversation by asking him about his childhood and his memories of you as a child. Those stories will become keepsakes reminding you of the privilege of knowing the past and creating a future.

Meditation of the week
Gandhi once wrote that a relationship that wants to get as much as to give is not love, but commerce. How mature are your relationships?

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