Step out of the triangle

Joey Garcia

My roommate’s breakup with her boyfriend was ugly—screaming phone calls, stalking, makeup sex, then another screaming fight. I was dragged into it because my roommate’s ex-boyfriend is a good friend of mine. I told them I would not take sides or ref their shit, but they both try to pry information out of me about the other. My roommate always wants to know if her ex has a new girl. Her ex tells me about these girls he’s with like he wants me to tell my roommate so she’ll be jealous. I’ve gone off on both of them. They apologized, backed off and then started up again. I need some advice of what to say to shut them up.

The next time your roommate launches into a deep dive on her ex’s social life, or your buddy tries to ignite her emotions using you as the flame thrower, step out of the triangle. Leave them alone to battle the ghost of a dead relationship. You can address your roommate’s fixation by repeating exactly the same three sentences every time she starts up. Try this: “If you’re still obsessing about him, you’re not over him. If you’re not over him and the relationship is over, obsessing about him is a way of harming yourself. I won’t listen to that anymore.” If she protests, repeat the mantra again. And again. Rinse (yourself of her drama) and repeat (the mantra). If necessary, add: “Have you considered talking to a therapist?” Then remind yourself you’re not her therapist, you’re her friend. Friends don’t let friends stay rooted in the past.

When your roommate’s ex-boyfriend shoots off about the women he’s hooking up with, say: “You’ve been talking a lot about hooking up since your breakup with (your roommate’s name here). It’s sounds like you’re stuck. You can’t really get over someone by getting with someone else. You know that, right? It’s your business, though, so I would never tell anyone else, especially not (your roommate’s name here).” When he protests, just stare at him. Then nod and say: “I will never tell anyone else the stuff you tell me. You aren’t trying to get me to gossip about you to her, are you? ’Cause that’s not cool.”

By the way, you should reach over your shoulder and pat yourself on the back. Most people, when caught in your situation, would listen for hours to a brokenhearted roommate instead of helping that person step into life in the present tense. Yeah, most people would dutifully repeat salacious sex tales, never noticing that they were manipulated into doing so. Some people might even offer to jump into the ring and negotiate a truce. Your willingness to maintain healthy relationships with your roommate and your friend, while taking care of yourself, is admirable. Hopefully, they will realize what a good pal you are.

I cheated on my girlfriend two years ago. She’s forgiven me, but her family has not. I know I was stupid. I also know that I would never hurt her again. Her family always acts suspicious around me. I want to ask my girlfriend to be my wife, but I think her family will talk her out of it. Any suggestions?

Take the risk to win what you truly desire: Being seen as the man you are now, ready to build a life with the woman you love. The concerns of your girlfriend’s protective family are not as important as her ability to choose the future her heart longs for. Trust that she is a discerning adult. After all, she forgave you and moved forward with you, right? In time, her family may grow to love you. If they don’t, love them, anyway. That’s life on the spiritual path.

Meditation of the week
“Try not to become a person of success, but rather try to become a person of value,” wrote Albert Einstein. What does the world really want from you? What are you willing to give the world with no strings attached?

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