My roommate won’t make her own friends, and she keeps trying to hang out with me and mine. This wouldn’t be so bad except she’s not very nice and makes the group uncomfortable. Should I just tell her she isn’t allowed to hang out with us? Should I help her make other friends? Is there a secret third option I don’t know about? Please help.
Dear Dorm Room Downer,
Ah, a definite dilemma! It sounds like what’s needed here is a crash course in boundaries. Yes, your roommate does seem to be crossing lines for you, but I think what’s juicier to dig into here is how you are crossing your own boundaries by allowing her to continuously enter your social spaces and create a feeling of uncomfortability.
Now, in no way am I blaming you for your roommate’s behavior. But what is really powerful here is to create a sense of personal trust, integrity and responsibility in yourself. Yes, telling her that she’s not allowed to hang out with you might be a little harsh. And helping her make other friends is so not your responsibility, because your energy is too precious for that. So what I encourage you to lean into in this moment is listening to and getting to know your own comfort zones so well that when they are crossed you know, honor and act on it immediately. Eventually this will turn into you knowing your boundaries even before they have been crossed. But when you ignore that part of you that says, “Yep, this is a line that I don’t want to be crossed,” you are the culprit of your own uncomfortability.
Be compassionate enough to yourself to have your own back. In creating more authentic compassion for yourself, you will be able to meet your roommate and her situation with both loving compassion and your own firm boundaries. Hey, she may be feeling lonely and desperate for some social community, and that’s valid, too. But you gotta put you first. Let her know that you want social space from her, and that it crosses the boundaries of what makes you feel good when she interjects herself into your social sphere uninvited. Leave the judgment out, and instead focus on “I” statements, about how you feel. Think of hypotheticals, like bringing friends back to your dorm, and begin to anticipate what it may look like to have your boundaries respected in those situations. When you meet your roommate with this consideration and thought for both your feelings and her experience, as well as clear expectations for the future, there will be no room for misinterpretation. In the process, you’ll be having your own back, creating more love, trust and integrity in your relationship with yourself.