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Claustrophobic

Monday, Sep. 17, 2012
Derek's roommate, Joey, is extremely clingy.
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Derek is beginning his freshman year in college. Wanting to expand his social horizons, he had signed up for a random roommate assignment when it came time to register for housing. Now, several months after making that decision, he felt a little nervous as he moved the first boxes into his room. However, his roommate, Joey, had arrived before him, and he was quickly relieved to discover that Joey seemed “normal.”
 
The two guys got dinner together the first night, and got to know each other a bit. Joey seemed friendly and didn’t have any obvious hygiene issues, so Derek felt like it was a good match! He had heard lots of roommate “horror stories,” and was thankful that he would not be added to that list.
 
After the first couple weeks of classes, Derek signed up for the student government and quickly found a group of friends through that organization. Joey, however, was less proactive—he seemed to limit his free time to surfing the Internet, and began to make comments about feeling lonely and homesick. Derek felt bad for the guy, so he invited Joey to hang out in his new friend group as an opportunity to socialize and meet more people.
 
As Joey began to tag along more and more, Derek started to realize that their personalities didn’t exactly mesh. Little things that Joey would do or say would rub Derek the wrong way, and he could tell that others in the group shared that sentiment. It began to be an obligation to invite Joey along to things, and nobody felt that they could completely be themselves with Joey around. Derek felt responsible for creating this tricky dynamic, and felt that he had to do something about it.
 
Torn between being a good friend and feeling claustrophobic, Derek was faced with a tough decision. Should he stick it out for the rest of the year for Joey’s sake? Or, should he be honest and tell Joey that sometimes he wants a little space to hang out with his friends by himself?
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Photo by maverick253 available under a Creative Commons license on Google Images.

Comments Comments

Brandon F said on Sep 19, 2012
This is a very difficult place for Derek. I suggest he talks to his roommate and explains that he likes hanging out however he needs his personal space. Having a roommate at college can become a lot to deal with so time apart and with different friends and activities is sometimes the best thing. - Like
N Sliwinski said on Sep 19, 2012
I believe Derek should be honest with Joey and tell him he needs some space with his friends. I believe it is going to hurt Joey but sometimes you have to be selfish and straight up with people or you will be complaining about it all the time. Joey will get over it eventually and it might push him to go meet more people like him. - Like
Sarah said on Sep 21, 2012
This is a tricky situation. Derek did initially invite Joey to hang out with him, and he can't exactly say, "Sorry, that invite had an expiration date." It would be kind of thoughtless to have a sudden change of heart, ?forget? to invite Joey to things, etc, particularly since Joey seems to be having a tough time getting out and socializing with people. It was kind of Derek to recognize this at the start and attempt to get Joey plugged into the community, or at least give him an outlet for interaction beyond his computer screen. At the same time, though, it's completely natural that Derek would be drawn to a friend group with similar interests, and it's also completely natural that someone (in this case, Joey) would potentially rub him the wrong way. We all have personality quirks that have an impact on who we get along with, and it doesn't make anyone better or worse than the next person. Strong friendships are based on a combination of context, compatible personalities, and shared interests, and it sounds like all Derek and Joey have in common is their room assignment. In my opinion, Derek is being dishonest if he simply pretends to enjoy the time he spends with Joey and lets this pattern continue- both guys deserve authentic friendships, and this clearly isn?t one. I think that Derek should talk to Joey and get to know more about his interests, and then suggest different clubs or activities that Joey could get plugged into. Derek could even turn their first dinner into a weekly tradition, so that Joey would feel like he always had someone he could count on. I also think that Derek should make it clear that his student government friends do activities that are specifically organized for official members of that group to enjoy (whether this is a stretch or not), until Joey has friends of his own to occupy his time. - Like - 3 people like this.
Gustavo Cortez said on Sep 21, 2012
don't be a weeny and stick it out. lot's of people deal with roommates like this. Just call him out - Like
Lindsey said on Sep 21, 2012
In spite of the fact that Derek had initially invited Joey to hang out with his new friends, he should not feel obligated to continue doing so especially if these new friends are beginning to feel uncomfortable and not themselves when Joey is around. Being a good roommate and being a good friend are two entirely different things. Being a roommate does not always mean making collective friends or social decisions. While it is always nice to have a roommate you get along with and can hang out with, it appears that this situation is creating a sense of dependency, which is not intuitive of a healthy friendship. - Like - 3 people like this.
Caitlin said on Sep 30, 2012
I believe that if Derek just sits down and talks to Joey that he might be able to explain to Joey his feelings. Derek should not have his freshman year experience tainted by a bad roommate experience. College is all about new experiences and getting to know new people. - Like - 1 person likes this.
Hadi said on Sep 30, 2012
I've been reading all the responses and stuff and I don't know why we wouldn't ask Joey or involve him in the decision. I think through a rights-based approach or even a virtue based approach the right thing to do is to understand where Joey is coming from, and find out why he is acting the way he is. Maybe there are larger issues that could be dealt with that Derek might be overlooking by thinking that Joey is the one with the issue(s) and not thinking critically or self reflectively about himself. I think important virtues are introspection and empathy. Through these tools, as already described, Derek should try harder to understand the why behind Joey's behavior. On the other hand, it is also not right to 1. prevent Joey from hanging out with a community he probably likes, nor is it alright to 2. deceive Joey and make him think, or give him the impression that Derek and Derek's friends like him (i.e., Joey). As a matter of principle, Joey should be respected as a person who is capable of making decisions, and Derek should try to understand what is causing the behavior and THEN try to have a conversation that is honest about his (i.e., Derek's) feelings. There should be no assumptions from Derek's ends, nor should the fault or blame be placed on Joey just because Derek doesn't understand what's going on. - Like - 3 people like this.
Dallin said on Sep 30, 2013
Of course it is important for Derek to get over his frustrations, but he can?t make his friends do that and they will eventually start teasing Joey if someone doesn?t tell him. Derek could prevent the teasing by talking to Joey and tell him what he is doing that is irritating his friends. It is also important not to control Joey or make him be someone he is not. So together find ways Joey can be himself without bugging the friends. - Like
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Tags: clingy, dorm, roommate