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Wedding Woes

Roommate is human Eeyore

Dear Prudence,

I recently moved to a new city and found an apartment with an acquaintance from high school. My roommate is generally conscientious, clean, and quiet. Our living patterns mesh pretty well. However, she’s a grade A bummer—I’ve never met anyone with a more negative outlook on life. If I tell her a story about my day, she will find a way to pull out the most negative aspect and complain about how she hates that thing. If we’re talking about a hobby, she’ll go on about how she’s so bad at it she might as well give up. If I thank her for sharing her cooking with me, she’ll talk about how she cooked it wrong and now it tastes terrible. Even silence isn’t proof against her negativity; she’ll often pipe up with bombs like “I don’t think I can feel feelings anymore!” which is hard to ignore. Being constantly super cheerful around her is exhausting, and asking her to change anything leads to such a torrent of hand-wringing and agonized apologies that I don’t think being direct with her is possible. How can I set boundaries with her without those boundaries becoming another source of performative angst? How can I enjoy my time at home with Eeyore moping around in the kitchen?

—Living With a Rain Cloud

Re: Roommate is human Eeyore

  • I can’t tell if the roommate is really feeling this way & has depression or if she’s just someone who likes to complain. If it’s the later, tell her you’re not interested in complaining, but if it’s the former find ways to talk to her about counseling. The “I can’t feel feelings anymore” would be a big red flag is she was serious that she might need some assistance right now. Suggest she talk to someone. 

    In the meantime I’d say keep trying to keep things light and limit the time you spend with her. 
    OliveOilsMomshort+sassyOurWildKingdom
  • CharmedPamCharmedPam Chicagoburbs member
    2500 Comments 500 Love Its Fourth Anniversary First Answer
    You make a good point about depression that I wasnt even thinking of because as I read it I thought thats my complaining coworker! And I literally just avoid her now and try not to talk because everything is “awful”.  But if its depression a talk about therapy is good.

  • You find a new roommate.  Debbie Downer isn't going to change.
  • cupcait927cupcait927 Western NY wine country member
    Sixth Anniversary 2500 Comments 500 Love Its First Answer
    I can’t tell if the roommate is really feeling this way & has depression or if she’s just someone who likes to complain. If it’s the later, tell her you’re not interested in complaining, but if it’s the former find ways to talk to her about counseling. The “I can’t feel feelings anymore” would be a big red flag is she was serious that she might need some assistance right now. Suggest she talk to someone. 

    In the meantime I’d say keep trying to keep things light and limit the time you spend with her. 
    I read it as roommate definitely suffers from depression, anxiety or both. H and I both will have days where we act like roommate, but we both know it's a symptom of depression or anxiety and reach out accordingly. It's also possible that roommate just is a negative person, but either way, I think it would be time for LW to find a new roommate because it can be absolutely exhausting trying to be positive for another person.
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    charlotte989875OurWildKingdom
  • Martyr Complex isn't necessarily depression - js...  That's more of what it sounds like to me.  

    Roommate needs a new roommate, but also to understand she's not responsible for roommate's perceptual lack of happiness.  
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  • Get a new roommate ASAP.  I grew up with a super negative, over dramatic, emotionally needy black hole called mom. Because of that I have zero patience for people who behave like that.  LW can't change her, she can't find magic words and she can set all the boundaries she wants but they won't be respected.  The only option that will save her sanity is get a new roommate. 

    MyNameIsNotcharlotte989875MesmrEwe
  • OurWildKingdomOurWildKingdom in the 216 member
    2500 Comments 500 Love Its Third Anniversary 5 Answers
    “I can’t feel feelings anymore,” says depression to me. LW should express concern to roommate and suggest that she get some kind of professional help.
    charlotte989875
  • ShesSoColdShesSoCold bend over and I'll show ya mod
    Moderator 5000 Comments Fifth Anniversary 500 Love Its

    I would have another sit-down with the roommate and share my concerns about her mental health.  I'd tell her I'm worried she might have depression but, either way, I think it would do her a world of good to see a therapist to work out some of the things she's told me like "I can't feel feelings anymore".

    I would assure her I care about her, I'm not complaining about her, but I'm concerned and want her to get the help she needs.  And while all of that would be true.  I'd also be looking for a good opportunity to find a better living situation.

    I've known people like this.  I even dated a few people like this.  It's exhausting and really unhealthy.  It sucked the joy and energy right out of me.  And if it was someone I was around a lot, like a b/f, it also slowly started to become pervasive in my own feelings.

    This. Well said. Obviously none of us can assume what's going on with the roommate's health but I would try to help them before just up and leaving if I thought they had a problem.

    But one can only do so much for other people and if it's this big of a deal for LW, they should take care of themselves. 
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    charlotte989875
  • “I can’t feel feelings anymore,” says depression to me. LW should express concern to roommate and suggest that she get some kind of professional help.

    That was the one line that turned it around for me from "she's a complainer personality, some people seem happiest complaining" (though therapy could help with that also) to "ooohhhh, this might be a more serious and urgent issue".

    Other than the cry for help line, this letter reminds me of a former coworker I had.  She would complain constantly about everything.  Like @LondonLisa pointed out, I'd sometimes give her a simple suggestion(s) for fixing whatever her problem flavor of the hour was, but she'd always make an excuse or some outlandish "what if" as to why that wouldn't work.

    She'd also complain when good things happened to her, smh. Like this was so great/nice/wonderful but...

    I swear, if she won $100M in the Powerball, all she'd do is complain about having to pay $30M in taxes, lol.

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    charlotte989875
  • You can’t. You need to move
  • LW can (and perhaps should) encourage the roommate to go for counseling. While of this definitely sounds like classic Debbie Downer stuff, some of it does sound like depression and bad self-image, both of which could be worked on with a good therapist if roommate is open to it. 

    That being said, LW is also not obligated to continue living with a roommate who makes them uncomfortable in their own home and takes a big toll on their own emotional health. If the roommate won't work on these issues and things don't improve, LW needs to find a new roommate/new place to live. This is a situation where it's okay to put yourself first.
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    short+sassy
  •  I might be tempted to say something like, "You're right, you do suck at knitting" or "yeah, cooking isn't your strong suit" just to point out how ridiculous her negativity is. But the truth is, you can't fix it, so don't let her be your project. Just ignore her until your lease is up and then move out. If you found the place together, you can negotiate about who leaves and who stays, but whatever you do, don't live with her.
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