Dear Rhonda
I’m bi. Housemate is gay. There have been a few dalliances, nothing serious (he gives bad head). Housemate is in love with me. Housemate has been told that it ain’t gunna happen, no way, no how, this boy ain’t after a relationship. He still gets jealous and it shits me. Apart from the not being able to see anyone he’s a pretty good housemate. Can lean towards the drama queen at times, but I’m so relaxed I’m horizontal so it doesn’t bother me so much.
Can’t afford a place of my own. Feel some kind of loyalty due to the housemate being a friend.
At what point is enough enough? How would you explain to a besotted housemate that you will be bumping uglies with others?
–him the confused

Dear him the confused,

Rule No. 1 of sharing house is ‘don’t bump uglies with the housemates’. In the event that you breach Rule No. 1, invoke Rule No. 2: ‘if awkwardness ensues, stop being housemates’.

The problem with ‘dalliances’, particularly repeated ones, is that even when they don’t progress to something you might consider a ‘relationship’, they are a relationship of sorts. People are people and emotional entanglements are what we do best. Add to that your existing friendship and housemate relationship, and what you have on your hands is akin to a break-up.

Breakups need space to heal, for one or both of you to feel hurt, to get angry, and ultimately come to terms with seeing each other with someone new. Usually you would remove yourselves from one another physically (and if you have any sense, from each other’s virtual space as well). Right now, your housemate can’t do that, which means he is having his nose rubbed in the fact that his feelings aren’t reciprocated before he has had the space to properly detach and grieve.

You say you can’t afford a place of your own, but there are other people to share with. Moving is a hassle, and can be expensive, so if that really isn’t an option, it might be time for a further frank discussion with your current housemate (and friend). Start by acknowledging the way that he is feeling. Explain that you don’t feel the same way, and that you want to see other people, and that includes in your shared house. Tell him you understand this might be uncomfortable for him, that your intention isn’t to rub his nose in it, but that you weren’t in a committed relationship, and so you want to feel as free as any other housemate to bring people home from time to time.

If you had been in a committed relationship, I would strongly advise against bringing dates home out of consideration for your ex. In this case, it’s a bit trickier, because by the rules of your dalliance-only relationship, you really don’t owe him anything. Having said that, you don’t want to be a complete douche. He is your friend, he is your housemate, and he is a human being. For that reason, I would try to see people at their place if possible. It is a balance, though. You shouldn’t have to put your life on hold because of his unrequited feelings, so maybe let him know in advance that you are likely to start bringing people home so that he can get his head around it before the situation is there in front of him.

After that, if he gets jealous, throws tantrums or otherwise makes your life difficult, call him on it, not in a nasty way, but be firm. He is also choosing to remain in the situation by not moving out (and on) himself, and he needs to own his part in the situation.

Lastly, don’t breach Rule No. 1 again.

Good luck and let me know how you go.


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