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Unhappy housemate

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Emotional advice Hello,

2 months ago my ex boyfriend broke up with me after not long moving in together. I wanted to stay where we lived but needed to get a housemate to help cover the rent. I ended up renting the room out to a girl, around my age, who seemed nice enough. On the day she came to view the house, she came along with her parents, who asked me lots of questions about myself, to the point it felt like i was in an interview! After they toured the house they told me, they would take the room.

She moved in pretty quick and on the day there was a strange moment when her mum told me, she and her husband would visit twice and if there were any problems I was to tell her. It felt like i needed to question her a bit more about this but I left it. There have been no problems, my house mate has been a really good, she's tidy, polite, she does her fair share of house work, and unlike me she pays attention to when things are running out and replaces them! But she seems incredicably unhappy. She's seems to be a really sweet, thoughtful person, just very, very shy, she speaks really quietly and rarely comes out of her room, other then to go to work or to the shops.

I don't expect us to be best friends, but we havent quite bonded yet. I have tried to befriend her best I can, as have been pretty lonely myself since my ex broke up with me ive been looking forward to having a girl in the house. I've tried by asking her out for a drink, she declined nicely with an excuse. Another time I had friends over for a movie night so i asked if she wants to join us but again she said no thanks, politely. I don't get offended easily, I have been giving her the bennifit of the doubt, thinking maybe she's homesick, she's never rented before so she's just nervous, needs time to settle. I accept that she's a shy person and maybe very anxious one. One thing I have noticed is lots of thins healed scars on her hands, which obviously tells me her past has been difficult.

Her parents seem to play a part in her unhappiness, they drive the two hours journey every Wednesday and Saturday to see her, turning up at 5.30 pm and leave at 8 o clock on the dot. I work odd hours but have been around when they have come round and its a bit odd, their it tension between all three of them, my house mate makes them dinner and she looks unhappy in their company. Most of the time they dont talk much to each other. This doesnt seem to always be the case as two weeks ago, I walked in on an arguement, where my housemate was crying , her mum was really shouting at her, and her dad seemed to be agreeing, then in turn lecturing her. When they left her mum turned to me and said 'I'm so sorry you have to put up with her" to which I replied her 'I don't put up with her at all', she didnt seem to like my reply much lol, because she walked out without saying a word. My housemate was grateful towards said thank you but then vanished and i didnt see her for two day, i didn't even get to talk to her because I was working night shifts but I was been really worried about her.

Now when I do see her she looks like she been crying or really sad. The positive thing is she's very slowly starting speaking more, still in a very quiet tone, but I've made sure to listen and encourage. It's like she wants to word-vomit all over me but then she stops herself. I'm being careful not to push her as i dont want to upset her anymore. I have told her if she doesn't want them to come, she could tell her parents not to but she told me she could do that, so they still come. They could be nice people trying to help they're daughter and shes resisting but so far I find them to be controlling.

I know none of this is my business, but it feels like she desperately trying to reach out and talk. How do i get her to open up?

There also seems to be new cuts on her hands so i know she needs help and counselli, maybe she already goes. Advise would be great please as I can't stop worrying about her.

Unhappy housemate

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Hello Amister:

You read like a very reasonable, aware, attentive and kind person. Your housemate is fortunate to end up living with you. It is clear to me from your share that her parents are and have been abusive to her for a long time. You witnessed her mother shouting at her already anxious daughter and the father agreeing with his wife, and so the two of them attacking their own daughter, what a shame. It is best for her to not have any contact with them, but unfortunately she is not in the place to make that happen yet.

To encourage her to talk to you, she needs to feel safe with you, safer than she feels already. She needs to trust you to not attack her if she shares more with you (unlike her parents attacking her). Make sure the tone of your voice is farthest from the shouting tone you heard from her mother, that your voice is calm and gentle. Let her know that the shouting you heard was wrong, that you are on her side (not on her parents' side).

At best you can encourage her to open up to you and suggest she attends psychotherapy, but her healing will hav to include no contact with her parents and therapy for a long time.


Unhappy housemate

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Obviously your new roomate is a troubled person, and her parents are even more troublesome because they bring toxicity into your home.

Want to step up to them? The next time they go off on her in your home you ought to say something about it, like “Sorry, but I just can’t have that kind of talk in my house. This house needs to be a safe place for XXX and me, and I can’t allow my homelife to become upset. Please leave if you can’t honor that.”

Unhappy housemate

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Your x-boyfriend lost a very compassionate person, his loss!

First: there could be a lot more to this story. And she might be afraid if she shares her heart, you too will sound like her parents?

You mentioned depression. Could she be cutting herself? You mentioned seeing new cuts and healing scars: could she be suicidal? If so, get a hotline ready.


She need a friend, and it looks like she found you. Maybe you can share your heartbreak with her and let her know you appreciate having her as a roommate?

You are taking it slow and probably, need more encouragement than advice.

I'd continue to be the mediator between her and her parents, and try and keep the communication open, as long as it's more respectful.

I'm not sure if you are a praying person, but God Bless you!

Unhappy housemate

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Thank you for your replies, and for nice comments. I've been meaning to write an update.

Yes, turns out her parents are toxic people and my housemate needed to get away from them. They controlled everything in her life, her career, how she had her hair styled, the clothes she wore, friends and her Relationships with men, who were unfortunately like her parents, controlling and unkind. They only let her rent 2 hours away from them because she got a job they approved of. Quite shocking for someone who is in their early-mid twenties.

She has made some amazing progress. we are now having proper conversations, she'll join in when I have friends round and I'm really enjoying the fact she's my housemate. I wanted my home to feel like hers, so together in our free time we've decorated and added a calm, girly touch.

I'm getting to know this now not so shy, highly intelligent person, slowly tranfranforrm before me. I'm no longer having to strain to hear her lol. I feel she is starting to trust me and I hope she believed me when I told her I would never treat or speak to her like her parents do. I felt like I had to say that to her to gain her trust.

She's starting to say more what she wants to do. She's wants to change her job, so she's looking into that, without telling her parents, as of yet. I helped her dye her hair, again, something she's always wanted to but was never allowed. She was very nervous about seeing them with her new hair, so I made sure I was home.

She was also in a relationship with a guy who she really liked, who her parents disapproved of him for apparently no reason. She's managed to get back in contact with him through social media and they are meeting up.

With regards to the argument I walked in on. My housemate was going to counselling, but an hour and a half away. She asked her parents if she could find a therapist closer to her new home. makes sense to most people right? but not to them and they told her no. This therapist was someone her parents picked for her, she didn't connect with this person, she told me she wanted to pick her someone herself and pay for her own therapy, which is what she has done.

She used to run everything she did past her parents, to seek their approval or opinion, mainly her mums. She thought this was normal. I know I have to be careful not to encourage her too much in case her parents think I'm a bad influence, but everything she has done she's done it off her own back, although I'm not sure they'd see it like that.

She still needs convincing on her parents coming round twice a week, or that if they contact her they she has to reply straight away. When they are round I have seen a slight difference in how she speaks to them, she's slowly defending herself. She's stopping cooking them meals at her exspense and started giving them cheap sandwiches from some unbranded shop, so they are possibly out of date and rank lol. She quite good at revenage, in small ways!

If there is an argument and they are malious to her again, I'm prepared to tell her parents that I will not tolerate it and I will ask them to leave. I feel quite protective of her because of what I'm seeing and don't want them to damage her progress or new found confidence and self esteem. It's a huge shame they can't see what I'm seeing. I'm wondering how else to help her with parents? And how she can express herself better. Do letters help with these types of controlling people? Many thanks!

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