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Dear Mary: My housemate is just impossible to live with - I can't carry on


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I have been friends with this girl for about five or six years. We moved in together a couple of years ago. At first it was nice, we got on well and had a lot of fun.

A couple of months in, things started to change. At first it was little things, like she would decide that I was annoyed at her and get annoyed with me. Eventually after a couple of days of bitchy behaviour from her, we would talk about it. It would be the same conversation, her telling me that I'm annoyed with her, me telling her that I'm not and her accusing me of lying.

Each time we would get over it and carry on until the next time.

This has been a recurring thing every couple of months, each time it's been more and more difficult to brush off. Initially, I put this down to stress.

About a year ago, she got sick, I took time off work to bring her to hospital and sit with her. I have comforted her when she was upset about being sick and scared for her future.

However, no matter what I seem to do, it's never enough.

She recently suggested that I should reimburse her for her therapist's fees as she's apparently had a lot of sessions with her therapist in which I am the sole focus.

Apparently, her therapist has told her that I am a bad person, that I need to change my behaviour and that I need to help her more through her illness.

Over the last number of months, it's really been getting me down and beginning to affect my health.

I don't like being in the house with her, I don't feel comfortable around her and I just generally feel very anxious and nervous of how she is going to react to me being there or if I have to ask her for money for bills or cleaning products.

I have recently taken to spending most of my time in my room, which seems to really annoy her. I feel like I can't win. When I walk into the communal spaces, I will say hello but I am met with a look of disdain and some sort of profanity from her.

Apart from my general discomfort, she uses the kitchen and sitting room a lot and spends most of her time on her laptop. I'm not going to sit there looking at the back of her computer screen, doing nothing.

I'm also going through a tough time myself with family and my own health issues, something that she is aware of but is not interested in hearing about and keeps telling me aren't important and accuses me of being dramatic.

I have sought counselling, alternative therapies and advice from friends to help me relax and deal with this situation, but it's not helping.

I had really hoped that there might be some way to salvage the friendship and I have spent weeks racking my brain to try to figure out what I might have done to her to deserve this treatment.

I am constantly on edge around this person. Part of me would love to talk to her and find out what has gone wrong but I'm not sure I have the energy any more. If I do talk to her, it will end up in an argument with me being the bad person, and I really do not have the emotional reserve to deal with arguing with her any more.

What should I do?

Mary replies:  When I first read this letter, I mistakenly assumed that it was from a man writing about his girlfriend. Now I know that you are female and you are writing about the difficulties you are having, living in the same house as your female friend. This got me thinking that no matter who we are or what our relationship is with our fellow housemates, we ought to treat them with respect and we expect the same from them.

You seem to have done everything you can possibly do to keep this girl happy while she seems to have no thought whatsoever for your feelings. This is particularly noticeable when she rubbishes your own health issues even though you took time off from work to be there for her during her illness.

I have never heard of a counsellor describing a person they have never met as a bad person - it would be totally unethical. What is much more likely is that you have been painted in a very bad light, for whatever reason, and the counsellor may have expressed the opinion that this wasn't appropriate behaviour for a housemate.

It would be very interesting to see your housemate's reaction if you suggested that you pay a visit to the therapist to find out for yourself what she said. I expect she would take steps to make sure that such a visit would never take place.

As for you paying for her therapy sessions, I think this is an outrageous request. Why on earth should you pay for whatever is going on in your housemate's mind that she feels the need to discuss with a therapist?

I know that it is difficult right now in Ireland to find rental accommodation, but I honestly feel that any alternative is better than what you are enduring right now. She is making your life a misery, you don't feel comfortable in the house no matter what you do and you are spending lots of time in your room which can't be good for you.

So you need to get out of this arrangement. You probably have a lease agreement with the landlord and therefore stand to lose your deposit if you leave. If this is the case, then tell your housemate - I cannot call her a friend because of the way she is treating you - that the sharing arrangement is patently not working and that you are going to look for somewhere else to live. And the sooner that you act, the better.

You can contact Mary O’Conor anonymously by visiting www.dearmary.ie or email her at dearmary@independent.ie or write c/o 27-32 Talbot Street, Dublin 1. All correspondence will be treated in confidence. Mary O’Conor regrets that she is unable to answer any questions privately.

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