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Miss Information

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My roommate's cheating on his girlfriend with my other roommate. Who should I yell at first?

Have a question? Email missinfo@nerve.com. Letters may be edited for length, content, and clarity.

Dear Miss Information,

There's a cute boy who works at my local coffee shop. He's worked there for a while, but we've gotten to know each other better recently because I work nearby and so stop in more often. We get along great and have the same sense of humor, and I've taken to stopping in just to say hello when I've got a few extra minutes on my way to work. Today, after a few weeks of discounted drinks, inside jokes, and more than a little friendly flirting, he gave me his number. I didn't ask for it, but smiled and accepted it before making my way home. I joked that he didn't even know my name, to which he responded, "I don't have to know your name to know I think you're an awesome person." While this may sound like the beginning to a great indie romance film, there's one slight hitch: I'm a lesbian.

My sexuality has only come up once in our conversations, and even then I'm not sure what he thought of the passing reference. I didn't say I was gay so much as mention an ex-girlfriend. I don't exactly "look the part" of a lesbian, whatever that means these days, but I've simply reached the point where I'm so tired of coming out again and again, to everyone I meet, that I rarely bring it up unless it's directly addressed. And while I would genuinely like to hang out with him — as I said, we get along well — I'm not sure how to make that happen without asking him to hang out and then having some sort of awkward conversation about my current girlfriend to be sure he knows it's not a date. My girlfriend doesn't live here, and I don't necessarily want to invite him to hang out with all of my friends because I know at least one would shout "She's gay!" the second he walked in the door. 

I know part of this is my fault — I'd be lying if I said I hadn't flirted back, and I feel bad that I let things progress to this point without clarifying the situation. There's something about knowing someone, boy or girl, has a crush on me that makes me determined to act like the alluring, confident temptress I think they think I am. But I don't want this to end like similar situations I've had. Boys have mistaken my openness and teasing/joking for actual amorous interest and then, once I've explained that I'm really, truly a lesbian, either pursued me in the hopes that I would reveal some burning physical desire for them, or labeled me a cocktease and cut me out of their lives except for the occasional belligerent drunk text.

Like I said, I want to be his friend. I've had fallings out with some of my closer guy friends (for the reasons I've outlined above) and I miss having that male friendship. Do you think it's possible, given the situation so far? If it is, how do I go about accomplishing that? 

— Female Really Isn't Enjoying Needless Difficulties

Dear FRIEND,

Let's assume a couple of things about this guy: 1. That he's charming (he sounds like it) and 2. That, even if he l-o-v-e-loves you, he'll get over it. My point being, the dude works in food service and chats up cute girls all day. He'll be able to dust himself off and get back to chatting up straighter cute girls.

More importantly, if he "thinks you're an awesome person (subtext: maybe I can get in her pants?)" then he will still "think you're an awesome person (subtext: we can talk about comic books together)." I don't think intentionless flirting precludes your chances of being his friend. But, unless you want to go the Weezer route (may I suggest painting your face with rainbow stripes?), you're going to have to come out. I know, it's super-annoying, but don't make him write a catchy song about you.

It doesn't need to be a big conversation; a casual mention can do the trick. Add an ego boost for good measure: "By the way, you should know I'm a lesbian. I just think you're awesome and didn't want to lose the chance to get to know you." Don't psych yourself out too much about it. It may come as a momentary surprise to him, but hearing that romantic overtures are off the table shouldn't affect him too much. He'll still get an awesome friend out of the deal, which is a net gain from where he was before he met you.

Dear Miss Information,

I fear that I have acquired a tired case of the My-Roommates-Are-Hooking-Up-Behind-My-Back-And-One-Of-Them-Is-In-A-Committed-Relationship-Itis. There is a little bit of history, but it is basically this: I like him. I don't like her. I like his girlfriend. I've caught them once before, and they said they would stop. But it's been a few weeks now, and I'm suspecting that they're back at it.

They're both to blame for their underhanded (and, may I add, trite) actions. But I'm in a bit of a tight spot, not because my knowing about the affair forces a lie by omission every time I see his girlfriend, but also because if I tell and he and his girlfriend break up, there's no reason for him and our roommate to stop hooking up. My strategy thus far has been to stay away from our house as often as possible, lest I catch them again. But I don't want to keep avoiding the situation, which has seriously strained my relationship with him, a best friend of five years. What should I do?

— Never Acting Reassures Cheating 

Dear NARC,

Oof. I searched my memory for any '90s pop song to pawn you off on ("Here! Len's "Steal My Sunshine" should solve it! Catch you later!" but no dice.) This situation does sound sticky.

Your best bet is to stay out of the politics of his relationships entirely, but hold your friend accountable for the position you're in. And he is accountable — he's the cheater, which makes him the guiltiest party. Talk to him and tell him how this affects you. Boiled down, that's your stake in this issue: he can screw up his relationships all he wants, but you are being dragged into it. You're in the uncomfortable position of either ignoring it or playing relationship referee, which is a lose-lose situation for you. He needs to step up and take responsibility.

At the same time, draw limits on your involvement. Yes, his relationship affects you, but you should stay above the fray. It's not your job to tell his girlfriend, nor is it your job to cover his tracks. You can, however, give him the macro perspective that he may be missing. Tell him how awkward it is for you and make a case for respecting his girlfriend. He needs to realize his actions have consequences, and he can't just have a girlfriend on retainer and an affair at home. Make your point clear, then back off. His conscience should take over from there. If you get any more involved, you'll just be a messenger in danger of being shot.

Ultimately, what you roommate is doing is extremely uncool, and he needs to make some changes. Besides the two girls he is stringing along, he is also putting your friendship in jeopardy. That's a lot of collateral damage for the cheap thrill of sneaking around.