Please Advise: I’m in love with my roommate’s live-in boyfriend.

Nerve readers help out with one girl’s real estate-related quandry.

Each week, the inbox of our venerable advice columnist, Miss Information, is flooded with queries. And although she makes a valiant effort, she cannot answer them all. To deal with the surplus, we've decided to turn to you. So, don your spectacles and help this woman out. You can give her advice in the comments below, or, if you'd like to share what you wrote with your friends, on our Facebook page.

Dear Nerve,

I live in a two-bedroom apartment with a girl I met on Craigslist and her boyfriend. They’re in one room, I’m in the other. They had a roommate who left in the middle of the lease, and I came in to sublet the room and ride out the next eight months. There’s a bit of a complication, though  I have some pretty serious feelings for her boyfriend, and he’s been acting like he wants to reciprocate. 

Let me back up: I hit it off much better with this girl’s boyfriend than with her, and what started out as “Hey, we’re both still up at 4 a.m., let’s have a beer and chat” has become a deep friendship with what feels like mutual romantic aspirations. He’s told me that he’s unhappy in the relationship, but can’t afford to leave the apartment. There are far too many lingering looks and prolonged hugs going on between us for this to be just in my head. 

There are  four months left in the lease. Should I make a move or just suck it up and wait it out? If I do make a move, should we try to keep it clandestine or break it to her and just endure an awkward couple of months?

— Three’s Company

Commentarium (57 Comments)

Jan 19 12 - 1:07am

Don't shit where you eat.

And don't fall in love with guys who want to hook up with you but won't end their current non-you relationship first.

Jan 19 12 - 1:37am

This. There is really nothing else to say. Hooking up with him with four months on the lease is an awful idea and you will seriously regret it.

Jan 19 12 - 2:13am

this times a thousand. Totally not worth the irritation that will follow the regrettable act

Jan 19 12 - 5:08am

Definitely this. If, despite the exhortations of numerous readers, you must ignore this advice, either a) find someone else to take over your lease and make the dude break up with his girlfriend before boinking him, or b) ride out the last four months of your lease, move, and make the dude break up with his girlfriend before boinking him.

Did I mention that unless this guy has no job whatsoever, he can afford to move out, even if he has to live with 7 roommates, in order to have some independence from his (potentially-ex girlfriend)?

Oh, and in the meantime, stop staying up until 4 in the morning to get drunk with this guy. It will lead to no good. If you are up late, be out of the apartment, or lock yourself in your room while bathing in icewater and thinking about your grandmother.

Jan 20 12 - 3:02pm

What they said.

Jan 23 12 - 8:09pm

I call this sort of scenario a "proximity crush." My completely unscientific theory is that if you spend a lot of time in close quarters with a person, either at work, at school, or in residence, biology will start butting in and playing matchmaker.

Ever work a day job, attend classes, or otherwise spend hours day in and day out with someone whom you normally wouldn't give the time of day? But after a while, an insidious kind of awareness starts creeping up on you and you start noticing them, and then liking them, and then dreaming about them, and then before you know it, you're completely infatuated with them? And this, despite the fact that this person might either be a) completely not your type, b) completely unavailable c) completely inappropriate for a relationship? Maybe it's so bad you're actually sitting there asking yourself, "What the fuck is wrong with me?! I can't like this person, they're married/my teacher/my boss/my intern/10 years older/10 years younger/a habitual nosepicker/a parent/live with their parents!" in between fantasies about this person?

That is a proximity crush. My completely unscientific theory is that if one spends enough time around a certain group of people, one's biological drive to reproduce starts tagging contenders from that group and forcing one to start having the hots for them, regardless of social construct. It can be excruciating.

In your case, though, the only way to win is to resist, LW. You probably know that already. For one thing, you would be a giant dirtbag for poaching your roommate's boyfriend, especially while you're all living together. How gross would that be? It wouldn't just be "awkward," his girlfriend would be sorely tempted to knife you both in your sleep. Even with no knifing, you would probably feel guilty and awful for that long after you moved out and the lust haze faded away. (His dirtbagginess for being a willing participant with lame excuses is an equal but separate issue.)

So be classy, LW. Don't hang around the place any more than you have to, especially at 4am with alcoholic beverages. Make sure his girlfriend is present for any and all social interactions and remind yourself (and him if necessary) that they are TOGETHER. No more hugs, no more deep convos, no more lingering eye contact.

The change in behavior alone might be enough to break the proximity crush. But if not, then plan to move out at the end of the 4 months. If your brain is telling you "no" while everything below it says "yes," let your brain have this one and dodge the bullet.

Jan 26 12 - 3:11pm


This happened to me at my job a few years ago. My company hired a new Copywriter and I thought nothing of him because he was not my type. A few months later we started working on this pretty crazy project together.

I suddenly had a very intense crush on him because we spent so much time together. After he got laid off, I barely saw him and it didn't take too long for my crush to fade.

Jan 19 12 - 1:11am

But, in all honestly, it sounds like you've decided what you want to do and are asking for permission. So, sure, you have my permission to find out just how bad the idea of hooking up with your roommate's live in boyfriend is, since you clearly haven't figured it out yet.

Jan 19 12 - 1:21pm

Perfect. Exactly what I was going to say!

Jan 19 12 - 2:06am

fuck him. then after that if he is

Jan 19 12 - 2:36am
Don't do it

Move out as quickly as possible. Sounds like a bad situation all the way around.

Jan 19 12 - 3:43am

Instead of sounding like a jerk Pellinore, you can acknowledge that this is an issue because she likes the guy. Sometime we can't help who we like. On the other hand you are just going to have to weigh the current situation, if it is really worth it to go after this dude, and if it is to clear a lot of crap with the current girlfriend because its not fair to her.

Jan 20 12 - 12:21am

I disagree. She could have helped it. I don't believe most people who say that they don't see things like this coming. The late nights staying up and drinking? It seems to be true that they get on better than she does with the guy's girlfriend, but she could have headed this off earlier--if she had wanted to. Either way, the point is that she is where she is now. And as someone mentioned earlier, it's a glaringly bad idea to mess around with him while they all live together. She's just hoping people will tell her what she wants to hear (or say that what she wants to do isn't that bad).

Jan 20 12 - 2:19pm

Oh, she likes him? Well, strike my comments from the record, this changes everything!

Jan 20 12 - 2:23pm

I mean, the only thing keeping him from breaking up with his girlfriend he lives with is that he's too poor to move and he chats with his girlfriend's roommate and gives her "lingering hugs." Obviously, he's a real catch and I'm just standing in the way of a true love for the ages.

Jan 20 12 - 2:26pm

I'm not disagreeing that its wrong or that the guy is a scumbag, but sometimes you like people for the wrong reasons. And its not your choice, we all make our own mistakes, its about the advice you give afterwards, you can't stop her from doing what she may want to do already like you said.

Jan 20 12 - 2:33pm

So, who said anything about forcing anybody to do anything?

Jan 20 12 - 2:38pm

No one, but she didn't follow the two things that you first commented on in the beginning that would have prevented this entire matter.

Jan 20 12 - 2:45pm

Come on, Chax. LW's "problem" is a problem in the sense that "are there 4 quarters or 3 in a dollar?" is a problem. And she knows it. As I said in my second comment, she's by all means free to sleep with this guy and see how it ends for herself. Hell, for all I know, they'll be madly in love and get married and pop out awesome kids.

But I wouldn't put money on it.

This is a problem most of us grow out of after middle school.

Jan 20 12 - 2:52pm

If the majority of us were that mature, this site would be nonexistent. I completely get where you're coming from, just felt like you aren't accounting for people not accepting other peoples advice as much as their own past mistakes/experiences.

Jan 20 12 - 3:06pm

Actually, what you did was call me a jerk and make it personal.

If I'm walking down a trail and I fall in a hole, am I a jerk if someone asks for directions down a trail and I warn them about the hole, no matter how appealing the hole may seem?

Jan 20 12 - 3:12pm

Sorry for hurting your feelings. I guess I don't believe that starting with don't shit where you eat, and then following up with you have my permission to find out how horribly this will screw up is the way to give helpful anonymous advice.

Jan 20 12 - 3:18pm

You are aware "Don't shit where you eat" is a common idiom, yes?

Jan 20 12 - 3:22pm

Don't make it any more appropriate to someone you don't know.

Jan 20 12 - 3:24pm

Saying "shit" makes me a jerk? What, did you just discover the internet last week?

This is not a situation that requires kid gloves and sometimes daddy uses grown up words.

Jan 20 12 - 3:37pm

What people fail to realize is that she isn't completely in the wrong for this situation. I think i speak for just about everybody when you have emotions that make you do stupid things, weren't the the romantic stupid choices for ultimately good reasons? Barely anyone is as grown up as you to build a switch for your emotions, also I guess you've never been any sort of emotional predicament cause of that right?

Jan 20 12 - 3:45pm

There's your problem. You think you speak for just about everybody.

Nobody said she was in the wrong. Only that it's a bad idea to sleep with a guy who is already in a committed relationship especially when that relationship is with your roommate.

But you're saying, "But you don't understand! She REALLY REALLY WANTS TO!" as if that changes anything.

Jan 20 12 - 4:03pm

You didn't deny or agree with what I just asked, just called me arrogant for it. Of course it changes things, there's an obvious difference between asking advice on a decision when you are already inclined to take one path over another one as opposed to someone asking for advice with no idea what to do.

Jan 20 12 - 4:08pm

If a "romantic stupid choice" equates to sleeping with your roommate's boyfriend, I think I "speak for everyone" when I say "no, that's not done for a good reason."

Jan 20 12 - 4:13pm

I never said that was the best choice, I only said it's better to do so with her roommate's full knowledge. I think that she wants to sleep with that boy that lives/lived in her apartment not her roommate's girlfriend.

Jan 20 12 - 4:45pm

When did you say anything resembling that?

Jan 20 12 - 5:49pm

my first comment.

Jan 20 12 - 7:00pm

Yes, Chax, most of us have gotten crushes on shitty people that were inappropriate to pursue. Sometimes we're given reason to believe that the crush is reciprocated, although the inappropriate situation remains. You don't actually have to give in to that, even if you really really want to. That's what KingP is saying. You're acting like people are just completely at the mercy of their emotions, and they are not.

Jan 22 12 - 9:11pm

Give these guys their own column! Instead of a comment stream, give them questions and let them form a point/counterpoint. I'd read it, and it would be better than this bullshit.

Jan 23 12 - 9:35am

I would take that in a heartbeat. What are Nerve's rates, anyway? ;-)

Jan 23 12 - 8:54pm

I love these little Nerve comment spats, they're usually a more entertaining read than the article.

And I agree with KingP's first comment 100%. The letter writer is being a jerk by seriously considering mucking up her living situation by fucking around with her roommate's boyfriend rather than moving out and telling the boyfriend to make a choice like a goddamn good hearted adult. KingP is not being a jerk by pointing out someone else's jerky tendencies.

Jan 19 12 - 4:41am

'i am miserable with my wife/girlfriend, but cannot end it because /insert reason/'. bla bla blah. that and 'our sex life is non-existent' are the sentences that about every lover has heard from the shitty cowardly cheater who wants to get into her pants.

Jan 19 12 - 5:49pm

Fair enough, but it takes two to tango. There's a reason that single guys looking to get laid will sometimes wear a fake wedding ring. Some women are more attracted to a guy if he's otherwise attached, for a bunch of different reasons: thrill of the forbidden, getting off on competition, or whatever. Most people want what they can't have, and people love to win, so maybe the LW is more attracted to this guy for those reasons. Why is it only the guy who's shitty and cowardly? (And why, for that matter, do you write all this in gendered terms in the first place?)

Jan 19 12 - 8:08pm

Oh the LW is shitty and cowardly too. But the whole "I can't afford to move out" is utter BS to try and pull on the LW's "heart"strings with a woe-is-me. That was M's point. It's a classic line, just change the reason.

Jan 19 12 - 6:10am

oh what a big surprise, hit it off w/ the boy roommate than the girl, the oldest story in the book. of course guys are easier to hang with than girls, especially in this kind of situation, it always is. just because he's nice to talk to and you feel like there's a connection, doesn't mean there is. i'm sure he's charming and lots of flirting, but there's a lot of guys like this. as long as there's three of you, don't do anything stupid. everything in this post sounds more like a crush than a burgeoning relationship.

Jan 19 12 - 10:49am
Saratoga Slim

Talk to the girlfriend. You never know, she might be up for a three-way!

It'd be all like, "You and Biffocles always seem so happy together! You ever think about having a threesome? Maybe it would make your relationship even better. You know, turbocharged..."

And the roomie would be all like, "Whoa. You may be right about that. We're pretty awesome together but we could be awesomer! Epic."

"Well, you know, if you decide to, you should do it with me. I mean, you can totally trust me, right? You've known me for four months, so I'm like your sister. It'd be totally safe. I wouldn't even have an orgasm if you didn't want me to. And Biff would be totally into it because he wants you to be happy! You wouldn't have to worry that I'm trying to steal your man because we're going to be roommates for another four months, which makes us practically life partners."

"Oh, honey, you're the best friend I could ever have! Totally my BFF! Let's do it tonight!"

See how easy it is? No sneaking around or nothing! You may have a harder time convincing the boyfriend, though, because guys usually aren't into banging two women at the same time but maybe he's more open-minded than most.

Jan 20 12 - 1:12pm

OMG you are so hilarious!

Jan 19 12 - 10:53am
Buck Nasty

Just suck him off in the closet and swallow. But, please, remember to wipe the corners of your mouth. There should be no evidence/remains of the seminal fluid.

Jan 19 12 - 12:03pm

Really?....this is just annoying. This girl's biggest problem is having feelings for someone else's boyfriend. I don't know why I bothered reading this. She should have just posted this crap on dating confessions. I hope she gets rejected.

Jan 19 12 - 2:15pm

And what sort of problems should she have? I'd be very curious to read about your own convoluted and sordid romantic problems.

Jan 19 12 - 12:21pm

Lady, if you hook up with your roommate's boyfriend, it's not just going to be an awkward 3-4 months, it's going to be a homeless 3-4 months - for you, at least. Grow up, keep your panties on, and knock it off with the late-night chats and lingering hugs. If you seriously think that you will not be able to keep yourself from fucking this guy despite the myriad of terrible consequences and huge ethical issues, then you have a major impulse control problem. Find a nice therapist and work on that.

Otherwise, for the next few months, spend as little time in the apartment alone with the boyfriend as possible. Maybe try and pick up a FWB and spend time at his place. That'll get you away from the boyfriend and laid at the same time. When your lease is up, move out, and if you still have feelings for the boyfriend, send him an email explaining why you were distant for the last few months of your lease. Tell him that if he finds himself single, he should contact you. Then back off.

Jan 19 12 - 3:19pm

Although you two are probably fucking right now, here's a suggestion. Wouldn't it be better to keep things clean between you until you both get into a better living situation? The girl doesn't have to hate you both for years and maybe, just maybe, you'd be able to trust him going forward. I don't see how you could ever trust him if you're screwing him in this situation. How long before he would pitch to someone else when he's" not happy in the relationship"?

Jan 19 12 - 4:27pm

did the old roommate move out because he banged her? If so, then don't even burp on his boner. If not, masturbate loudly one night and hope that the two of them are into a little group action.

Jan 19 12 - 6:55pm

Wait. And read John Steinbeck's sage advice.
Because "nothing good gets away"...

Jan 20 12 - 5:12am

so LW is turned on by the type of guy who enjoys 'prolonged hugs' and pursues 'deep friendships with romantic aspirations' with another woman in her girlfriends apartment while she's sleeping in the next room? plus, he's supposedly living with her cause he is unable to support himself enough to rent even a room somewhere? aha. good luck with that relationship in the future, sounds like a real catch.

Jan 23 12 - 2:06pm

For REAL. Right on, Zhanna.

Jan 21 12 - 11:29am

Go for it. You two assholes deserve each other and the girl deserves to know the truth about what shitheads you and her boyfriend are.

Jan 21 12 - 5:49pm

Love it.

Feb 03 12 - 5:36pm
A Canadian Boy

Well put.

Jan 27 12 - 1:12am

He sounds like MAJOR trouble. Also, don't be a dick. just because you're someone new and you're giving each other special hugs doesn't meant that he and his gf didn't have that tenfold when they first met. maybe they're just having a hard time with things. then again, maybe she's a raging bitch and you guys are soul mates. never can tell.

but usually what happens is if you try to hook up with him now, you'll find he wont' do it, just out of him being in the relaylay, and then everything will be ruined.
in order for you to even have a chance, you need to let the lease ride out, get on with your life, date other guys, stay in touch, and if he and his girlfriend are not a good match they will break up. then you can get in touch.

If I ever live with a guy and we take a roommate, let me tell you, we're only getting fat ugly roomates who don't have any hot friends to bring over. life is hard. be compassionate. it's easy to steal a guys imagination from a relationship thats having trouble, and it's easy for relationships to have trouble in times of economic hardship. no one has any values anymore. everyone thinks they're just the bees knees. pttthhh.. geeez.

Feb 03 12 - 5:35pm
A Canadian Boy

He's in an existing relationship. It's not your place to judge the value of his relationship.

With this, I'd consider the matter closed.