Dear Wendy: “Can Ex-Lovers Be Roomies?”

I am currently sharing my apartment with my ex-boyfriend. Initially, this wasn’t the plan, but he gave a good argument about why it would be beneficial to the both of us — namely financially. I told him we could try it out and see. Well, it’s been a month and something has come to my attention that just really bothers me. He recently sent me an e-mail, accidentally, under an alias e-mail account he uses. The weird thing is that his alias is a female. When I asked him why he had an alias account and why he’s using a female name, he hesitated then said, “I don’t know … I use it for junk e-mails and stuff.” I explained to him that I thought it was creepy. I, too, have an e-mail account specifically for junk e-mails, but I don’t use an alias and if I did, my alias wouldn’t be a member of the opposite sex. His response to this was to delete his female alias account and create a new male alias account. My question is, am I wrong to find this incredibly creepy and to wonder what else he’s hiding? It’s no secret that one of the reasons we broke up was due to his secretiveness and lying. Am I an idiot for thinking we could be roommates? — Two’s A Crowd

The word “idiot” is pretty harsh, so why don’t we call it “naive” to think you could be roommates with your ex? Living with someone presents enough challenges as it is without all the baggage a broken relationship brings. Because he’s your ex first and foremost, there’s subtext – deliberate or not — in almost every action he makes. “What else is he hiding?” becomes “What else is he hiding from me?” “Who’s the girl he brought home?” becomes “Who’s the girl he’s with instead of me?” Because, honestly, if you didn’t have a sexual/romantic history with a roommate, would you really care at all what his spam email address was? The status of your relationship may have changed, but you’re continuing to analyze your ex’s actions in terms of the romantic relationship you had with him … which is natural, but also means you need distance from him.

It’s unclear from your letter whether you were living together as a couple and then broke up and decided to stay put, or whether you’ve been broken up for a while and then decided to live together. Regardless, let me say this in no uncertain terms: Living with your ex is a terrible idea — especially if you think he’s shady. You’re just begging for problems! And what’s the point? So you can save a few bucks? So you don’t have to go through the trouble of moving out, finding a new apartment and a new roommate? Or, is there a part of you that hopes in living with your ex, you have a better chance at keeping tabs on him and eventually even rekindling your relationship? I’ll tell you right now: That’s not going to happen. And if it does? If you do manage to get back together temporarily? Your relationship will be a ticking time bomb and your mental health will be at stake. For the sake of your sanity and the health of your future relationships, find a different roommate. Get some distance from this guy before the baggage you’ve got with him gets any heavier.

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