Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Love among the College Set

So, today we read about the college student who is having an affair with his roommate. We assume that the letter writer, named Zack, is male, but, these days, you never know. We know that Zack’s female roommate has a boyfriend. For some reason, not elucidated in the letter, the woman is living with Zack, but not with her long time boyfriend.

As it happened, Zack and his otherwise attached roommate developed feelings for each other and acted on those feelings. When the boyfriend found out he was crushed. The woman in question first suggested that she would leave her boyfriend for him, but later changed her mind. Zack considered the boyfriend to be a loser, so he could not understand why she was staying with him. It made no sense that she did not see any future with Zack.

As often happens in these letters, we do not know why the girlfriend does not consider Zack to be relationship material. I suspect that she had a good reason.

Anyway, she wants Zack to be her live-in casual encounter while remaining with her boyfriend.

So, Zack thinks he has a problem and writes to therapist Lori Gottlieb. I will not share her remarks, except to say that she goes on about why it might be happening that Zack cares for a woman who is unavailable.

One does not want to be overly literal here, but the woman is not unavailable. She is more than happy to be intimate with him. But she insists that it does not mean anything.

It’s almost as though she is acting like a man with a mistress, but with today’s college students, who knows. If she is not a man with a mistress she is a woman who clearly does not respect herself. There are words that describe such women, but I will refrain from regaling you with them.

So, the first question is not why Zack is drawn to a woman who does not want to have a relationship with him, but why the woman in question is double dealing, betraying her boyfriend and in some sense betraying Zack. Why would Zack want a woman who is so obviously faithless? Does he find something appealing about sharing? If so, he would be a very rare bird, indeed?

And why does the boyfriend put up with this? He knows that his girlfriend is living with a man she used to have sex with. He must assume that the two of them are continuing to have sex while he is not around. Why does he stay with her?

For your edification, here is the letter:

I’m a 21-year-old college student and I’m currently having an affair with my roommate. I have known her for three and a half years and we do almost everything together. She began dating her boyfriend shortly before we met, and they are still together.

Our relationship started last May, when she confessed her feelings for me and I admitted that I had feelings for her as well. Despite knowing that she had a boyfriend, I allowed our relationship to develop during summer break. When we returned to school, her boyfriend came to stay for a few nights, discovered our relationship, and was devastated.

I was physically ill from the guilt and decided to move in with my grandparents to put some distance between us. After a few weeks, I returned to my apartment and my roommate, and I attempted to set boundaries and reestablish our friendship. Despite this, our relationship escalated to physical encounters. Since then, our relationship has continued to be physically and emotionally intimate.

I am deeply troubled by this relationship. I’ve been clear that I want it to become something more, and originally, she gave me the impression that she would leave her boyfriend for me. But she has changed her stance and now says we will never be together. She seems to want to have a casual relationship with me while maintaining a relationship with her boyfriend.

This makes me feel awful. It’s as if she’s saying I’m not good enough for her and that I’m inferior to her partner. I can’t help but think that she’s wrong. Her boyfriend is uneducated, crass, and unambitious. I can’t understand why she won’t leave him. She is fully aware that I have deep feelings for her, yet she continues to taunt me by maintaining a relationship that won’t lead anywhere and will inevitably end. I was secretly devastated when she informed me that she and her boyfriend wanted to make things work. She is willing to put in effort to stay with him but is unwilling to start a relationship with me; again, that makes me feel second-rate.

I think I’m afraid to leave her because I have to live with her for the next six months and I’m afraid to upset her. Also, I often feel unattractive and undesirable, so her attention has really made me feel better about myself. I am paralyzed; I don’t know what to do or how to move on. Should I let the relationship continue for the next few months until I have to leave, or should I end it now?


Of course, Zack is a bundle of adolescent emotions, so we might understand why the roommate does not find him a very good relationship prospect. 

And why has no one thought of the possibility that Zack can move out of the apartment, to be replaced by the roommates's boyfriend. In truth, if he really wants her to see him as more than a fuck buddy he would do well to put some distance between them. He should just pick up and leave... going back to live with his grandmother. Even if he still has to pay rent. One suspects that his grandmother will not be charging him rent.

Anyway, try a thought experiment. What if the name Zack is not only a pseudonym? What if it has been chosen to hide the letter writer’s gender? What if Zackis really a woman, named Zoe or Zelda, or some such. Wouldn’t that cast an entirely different light on it all?


trigger warning said...

I've heard about this guy. His real name is Cuck Oldman. Bet he does the housework, too. Kudos to the chica.


UbuMaccabee said...

Maybe polyandry is the right solution?

Sam L. said...

As the Canadian Jews say, "VOY! Eh?" Two, no, THREE crazy mixed-up kids.

Perpetual student said...

I assume that college aged kids are not more mature than I was back then. Let's cut them a little slack to sort out the transition into adulthood.

Anonymous said...

As Perpetual Student said, the writer (I think a guy) needs to get older and wiser. He has no idea what his standards should be or about "boundaries." A friend, a book, or something, has to clue him in.

Pete the Streak said...

Next time he has her in the sack, he should tell her he's begun dating a great lady, but they've decided to hold off on being exclusive for a little longer. I wonder if his 'attractivity' will increase to his roomie?