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I've been living with my housemate for just over 3 years (June was the 3 year mark). She's female and I'm male. We haven't had any issues living together up until her and her boyfriend broke up in November last year.

She went from being someone who sang my praises in social situations to making me out to be the proverbial bad guy. I have no idea what brought this on, and I broached the subject with her about a month ago and again this past weekend, but she doesn't think her behaviour has changed since the breakup.

The reason they broke up was because she felt like she was always came 2nd to everything else in his life (surfing, working, cricket). I think she was hoping that if he knew she wasn't going to stick around, he'd make more of an effort. However, that wasn't the case and so she ended it.

I know I'm not imagining any of it, so how do I resolve this in order to get things back to the way they were?

@Spagirl: I don't have a partner. I'm a bit of an introvert, so I generally don't make plans unless I'm invited out by my friends. This isn't to say I don't go out at all. I'll spend every second or third weekend relaxing at home. We're the only two in the flat. Home life since the breakup has consisted of her bringing home boys she's met on Tinder for one night stands (basically using Tinder for sex only). We mix our social engagements with friends...she'll invite me to a thing and vice versa.

On to the belittling: Jane (for all intents and purposes) has a tendency to exaggerate things when she's talking to people. She started telling her friends that I never leave the flat and that I'm a hermit. This didn't stop until she had told everyone she knew.

After New Year's, Jane made a resolution to eat more vegetables (i.e. green leafy vegetables). I eat most vegetables but I don't enjoy the greens apart from spinach. So we agreed to start cooking our own meals. One night Jane was making dinner for herself and I jokingly commented on the fact that she was making enough food to feed a small country. She got defensive and went on about how it's all healthy food etc., and then looked me straight in the eyes and said in all seriousness "You eat like an actual c**t".

Around the same time, I started cooking enough meals on a Monday to last me the week. Jane started telling friends how I'd cook for the week, but made it sound like it was the wrong thing for someone to do.

There have been other smaller instances which I can't recall right now, but the most recent had to do with dirty dishes left by her friend who was staying with us before moving to India (it's very rare I leave dirty dishes in the kitchen). Jane blamed me for the mess and brought it up in two social settings.

So for those that haven't noticed the pattern, she keeps bringing up an issue until everyone knows I'm not a great guy, when in reality I'm a pretty standup person. I've been called a real gentleman by a number of women and more often than not I treat others with respect.

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    Also, if you had more information to provide or could improve the question, did you ask on the Meta if you were prevented from changing it? – user8671 Aug 1 '18 at 14:26
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    This question is fine. Rejected migrations can cause some weird stuff with locks and such, although flagging was an option, this is okay for me too. We'll get rid of the other one :) Good luck! – Tinkeringbell Aug 1 '18 at 14:31
  • How old are you both? What makes you think the breakup is the reason for her change in behavior? – Cliff Aug 1 '18 at 14:34
  • @Kozaky Yes, I'm there when she's telling people the things mentioned above and yes it's in a condescending manner. There hasn't been a change in the time she spends with me. – VenomRush Aug 1 '18 at 14:36
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    Have you ever heard from her friends any comment putting you as a potential partner for her? Maybe she's trying to demostrate that she is not interested in you. – Santiago Aug 1 '18 at 20:41
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As people have been stating in other answers, this definitely sounds like an issue of seriously low self esteem brought on by the breakup. If she was never receiving validation from her past relationship, she's attempting to receive validation from one night stands and putting you down.

How To Approach Her

You mentioned how you attempted to discuss with her about her behavior change, but it seemed pretty unsuccessful.

I broached the subject with her about a month ago and again this past weekend but she doesn't think her behaviour has changed since the breakup.

If you approached her about her behavior changing, it's likely that she took this as a confrontation. If she's receiving validation from the Tinder hookups and her friends, then it's not surprising why she didn't empathize with your situation. After all, you're the bad guy, and why should she listen to you, right?

You should still talk with her about her behavior, but frame it as how it affects you. A common approach is using "I feel" statements.

  • "I feel belittled when you make me out to be a bad guy while we are out with your friends"
  • "I feel unheard when you don't acknowledge how your actions are affecting my well-being and our friendship"
  • "I feel unwelcome at home when you blame/belittle me over small occurrences (like dishes, making food in advance, etc.)"

These help to shift the perspective of both her actions and the conversation about them from "You've changed and your behavior is bad" to "Your actions have consequences and are affecting me and our friendship in a negative way." However, it's important that you still listen to her and how she feels in order for the conversation to be productive.

How to Continue with the Friendship

This is a tricky situation considering that you are flatmates, so she isn't exactly avoidable. However, completely trying to avoid her may just continue to validate her bad behavior, which is the last thing she needs. By the sounds of it, your friend is still really hurting from the breakup. Burning bridges with friends and promiscuous sex are both incredibly self-destructive behaviors of a person who is trying to gain control back into their life. Having both experienced rough breakups from a first and third-person perspective, what someone really needs in that situation is a good friend to listen to them and support them in their time of hurt.

However, I want to note that being nice to someone after they've been repeatedly treating you poorly is incredibly difficult. It's easy for me to sit here on IPS to tell you to "turn the other cheek", but you are under zero obligation to show her civility and respect if they aren't reciprocated. If this friendship is becoming increasingly detrimental to your mental and social health, then you should consider distancing yourself from her, if not ending the friendship altogether. Further, if you are financially able, you may need to consider other places to live if this behavior persists. If she asks why, break out your handy "I feel" statements.

I hope that you and her both receive the help you need.

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    Thanks. Everything you've said rings true. It's been 8+ months of me trying to be there as a friend. I think my only option now is to distance myself. When I can afford to move out I will. – VenomRush Aug 7 '18 at 9:04
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I would guess that her behavior stems from low self-esteem. Her boyfriend obviously did not care enough for her to change his ways, that must have hurt her self-worth. She gets sexual validation by her one night stands, but some people (31 is a bit old for that, but ok) also get validation from putting people down in front of others and you are an easy target. I assume she does not treat you badly when both of you are alone?

If you are not absolutely dependent on her or her friends I would start phasing out social activities with that group. It's very hard to mend bad impressions, especially if only one side of the story has been told. Her friends will probably notice her tendency to put you down and not approve, but I would not count on them reaching out to you.

You can try talking with her about this, it might just be a phase. Until then, limit your interactions with her and enjoy life with other friends!

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She went from being someone who sang my praises in social situations to making me out to be the proverbial bad guy.

The reason they broke up was because she felt like she was always came 2nd to everything else in his life (surfing, working, cricket) and I think she was hoping that if he knew she wasn't going to stick around, he'd make more of an effort but that wasn't the case and so she ended it.

... she doesn't think her behaviour has changed since the breakup.

... how do I resolve this in order to get things back to the way they were?

You can ask why previously she was positive about you and now it's your opinion that she is critical.

Is it that she thinks you've gone downhill, how does telling her circle of friends instead of discussing this with you lead to an improvement in the situation at your shared home - does she expect her friends to break the news to you or does she think that they appreciate gossip and oneupmanship?

It would seem she has had disagreement with two people close to her, the ex boyfriend and you - is it both of you or her, we can't guess if what her friends like most about her is that she gossips and puts people down, probably they don't like that and wouldn't want to be the subject of it behind their backs.

A reasonable and non-blaming tone is the way forward, try to determine the justification for her point of view. Is there something else unsaid or is it that she feels you have such poor judgment that she needs to vilify you?

Another question is why do you need this, what attracted you together as roommates, do the original reasons remain?

A roommate that has your back and a friend that you can rely on is better than living with someone whom makes poor choices. Perhaps there is an advantage living with someone else or alone.

Breakups can be difficult and affect people in illogical ways, you want to be understanding and avoid breakup with your roommate; commendable.

Another consideration is what do your female friends (or new acquaintances you date) think of you having a female roommate, one whom goes on what you described as 'Tinder dates' - you might be sabotaging your own social life in more ways than one (her friends will think of you as 'that guy' Jane is always telling us about; and your friends, new and old, will say you're the guy that lives with Jane, it's a 'partial package' deal).

I used to have a lot of female friends and enjoyed their company greatly, we got along without the problems that you mentioned. The two reasons I don't hang out with them anymore is because they married some guy I don't know and new females I meet question 'what is my history with all these other women' - sometimes it comes a time for change when things are OK, more often it's a time for change when things are unfavorable.

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At this point in time, it seems like your friend is lashing out from her "recent" (not so recent) breakup. I would say confront her and try to calmly communicate with her asking her how she's been, is everything okay (work life and personally), have you been talking to anyone lately, etc. Get her to start talking to you about herself. It's been said that people love to talk about themselves and I've yet to really see otherwise. Make sure you're welcoming and the conversation is a 'hey, haven't talked to you in a while lets catch up.'

You can even suggest to go grab coffee at a cafe, this provides for a neutral setting that doesn't have all the negative vibes your apartment has. I would highly suggest this as your apartment space is not neutral and is a place from which she's nit-picking your behavior against you (in a sense, she 'has the upper hand here').

By getting her to open up, she might divulge what's actually going on and at the least you might have a broad perspective of what's going on in her head, it's applying psychology to your questions and your analysis of her responses.

HOWEVER, if she continues to lash out at you then well you have what I would believe to be three options:

  1. Tell her to put a sock in it and that you know she's going around shaming you and slandering your name to all your friends because she failed to keep a boyfriend (This is confrontational and an extreme AND something you should do only if you're comfortable with it).

    • in this case you're calling out her behavior, hopefully it deters her
  2. Tell her to stop or your friendship is over (ultimatum)

  3. Ghost her and move out (this is if your living situation is too toxic to live in anymore)

I would honestly, do 3 since I've had toxic situations with roommates before and it only festers unless it gets settled. But girls are petty (I am one just to reference) and they're bitchy and 7/10 it gets worse than it would get better. And I wish in my cases I had moved out sooner rather than endure the environment I was in.

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Your roommate's behavior, as you describe it, can be interpreted as passive aggressive (sometimes transitioning into active, I suppose :)), which usually means that the person has an issue with you about something you did, but it's not anything the are actually "attacking" you about.

Since your roommate's aggressive behavior appears to have been triggered by a breakup, it might be that she's mad at you about not receiving sufficient emotional support from you that she was counting on. Or maybe you provided it but not the way she wanted you to, for example by giving a "fix it" type of advice (the way guys often do :)), which usually perceived as uncaring. You've also mentioned how her lifestyle changed since the breakup and it is possible that she feels that you are judging her for it.

I know I'm just guessing here, but this might explain her "hostile" attitude towards you. In all likelihood, if you've done any of those things or something similar, you probably didn't even notice it and didn't mean it the way she took it.

I know you're the one suffering right now, but if you want to preserve (or restore) your friendship you'll have to be patient and "put yourself in her shoes" while thinking back to the point when this whole trouble started and try to imagine what was she going through and what role you might have played in it. In any case, empathy is the key in trying to understand and reach her.

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It is not possible for you to get things back the way they were. This because:

The situation with your housemate has changed. She has become critical of her partner and has ended the relationship. She has been changed by these actions, and it is too early to tell if the changes are permanent, but people change, and their actions and opinions change.

You have been living with this person for three years and that is as long as some marriages. You have fond memories, and were happy with the way that she described you to her social circle. But you are now unhappy with her descriptions of you.

It is obvious that she takes you for granted - and undervalues you.

You have to decide how you are going to make sure that you do not become her 'doormat'. After all you are not married. So I advise that to correct this situation you have to re-order the relationship. Take her to task each time she speaks out of turn, even if it may cause arguments. You will only be seen as someone in her eyes if you make sure that does not get away with any more unfair or insulting treatment. You have nothing to lose, but you have your self respect to re-gain. Be fair, just do as you want around the place, leave a few dirty dishes and have that argument as well. You may come out of it with a better mutual understanding and a return to things as they once were. Being passive in this situation will not help you.

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