I have recently moved into an apartment with two other guys because I was going to university outside of my home town. I come from northern germany and moved a good bit further to the south.

I am living here for about almost two months now and I have already made good friends with my roommates and I regularly hang out with one of them and his girlfriend. I really enjoy spending time with them, as they are very casual and upbeat, like to laugh but are still straightforward. They have a lot of traits that I value and would like getting accustomed to.

During the first weeks, when we got to know each other, I was trying very honestly to do my best in this new environment and to change for the better. Because of a difficult family situation, I had been very busy with negative thoughts about myself and my life most of the time before, when I was still living with my parents. When I moved out, I was finally able to leave all that mess behind me. It is a long story and the details don't really matter, it is enough to know that my parents got divorced when I was 2 yo and I lived in two separate families until I was 16. This made my life very complex and I learned very early that there is never one right answer and that family relationships are difficult. I had often sunken in depressive thought when I got older, I spent most time alone, on the computer, or at school.

The point is, that I want to integrate this past positively with my rather light-hearted present. I am living in an apartment with people that I like and that like me, and we could have a great time together. I might grow more confident and assured of myself and may find a girlfriend to travel and live with. There are many possibilities.

During the first weeks at my new home, it was as if my past didn't even matter, and my roommates where happy to be around me and wanted to know me better.

But one evening, when we were talking, my roommate told a story from his childhood and I felt inclined to tell a story from my childhood aswell. But this turned into a chain of bad memories and I basically started telling the "tragedy of my life" as a narrative. It didn't really have a point to tell them, except describe myself as a character, but it felt like something I wanted to get off my chest (although I had talked about it with my parents a lot before) aswell. I also thought that I would tell them sooner or later anyways so I didn't hesitate too much.

In the end, I think it was a mistake drop this much weight on the conversation. Because from then on, they started treating me differently. Almost as if they pitied me or as if they were trying not to insult me or make me feel disliked. I feel like that story put a really bad shadow on my character and interacting with me became more challenging and uneasy. Also I myself felt that now I had dragged my past into my new life, which was exactly what I did not want to do. I feel like it was a mistake to tell them about my family issues in my past. Then again, it had been a really important part of my life, and sooner or later I might have told them some things anyways, because it is a large part of how I define myself (maybe that is a problem?).

I would like to show them that they do not have to worry about me and that they should just treat me like a responsible, happy person. Because that is what I am trying to be. But that has gotten way more difficult ever since I told them about my past. What definitely also plays a role is that I have been thinking about my past myself again, since that talk. Before, when they did not know, I didn't even start to think about it because there was no reason to and I was happier that way. I had really rediscovered myself in a new way.

How can I introduce myself to new people without making a hurt/weak/sad impression but still be honest about what my past means to me? I am not someone who likes to hide things from others, I would like my roommates to know that I had difficulties in the past that I am still working on overcoming. But I don't want them to treat me with special care because of it, because that would not really help me with overcoming my personal view of my past, it only adds noise to my environment that I have to cancel out by responding to it one way or the other.

I can't make them forget what I've told them, but I also don't think I can approach them about it, because they are probably not even being overly polite consciously. How can I show them that I am not concerned about my past anymore and they shouldn't be either, without explicitly talking with them about it (because that might make it worse)?

  • 2
    Hello @stimulate. Unfortunately, your questions in this post are very broad. Please focus on one of those questions. Please consider that the first question is quite broad, and 'what should I do' questions are off-topic here. What Interpersonal Skill do you need help with? Can you set a smaller goal (at least for this question) that we can address? (i.E. "How can I convince my roommates that they do not need to treat me lightly because of my past?")
    – kscherrer
    Nov 26, 2018 at 14:33

2 Answers 2


Your situation is actually comparable to those of people with disabilities who want to be treated like "normal" people.

The usual picture is that unaffected people react to disabilities with awkwardness at first, because they generally don't know what the correct reaction is. Once they see how the disabled person or someone very close to them handle the disability, they adapt their own behavior to mimic those people.

So you should

  1. Be a role model: speak about childhood memories like every other person does, preferably without diving into the saddest, darkest moments every time. Don't make a big deal about it. Your past is part of you, but it doesn't define your present.
  2. If you can, make a joke about it. Nothing breaks the awkward knot in someones stomach faster than a laugh and your friends see that, although your actual past was quite difficult, it's no reason to make it a difficulty in the present.
  3. Tell them in a calm moment that they don't have to avoid the topic or be all awkward. If you can, tell them how they should treat you (maybe you'd like them to avoid a specific topic?).
  4. If the mood goes sour because someone thinks they reminded you of your pasts and things get awkward, break the silence and tell them it's OK.

You know guyes, just because my family did something bad in the past doesn't mean I cannot have fun now.


Oh man, I would curl myself up on the sofa and start crying right now, but that's really too much work and I have better things to do.

Also have a look at similar questions we had about people reacting to disabilities ore self-harm. Maybe some answers can help you, too.

How do I prevent people from thinking my deformity disables me?

How to deal with friends finding out I self-harm(ed)?

How do I deal with someone who makes more of my disabilities than I do?

  • The second phrasing suggestion requires the other party to read between the lines and understand sarcasm. I'm not sure that this is the best option here, as it could be understood the wrong way and backfire. Great links to related questions, I think they are really relevant and helpful!
    – kscherrer
    Nov 26, 2018 at 14:39
  • With the second phrasing I was aiming for "ich habe keine Lust" which translates to "I don't want to" but looses a lot of meaning in english compared to german. The german phrase would be hard to misunderstand.
    – Elmy
    Nov 26, 2018 at 15:02
  • My experience has been that it is usually, during every day life, the best idea to play the role model and be as if nothing were wrong. I have gotten accustomed to that years ago, because usually, most things go well between people and there is no reason to dig up past problems, usually. However, it is when we are talking about our past experiences when I get problems. I basically can't talk about a lot of my past without creating an awkward silence because no one knows how to return from "difficult family times" to "happy day talk". I guess thas is when I have to come up with a joke.
    – stimulate
    Nov 26, 2018 at 18:14

I have read your question with full attention and I am really impressed that you seriously wants to overcome this situation and want to spend your life happily without taking a count of your relatively difficult past. Unfortunately, these problems are increasingly day by day because strength of family system is going weak day by day. Increased number of divorces and separations left their child in very miserable conditions. These child always deprived of parents love and as a result they normally loose their confidence and in some cases become patients of depression and anxiety.

Sharing others regarding your weak part of life is not at all wrong. It depends on the person in front of you that how he analyze the fact and decide accordingly. In these types of cases a vast majority of people after finding such details tries to give more attention to that person and show sympathy to make him more comfortable. In your case it gone in other way, no matter what they think but it is more encouraging that you want to spent your life by changing your surroundings and way of life. This is actual your strength and the best way to forgetting past is to make yourself busy and try to spend time with friends rather spending alone .

You can transform your past in positivity by confidently telling that despite having difficult lifetime you have risen up and want to change your derivations.

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