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When Your Roommate Invites Scary Strangers Home

Hello Readers!

Recently, I asked you to send me your questions and concerns and I received a number of responses. This is the first of your questions and a scary dilemma, indeed.

Dear Cynthia,

What do you do when your roommate brings people home that you don't trust? My roommate has both friends and 'special friends' that I would worry about leaving anything of value in front of. I've heard stories about people bringing shady people home from a club and then the visitor pulls out a knife or gun and assaults their host and his/her roommates. Maybe that's extreme, but it sits in the back of my mind. I love my roommate, but I don't trust their judgment. What should I do?


Scared in LA

Dear Scared in LA,

I can truly empathize with you. I was once in a very similar situation. A former roommate of mine was very naive and trusting, as well as, a bit on the wild side. I never knew who might be in my apartment or what might be going on when I came home each day. It was unnerving to say the least. Eventually, we had to have a “talk" and ultimately we parted ways, but remained friends.

First of all, is your roommate a friend or just a roommate? How well do you know he or she? Regardless, if your roommate is doing anything to make you feel uncomfortable, you must talk to him/her. The best scenario is that you will have a nice, calm talk with your roommate and explain to him/her what your concerns are and how you think the situation can be remedied.

If you have a strong friendship, then he/she will probably be willing to listen to your concerns. Choose your words carefully and be sensitive to your roommate. Ideally, he/she will understand and take steps to amend his/her behavior so that you feel your wishes are being respected and that you no longer feel frightened.

The trick here is to not seem like you are being disparaging toward your roommate or his/her friends. You might start by saying I feel a little uncomfortable having guests here that I don’t know very well or that neither you nor I know very well. See how he/she responds to this comment. How your roommate responds will tell you a lot about his/her maturity level and ability to empathize with other’s concerns and feelings.

If your roommate disregards your comments completely and refuses to listen to your rational concerns, then my first word of advice is to start looking for a new roommate. There is no reason to continue living with someone that endangers you or brings people into your home that may harm you, steal from you or make you uncomfortable.

However, for whatever length of time you must live with someone who brings people around who may make you feel threatened or vulnerable, I offer these suggestions:

Make certain that you have a private room that has a lock that only YOU and maybe one other trusted friend or family member possess the key to unlock. Whenever you are sleeping, gone from your home, etc. lock the door.

Also, if you ever feel seriously threatened while in your home, flee. Have an emergency evacuation planned and a safe place you can go – such as a friend or relative’s house or apartment.

If you feel that your possessions may be too tempting for your roommate's friends and visitors, then I would advise you to put everything of irreplaceable value - especially anything that could easily be pocketed - into your private quarters. Then, when you lock the door, these items will be safe. Most of your roommate’s questionable companions won’t go as far as breaking into your room. If that happens, call the police and confront your roommate. It’s time to move out.

I also have to point out that if your roommate is friends with and/or dates people that make you feel uneasy or endangered, then you may want to reconsider the person with whom you are living. People often befriend and date people who are like them. Just a word of caution.

Good luck and please continue to send your questions, as well as, your quirky roommate stories.