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Dear Dr. P

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Dear Dr. P;

I think I’m in love with my roommate’s ex-boyfriend. They broke up last week, is it too soon to move in?

There is no doubt about it.  You are asking for trouble if you jump into the vacuum left by your roommate’s departure from the relationship.  Here are the likely concerns for this conclusion.

1) Are you sure that the break-up is final and irreversible?  All too often couples that split realize rather quickly that they would rather reconcile and continue the relationship.  If this happens you’ll find yourself dumped minus the boyfriend and your former, now alienated roommate.  Have you got an alternative place to live?

2) After a break-up people are often vulnerable to the “rebound” phenomenon.  The comfort of any warm and sympathetic body (you, in this case) is welcome during the healing process, and once healed, your prospective mate may have no further use for you.  You are likely to be dumped again.

3) Is this attraction one-way, with you possibly “in love” with your roommates ex-boyfriend and he not reciprocating the affection?  If so, you will be merely a temporary convenience for the “ex” while he searches out someone to whom he is really attracted.  If the feeling is reciprocated, then you may have very well been the precipitating cause of the break-up.  Was this the case?  Don’t ever waste your time going after someone who doesn’t simultaneously have the same feelings for you.  You can’t make someone love you.

4) Why is it that if you “think I’m in love with my roommate’s ex-boyfriend,” that this necessitates your immediately moving in with him?  Why not take the time to test the water to see if you would be welcome—I assume at his place.  He may not want another roomie so soon after the break-up.  Take the time to assess your own feelings.  Is it really love or an infatuation?  Spend some time together, including lengthy conversations, and with days apart, without the inconvenience of moving your stuff from one place to another.  If he invites (better yet begs) you to join him the prognosis is better.

5) If you and the new boyfriend (your roomie’s former ex) do hit it off, be prepared to lose the friendship of your current roommate.  The psychology of broken relationships works like this “I don’t want him/her but I also don’t want anyone else I know to have him/her!”  You may gain a boyfriend but also an enemy (your ex-roomie).  It may be for this reason that if someone ends a relationship with a brother or sister in our RC frats or sororities, by tradition, none of the other brothers or sisters are allowed to establish a relationship with the person that separated from their brother or sister.

6) Examine the reasons for the break-up you just witnessed.  His treatment of your roommate is likely to be the model for his treatment of you.  Are you willing to accept this?  If your roommate precipitated the break-up, she must have her reasons.  Find out what these were and again assess whether you are willing to accept the fellow with this knowledge.

7) Your being “in love” with this fellow is not sufficient reason to immediately establish a live-in relationship.  You really are blinded by the limerence of being “in-love.”  Believe it or not, being “in love” is a temporary condition of altered consciousness and perceptions.  It lasts varying periods of time but burns out by 18 months at the longest.  It is replaced by a realistic situation of true love where the idealistic imaging of the beloved ends and you see the real person.  If you still like what you see, this is the time to commit and make the relationship more domestic.

Cautiously yours,

Dr P