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A frightful costume caper

Halloween is scary enough! Read on, if you dare, for a tale of one roommate’s friendship fears—and how our elder’s wickedly clever advice solved her duo costume dilemma.

Dear EWC:

The last two years I have done a duo costume with my roommate for Halloween. However, she came to visit me this summer and it was like I picked up a completely different person from the airport.
She was rude, always on her phone, and when good things would happen to me she wouldn’t say anything to me, only dwell on the negative and put me down (for example, I received amazing, life-altering health news and finally purchased a car while she was here, but she didn’t say congratulations, critiqued how I handled my health scare, and made snarky comments about my appearance and the car). I have since decided that from now on, I will be professional and cordial since we work and live together, but we will no longer be friends.

We’ve already decided on a Halloween costume for this year, but since the way she treated me I don’t want to be a part of it. How do I tell her that I don’t want to do a duo costume this year without affecting our living and working relationship?

PicklesMarie replies:

For two years you’ve done a duo Halloween costume with your roommate. When she visited she was rude, distracted, didn’t acknowledge your triumphs, and put you down. You no longer want to be part of a duo Halloween costume because that sort of ties you to her side for the night, right?

Remember first of all it’s just one or two nights… And planning for that night might make her treat you better. There’s no way of telling that really. Consider just going along with it this year, but telling her NOW it’s going to be the last duo costume. I can think of reasons not to be part of a duo costume. The main reason I can see is it limits you both socially… In order for others to understand your costume, you have to be together wherever you go. One of you might be overshadowed by the more dominant personality of the other. One of you might be the less appealing part of the duo.

If you can’t bear it for this year, tell her you’ve having second thoughts and would rather not be part of a duo. You’ve been there, done that—for two years. I’d suggest you find a great single costume. Get it NOW. Tell her that even though you two previously had plans, you want to wear that costume. The sooner you tell her, the sooner you’ll be able to lift this Halloween costume burden off your shoulders.

While you won’t feel better during the telling, and you won’t feel better immediately after the telling when your (former) friend may be upset, you will feel better… after the disappointment blows over. She may get angry and snarky with you. Prepare to weather a few jabs. Maybe you can suggest a great costume idea for her that is loosely related to yours, so you two are related but aren’t partners for the night. The trouble with duo costumes is that you two have to stay together in order for the costume to make sense to others.

Tell her assertively, in a firm and kind, but not aggressive and not passive manner. Look at http://www.wikihow.com/Be-Assertive or similar sites. Keep your piece brief and to the point… Yammering on and on will make it look like you’re deceitful and feeling guilty.

As you tell her, be careful to hold a good intention because your intention kind of shows through your tone, body language, eye contact and so forth. A bad intention would be to hurt her in revenge for her not treating you right. A better/okay intention would be to have your independence on Halloween so you’re not pinned to her side by a costume for two.
A good intention might be to keep the roommate-ship by not straining that already strained friendship with the additional time spent planning and purchasing and fitting a joint costume.

I hope my perspective helps you figure out a way out of this duo costume dilemma (a problem with no perfectly right answer). Write again anytime.

Friendship
#382383

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