Last month, my roommate moved to Kingston to begin a job in her field of chemistry and although I am positively happy for her latest endeavour, I was saddened to see her go. By now, perhaps you’ve realized that change is a challenge for me and transitions whether they’re good or bad, bring about discomfort and stress because I have Asperger’s.
Finding the ‘right’ roommate has always been an essential component to my overall well-being. Over the years, I’ve had a number of roommates who have come and gone, but one thing they all had in common is that they were women, however lately I’ve been thinking about my justifications behind wanting only female roommates and challenged myself to explore what it might be like to have a male roommate. After all, the basic function of a roommate is to help share the costs of living, and guys have money too! I also didn’t want to discriminate against people because of their gender, however as I delved deeper into this line of thinking, I realized that male-female interactions might be more of a challenge for me than I originally thought.
Qualitatively speaking, there should be no difference in how I am treated by people, regardless of their gender, but in my experiences that is not true. To varying degrees some people I’ve encountered have hurt me on some level, at some point in my life, but most of my traumatic life experiences were related to my interactions with males. These interactions have shaped my perception of the world and informed my decision-making along the way. I recognize that just because a few men abused me, doesn’t meant that all men will, but it does cause me to be more circumspect with my choices. Not all people are safe and to the best of my ability, I need to trust my instincts when it comes to discerning my personal safety.
Most people would agree that they want to feel the most comfortable in their own home; I’m no different. As I was thinking about possible new roommates I felt that it would be more challenging to have a male roommate. For one, guys often misunderstand my friendliness for flirting, especially when I’m standing around at a bus stop, for example…then suddenly I’m being asked to give out my # and this comes as a surprise to me (in my mind, I was just making conversation out of boredom). Situations similar to this have been repeated in various settings my whole life, but the theme is the same: I misunderstand non-verbal cues and am surprised by their advances. Some of these advances were harmless, like on the bus, but there have been times where I put myself into a dangerous situations because I wasn’t able to discern if it was safe or not and I was sexually assaulted because of this. One of my goals in life is to NOT be assaulted and so I try to minimize the risks I take on a daily basis. If having a male roommate increases that risk, then I won’t have a male roommate and I especially need to be proactive because I am fairly unskilled at reading social situations.
Secondly, exploring the whole ‘having a male roommate’ scenario allowed me to realize how important my home is to me and ensuring that all the right variables are in place (the ones within my control) so that I can fully relax, be myself, and let my guard down. The right roommate will be okay with me being myself and I think it’s important for everyone to feel comfortable in their own home.
Since I started to write this blog post, I have found a new roommate and she’s moving in for September. I was proud of myself for exploring the possibility of having a male roommate, but in the end I felt most comfortable with a female; as for now, the only male in my home is my cat, Atticus 🙂