Ask Olivia: Be the Bigger Person

My roomate is currently upset with me because while her boyfriend was in town, I only interacted with him once. Knowing they are in a long distance relationship, I wanted to give them their space and not feel like a third wheel. But this offended her. She knows that I am the kind of person that usually keeps to myself regardless, and I didn't want to feel like I was intruding on any private time they may have wanted. Where I'm from, it's not okay to chat up another woman's man. What bothers me is that she couldn't outright tell me that I offended her. I only knew because I overheard her telling our roomate. So now we're not speaking and I'm angry at her. What should I do?


Hi M,

I understand when there is a clash of cultures in what is acceptable and what isn't. You thought you were being respectful to her and her boyfriend, while she thought you weren't taking an interest in her life. This seems like a really simple misunderstanding that will either blow over with time or can be easily hashed out with a, "I'm sorry you misunderstood my intentions" conversation. You don't have to go out of your way to apologise, and if she's not a very close friend, fighting over it, just isn't worth it. So I would suggest waiting for it too cool down and if she's still upset, apologise. On the bright side, now you know for next time!