Dear Dr. Date, Ple…

Dear Dr. Date,
Please help me! My roommate is nuts! Differing genders and the pursuit of advanced degrees on both our parts has created some tension and pressure. He and I have been good friends for quite a few years, and he has a steady girlfriend, so sexual tension is not the problem.
The problem is that he is a very needy and dependent person. Every little thing I do is subject to severe scrutiny. It has gotten so bad that I harmlessly moved an item in our apartment, and, in my absence, he created a whole scenario that I moved it as a hint that I was not sharing it. My motives clearly were not directed to elicit this response, but he had prepared for an argument and written a letter that I was supposed to find in his absence. I came home amid this and was confronted. I explained myself, but I could not help but wonder how something as harmless as moving a household item could garner such an episode?! I wonder if it is my fault somehow, and I need advice about how to deal with such abnormal behavior.
— Confused

To be honest, friend, the guy sounds crazy. Perhaps it’s the stress of graduate school that’s wearing him down. It’s a fair toss up — finish your thesis or go certifiably insane. From your perspective, he sounds delusional, paranoid and extremely insecure. (I wonder if the story would be the same from his perspective.) Unless the household item that you moved was the TV remote and you moved it to your bedroom closet, I doubt many people would construe your actions in a negative way.
Living with someone isn’t that different than loving a person — the big difference is you don’t have sex (usually). Respect, sharing, understanding, empathy — all the elements are there. I’ve had lots of fun roommates in my time, and I’ve noticed that at one point or another, a person has to deal with all the same problems found in a loving relationship — jealousy, miscommunication, bad timing, etc.
So, if you were actually dating this fellow, what would you do? Let’s say you get a new wallet but forget to transfer the picture of him from your old wallet to your new wallet. He finds out and gets upset, thinking that you want him out of your life. How do you deal with this? You assure him that you don’t want him out of your life, and you find a new picture to put in your wallet. The trick with dependent people is to be responsive but not too catering. It’s your part to correct the misunderstanding; it’s his part to deal with his insecurities and paranoia.