If living with other people has taught me one thing, it's that there are definitely certain things you shouldn't tolerate in a roommate. Choosing the right roommate can be tough. And one of the hardest parts is that you sometimes don't realize you've made the wrong choice that until after the fact. Roommate living is great — it's cost effective, space efficient, and gives you the chance to make some of the best friends you'll ever have.
It may seem like a good idea at first. You're excited, you just want to move in already, you brush all initial petty differences aside because who the heck cares — you're starting a new fun chapter and things will sort themselves out and fall into place, right? Plus you guys are killer karaoke partners, study buddies, or Sunday brunch dates. But as shocking as this may seem, being Sunday brunch soulmates isn't necessarily the best criteria for roommate compatibility.
And sure — we may not always have the luxury of choosing and sometimes we may just be in a tight bind that leaves us to taking the first option that comes along. But that doesn't mean we shouldn't be tuning in to what is or isn't working in our living situations. So here are nine red flags that maybe you just shouldn't be roommates.
1. You Have Opposite Schedules
Though you may not be in the same room, what this really comes down to is lifestyle compatibility. We've all heard that opposites attract. While this may or may not be true in romance, it sure as hell doesn't work with roommates. As Melanie Pinola brought up in an article for Lifehacker, night owls and early birds could disturb each other's sleep. Just picture this. One roommate is all about those late night hangs, whether that means having people over, coming home late, or just being out and about around the house after hours. The other roommate, on the other hand, digs the earlier bedtime, which may then come with that earlier alarm, followed by the entire morning routine. Of course this isn't a reason to write someone off on the spot, but it's something to keep in mind and make sure both are OK with these differences.
2. One Of You Is Neat, While The Other Is Messy
Some of us are neat freaks, some of us are slobs, and some of us comfortably fall somewhere in the middle. When you're on your own, you have all the given grace of solitude to do you. But when it comes to sharing a common space, a balanced consideration of others' needs has to come into play here. As pointed out in Forbes, both have your name on the lease and thus share equal responsibility when it comes to caring for the apartment. Or wherever it is you're living. The point is that if one person seems to be doing all the dirty work, that's not too fair.
It also goes the other way around, though. I consider myself a fairly neat person, and am always on top of my chores. But I once lived with a roommate who had a serious cleaning problem. If something was slightly shifted or out of place or not cleaned up immediately, some sort of conflict would instantly arise. It got to the point where I had to walk on eggshells with Windex in one hand and a shield in the other. And that just made for a very unpleasant living experience. So be honest with each other to see what things you can both agree on and maybe draft up a schedule or one of those good 'ole college chore charts to keep things balanced and smooth. And if that doesn't work out, well, let's raise that red flag.
3. Significant Other Take Over
When you signed that lease, I'm pretty sure each signature accounted for only one person. Guests are great. Significant others are lovely. But when it starts to feel like you're gaining an extra roommate when someone's partner is over all the time, it's time to talk some things out. Because this is as much your space as it is your roommate(s)'. Any discomfort of third-wheel awkwardness or just overall constant imposing should not be tolerated in your own home. It's like, get a room, but get a room under a different roof, maybe. Just a thought.
4. Financial Flakiness
Ah, one of the many green monsters in life that seems to be the root of most arguments — money. Shit happens. We all run the risk of going through some financial bumps that call for a helping hand. But when it seems like this helping hand is being habitually worn out and bummed off of, it may be time to reevaluate some things. Make sure you're all clear on when rent is due, how to split bills, who is responsible for what, and communicate if there are any issues with meeting someone's end of the bargain.
5. Passive Aggressive Communication
I'll say it again, just communicate! It's time to shun the passive-aggressive sticky notes and send them back where they came from. To the irritating world of indirect communication that solves absolutely nothing. I forgot to wash the dishes before heading out? Don't leave me a sticky note with a stupid smiley face telling me it'd be nice if more dishes were clean. You couldn't sleep because your roommate was playing music too loud? Confront them about it and say so. But don't give them, "Oh, I was looking forward to getting so much more sleep last night but it was pretty loud..." If the majority of your conversations can be summed up with those inaudible "...'s" and you can't seem to ever get to the point when discussing roommate issues, this just makes for a toxic and unhealthy living situation that will only get on everyone's nerves. Take it from someone who has been there a time or two — just be honest and direct, and things will be much easier.
6. Only Child Syndrome
Even if they're not an only child, they're used to having things go their way and find it hard to share, compromise, or meet in the middle on just about anything. Lack of compromise is one of the most volatile recipes for disaster in any relationship, especially when that involves living together. Either nothing will get accomplished, you'll constantly argue, or someone will be perpetually unhappy and totally thrive off passive-aggressive point number five up there.
7. Disagreeing On Amenities
If one of you absolutely can't live without cable while the other absolutely doesn't want to pay for it, living together may not be a very good idea. From my experience, I know that these are things that are important to discuss beforehand because if you can't even compromise on what Internet package you want to purchase, this is just going to be the start of your problems.
8. Different Privacy Comfort Levels
One of my favorite aspects of living with roommates is the constant companionship that's available when I need or want it. But that's the thing — when I need or want it. Sometimes I really just need some alone time. So if my door is closed, I expect a courteous knock. These are important things to get squared away from the start. Because hey — maybe you're both cool with using the bathroom with the door open and that's fine. But make sure you talk about it. Because any time you feel your privacy is compromised, as pointed out in Forbes, this can leave you feeling irritable and unsafe in your own home. And your home is the number one place where you should feel the most comfortable.
Roommates can be great. But bad roommates can ruin an experience pretty quickly, so do your homework before signing that lease.
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