How To Talk To Your Roommate About Their Partner Staying Over Too Much
For the most part, it isn't a big deal if your roommate's partner stays over a few times a week, especially if you talk about it beforehand. Your apartment is a shared space, and you both have a right to live your lives. But if this person has essentially started to move in, and it feels like you've gained a third roommate, it's also OK to speak up.
To start, "it can be annoying if your roommate's partner is staying over too often," Dr. Laura Dabney, MD, a psychotherapist who specializes in relationships, tells Bustle, because it turns your home into a more social space. You may feel obligated to hang out, or find yourself caught up in conversations. And when you'd rather relax, that can feel tiring and overwhelming.
More importantly, though, it can also lead to financial tension, Dabney says, especially since you agreed to split the bills and rent two ways, but now three people are using the water, turning up the heat, and hanging out in the bathroom. And it may feel unfair that their partner isn't making a contribution.
Whatever's got you down about the situation, there is hope. If your roommate's partner is overstaying their welcome, or you feel as if the living arrangement has become unbalanced, there are plenty of ways to approach it and share your thoughts. Here are some tips for talking to to your roommate, according to experts, so you can start working on solutions.
1. Say It Sooner Rather Than Later
As with all things related to roommates and shared living spaces, it's best to talk about problems as they arise, instead of letting them fester. So if you're no longer cool with what's going on, let your roommate know as soon as possible.
Find a good time to lay it all out and say exactly what's on your mind. "If you directly bring it up as in, 'I feel like [your partner] has been staying here more often and I think we need to talk about it,' it is straightforward and not passive aggressive," Dabney says.
This is a much better reaction than silently stewing, and getting angrier and angrier until it results in an argument. By being direct, and talking about it before things bubble over, it'll be easier to find a solution that works for everyone involved.
2. Approach The Topic Honestly
Of course, it's not always easy to march up to someone when feelings are running high. And that's why, if you aren't sure what to say or how to start the conversation, it may help to say so.
Leading off with something like, "'I’m not really sure how to say this,'" Joree Rose, MA, LMFT, a licensed marriage and family therapist, tells Bustle, can be a helpful way to ease into the topic. "It’s an honest, authentic opening to a conversation without blame or attacking," she says, "that hopefully allows the listener to hear that you genuinely are feeling uncomfortable and have something you need to share."
This tactic can lower the tension in the room and make it easier to settle into the couch together and discuss the issue. (Or, at the very least, text about it in a civil way.)
3. Focus On How You Feel
When approaching a roommate about a tough topic, it can help to make it all about how you feel, instead of pointing fingers at them. You might say something like, "I feel like I have a difficult time sleeping due to all the extra noise, and it's making me tired at work the next day."
"Notice, there was no statement beginning with 'you,' which always puts the other person on the defense," Rose says. If you say it like this, your roommate will be less inclined to react negatively, and more inclined to help fix the issue.
4. Know Why It's Bothering You
Going into the conversation knowing why you're feeling annoyed by their partner's presence is also a good idea, as it'll help you both land on the real issue at hand. If you are upset because the partner is very messy, for example, you may realize it's more about wanting them to clean up themselves, versus not wanting them around at all, Dabney says.
This also gives you specific things to work on, instead of grappling with a general sense of dissatisfaction. Dirty dishes can be cleaned up and put away, while vague frustration or annoyance can be much more difficult to handle.
5. Chat About Boundaries
Once you've gotten your thoughts out in the open, go ahead and create some boundaries. Think about what's making you uncomfortable. Is it the bills? The lack of privacy? The noise? Talk about it and come up with a few rules and guidelines, so you can all coexist more peacefully.
Because if their partner is going to keep visiting frequently, you'll want to make sure you're OK with it. "Some reasonable boundaries are clearly around your safety and security in your own space," Rose says. "You should never feel bad about drawing the line in the sand."
6. Talk About Your Schedules
Another way to approach the situation is by talking about your schedules, Rose says, so that everyone's more aware of each other's lifestyles. That way, you can all make a few changes to how you share and use the space, so that it's more comfortable.
As Rose says, it's also "fair to suggest a schedule of when you can give them some alone time, and in return, suggest that they find somewhere else to hang out some of the time." This trick can come in handy in smaller spaces, where privacy can obviously be an issue.
7. Come Armed With Solutions
Unless they are breaking a long-established rule for your apartment, you may not have much of a say in terms of what your roommate does, or how often their partner visits. But you can suggest ways to make it more fair.
"If you are mad that since they showed up the water bill has skyrocketed, then maybe talking to your roommate about splitting the water bill a different way may make you feel better," Dabney says. There are solutions to most problems, and showing up to your chat with a few in mind will help smooth this issue over.
It's totally OK to stand up for your rights as one of the housemates, but it's also OK for your roommate to have visitors. In order to exist peacefully, you will want to keep each other in the loop, so talk often — and find ways to strike a better balance.