Is Living With A Friend A Bad Idea? 11 Roommates On How Living With Their BFF Ruined Their Friendships
When it's time to get a roommate, you may think that living with a friend is a good idea — a very good idea. However, you may hear that's often not the case. After all, just because you know somebody inside and out as a friend, you don't know them as someone you live with. Everybody — yourself included — has idiosyncrasies and habits that may seem normal to them, but foreign or unacceptable to someone else. Just because they make a very good friend does not mean they'll make a very good roommate.
"The best way to go into any relationship, even that of roommates, is to have zero expectations," Shirani M. Pathak, founder of the Center for Soulful Relationships, tells Bustle. "When we have expectations, we set ourselves up for resentment when those expectations aren't met. Instead, go into the situation with an open mind. Sure, your roommate-to-be might tell you they are a clean person, and their idea of clean might be very different than yours. When you can keep that in mind, it makes developing resentments a lot less likely."
I can definitely relate to what Pathak said, and I'll bet you can, too. Now here's what millennial women had to say on the topic of living together ruining their friendships, because it's probably more common than you may think.
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1. Carrie, 26
"I was roommates with my male best friend and it was damaging to our relationship. After only a month, his girlfriend had moved in and, while they were playing house, I was forced into a Three's Company situation against my will. It's one thing when your roommate has sleepovers a few times a week; it's another when you walk into your apartment after work and it looks like a Hamburger Helper bomb went off in the kitchen. One time, I dropped by the apartment in between the work day to take my dog out, and his girlfriend was using my sewing machine to make mermaid-like hair extensions. For weeks, there were tumbleweeds of blue and purple hair rolling across my wood floors with every breeze. It wasn't until my dog coughed up a large cotton candy-colored hairball that I had to put my foot down. I kicked them both out and just ate the cost of rent until my lease ended."
2. Becca*, 23
"I moved in with a good girlfriend of mine and suddenly things began to go awry – our cleaning habits did not mesh well and she was super messy/sloppy, which lead to both of us being passive-aggressive — she would subtly note that she did the dishes, or I'd mention that I took the trash out — again, etc. She would be rude to my boyfriend when he was over, too. She ended up meeting a guy on Hinge and moving in with him instead, two and half months into dating. (Seemed crazy to me since she hardly knew him!) Ironically, we had JUST signed our lease for another year. She told me about two weeks after we signed it, and somehow got our landlord to comply with an addendum. Luckily, I was able to find an awesome roommate who went to school with me and just moved to the area, so it all worked out in the end!"
3. Rebecca, 32
"When you're friends with someone, you don't necessarily get to see how they handle certain things in life the way you do when you're living with someone 24/7. Cleanliness, the ability to spend money responsibly, respect for other people's space and belongings — these are all make-or-break life skills that can ruin a roommate situation and a friendship. Unfortunately, my former friend/roommate hadn't quite developed those yet. You can only ask them so many times to get it together; if there still aren't any improvements after a while, it starts to feel like there's not a lot of respect for your relationship on their end. The final straw for me was the maggot-infested box of old Chinese takeout that was shoved in the back of her closet (worst game of Find the Smell ever)."
4. Peyton, 26
"Both being new to L.A., we only hung out with each other. Spending so much time together at home made our outings (movies, dinner, shopping) together less exciting, fun, and enjoyable overall. When we weren't roommates, we had the BEST time together. As roommates, our relationship fizzled."
5. Jennifer, 22
"I lived with two very close friends my senior year of college. One of my roommates, let's call her Elizabeth, was the one that I really had issues with. We all thought that living together would be a great idea, we were such great friends after all, but living with someone is a lot different than being friends with someone. We seemed to get on each other's nerves a lot, which led to a lot of passive-aggressive behavior. If I asked her to keep it down on a Saturday, it would upset her, and she would take it out on me by getting upset at me for walking around the apartment late at night. It seemed like we just couldn't keep out of each other's way. But the one incident that provoked me to end our friendship really took a toll on me. We had come back from a night out at the bars and I was on my phone. She started to scream at me because I was on my phone and hadn't been paying attention. Then she proceeded to yell at me about my relationship status. She had wanted me to go out with a mutual friend of ours but I insisted that I wasn't interested, which made her very upset that night. After that night, she didn't really get that I had no interest in being her friend. She didn't think the way she had spoken to me was in any way problematic, even after I explained that it was. The rest of the time we lived together, I constantly avoided her and avoided hanging out with her because I'm not big on confrontation. Living together definitely ruined our friendship, and I never want to attempt to live with one of my friends again."
6. Hillary, 26
"I roomed with a friend who kind of took over the apartment. I was out of the apartment a lot, and she ended up decorating everything without my input so the apartment ended up feeling like hers. She claimed she was being nice, but, by the end of it, I felt like I could only hang out in my room. She ended up renewing the lease and I decided to move out — because she renewed, the apartment complex wouldn't give us our deposit back. When I approached her about my share, she claimed it wasn't her problem and to ask her new roommate (who I didn't know and who didn't have any obligation to pay me). I never got that money back. I think, at first, it was a lack of communication — her about wanting to decorate and not including me, and me about not expressing my feelings — but then I felt like it changed into just complete lack of regard for me."
7. Jill, 27
"My friend and I were just ill-matched as roommates. Our different personalities strengthened our friendship outside of the house, but inside of the house, it made things difficult. My friend (we're still friends!) is more of an A-Type with a side of anxiety disorder, and she'd freak out over the smallest issues around the apartment. I'm more of a B-Type with a side of ADD, so you can only imagine how this worked out at home. Now that we're not living together anymore, our friendship is back to where it first was."
8. Deb, 29
"My best friend in Montreal convinced me to give up my lease for the rest of the summer before I left my internship to finish school, and move in with her before her permanent roommate moved back to the city. I obliged — even though it meant a much longer commute to work, less privacy, and kind of a random neighborhood. I was just so excited at the idea of having slumber parties every night and spending as much time as possible together before I moved away. But it totally ruined our friendship. She was moody, controlling, and had her future roommate move in for the last month of my stay without contributing rent. The whole time I lived there, I lived in renovations as they prepped for my departure. I'm sure 21-year-old immature me didn't help the situation either. ;) It caused so much angst, we had it out during my move out and that was that. It's been seven years and we haven't spoken since. I then lived alone since moving in with my boyfriend. Probably for the best."
9. Alexa, 33
"My advice? Based on experience, a Type A personality should NOT live with another Type A personality, friends or not. But if you were already friends, it'll be even worse, and I wish you a LOT of luck! Been there, and NEVER again! It's best to leave your friends where they are now — NOT as roommates; at least, if you want to keep them as friends!"
10. Beth, 28
"I tried living with a friend and it was THE worst. We became like an old married couple — but without any of the romantic perks. Every little thing she did drove me crazy, and every little thing I did drove her crazy, too. I mean, we went from making dinner together every night to preferring to eat separately or alone in our rooms! She also had been laid off and was at the apartment 24/7 (I never saw her looking for work, just collecting unemployment!). So our communal space became HER space, and that wasn't right."
11. Maggie, 31
"When my friend and I moved in together, I knew she was a singer, but I never imagined she'd be singing in our shared house! We decided to rent a duplex together and we did everything together to set it all up — trips to IKEA, painting all the rooms, you name it, we did it! But then the singing started... and never stopped! We even made her a 'singing schedule,' but then she'd say how she hadn't practiced enough the day before, or she had a big audition coming up so needed to sing a while. Even with noise-cancelling headphones, I'd still hear her practicing. I went from loving her singing to hating it! Even now, I'm living with my boyfriend, but I can STILL hear her singing in my head! Help!"
Whether the above gave you bad-roommate flashbacks or just gave you insight into what can go wrong if you decide to live with a friend, I think the takeaway is key: Proceed with caution. Though the idea of living with a friend may sound like fun, sometimes, if you're too similar or too opposite, or if you just have different expectations and don't lay everything out there before you sign a lease together, things can go downhill — and fast. And, as with every relationship you have, communication is key, friend-roommate or not.
*Name has been changed.
Psst! Download CNBC Make It x Bustle's roommate contract and never fight over things like whose turn it is to buy toilet paper ever again.