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04.17.2003: Etiquette Schmetiquette
common-sense manners for real-world living
1 2 3
continued from page 1
a girl, her roommate, and his girlfriend
Q: I have been living with my roommate for about a year now.  Since almost day one his girlfriend has been a constant presence.  I really don't mind her being there.  I enjoy spending time with her and I believe we get along fine.  A week or two ago I asked my roommate to ask his girlfriend to start paying her fair share for spending time around the department.  It really hadn't bothered me in the past that she didn't contribute, but a whole year has gone by and another was about to begin without even one offer of contribution to the household.

She sleeps over every night.  She showers there, eats there, has her own key so she can come home during her lunch break, and when they don't go out at night they hang out at our place.  However, she does not keep much of her property there (she still has everything at her parents' house).

I had asked her to contribute $300/month.  My roommate and I at the moment split $1500/month for rent, utilities and various other household expenses.  If she contributed the $300, we would still be paying $600 each.  That's double what I ask from her.  I don't think that's unreasonable.  She lives there, plain and simple.  Yes she doesn't have all her stuff there and that is why she isn't paying a complete third of the expenses.

Well, she refuses to pay.  I've even tried to compromise and come down to $250.  She says will pay her share of the utilities, which split three ways would be $60/month.  She considers herself a guest of my roommates and not a third roommate.  To me if she was a third roommate she'd be paying a lot more.

This is causing them to fight, and now he is asking me to reconsider.  I don't want this to become a major disagreement between anyone, but at the same time I don't want bend on this. Am I being unreasonable?  I have asked coworkers and friends, trying to explain both sides fairly and everyone has told me that what I am doing is completely reasonable.

I would like to give them three choices:

1. Pay what I ask and things go on as normal.
2. Since we have to sign a new lease this month, she be added and everything is split not exactly three ways because they share a room, but more fairly than they are now.
3. She can only sleep over on weekends.  

If you don't mind dishing out a little advice, I could sure use it to stress less.

A: Ah, yes, the old unofficial roommate/mooching significant other dilemma. The fact that you actually like both the significant other and your roommate actually makes things even more awkward, since presumably, you not only want to: (a) make sure everyone’s paying their fair share with regards to the shared living space, but also (b) make sure everyone’s comfortable and happy and still on reasonably friendly terms in the end. In other words, it’s not as simple as delivering a straight-out pay-up or get-out ultimatum.

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