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09.18.2003: Etiquette Schmetiquette
common-sense manners for real-world living
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continued from page 3

roommate tension (cont.)...
A: (cont.)
To be honest, many of the things you complain about your roommate doing wouldn't bug me all that much. In college I had a roommate whose boyfriend basically lived with us as well, and while the morning shower situation could, on occasion, get a little nuts, I just chalked it up to one of the downsides of not having a single; as for living with roommates who operate on a different schedule, I'm a pretty sound sleeper, so a shower and blowdry at bedtime wouldn't phase me in the least. (On top of which, I'd think it a little unreasonable if I had a roommate who slept in till noon each day, and insisted that I not shower and blowdry my hair when I got up at a normal person time). But I wouldn't think it nuts in the least if I had a roommate who did object to these things; like I said, different things annoy different folks. In the end, though, it really doesn't even matter whether I think your complaints are reasonable, because I'm not you. If you hate going home every day because your roommate's driving you batty, it's a problem. 

More telling than anything specific that your roommate's done is the fact that she completely blows off all your concerns without trying to understand where you're coming from, or making the slightest move towards coming up with a compromise together. And that you're resorting to delivering ultimatums. Which then leads her to snipe about you at work. This is just a bad sort of roommate dynamic to have, with both of you bringing out the worst in each other. It's pretty clear that you and your roommate are making each other miserable in this current living situation, and are both loathe to budge on your own needs and wants; at this point, it's probably best to talk about parting ways (as soon as the lease is up, anyway). Since you'll probably still have to cope with a few months more of rooming with this person, it's best to tell her as tactfully as possible that you feel that one or the other of you moving out would be the best solution for both of you (it may ultimately end up being less hassle for you if you decide you'll look for a new place rather than waiting for her to do so), since it's clear you have different requirements from a living situation. 

In the meantime, it doesn't hurt to see whether you can at least negotiate a few simple compromises on the things you two are disagreeing upon right now. You may find you have to give a little in order to get a little. There's no way she's only going to bring her boyfriend over three nights a week, she's already said, but perhaps the three of you could work out a shower schedule that makes sense for all involved? For the dishes, let her know that the current system doesn't work for you because you end up doing dishes far more often than she does; if she wants you to do all the dishes in the sink, suggest that for certain days of the week, dishwashing duty will be assigned to one or the other of you, and that if the person responsible on a given day doesn't do what she's supposed to, the other person should only be obliged to clean up her own dishes the next day. Emphasize that you understand that the two of you have radically different approaches to chores and lifestyle, but that you really want to work with her to make the best of the roommate situation in the time you have left. Forget about the ultimatums, which almost never yield the results one intends anyway; compromise (from both sides) is going to be key.

Best of luck!


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