Five’s company, nine’s a crowd

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by Cyn Collins | 6/4/09

Dear Cyn,

I’m a guy in my mid-20s, sharing a house with four other guys. They’ve become good friends and I generally consider myself lucky to live with them…but the thing is, their significant others. Three of them have girlfriends and one has a boyfriend, and they’re around all the time. On any given night there are at least two of them staying over, and it’s getting real old real fast. Individually they’re all fine, but I’ve had about enough of walking in on things I shouldn’t have to walk in on, and having to wait forever for the bathroom and kitchen. Maybe I’m just bitter because I don’t have a girlfriend myself right now…but I’m paying for a fifth of the rent, not a ninth. Am I out of line here in getting pissed?

-Drew


Dear Drew,

Get out of the house! Or, give them the timeless ultimatum by Hank Williams, Sr.: “You’re Gonna Change (Or I’m Gonna Leave).” This is all that you can do. Did you not anticipate when you moved in that this might occur? Communal living, as you’ve learned, has its upside and downside, and this is clearly the inevitable downside of living with four other people in a house. That’s just the way it is, has always been. If you actually still want to stay, because you can’t afford to live alone or with one roommate only, I recommend you sit down and talk with your roommates if you can tear them all away from their S.O.s at the same time, for 15 minutes—or, better yet, invite the S.O.s since they’re the crux of your grievances. I suggest you request any or all of the following:

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1) rules for use of the bathroom and kitchen. Being a paying resident, you get to move to the front of the line, ahead of the non-paying part-time “residents.” Make a signup sheet for the kitchen if you must, or let them know that they might get bumped from kitchen or bathroom when you need and they might have to suddenly a) take up take-out b) go home to take a shower/prep for work and going out.

2) Do these people have homes? If yes, request your roommates spend equal time at their S.O. s homes (regardless of location or state or cleanliness/convenience) as their S.O.s do at your house. You may even want to request some sort of schedule so that there are a few absolutely S.O.-free nights so you have breathing room and aren’t always “walking into something.” Good luck with this. They will view you as anal, but you’re pissed, so who cares? If they are homeless, they better start paying some rent.

3) If they’re doing it on the kitchen floor or living room couch, let them know your sensibilities are offended, particularly since you don’t have a girlfriend and this is just rubbing it in. Or ask if you can join in when you walk in on something in public areas. You’ll be amazed at how quickly it becomes removed to private sectors…or, you’ll start having more fun with the situation.

4) If any of the S.O.s are spending a significant amount of time there—say 10-15 nights/days per month—request they pay part of the rent, as this is compromising your freedom and range of motion. There will be an uproar about this, but you’ll get your point across. Or, charge a penalty—if you can’t get in the kitchen, you get to share their food, free!

5) Get a girlfriend! The sweetest revenge.

Since you like everyone, generally, it is worthwhile to give any or all of the above strategies a shot, and see how it goes. Most likely, you’re just going to have to walk, and find another place that’s a little less crowded. Whether you’re bitter because you don’t have a girlfriend (as is likely) is irrelevant. You’re just not going to be happy unless things change, and staying will fray the friendships you’ve developed as your resentment builds.

Good luck!

Sincerely,
Cyn Photo by Zoran Rilak (Creative Commons)

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