Jaya: Apartment etiquette! So fraught!
Victoria: Ahhhh. Ack, I have been so guilty of some of this in the past, it’s my biggest etiquette sin.
Jaya: Hahahaa omg, I haaaate the iPhone noises. What person does that?
Victoria: Yeah, that’s really bad. I 100% think in a shared space you should do what you can to not have excess noise.
Jaya: I feel like apartments and roommates are like, the ultimate test of the core of etiquette–this idea that you need to be accommodating of other people while still taking care of yourself.
Victoria: Hahah yeah. I actually once really did hog the living room- but I HAD to- for some reason our wireless only worked for me in there and not in my bedroom.
Jaya: Ooh that’s rough, yeah I know that feeling. I mean, I think there are a few things that can be said outright. Asking someone to put on headphones if they’re listening to videos on their laptop is totally normal. Also I think asking about the art. If you have stuff you want to hang up, say that you’d like some space in the living room to do it.
Victoria: Yeah, that one is pretty weird to me, that she would decorate without asking.
Jaya: I guess it depends on how she acts normally. I can’t get a read on if they knew each other before or not, or what kind of personal relationship they have but you can either be like “Hey I have this poster I think would look great above the couch” and hope she gets the hint. Or be more direct and say “I feel like you decorated the living room entirely with your stuff, and I’d like to make it a little more balanced so it can feel like home for both of us.”
Victoria: Yeah that’s all good. And I think you can ask that she spend some time in her bedroom. Be like, I have some friends coming over tonight and I’d like to use the living room. This was my problem in my younger years- I was so used to sharing space with my family, that I genuinely could not see the problem with my just being physically present, even if I was being absolutely silent. And it took, ahem, kind of a long time to understand it.
Jaya: Yes, definitely keep her posted on some plans.
Victoria: And like, really don’t be afraid to just go in there and plop down on the couch and turn on the TV, and if she complains….I guess just be like, “well the TV is in here, so it gets precedence and if you don’t like it you have a room you can sit in.”
Jaya: As weird as it sounds, hiding in your room is only going to teach her that she can sit in the living room all she wants. You sorta have to step to her with this. So side story: My freshman year dorm roommate had been to boarding school before, so she had lived in dorms and I hadn’t. I, however, lived in apartments my whole life, so it’s not like the idea of shared living was new to me. She proceeds to give me this whole lecture on how to live in a dorm, and how I probably don’t know ANYTHING about it, and being really mean and judgmental about it. When all the advice was like “don’t make too much noise if the other person is sleeping” and “don’t bring guys back all the time.” Like, stuff any normal considerate human would know. She was THE WORST ROOMMATE. She took over all the spaces, constantly had people over and wouldn’t hang out elsewhere when I said I had to study or sleep, and generally acted like I wasn’t there. So, obviously not that LW is doing this, but just make sure if you’re coming at it from “I know what apartment living is like and she doesn’t,” that you’re not just trying to make it all your space either. I say this entirely out of past trauma and not because I actually think LW sounds like this.
Victoria: Hahahah yeah. And I understand not wanting to talk to them about it, but you have to or you will just stew.
Jaya: Yes. (Freshman year roommate also refused to talk to me about this stuff when I sat her down and was like “We need to discuss this”…after she gave me a whole lecture on not letting things stew).
Victoria: Sounds like a peach.
Jaya: So what if she brings up a bunch of reasonable points and such, and this roommate just shuts everything down and is like “no my tchotchkes stay everywhere.”
Victoria: Lol…..well then you don’t really have many options- it’s beyond etiquette and you’re dealing with an unreasonable person. If the school offers mediation, try that. If not, move.
Jaya: And break some of the tchotchkes on your way out.
Victoria: Hahah yeah, I mean, the thing with a bad roommate is sometimes the best solution is to just leave. And even if you can’t, it’s just for the one year and then you will have this great story to one-up people with for the rest of your life.
I have a roommate that is always sitting at the kitchen table, then when she feels like it, she moves to the couch. She will then stay there till she goes to bed sometime after 12:30. The only time she isn’t in the common area is when she leaves the house. The tv in the common area has direct tv, her tv in her room has Netflix and no direct tv. I have told her she can get a direct tv box for her room, but she says it isn’t necessary, cause it is in the LIVING ROOM and she can watch it there.
I am so unhappy, this is a cottage with two rooms and common area. I seem to be in my room a lot, and I don’t like that. But, every time I go onto the common area, my ears are talked off, never can watch the tv, have to record everything, cause she talks all the time. Help, what can I say or do…..thank you Cat
I have the same problem! Everywhere I turn, my roommate is there. She has a room to herself and never wants to use it. She’s in the common area from the time she wakes up until the time she goes to bed. Every time I come out to cook, she’s in my face or talking my ear off until I go back into my room. It’s so annoying to have someone looking over my shoulder every time I come out. I don’t know how to tell her that she should use her own space more often.
I’m in a similar situation and have asked the roommate politely to get the F out of the house sometimes. In the past 15 months, she has only gone out in the evenings 3 times!!! I’ve asked her in several ways over the last year, and the last time I said something about me wanting to be able to use the living room, her reply was “Oh, yeah, I remember you talking about that before. I made some banana nut bread. Help yourself.”
So I decided I need to move.
My roommate has a giant filthy beer pong table in the living room which he uses to control the living room space under the guise of it being a “desk”. Why he thinks he should have a desk in the living room at all? Entitlement. I swear I’m not making this up. Btw he’s in his 30s. He doesn’t drink, it’s leftover from previous roommates. Instead of spending $50-100 on a desk, he uses this. Didn’t even clean it. His gf makes him dinner and they eat off the beer splattered pong table. For real. He said he doesn’t mind getting rid of it. “Its just a horizontal surface to me”. We had this convo 3 times, yet he doesn’t get rid of it. Like, why lie? So 2 weeks ago, I get a cheap desk off craigslist and offered it to the house (theres another roommate) and it sits unused right next to the pong table. Uh-huh. I also started a group text stating everything clearly. His only commentary about the common space involves him keeping the pong table and that we should give up the coffee table space in between the couches (which face each other) …and what? Put the couches so close together that you can kick the person across from you? I call him The Imperialist. The table I ordered (bc no one has a place to eat unless they want to sit 2 inches away from him and eat off a filthy pong table) comes in a box and arrives tomorrow. I’m putting the box on top of the empty desk for a few days. Just to see. If nothing happens, I’m putting it together while he’s working. Hopefully it will be loud. Then I’m putting it in my room. Then I’m rubbing mayonnaise all over the bottom of that pong table. This really eggy one I bougit and hate. I figure if he won’t come to his senses, maybe he’ll at least come to his sense of smell!