Living with your best gal pals always seems like a freakin’ fantastic idea after a first year in the dorms; then again isn’t anything better than community showers and a roommate that thinks you’re a slut for having your boyfriend sleepover?
I remember signing my first lease and daydreaming about my girlfriends and I setting up our place, cooking great meals, drinking way too much wine and having pillow fights for our own damn good. Looking back on these daydreams, I seemed to have forgotten that we all had different schedules, different goals and weren’t even old enough to buy our own alcohol (and couldn’t haggle enough for those racy pillow fights, either).
In the end, even though the IDEA if living with great friends may seem like the right choice, think long and hard about the friendships that are worth keeping.
1. Your friends may come with emotional baggage
The ability to be not only a friend, but a good friend, is important to sustain a meaningful friendship. If you or your roommates have some sort of problem that requires support from close friends, living with someone who needs that support can hinder relationships. Offering constant advice and being someone’s emotional crutch can be exhausting, especially when your first priority is taking care of yourself. Offering advice and support from a distance can be more helpful and encourage the person to problem solve on their own. This means that you can be a good friend and at the same time, be a useful source of advice without feeling overwhelmed.
2. Someone likes alcohol a little too much
When turning 19, 20, and 21, there are easy ways to get booze and party hard. Sure that’s fun on the weekends or once and awhile, but there always seems to be a booze-hound in the house (the girl that can smell out a gathering of horny college guys that will give any girl, any alcohol, at any time to get in her pants). Ok, these gatherings can be pretty fun, but how often do you really want to deal with the dirty aftermath of these events? The stench of booze-laden breath in class the next morning is only socially acceptable so many times. Make sure your gal pals have similar attitudes around drinking/partying or make sure you have strong enough willpower to do what you need to. This mindset comes with the complimentary title of house party-pooper.
3. They don’t have the same vengeful attitude as you do when it comes to a dirty kitchen (or any house common area)
So many of my past roommate conflicts have come from dirty common areas. Take, for example, the kitchen and dirty dishes. Who used what mug or who left their shit on the stove doesn’t really matter if, in the end, the dishes get cleaned. Just do your dishes when you’re finished using them (instead of leaving them to crust over and harbor bacteria in the sink). Doesn’t this seem like simple, common sense knowledge? I think so, too.
*Note: If you know, for a fact, that somebody is not cleaning their dishware (and you are looking to stir the pot hehe!) make a trail of dirty dishes from the sink to their bedroom. I cannot speak from experience but I hear this tactic is quite effective.
4. You have the same schedules
Hanging out with good friends is great, but hanging out with good friends in class, during your free time, during your meal times, and right before bed can be tolerable at most. Just like unlimited drunk pizza, your friends can be too much of a good thing. Take the personal time you need if your roommates become overwhelming…or just live with people who have different interests and never wanted to hang out with you in the first place.
5. Somebody has a pet
Any household with a pet can cause roommate conflict. If the owner is not taking full responsibility of their animal, I can guarantee somebody is not going to be happy. If you’re already having issues with your live-in friends, don’t drag a poor dog or cat into the mix. Animals can sense emotion from the people around them. Who wants a stressed out pooch/kitty/ferret/chinchilla/etc.? Not me.
6. They have significant others
This is a big one. You may not think that your roommates significant others should affect your feelings towards your roommate. Believe me, they will. Significant others tend to linger around the house and stay just a tish over their welcome. This, of course, is brushed under the rug for a bit because it seems temporary. But, when this significant other starts using the cable/dishes/food/electricity/internet/washer/dryer and isn’t paying a penny, there’s a definite problem. It is obnoxious, it is impolite, and you will end up hating your roommate when she gets defensive after you bring up the obvious problems with her boyfriend hanging around 24/7. Plus, you have to deal with her significant other eating the majority of your snack food and leaving the toilet seat up (not cool).
7. You and your friends ‘split groceries’
Since you all get along so well anyways (I mean you’re such great friends), why not split groceries to make everything a bit easier? This never, ever works. Either someone’s going to get drunk and eat too many pizza rolls or there will be some type of feud over who ate the last slice of bread. To outsiders, these examples seem minimal and harmless, but harboring ill will towards a roommate who you think took more than their fair share can be unhealthy and catty. Skip the drama mama and buy your own grub.
8. You are the responsible one who pays all the bills
Being in charge of monthly payments can be a bitch. Everyone is poor in college anyways and nobody wants the task of haggling money out of each roommate when a payment is looming. It’s harder to press people you like for money versus someone you could care less about. You never want bill paying to become anything more than a mere transaction. I would avoid being in charge of this task (it really sucks).
One final piece of advice: Do NOT use a dry-erase board for communication purposes. There is nothing more obnoxious than passive-aggressiveness. Just voice your opinion whenever there is an issue (especially if it effects more than just you). Don’t write it with an excessive amount of exclamation points or evil emoticons. This can make people feel slighted and crappy.