Often, “shitting where you eat” refers to a workplace hookup; an ill-advised soirée involving yourself and the company ink. However, I’d argue that this analogy is better suited to the inter-apartment hookup. After all, where does the majority of your shitting and eating go down? Don’t answer that.
So your roommate: you’re pretty hot for them. Living with them is a luxury; like a hot tub or surround sound. She walks around in a revealing robe, never seems to have a period, and only goes number 1. Tee hee! Or maybe your roommate is a dude; one that doesn’t bring home a new girl every night, agrees to watch Teen Mom 2, and cleans up after he cooks. Surely, this person is your most precious amenity, right? Wrong. Having a garbage disposal is sweet, too, but I wouldn’t recommend sticking your dick in one. Consider the following before setting forth on the road to real estate ruin.
Do you like your apartment? Let’s be real. What’s harder to find; an apartment you love, or a relationship that will have the shelf life of milk? You could be on the brink of cancer-inducing, all-consuming, psychotic let’s-tattoo-each-other’s-names-on-our-ring-fingers love with your roommate, but the memory of that union won’t make the sight of your meager belongings in the back of a $19.95 U-Haul any easier to swallow. My roommate could be James Franco, my drug dealer, and Swingers-era Vince Vaughn wrapped into one person, and I still wouldn’t sleep with him. Repeat after me: washer/dryer combo.
Do you pull the fade? Maybe you and your roommate sat down like adults and drafted a pre-emptive mandate in the style of the Geneva Convention, if you will, for the protection of other roommates involved. No one has to move out, you’ll be mature if your fling fizzles, you’ll still be friends, so on and so forth. Just look at you, taking initiative! So cultivated!
Except when you’re ready to end things you’re stumped, because you’re a fader. You know the like. Instead of verbally ending relationships, you tend to fade away; never to be seen or heard from again besides the occasional Facebook status update that proves that yes, you are alive, albeit disinterested in yesterdays’ hookup. And hey, we’re all guilty of it. No one is judging. Keep in mind though, that you can’t just fade away from someone who is in your living room rummaging through your shared DVD collection and eating your cereal every morning.
Are you in love, or just lazy? The dating scene can get old faster than a cultural critique of Rebecca Black, but that’s no excuse to risk your apartment and friendship for a convenient lay. Be honest with yourself – do you like your roommate, or are you broke this week and can’t afford to go on a real date with a person that may or may not put out? The same way you would second-guess sleeping with your best friend’s little sister, or your brother’s ex girlfriend, or your 2nd cousin, THINK about what you’re about to do and whether or not it’s worth it. Use your brain, and when you come to a conclusion, use your hand (who you’ve lived with forever and would never kick you out).
Are you seeing other people? Imagine that you’ve been dating someone for a while. It’s not an exclusive relationship, but you practice a Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy with one another. In other words: if you fuck somebody else, use protection and keep the self-congratulatory parade confined to the streets of your cerebrum.
This type of relationship is non-existent when you’re banging your roommate. No stray bra is safe; no headboard bang will go unheard. When your bed isn’t slept in, process of elimination says you’re with an anonymous someone else; a someone else who lives off of a foreign subway stop and possesses the ability to do something your roommate is incapable of, by default – sleeping in an apartment that is not yours. What used to be a walk of shame is now a walk of dread as you head home to face the inevitably awkward morning after. We’ve all seen romantic comedies. Even the most embittered souls are prone to jealousy pangs when their built-in friend-with-benefits (or fuck buddy, if you want to be crass about it) moves on to greener pastures.
Do you need alone time? Alone time is crucial, especially at the beginning of a relationship. Telling someone you’re busy or that you don’t want to hang out is increasingly difficult when that person has access to your whereabouts 24-7. “Girls’ Night,” “Poker Night,” and “Visit From Mom” no longer equate to enjoying a quiet night alone. Avoiding the person you’re hooking up with now requires plans with a sympathetic friend, where you will hang at what is now referred to as your “safe house.”
I’m sure that once in a while, in “I swear! It happened to my friend!” land, these roommate relationships can work out. I have a pretty simple test to gauge whether or not your relationship is legit and deserves a fair shot. All it takes is one of you moving out. If you’re not willing to be greatly inconvenienced, spend money, and make sacrifices; you’re just not ready to be in a relationship. Keep your pants zipped up and your head held high. You’re doing the right thing.