My roommate is awful at being a roommate but great in every other way. We just met last semester and decided to get a place together. We really get along well—we’re both girls and have the same study habits, taste in food and men (haha), favorite bars and stuff, too—but she is terrible at sharing a house! We have other roommates, but she is really the problem here. We have a system set up for chores, and she’s the only one who falls off every time. She leaves her TV on to fall asleep, and it took a lot to get her to finally turn the damn thing down to an agreeable volume. She’s also just loud and gross. She thinks she’s a wacky art kid, but she’s really just dirty and disorganized. She’s never had more than one roommate before, and we can tell.
Naturally, we don’t wanna kick her out, but it’s only been a month, and we’re all miserable with her in the house. Is there a way to squash this without such a drastic move? We all get along just fine, and all of the drama is because of house stuff. She doesn’t see a problem with the way she lives, and talking about this is hard because she feels judged very easily and gets upset. I’m not sure how to fix this without just kicking her out.
Hey there, Miserable,
I was an awful roommate the first time I lived with anyone who wasn’t related to me. I smoked inside, had very loud sex in my ground-floor bedroom, cooked full meals at midnight, invited weirdo British dudes over for porch hangs at 3 a.m.—you name it. My old roommates from that house do not talk to me these days, and I don’t blame them at all. I was inconsiderate, and I took my housing for granted because I’d never been kicked out or evicted before. I didn’t think about my roommates’ comfort or needs because screw them, you know? We ain’t friends. But you do seem to have a platonic connection to this nightmare of a roomie, so perhaps I can’t fully relate to her behavior.
I ended up moving out of that place on my own, but I know that they were preparing to kick me out, and I would have deserved it. I wouldn’t have taken it well at all, and the tone of this reply would be very different, but I would have had it coming. Some people only learn things the hard way, and we can’t continually put people’s feelings before our own comfort or safety. Her hurt feelings are no concern of mine, especially since you’ve discussed this already, and feeling judged seems to be her go-to response to receiving valid criticism. She sounds defensive and possibly too immature to be sharing a house with other young adults, but y’all are at the age where it’s time to stretch your legs and try out this “adulting” thing, for better or worse. I would not fall for her maudlin moves when you tell her it’s her turn to take out the trash. That’s manipulative in a way that feels dishonest.
You and your other roommates have a tough decision to make. She’s shown you that she’s not a team player when it comes to keeping a home, and this shouldn’t be overshadowed by your shared party nights. Things are complicated by the warmth of your friendship, and some people will allow that warmth to be the permission they take in order to get away with everything. It’s a real red flag if she mentions your friendship when you’re trying to talk about house stuff or if she tries to make it personal when all you want is for her to do her part. “Why are you doing me like that?” is not the proper response to the chore wheel—that is someone who wants to get out of their responsibilities and doesn’t mind manipulating your emotions to do so. I think you can give her an ultimatum: Get on board and start carrying your weight or find a new place to live.
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