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Roommate Rules: They Drive Us Crazy

Updated on July 2, 2011

Some difficulty can be expected when two adults from different backgrounds cohabitate. This is as true for a platonic "roomie" as for a lover. My days of "roomies" are over, but I have some advice for those thinking of taking on a roommate or with one that currently exists.

Rules For Roommates

1. Familiarity breeds contempt. Don't hang around with each other 24/7. Issues will arise faster and differences of opinion will become major blowups. Try to spend a couple of nights a week apart. If you each have your own lives, you'll be far happier when you're together. Plus, it gives you something to talk about besides who left the kitchen light on or who looks better in a bathing suit.

2. Respect each other's personal space. If he/she has their own shelf in the fridge, don't touch their food. If they have a bra hung over their doorknob, knock before you waltz in, and ladies... don't share each other's cosmetics, jewelry, deodorant, or feminine products. Get your own. Don't loan the other person your car, cell phone, debit/credit card, or any money whatsoever. It is better, when possible, to let the other person know beforehand when you'll be having company, and never allow a guest to stay more than a night or two at a time.

3. Communicate. If you have beef with the other person let it out in as calm and rational manner as you can, as soon as possible. This prevents the built up volcanos that can erupt otherwise.

4. Share the load. Yes, a chore chart is a fine idea in any co-living situation. If you have a new one each month, you can initial something when it actually gets done, providing handy visual emphasis/ammunition that no one can argue with. (Works great for mothers too.)

5. Don't get personal. Avoid "you" comments. Try things like "I feel like..." Disagreements happen between the best of friends. This is a good tool to stop them from turning into arguments.

6. Have a joint budget. Get together and decide which things (i.e. toilet paper, paper towels, cleaning supplies, condiments you both use, utilities, and laundry/dishwasher soap) you are both going to use. Plan for that financially. Those things add up.

7. Be the initial signer of the lease/homeowner if possible. Then, you have the ultimate power and, if things go south, you won't be homeless. If you are on the other side of the coin, have a backup plan where you can stay if necessary.

8. Keep it light. Attack things with a sense of humor whenever possible, especially if your "roomie" is of the opposite sex. Things the opposite sex do are incomprehensible upon occasion, but it makes sense to them.

9. Stay out of each other's relationships. Don't go to "roomie's" parents' place for thanksgiving dinner. Don't advise them in their love relationships other than consoling or rejoicing along with their mood. Definitely, don't set them up with your cousin/coworker/buddy. Then you are in the middle, not a comfortable place to be.

10. Lastly, don't be a pig. Nobody wants to room with the untidy or the clutter-lover. Do that in your own room and never in the common areas!

That doesn't sound too difficult, does it? Believe me, it is. However, it is absolutely worth it. I've had roommate issues in every single one of those areas. Be sure you are absolutely onboard with these, and your "roomie" is too, before you move in together. Both of you need to be committed to making the living arrangements work, or it won't work.


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    • profile image

      Max Havlick 6 years ago

      Maybe thinking key things are too obvious to mention is one reason you had such a run of bad luck with roommates.

      No, no one ever woke me up in the middle of the night and asked me if I had an extra condom! Thank God for that.

    • northweststarr profile image

      northweststarr 6 years ago from Washington State

      TY Max, totally agree with you on the private space thing! (thought it was too obvious to mention)

      What your roomie never woke you up in the middle of the night to see if you had an extra condom handy? Yes, the back seat of the volvo is more handy, but not exactly more comfortable. Most people with roomies can't afford hotel rooms.

      I am nothing if not practical.

    • Max Havlick profile image

      Max Havlick 6 years ago from Villa Park, Illinois

      This advice seems better than your advice on flirting (which I'm still trying to figure how to answer).

      I would stress from my experience, the importance of both persons having their own private space, separate rooms if possible, at least a small desk and chair.

      Overnight guests of the other person never worked for me, so I'd suggest they go to where the guest would be more comfortable (without a roommate), and even help them find such a place if I could.

      You seem to do well in these kinds of informal lists of practical suggestions, and you seem to get good response.

    • northweststarr profile image

      northweststarr 6 years ago from Washington State

      TY Pamela99! (Glad my roommate days are over, aren't you.)

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 6 years ago from United States

      I think you have used excellent criteria in your plan to work out a plan between you and a roommate. Very good hub.

    • northweststarr profile image

      northweststarr 6 years ago from Washington State

      TY for your time!

    • Nikkij504gurl profile image

      Nikki Wicked 6 years ago from Louisiana

      voted up and useful

    • northweststarr profile image

      northweststarr 6 years ago from Washington State

      I hear you Plarson, I likely wouldn't have, either. I had roommates who stole money, crashed my car, ate my food constantly, and never did a bit of housework... (and that includes even cleaning up after themselves)One roomie, I took to my aunt's place for dinner and my whole family found out about my (at the time) energetic sex life, (something I would have preferred to keep private.)

      A.A.-- It should be part of a lease agreement. TY!

    • Plarson profile image

      Plarson 6 years ago from Alabama

      Starr- GREAT advice. Wish I had been informed of such things back when i was 18!! This would have worked great, though being 18 I probably wouldn't have listened. lol -Paul

    • A.A. Zavala profile image

      Augustine A Zavala 6 years ago from Texas

      The commandments for roommate living. You should make it into a poster and sell it, or make it part of a lease agreement.

    • northweststarr profile image

      northweststarr 6 years ago from Washington State

      TY Jaye! Glad you got something out of it!

    • Jaye Lynne profile image

      Jaye Lynne 6 years ago from Iowa

      Very useful hub. Great advice and pics!

    • northweststarr profile image

      northweststarr 6 years ago from Washington State

      TY prasetio30! I love nice comments!

    • prasetio30 profile image

      prasetio30 6 years ago from malang-indonesia

      Nice hub and thanks for share useful information to us. Rated up!