On Flatmates

By the time you’ve lived with someone for a year, you will probably either love or hate severely dislike them.

The reason for this is pretty simple. If you live with someone, you see them all the time. You see them at their worst and at their best. You’re all but forced to learn to cooperate with them, if only to get hold of the cutlery they’ve hidden in their room.

If you would have become friends anyway (or if you’re already lifelong friends) then living together just intensifies the process.

If you can get along with them in small doses, living together means you suffer large doses, with exactly the results you’d expect.

If you wouldn’t have liked them anyway, eventually you won’t be able to stand another second in their company and you’ll hide in your room when you see them coming. This can get awkward if they notice.

Common complaints about flatmates

They haven’t done the dishes (or they’ve done them wrong)

I’ve heard this one more often than all the others put together. The seriousness of the issue ranges from not stacking the dishwasher effectively to leaving a pan full of congealed fat on the kitchen table for three months and then, when passive-aggressive flatmates put it outside her door as a hint, hiding it in the storage room where they didn’t find it until after she’d left for good.

Dishes (courtesy of vegadsl at freedigitalphotos.net)
Dishes (courtesy of vegadsl at freedigitalphotos.net)

The solution

Ignore it. Tell your friends about it. Tell your other flatmates about it. Give up and do the dishes in front of them, sighing loudly. Get annoyed that they haven’t noticed. Tell your friends about it again. Put the dishes you think are theirs outside their room. Find the dishes, still dirty, back in the kitchen. Realise that some of them are in fact yours. Repeat. And repeat. Eventually get a sense of perspective. Thereafter only notice dishes if they’ve started to grow mould or you want to use one of them.

They leave you out of things

Being left out of things – especially if you’re the only flatmate not in the special circle – is both frustrating and upsetting. You can’t scold people into liking you, you can’t get away from the fact that they’ve forgotten to invite you again, sometimes you can’t even use your own lounge without feeling unwanted.

Being left behind sucks
Being left behind sucks

The solution

Move the instant you can find another flat that will take you. It might also be worth considering if there’s a reason they aren’t inviting you, so you don’t repeat your mistakes in the next flat.

They’re nuts

Everyone seems a little bit nuts when you see them as they are at home. But then there’s the people you’re genuinely a little worried about. The guy keeping a rat in a shoebox in his cupboard. The girl who drinks a bottle of wine by herself in one go. The guy who hasn’t left the house in six months. The girl who `can’t be bothered’ to attend her exam.

The solution

If you’re genuinely worried for your safety, move out as soon as you get the chance. It’s not worth risking your life or peace of mind. If you think they’re just weird, there’s not a whole lot you can do. When the end of the contract comes up, you can either leave or ask them to leave. This depends on whether the flatmates you like outnumber the ones who are crazy or not.

Common boasts about flatmates

Oddly enough, people aren’t as verbal about what they like about their flatmates. However, it’s pretty easy to spot someone who likes their flatmates. They’ll use `we’ a lot when referring to the flat. They’ll mention `flat dinners’ or `flat trips’. Party invitations will be from the whole flat rather than an individual. Not making a face when you ask how their flatmates are is also a good indicator.

They were friends AND flatmates
They were friends AND flatmates

Disclaimer

My current flatmates are kind, clean and tidy (mostly). I wrote this article based on past experiences and what others have told me.

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