I need serious help handling my roommate from hell

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Hey, Group Chat, 

I need serious help dealing with my roommate from hell. She is my closest friend from college and the two of us were so excited to move in together post-grad, but I immediately regretted that decision.

Living with her has become a nightmare. She never does her dishes, she takes loud phone calls in our common area while I’m WFH, and she constantly uses all of our shared supply of toilet paper without ever buying more. It’s disgusting. How can my type-A self escape this situation without ruining our friendship forever? SOS. 

Sincerely, The Good Roommate

Dear The Good Roommate,

Katie Mather, who bravely lives in a one-bedroom flex apartment with her college best friend, says… This is quite a laundry list of flaws, which is wild to me since I am a perfect roommate who never does anything wrong.

I would say, “Hey, let’s sit down with her and talk about it,” but since you’ve emailed an internet advice column, we’re going the passive-aggressive route, baby.

She’s not doing her dishes? We’re gonna buy her paper plates and plastic silverware — YES, the environment is dying, but so is your friendship. She’s taking loud phone calls in the living room (who is taking phone calls in 2020?) you’re going to hop on a fake work meeting and talk even louder than her. As you’re screaming about your stocks and the DOW (ya know, business things), suddenly your roommate will be like, “OK maybe I should take this in another room.”

When it comes to the toilet paper issue, this is why Venmo was invented — to charge your roommates without actually talking to them about money and also to see who’s been charging your ex-boyfriend.

Vanessa Quintero, a tragic Virgo, says… It’s all fun and games to live with your best friend, but it’s not fun and games to let them cross all your boundaries and say nothing! I think it’s much harder to bring up cleanliness standards and general expectations when it’s a friend as opposed to a stranger — you don’t want it to come off as personal and interfere with your relationship. However, it doesn’t have to! Your roommate isn’t a mind reader and, unless you bring these things up, they aren’t going to know how much they’re bothering you and, in turn, causing you to harbor resentment against your friend. They don’t want that and neither do you.

Try talking to them really candidly about how you expect the apartment to look and feel, especially during this time when we’re all home and spending way too much time together. You can work together to figure out a system of who does the dishes and buys toilet paper which day or week, and both agree to take personal conversations in your respective rooms. Like anything else, communication and making a game plan are key! If you have this conversation and nothing happens, you definitely have grounds to be more assertive with your requests, like knocking on the door and asking them to clean their dishes, like you talked about, after they retire to the room for Netflix after dinner while the sink fills up. If it continues anyway, well, maybe you shouldn’t live together! Deciding to move out after your lease ends could save your friendship.

No matter what you do, do this in person, not over text. You don’t wanna end up on a Finsta where people can pick apart your requests, tone and lack of emoji usage.* (*Personal experience)

Dylan Tuba, who thinks Angel Soft is more essential than food, says:
Not buying toilet paper is the No. 1 worst roommate offense a person can commit. Unless you’re hoarding a secret bidet, you need to chip in on the two-ply! 

A petty approach would be to enact a BYOBW (Bring Your Own Butt Wipe) policy for the next week. Watch as your roommate panics at the dwindling supply of toilet paper, tissues, paper towels and pads. 
When they inevitably ask if you’ve seen any toilet paper, politely remind them that it’s their turn to go on a TP run. They’ll get the message, and you’ll finally get to stop smuggling that Charmin Ultra Soft in your blouse.

Dillon Thompson, who once lived with five of his best friends at once, says… A few of these crimes are roomie misdemeanors, but a few — — like not cleaning dishes — are roomie felonies. That’s a lot of chaos to deal with any year, especially in 2020. And of, course, the last thing you want to do is lose a friend over a situation that’s already making you suffer. 

My suggestion? Approach this like Machiavelli. Yeah, a Renaissance philosopher might not be the first place your mind goes when you think of roommate advice, but one of his famous quotes feels pretty applicable here: “It is better to be feared than loved, if you cannot be both.”

This quote often gets misconstrued. The point isn’t that you have to be either feared or loved, it’s just that you have to prioritize one and hope the other follows. Here, you have to choose fear. Tell your roommate what she’s doing wrong: Be real, be honest and don’t hold back. If she’s really a good friend, she’ll listen to you and understand your perspective — that’s where the love part comes in. 

Phoebe Zaslav, who identifies as queen type-A, says… Girl, I have BEEN THERE. No seriously, I’ve pretty much dealt with that exact situation, and it sucks. If there’s anything I learned about type-A people, it’s that we set a pretty high standard for ourselves in terms of how we behave, and we hold the people that we care about to that same requisites — especially in terms of respect.

The best way to handle this is to communicate, communicate, communicate. Because if you keep bottling up your frustrations, it’s not only going to be so mentally draining on you, but there’s potential that it could also ruin your friendship if you grow to resent this person.

Here’s what you do: order some take-out together one night and express how you’ve been feeling. Say you really value your friendship with this person, but that you’d need a little more respect in your shared living space. If they can’t hear what you’re saying and don’t want to change, then you know what? Lesson learned. Some friendships are meant to be just that: friendships. Not roommates, and that’s ok. Living with other people isn’t easy, but it’s definitely not worth losing a friend over. Good luck, you’ve got this!

TL;DR… Three words, baby — sa👏bo👏tage👏. Oops, just kidding, we meant to say commu👏ni👏cation👏.

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