Roommate problems come in many shapes and sizes–but they are all stressful. My freshman year of college I was placed with a roommate who was in a long-distance relationship. While that situation itself wasn’t a bad thing, it became problematic when her boyfriend came to visit. For the sake of this article, we’ll call him Todd.

Todd was a generally nice guy and I didn’t mind him sleeping over; what I did mind was how long he stayed and how inconvenient his presence was. Living in a dorm, I could no longer get dressed in the room and had to kick him out when I wanted to shower. I also ended up studying in a friend’s room when Todd and my roommate were there because they were distracting.

[Living with a Couple]

If I were to go back in time, I would have handled the unwelcome guest situation differently. If you are in a similar situation in your apartment, here’s my advice for getting rid of the third wheel while preserving your relationship with your roommate:

Say Something

The idea that honesty is the best policy is true. It always has been and always will be. You’ll be much happier if you are honest with your roommates about your needs. If you find that you can’t stand having an unwelcome guest spending days on end at your place, speak up! Your roommate problems won’t go away if the other parties aren’t aware there’s an issue. Of course, you should be wise in approaching the conversation. Don’t barge into the room and demand that the guest leave. Find a time when it’s just the two of you to bring up the issue.

[Roommate Etiquette with Significant Others]

Start with a line like, “Hey, your boyfriend has been here a few days now and while I like him, the situation is becoming inconvenient for me. I’d really like it if he left soon so it can be just us again.” Have a list of reasons why the guest has caused distress. Be open to questions and prepare for your roommate to get defensive. Be the calm one in the situation and you’ll carry no fault. That’s not to say you should turn into a noodle–be assertive and hold your ground!

I didn’t talk to my roommate about Todd and my frustration with him built up over time. Eventually, Todd left and I found I was always angry with my roommate for relatively small things. Don’t let the tension build!

Find a Compromise

The danger of confronting your roommate is that the situation could get complicated. You may ask that their boyfriend or girlfriend comes over less, but that vagueness could lead to a plethora of additional questions.

[Rules for Roommates]

How much less? Should I be worried when he or she does come over? Will it be uncomfortable when he or she stops in? Avoid being vague and give options or suggest compromise. For example, you could propose that the guest stay every other night or that your roommate go to the boyfriend or girlfriend’s apartment a few times a week.

Furthermore, let your roommate know that you don’t necessarily dislike the guest (as long as it’s true); you just didn’t sign the lease with this person.

[Image Source: Flickr – Emme Rogers]



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