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Should I be mad at my roommate because she disturbed my sleep?
January 7, 2012 7:26 PM   Subscribe

Do I have a right to be bothered by my roommate watching TV in our living room?

I share a two bedroom apt with a roommate who is a pretty close friend. Last night (Friday), she came home with her boyfriend at 11:30 and they proceeded to start watching a movie. They were both talking loudly and I heard her express surprise some minutes later when they realized I was home. They kept watching the movie though, knowing I had an important party with my future in-laws the next day and needed sleep. I think they should have stopped watching the movie when they realized I was home and about to go to bed. The boyfriend even tried to say hi to me in my room, even though it was just after midnight and he should have known I was about to go to bed.

Do I have a right to be upset? Should I confront my roommate about this? Is it OK for her to watch a movie in the living room so late at night?
posted by sunrisecoffee to Human Relations (30 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
I would have just asked her to turn it down a little bit. I am a very light sleeper and usually go to bed earlier than my roommate, who sometimes watches TV while I sleep in the adjacent room. Whenever it bothers me or prevents me from sleeping I just ask her to turn it down a tad, she has never said no or acted bothered by my asking. Hopefully your roommate is considerate as well!
posted by queens86 at 7:28 PM on January 7, 2012 [14 favorites]


On a Friday night especially I would have considered her not out of line. Did you ask her to keep it down when it started bothering you? Because if you just stayed in your bed and fumed and now you're mad at her, she's not the one being unreasonable.
posted by charmedimsure at 7:31 PM on January 7, 2012 [79 favorites]


I think she has a right to watch TV in her house and you have a right to sleep in your house, so it seems like a compromise might have been in order. Without talking to them, they might not have known the noise was bothering you. Perhaps in the future, you could ask them to turn it down, while you put in earplugs or turn on a white noise machine to drown out the rest of the noise.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 7:31 PM on January 7, 2012 [5 favorites]


Did you ask her and her boyfriend to keep it down a bit? I honestly don't think it's rude for someone to watch a movie in their own living room on a Friday night. I would consider it rude, however, if you had asked them to keep it down a bit and they directly ignored you.
posted by astapasta24 at 7:31 PM on January 7, 2012 [11 favorites]


Did you ask her to turn it down? That's really the right thing to do.

You ASSUMED that they were thinking about your party with future-in-laws, but that may be giving them too much credit.
posted by k8t at 7:32 PM on January 7, 2012 [5 favorites]


It's important to keep in mind people aren't telepathic and often start from very different assumptions. If you haven't discussed guidelines for use of common areas and sleep patterns, then they weren't out of line to do ordinary things there. On the other hand, it's totally fine to address this as an issue and come to an agreement for the future.
posted by Monsieur Caution at 7:34 PM on January 7, 2012


Honestly, I have a hunch that your roommate and her boyfriend had absolutely no recollection that you had a big day ahead of you so I would cut them some slack. If it happens again, just be like, "hey, I have to get up early tomorrow and I was wondering if you wouldn't mind keeping the tv down tonight." and move forward.
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 7:36 PM on January 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


Do I have a right to be upset?

That entirely depends on if they ignored you if you asked them to turn it down. If they ignored you, you have a right to be upset. If you didn't even ask them to turn it down, then you absolutely do not.

It is their living room too just as much as it is yours. Even if they knew you had an important appointment/event the next day, it is up to YOU to be an adult and express if the noise is an issue for you. It is not up to them to guess. Besides, for another perspective, why would your event have priority over their social life and mean it dictates how they should behave? Do they have to have an early night because you have an event the next day, because that is kind of how it is coming across.

Watching a movie at midnight on a Friday night is a perfectly reasonable thing to do. Keeping someone awake deliberately isn't. It doesn't sound like one equals the other with the info you have given.
posted by Brockles at 7:38 PM on January 7, 2012 [5 favorites]


You need to communicate with them....I think the fact that her boyfriend came in to say hello to you indicates he was willing to cooperate to keep it down if they were being too loud. You can't assume they are ignoring your wishes. I understand your need for quiet and don't think it's unreasonable, but it's also not unreasonable for them to want to watch a movie at 11:30 pm on a Friday night. However, if she's a close friend, she should understand if you let her know they you need to get some rest.
posted by bearette at 7:38 PM on January 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


As mentioned, if you didn't ask them nicely to keep it down a bit, you've nothing to complain about.
posted by HuronBob at 7:39 PM on January 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


Friday night? As long as it's wrapped up by 2 am they're good. 11:30 on a Friday is not really that late.
posted by nathancaswell at 7:39 PM on January 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


Don't stay mad. Next time ask her to keep it down; and also get yourself a white noise app if you have a smartphone - they are free and wonderful.
posted by fingersandtoes at 7:43 PM on January 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


It's not worth it bringing up this issue unless your roommates ignored you and disrespected you. It doesn't seem like they did this (although I may be wrong), it just seems like you made an assumption that they would do something but they were not aware of what you wanted.

If it really upsets you and you cannot move past this, then talk to your friend and address the issue, but otherwise let it slide. I would recommend letting it slide and if the problem occurs again then bring it up, ask rather than assume, be direct and clear, and set boundaries if required.

You two are roommates so it's okay for her to watch a movie in the living room late at night on a Friday, but that would also okay if you did the same thing. There are much worse things that could have happened.

Question though: did you tell your roommate that you had a party the next day? If that's what you said then that would influence whether or not someone cares because most people don't see the problem if it's a party, but if you had class or had to work then it would be perceived differently. Next time, also communicate the importance of an event if it's something like a party so that way your roommate might be more understanding towards your wants.

Another thing: your friend's boyfriend was probably just trying to be nice towards you and if he noticed that your door was open then he wanted to acknowledge you by saying "hi." If your door was closed and it was late at night (which it was for you) then it should have been understood that you were trying to sleep. But, everyone has different sleeping patterns and I really don't think he meant anything except for wanting to greet you.

TL;DR: not worth it talking about it now unless treated badly; let it slide, but in the future be more direct; ask rather than assume
posted by sincerely-s at 7:53 PM on January 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Think ahead to some miserable night where you can't sleep no matter what you do and you want to give it all up and go in the living room and watch TV to get through the night. Keep that in mind before suggesting any rules about when it's ok to watch movies and when it's not OK.

I've noticed that when I feel disrespected or upset over one thing, then it can very quickly snowball. For example, if she leaves the dishes in the sink and I'm fuming just a little over that - and then I find she put my socks on the table, I can get all "WTF is this passive agressive bullshit???"

But then I realize that she probably just noticed I'd forgotten to put my socks away and so put them where I could find them again and take care of them.

I think the real issue here is figuring out when it's ok to speak up for yourself and how to do it in a way that feels ok for you. I'm often uncomfortable asking people to turn things down but usually they are polite about it. Also, sometimes sound that seems really obnoxious in the next room seems not-so-loud in the room it's actually in.
posted by bunderful at 8:28 PM on January 7, 2012


Do they even know you can hear the tv in your room? I wouldn't assume someone could hear a tv at a normal level in another room with the door closed. And saying hi to someone whose house you're in when they are clearly awake is perfectly polite, even if they are about to go to bed. I mean rattling on for half an hour no, but saying hi sure. It would be ruder not to.
posted by whoaali at 8:30 PM on January 7, 2012 [4 favorites]


You have to ask.
posted by rhizome at 8:33 PM on January 7, 2012


Earplugs are your friends when you have roommates. That or white noise. Asking them to turn it down would be reasonable; asking them to turn it off is not. In my experience it's better to keep the peace unless things get totally out of hand since you're both adults and the roommate doesn't have to listen to you.
posted by fromageball at 8:52 PM on January 7, 2012 [5 favorites]


Confront? Can I ask for a moratorium on the use of this word? You're not going to back her up against a wall and wag your forefinger in her face, are you?

If you want to have a casual chat with your roommate about how thin the walls are in your apartment and how lightly you sleep, in a non aggressive, friendly way, I think that's fine. But those great French wax earplugs could make life a lot easier.
posted by Ideefixe at 9:00 PM on January 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


Adding my vote to the earplugs category. Everyone understands why you're grumpy about it, but it doesn't sound like she was being a bad roommate. If you're in your room silently, how are they supposed to know they're bothering you? I'm sure they figured that if it was a problem you'd have let them know. You have to ASK for what you want.
posted by hermitosis at 9:15 PM on January 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


I share a two bedroom apt with a roommate who is a pretty close friend.

Rooming up with your close friend was your first problem. Renting a place with close friends can sometimes/many-times end up ruining the friendship after a lengthy lease filled with experiences like this. It's not the fault of your friend, or you, but rather you both suddenly see ALL aspects of each others personalities and the people each other are dating. I lost a very close friend this way, so did my wife, and so have many friends we've known.


Do I have a right to be upset? Should I confront my roommate about this? Is it OK for her to watch a movie in the living room so late at night?

Yep. Not about this time, but the next time it occurs I would step out of your room and ask them to be a little more quiet. Yes, just like it's your right to watch a movie at 8AM even if they like to sleep until noon.

A couple of points:
1) You're renting, so you have to expect a certain level of discomfort when it comes to roommates/housemates. That could be more dirty dishes than you're used to, dirty laundry sitting around longer than you'd like, or boyfriends/girlfriends that irk you.
2) It's Friday, so it's usually an assumption that late night fun is fine with everyone, and if you never warned them earlier in the week about keeping it low-key that night then you can't really blame them for not knowing.
3) get a little white noise machine, turn your radio on, or something of the like. You need some form of noise, otherwise even with earplugs or a blanket a little noise creeping through whatever barrier you have will bother the shit out of you and keep you away and angry
4) Next time something like this occurs just pop out of your room and ask them to keep it down, it'll come across a lot easier than a sit-down talk afterthefact.

good luck!
posted by zombieApoc at 9:41 PM on January 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Sorry but I think you're the one that is unreasonable here and this is coming from someone who is a very light sleeper and the littlest bit of noise can keep me up. When you live with roommates, there are certain things you are going to have to deal with, and this situation is one of them. If you have an abnormal aversion to noise (as I do), then the onus is on you to deal with it unless your roommates are acting completely out of line (which they weren't). I suggest getting some ear plugs and politely asking your roommates to try and keep it down next time although they are well within their rights to watch a movie at a reasonable volume at 11:30 pm on a Friday night.
posted by MaryDellamorte at 10:22 PM on January 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


You have the right to ask her to turn it down the next time something like this happens. In the meantime, check into getting a white noise machine and/or earplugs (I personally hate earplugs, but a white noise machine has saved my sanity too many times to count).

By the same token: your roommate has the right to be treated like an adult, which means giving her the courtesy/respect of direct communication regarding your needs/preferences, rather than expecting her (much less her boyfriend) to magically intuit these your needs/preferences without you saying anything.
posted by scody at 10:46 PM on January 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Other people have addressed the issue of whether you asked them to turn it down, so I want to address this:

knowing I had an important party with my future in-laws the next day and needed sleep.

and

even though it was just after midnight and he should have known I was about to go to bed.

Anytime you're expecting other people to remember your social calendar and make allowances for how important things are to you, you're expecting a bit much. Even assuming they remembered a party that was important to you but to which they were probably not even invited, unless you'd previously said 'hey, I'm going to bed early tonight because I need to be well rested for the party tomorrow', you simply can't expect other people to spend enough time thinking about your social life to make a leap between 'important party' and 'needs to be in bed by midnight to get enough sleep' -- there's just too many variables that make that not a foregone conclusion.

And for the latter, if you weren't already in bed, lights out, sleeping, he couldn't be expected to know that you wouldn't want to be spoken to, and saying hi was a friendly, polite thing for someone who was in your house to do.
posted by jacquilynne at 12:03 AM on January 8, 2012 [5 favorites]


No one can tell you you can't be upset, so in that sense you have a right... but your roommate didn't do anything wrong and you're being unreasonable.

You're asking for a lot from them in terms of what they're supposed to know. You're also asking a lot in terms of behavior -- the living room is a common area that is your roommate's, too, and watching a movie at midnight on Friday is pretty clearly within the bounds of normal, acceptable behavior.
posted by J. Wilson at 12:03 AM on January 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


I live with my best friend and I generally keep later hours than she does. Sometimes I watch TV in the living room late at night, and although I try to be mindful of her usual working hours (which stay fairly consistent), I'm not sure that I would either remember if she had told me she was going to a party the next day or think that that meant she needed extra rest.

I think the fact that she was surprised that you were home says something about how she views Friday nights and how she thinks that you view them. So I'm not sure that you're being fair when you say that the boyfriend 'should have known' that you were about to go to bed.

Honestly, let it go this time and just ask her to turn it down next time. I don't really feel like you have the right to tell her not to watch TV at all but it seems reasonable to ask that it be at a volume that doesn't disturb her. I know for my part that if my friend tells me I'm disturbing her, I'll go and watch on my laptop with headphones on or something. But you can't expect people to read your minds.
posted by lwb at 1:24 AM on January 8, 2012


Also, with a username like sunrisecoffee, maybe you're a morning person and your idea of unreasonably late night noise is different from hers. I'm sure I have annoyed the hell out of many past roommates because prior to having kids, it honestly never would have occurred to me that anyone would want to go to sleep before 2 am.
posted by selfmedicating at 6:28 AM on January 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


The boyfriend even tried to say hi to me in my room, even though it was just after midnight and he should have known I was about to go to bed.

So you weren't even in bed yet? This would've been a perfect opportunity to let them know you're going to bed and have to be up early. People are not mind-readers and you bear the responsibility of letting them know when you need something.
posted by Rodrigo Lamaitre at 6:37 AM on January 8, 2012 [3 favorites]


Get your own apartment. 11:30 on a Friday night is totally reasonable for them to be out there. This is why sharing a place is cheaper than living on your own, because you have to make concessions elsewhere.
posted by the foreground at 8:57 AM on January 8, 2012


If you don't know this already, you are probably a guesser.
posted by Deathalicious at 12:17 PM on January 8, 2012


I would be completely annoyed, Friday night or Christmas Eve or whatever. It's common courtesy when you're sharing a space to ascertain what level of noise is acceptable. But I wouldn't hold it against them. You do have to ask.
posted by Elizabeth907 at 10:33 AM on January 9, 2012


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