Getting to know your new roommates when a problematic roommate dominates it all
posted by dekathelon to Human Relations (22 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
So I finally moved out of my old, terrible roommate situation and into a place that is an improvement in almost every respect (same rent, much nicer/more central neighborhood, bigger room, the kind of place that seems too good to be true but so far miraculously isn't) It's a wing-style walkup apartment with five bedrooms and a small-to-medium kitchen/common area, and I live with four roommates I'll call A, B, C and D. It really isn't as crowded as it might seem. A and B are both guys and rarely home -- like, I've seen them maybe a total of five minutes combined. C is a graduate student and also rarely home, and seems OK, but again I've only seen her for about half an hour total.
The problem is D. I really don't dislike too many people, but D is a terrible person. That seems really harsh, I know, and from what I know about her it seems like she's had a hard life, but she's constantly negative -- I don't think I've ever heard her say something that wasn't a complaint -- privileged in the sense that she looks down on everyone, and bizarrely judgmental about anything and everything. (Some of the many things she's said she can't stand: people who shop sales, people who live below their means, editors, bloggers, judges, people who don't wear makeup, people with large ankles, people who "aren't at least somewhat racist," people who give her gifts under $50 ["I need more than $50!"], this could go on for ages.) She's also almost always home, because she's unemployed (which isn't an issue in and of itself but does maximize the time I have to deal with her), and the kind of person who will corner you into conversations, which would be fine if those conversations didn't consist of her complaining and me smiling and nodding and trying not to look too horrified when she inevitably says something horrifying. I've spent enough time talking to her that I don't think it's a matter of a bad first impression, I really think she is just like this. This comes off kind of bitchy, I guess, and I wish it didn't, but I promise it's not exaggerating at all. She's in her 30s, so it's probably too late for major personality changes.
The upshot to all this is that D is moving out at the end of the month for financial reasons. (The landlord's handling finding a new roommate, and even if I could tell people I know who are looking there's no way this place will last more than an hour, it's that good a deal.) Until then, I have to put up with her. Fine, whatever, it's a short month. The thing is, I'd like to get to know my other roommates better, because I think that makes a healthy living situation, and I know the first month is the most important for people forming their opinions about you, but I can't see a way to do that without D being involved -- she is literally always around, so I've never had a one-on-one conversation with anyone but her. I also don't want to get on D's bad side, both because it seems incredibly possible and because I'm the newest person in the apartment, which makes the dynamic weird. (D's been there longest, C moved in mid-January, and I don't know when the other guys did but it was after her.) Basically, I don't want to look like that creepy person who's always in her room and never social, but I also want to avoid having to hang out with D and smile and nod and pretend I'm not aghast and look like I'm the one who's being rude. And I definitely don't want to get on D's bad side (which seems extremely possible for a person to do) and be made into the scapegoat roommate or the object of drama. Is this even doable? Maybe on March 1 someone will broach the subject of "wow, D was kind of awful" and everyone will laugh, but I don't see that happening.
(It was an issue with my last place, obviously, so I'll just mention it here: cleanliness is probably not going to be an issue here. D is really particular about her things but not neat, if that makes sense -- like, I'm the one usually telling her to do the dishes that've been in the sink for three days, not vice versa.)
is it possible to even have a normal, friendly roommate situation with people who actually like each other in NYC?