How do I not stab my roommate in the face?
October 4, 2010 8:35 PM   Subscribe

How do I not stab my roommate in the face? My roommate is mind numbingly annoying and I'm starting to hate her. How do I not do that?

Inspired by this and tangentially related.

My roommate is mind numbingly annoying and I'm starting to hate her. How do I not do that?

I share a 3 br apartment with my boyfriend (P), a male roommate (B) and a female roommate (A). We all work at the same place, ~10 minutes from where we live. It's mostly a great situation but A is really starting to bug the shit out of me and I don't know what to do with it. P and B have been silent for over a year before I moved in a few months ago, so I'm the big bitchy one here. How do I deal?

While A is a very nice person and I am friends with her, and want to be friends with her, the day to day is just excruciating. Most of it seems to stem from immaturity and a lack of awareness that other people exist. Some examples:

1. She doesn't have a car, and since we all work together, we are expected to give her rides. This would be (almost) fine, but I like to get to work about 30 minutes early and she's on the 5-10 minutes late plan. (We have a very social job and I need time to mentally prepare due to social anxiety). I told her I need 24-hours notice and she needs to be on time. She stopped asking for rides to work, but still occasionally (1-2 times per week) follows me to my car after work where I can't say no.

2. She is a morning person. I am not. When I come out of my room to get coffee, it's to get my coffee. She gives a bright "good morning" and gets a grunt, then she asks if I'm mad at her all day. Morning is a very difficult time for me, and I can't get her to understand not to talk to me. She also is the roommate who wants to chit chat every time you walk in the door. I want to make a beeline for my room and play video games. I started wearing headphones when I walk in, even if they're off.

3. She's messy. She lives in the upstairs of the apartment (it's a weird design) so normally we deal with her mess by throwing her stuff up the stairs. With trash however, it's insane. She feels excused from bringing the trash to the dumpster because she doesn't have a car and she doesn't feel like walking. WTF?

4. Our friends don't want to come over because of her. This one makes me feel the worst. She's a bit younger than most of our coworkers and a few have pulled me aside and said they'd rather not hang at our place if she's going to be there. I genuinely feel bad for her in this regard, because it's just an abundance of awkward that makes her unlikeable.

5. At work, she's bossy. Or rather, she tries to be. She gets huffy and jealous anytime someone is better at [task] than she is, and people usually are. Our jobs require significant attention to detail, and she doesn't think through things enough to do that. She's finally let me and some of our teammates help her improve, but I'm close to losing patience to do that.

So, this combination of little things is slowly infuriating me. I love my living situation otherwise, I just need to figure out how to deal. Any ideas?

(Respective ages if it matters: boyfriend is 28, male roomie is 25, I'm 24, and A is 20)
posted by katybird to Human Relations (38 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
1) Get rid of the roommate.
1A) Kick her out
2) This isn't a question, it's a rant.
3) I'm sure you already knew 1 and 2.
posted by sanko at 8:45 PM on October 4, 2010 [5 favorites]

MOVE OUT. Or kick her out.
posted by Kololo at 8:45 PM on October 4, 2010 [1 favorite]

Also, yes, agreed with sanko: this isn't a question.
posted by Kololo at 8:46 PM on October 4, 2010

The thing that strikes me the most about A (as you've described her) is her sense of entitlement. I can deal with messy roommates who try not to be messy; I can't deal with messy roommates who do nothing to alleviate the mess.

1. Talk to her about the following you to your car thing. Before you do, figure out why it bothers you, and say "I feel ______ when you follow me to my car. I am bothered because ______. I know you don't mean to bother me, but don't do that. I asked you to tell me 24 hours before you need a ride, and to be on time. Please do that."

2. Tell her sometime other than the morning, "I am not a morning person. I am grumpy and cranky in the morning. I do not talk in the morning. I am this way with everyone. Do not take it personally." And then get a timed coffeemaker for your bedroom.

3. Talk to all your roommates about making a chore chart. Every time someone does something, mark it down. When her negligence becomes very apparent, she'll shape up, or you'll all have evidence that she's not pulling her weight, and can ask her to leave.

4. :(

5. It's a tough job market. If you don't feel like helping her, don't help her. Just make sure the work gets done, and that credit is given to those who actually did the work. If she does a poor job, and people know it, eventually she'll be let go. And maybe she'll realize she needs to be better at keeping up her responsibilities.
posted by ocherdraco at 8:47 PM on October 4, 2010 [2 favorites]

Not sure what to do in the meanwhile, but god damn do I suggest you kick her out (nicely) when the time comes to renew the lease.
posted by griphus at 8:47 PM on October 4, 2010

Sorry, rephrased:

Given that kicking her out and moving are not options, how can I approach her about things like quieter mornings or the trash without alienating her?
posted by katybird at 8:51 PM on October 4, 2010

You do it by focusing on you, not her: "I'm sorry, I'm weird, I'm cranky and awful in the mornings. I hope it doesn't bother you too much, but I need my alone time. When you say 'good morning,' I'll say 'good morning,' but that's all I can manage."

And when she asks you to drive her somewhere for the millionteenth time, you pull out the Miss Manners standby: "I'm sorry, that won't be possible."
posted by ocherdraco at 8:54 PM on October 4, 2010 [3 favorites]

She annoys you. There is nothing you or she will ever be able to do to correct this. Believe me, if stops all of these annoying things and becomes awesome at everything, then you'll hate her for that. You just clash, and you have two ways around it: purge her from your life (unlikely, unless you have the ability and willpower to get her fired or hired somewhere else) or bite down and deal.

When time comes to renegotiate the lease, maybe you can talk to your other roommates and get them on your side to gently remove her from the house. Until then, bite down. Deal.
posted by Etrigan at 8:56 PM on October 4, 2010

Aiyiyi, what a shitty situation. IMO, your home should be your sanctuary, and anyone or anything that gets in the way of that needs to go, go, go.

If it were me, I would sit the chick down and tell her that in the interest of keeping your friendship and work relationship in tact, she is going to need to find a different living situation. Tell her that you care about her, but you are not okay with the fact that she does not do her share of being a good apartment-mate (ie taking out her own trash, being responsible enough to get to work on her own, etc) and that you don't want that to come between you.

Or, if having her move out would open a can of worms you're just not in a place to deal with, there's always...

"A, I have noticed some things lately about our relationship that I would really like to talk to you about. I think we've tried to talk about them in the past, but I'm personally not feeling that certain things have been resolved. First off, I have noticed that you are a total morning person, and man, am I envious. I am just not functional until I have had my coffee and some time to wake up, and that both of those things are something I really need to be able to do sort of in private so I can prepare for my day. I have noticed that sometimes, though, that you are super ready to chit chat before work but I'm just not there. I want to let you know that it is nothing personal if I sort of shine you on when it's early and I'm in wake-up mode. If it is something personal, I will do everything that I can to tell you I'm not in the mood so you know right off that I need some space. This goes for when I come home, too. Days are long, and I really need to relax and decompress so I'm not unloading on everyone. Can you do that for me? Okay? Okay."

And insist on following through whenever she forgets. "Hey, A, I need to wake up/get ready for work/unwind. Let's talk later. Thanks!" Reward her when she's respectful by thanking her for being respectful.

And I think you could probably use the same basic verbiage for the trash and car situations. The trash stuff should be handled by you and your BF and other roommate because it affects all of you. The more you allow yourselves to just deal with it by never confronting her over it (which I don't blame you for, she sounds pretty clueless/self involved) the more you are enabling her.

As for the work/coworkers situation.. Well.. If she's that self-destructive, she'll probably eventually get fired, and that might make things easier. Just my two cents. Good luck to you!
posted by patronuscharms at 9:02 PM on October 4, 2010

You moved in just a few months ago? How did P and B deal with it before you were there? Did it not bother them as much?

I think you've got a lot of tangled up issues here. Her general demeanor and her bad roommate habits are all mixed up in this post, and they can't be addressed in the same way. But, her bad roommate habits make you more irritated with her personality quirks, and vice versa.

Deal with her bad roommate habits by laying down the law about chores, cleaning, etc. Don't be passive aggressive about it, don't try to ask her nicely to be clean and to take the trash out (she'd put it in a car if she had one and drive it to the dumpster? gross.) just tell her. Don't be mean, but don't be subtle. It's not a thing. You might have to get P and/or B to do this, if they think it's important. I think there could be some weirdness with regard to the fact that you just moved in, they were getting along fine without you before, and now things are a problem. "Silent over a year" implies that they also have issues with this, though.

As far as her personality and awkwardness is concerned... well, she's very young. So are you, for that matter, but 24 is a world of difference from 20. She'll probably grow out of a lot of these things. There are some things that you could do that might help.

1) Say a simple "'morning" in the morning rather than grunt at her. I would think you were mad at me, too. (And hey, let's face it -- you *are* mad at her, so it's not like she's crazy.)
2) Tell her -- nicely -- that you want some alone time after work, and keep telling her that every afternoon until she realizes that you really do want some alone time after work.

She's not a mind reader, and it sounds like she's not all that great at social skills anyway. So tell her what you were able to type out for us; you're not a morning person and don't want to chat in the morning, and you want some time to yourself after work. She probably can't figure you out any better than you've got her figured out. So why not communicate your needs a little better?

All that said, most awkward roommate situations just suck until the roommates go away. I wanted to stab my last roommates to death in their faces. It's hard to share space with other adults, especially if you can't negotiate with them honestly and clearly about what you need.
posted by Made of Star Stuff at 9:04 PM on October 4, 2010 [9 favorites]

This is what it's like to have roommates and live in a communal situation. I am going to play devil's advocate on her behalf, a little bit, maybe.

1. She doesn't have a car so great, you've worked this one out: she either is ready to leave when you are, or she isn't, and getting to work is nobody's problem but hers. Seems like it should be no big deal if she can be ready at the end of the day to come home with you. Ask her for some gas money once in a while; this is best done if you stop for gas when you're on the way home. Grownups do this in order to save both money and the planet, social anxiety or not.

2. She is a morning person. I am not. Friendly people are friendly, it's their curse. You should tell her you are not a morning person and that she shouldn't take offense, and then your responsibility is over. However, not-morning-people are not entitled to be rude to others, and you do need to keep that in mind. If you cannot, living with other people is not for you.

3. She's messy. She needs to deal with trash in an appropriate manner and this should be addressed as a household. Passive-aggressively throwing mislaid belongings into a roommate's personal space is part of living with roommates, actual refuse and waste is beyond the pale.

4. Our friends don't want to come over because of her. This is nonsense drama that you and the other roommates should be too old to engage in, already. No.

5. At work, she's bossy. This sounds like a job for your actual boss, whomever that may be.

Model good behavior. Point out bad behavior without judgment. And if no improvement is seen, ask her to leave at the end of the current lease. She's probably only been out on her own for a short time and it sounds like nobody has ever given her feedback before. Give her feedback both directly (tell her your expectations) and indirectly (act the way you expect her to act).
posted by padraigin at 9:21 PM on October 4, 2010 [28 favorites]

Living with people from work sounds like the worst idea ever.

In the meantime:

- tell her what time you're leaving for work. If she isn't ready, leave.

- make some agreed upon rules for cleanliness, or better yet, hire a cleaning person.
posted by k8t at 9:25 PM on October 4, 2010 [1 favorite]

I'm in a very similar situation to you, right now. In fact, reading the first couple sentences of your post, I wondered if you were my other roommate writing this.

I live with two women - one of whom I get on with quite well, and another who is a nice person and all, but who is really hard to live with.

Due to the living situation problems (mostly garden variety sloppiness and inconsiderateness), I find that she annoys me more and more every day.

There are two ways to deal with this sort of thing: zen out about the fact that you don't have to like someone to live with them, and STFU already; or inform the person that it's not working out and either give them a chance to improve or ask them to leave.

From your post, I'm guessing that it's not so much the living situation incompatibility. Nothing you've mentioned is a big honking dealbreaker, and to be frank it all sounds sort of junior high.

If the issue is that she expects you to chauffeur her around and doesn't do her share of the housework, you inform her that you are not her personal driver and that she IS to fulfill her share of domestic chores, period. Then, if you really do honestly like her as a friend, problem solved.

Or maybe it's that you don't like her as a friend - in that case, all the ground rules in the world aren't going to fix this and you need to ask her to move out because you just can't look at her big fat face anymore. Because you don't really seem to be succeeding with the "zen out and learn to live with her" plan.
posted by Sara C. at 9:28 PM on October 4, 2010 [2 favorites]

She sounds extremely annoying and if I lived with her I'd be gritting my teeth all the time too but it doesn't sound like you've been communicating as well as you should have.

1. Before getting in the car, tell her (not ask) to give you a few bucks for gas money about every three times. If she refuses, then you don't have to give her rides anymore. Never, ever wait around for her. If she isn't ready, leave. Don't even announce that you're leaving, just leave. I like to be early too and I hate tardiness.

2. I'm not a morning person either but it's rude to grunt at someone when they tell you "good morning." Return the gesture and at another time that isn't morning explain to her that you are not a morning person and that you do not want to conversate, at all. If she does try the next morning after you've laid down the law, repeat yourself in a firm manner. It will eventually sink in.

3. Ugh, this would really piss me off. All the roommates need to get together on this one and really lay down the law. Don't beat around the bush and tell her she needs to pull her weight. It doesn't matter if she doesn't have the car. This girl seems really naive and clueless and it sounds like she needs people to be completely direct with her. If she still refuses, well other measures need to be taken. Like asking her to leave when time for lease renewal nears.
posted by MaryDellamorte at 9:32 PM on October 4, 2010

how can I approach her about things like quieter mornings or the trash without alienating her?

Quieter Mornings: You don't. In my opinion, you're the one being entitled here. Not everyone gets up at the same time as you, fully wakes up at the same rate, is ready for social interaction at the same time, or wants said interaction to work in the same way. When you are an adult sharing living space with another adult, when they say, "Good morning!" you say, "Good morning!" back and manage as best you can without biting their head off before the caffeine sets in. If you can't handle any of that, you get a coffee setup in your room. Or maybe your own apartment.

Trash: There are two ways to handle this. Method 1 is that it's been agreed that trash is her responsibility, and she has to live up to that responsibility regardless of how it gets done. Method 2 is that you negotiate chores in a way that takes into account what her abilities are. If the dumpster is half a mile away and the only practical way to take out the trash is via car, someone with a car should get that job. Let her muck out the bathroom or something else she's actually capable of doing.
posted by Sara C. at 9:40 PM on October 4, 2010

There is absolutely no way to successfully live in the same house as someone that annoys you. I've seen it so many times I'm sure there must be some kind of mathematical proof floating around the internet.

Once the very thought of living without them enters your head, the deal is sealed. One of you is going to move out, and the only things you can vary are "when" and "with how much angst".

I would say to her "So, X, you're a totally rocking chick who is awesome to work with and hang out with, but I'm not enjoying living with you and I don't want that to sour our relationship. Should I start looking for a new place, or were you thinking of moving on any time soon?"
posted by autocol at 9:58 PM on October 4, 2010

kicking her out and moving are not options

Oh, and unless you're living in some kind of Big Brother style reality show, I'd suggest that both of these are in fact excellent options. Certainly better than being grumpy all day.
posted by autocol at 10:01 PM on October 4, 2010 [1 favorite]

Yeah, these issues are all over the place. The trash issue is something she is absolutely in the wrong on. She needs to step up and keep the common areas clean of her junk. Her private room she has the right to keep messy, but you all have the right to insist she not leave food and trash around which could cause problems.

But the morning thing is not her fault. Not being a morning person does not give you the right to be rude and grunt at her. I know someone like that... it does not reflect well on that. Living in a shared situation means that when your roommate says "Good Morning", you say "Hey" or "Hi" or "Morning". Anything but grunting at them. You don't have to engage in conversation, but if you are unable to even say one word because it is the morning, the problem is you and not her.

The car thing should be something easily worked out. Leave for work when you are leaving for work. If she is ready and wants to hitch a ride, great. If not, leave. Leave for home when you are leaving for home. I'm not sure what the problem with giving her a ride is if she is leaving anyway but certainly it isn't your responsibility to wait around for her. My guess is you just object to the principle of her bumming rides off everyone constantly. Which is valid, but separate that out.

If she has a job, though, she needs to take responsibility for getting herself to work reliably. Whether that means public transportation, getting a bike, getting a car, walking, or working out a deal with you guys to provide her with scheduled and agreed-upon rides to and from work which is known in advance and which, one assumes, she would pay back in other ways like buying groceries or whatever.

The work thing is not for you to deal with, it is for your boss.
posted by Justinian at 10:04 PM on October 4, 2010

There's this phenomenon (found in the wild, and helpfully documented by MTV via The Real World, Jersey Shore, and other shows like that) wherein young adults who live, work, and socialize together make each other crazy. It's easy to go days without really interacting with someone outside of the house/work bubble, and something inside you just snaps, even if you're not naturally someone who gets involved in petty interpersonal drama. Alliances are formed and broken, people pass the time by endlessly gossiping about each other, and it's basically just like being trapped in middle school forever, only without your mom cooking for you or an allowance. The only way to end it is to move out, quit your job, or both. It's just science.
posted by oinopaponton at 10:06 PM on October 4, 2010 [3 favorites]

As to the driving situation, I'm completely with padraigin.

I live in a dorm style building with several of my coworkers, so car pooling is fairly common. If people want a ride, they're expected to be in the lobby, a little early, so one of the drivers can grab them on the way out.
Recently, a new coworker has been slow on learning this rule, having to call the workplace for rides from one of us or from a (very slow) pickup service that my work provides - my solution for my coworker's lack of watch wearing is, the next time he expects a "pick up", money for my wasted time and wasted gas.
Also, my coworkers, both in my department and in others, are not soft in ridiculing people who fail at this system.

You should really try one or both of these. Ask for gas money up front ("If you want a ride tomorrow, you need to be here, ready to leave, with _reasonable amount here_ in hand, or a check as prepayment for the next _#_ week(s).... ")
Don't be afraid to be a bitch, since A apparently can't cope with adult life ("...I will leave at _this time_ whether or not you are ready to get in my car.") and spell it out to the utmost degree if necessary. If she doesn't like having to get up early to possibly sit around for a few minutes at work, she can find another ride.

If this doesn't work, and she's still following you to the car, the solution is: Yes, even if she follows you right up to your car, without some sort of prearranged system for payment/ expected rides, you may _have_ to refuse her a ride in order to prove your point. She's not a dog, cowering in shame to crawl into your vehicle as if you wouldn't notice. She's a human being who needs a ride to work - she can act like a decent human and ask.

You might also try the ridiculing system, though it's far more cruel than even refusing rides. And, btw, alienation is of her own doing, what with the trash, uncleanliness, not getting the morning hints, etc (I should know - I am that lazy slob and fight it every day). Anything could do. "If you were expecting a ride, you are sorely mistaken - you know my system of letting me know beforehand. There's a number for a taxi service on the kitchen counter. See you at work." or my coworkers' method, if you want to elicit the help of those at work (with a talk beforehand with them on how you're trying to help her with this last resort)
"Hey. Hey, _A_. You know, since you're apparently in some sort of warped Twilight Zone system of time, why don't you wear two watches? One for the Zone, and one for the time the real world is following. Because, you know, no one likes being feature in your scifi show. No one at all. *sarcastic-snide tone*"

Half-way sorry if this is somewhat cruel or mean of a way to deal with _A_, but when some people, like myself, have the kinds of bad habits that they aren't willing to change, the kinds of bad habits which regularly encumber other people, it's time to fight dirty.
posted by DisreputableDog at 10:14 PM on October 4, 2010 [2 favorites]

She's acting like a teenager who expects her parents to clean up her mess and be invested enough in her well-being to not leave her high-and-dry with respect to rides. So, you're going to have to take a little harder line in order to show her how to take responsibility for herself.

She sounds like she needs to compartmentalize a bit, and so do you. "A" the roommate is a different relationship than "A" the coworker.

If it's not your job to supervise her at work, stop doing that. If you want to pull her aside as a friend or roommate on your own time and talk to her about work, that's fine. But at work, you should treat her like any other colleague.

You don't want to give her a ride. So don't. Don't be mean, don't be sneaky, just say that you can't give her a ride to work. It's not possible. Sorry. You need that time for yourself. It's a thing. She'll have to get to work under her own steam.

Cleanup is actually pretty tough, as a thousand AskMes can show you. If it's messiness and not dirtiness, then I would stick with "if your crap is in the way, we will pile it in front of your door and I don't want to hear a word, because my shoes are not left in the middle of the floor for three days." However, her bedroom is her business, and you shouldn't care if it's messy.

Let the morning person thing go. Be neutral. I get that she's annoying the piss outta you, but I bet you cut the morning people at work a little slack and don't snarl at them for being too chipper.
posted by desuetude at 10:28 PM on October 4, 2010

how can I approach ... without alienating her?

She's alienating you. Why are you worried about alienating her? Especially if you're tired of her talking to you so much.
posted by ShooBoo at 10:35 PM on October 4, 2010

When she follows her to your car, give her a ride, because if she's followed you to your car, then she's not on the "late plan" that day, and giving her a ride won't put you out.

When she tries to talk to you and you're not in the mood, say "No offense, but I'm not in the mood to talk, I want to go to my room and play video games." Then do so.

When she gives you a bright chipper "good morning!", say "good morning" back, because that's really not a huge stretch to muster up out of basic common decency.

When she won't take care of her trash, tell her firmly and directly that she is expected to clean up her trash whether she feels like it or not, just like the rest of the people in the apartment.

Beyond that, you folks appear to be pretty damn incompatible, so if she leaves you'll all be happier, most likely, but you'll still have to work together, so better to just confront each separate thing one at a time, directly, and in the moment that it's occurring. And give a little to get a lot.

Note that the fact of you spending so much time together at home and at work is a major contributor here.
posted by davejay at 10:38 PM on October 4, 2010 [2 favorites]

Just try communicating clearly. If you're bothered by something she does, say so - just use plenty of "I" statements. Also, try to be pleasant.
posted by KokuRyu at 10:42 PM on October 4, 2010 [1 favorite]

I share a 3 br apartment with my boyfriend (P), a male roommate (B) and a female roommate (A). We all work at the same place

This is your problem. The only way it could be worse is if one of them is also the landlord. You're co-mingling the three spheres of life: home, romance, and work. If one goes sour, the other two come crashing down.

You need to save up and move out.
posted by sfkiddo at 10:52 PM on October 4, 2010 [7 favorites]

Most of it seems to stem from immaturity and a lack of awareness that other people exist.

I'm not sure that you can do anything about the "immaturity," but the way to deal with "a lack of awareness that other people exist" is to inform her that other people exist. Waiting around for her to come to the realization is unlikely to work very well.

1. She doesn't have a car, and since we all work together, we are expected to give her rides. This would be (almost) fine, but I like to get to work about 30 minutes early and she's on the 5-10 minutes late plan. . . . I told her I need 24-hours notice and she needs to be on time.

That was good communication—you clearly communicated your needs and expectations, and she figured out that she couldn't, or was unwilling to, meet them.

She stopped asking for rides to work, but still occasionally (1-2 times per week) follows me to my car after work where I can't say no.

I'm not clear exactly why this is a problem (or why you "can't say no"), but I suggest that you do the same as you did with the ride-to-work bit: figure out why it is a problem, articulate your needs/expectations/limitations to her, and let her figure out how to meet them or quit bugging you for this favor.

It sounds like on the whole, the ride-sharing situation among the four of you should become less of an informal "expectation" and more of a formalized quid pro quo. There should be a schedule of who gives her a lift when, so that you all know what to expect, and she should be compensating the drivers in a way that seems fair to them (cash, household chores, car maintenance, etc.). If you can't find a schedule and compensation that is mutually agreeable to all involved, then she needs to arrange her own transportation, by buying a bicycle or paying for cab rides or carpooling with another co-worker.

2. . . . . She gives a bright "good morning" and gets a grunt, then she asks if I'm mad at her all day. Morning is a very difficult time for me, and I can't get her to understand not to talk to me. She also is the roommate who wants to chit chat every time you walk in the door. I want to make a beeline for my room and play video games. I started wearing headphones when I walk in, even if they're off.

How have you tried to "get her to understand not to talk to me"? Have you tried asking her not to talk to you? Have you tried explaining that you're an introvert and need some alone time to recharge before you face the workday and after it's over? As others have already pointed out, she may not understand that grunting and headphones signify "I need alone time, so don't bug me." If she's an extrovert, she also may not understand that you can need time apart from her without actually hating her.

As others have also pointed out, living with other people may obligate you to participate in a modicum of social interaction and compromise. You need to be left alone, but she equally needs interaction. Can you think of a way to compromise? For example, could you stand to chit-chat with her for five minutes before diving into the video games? Or could you designate your dinner prep time for simultaneous chit-chat? Whatever you figure out, don't just execute it without explanation, but work it out with her. ("I want to be friends with you, and I understand that what you need from a friend is to chat about the day. But I need a lot of alone time and just want to hit the video games when I get home from work. How about we plan for X time to be our chat time every day and outside of that, it would really help me if you won't take it personally that I need alone time.")

3. She's messy. She lives in the upstairs of the apartment (it's a weird design) so normally we deal with her mess by throwing her stuff up the stairs. With trash however, it's insane. She feels excused from bringing the trash to the dumpster because she doesn't have a car and she doesn't feel like walking. WTF?

Again, this should all be solvable by talking about it. Band together with the other roommates, explain to her that her messiness has an impact on the rest of you, and lay some ground rules, such as "no personal items left in the common spaces," or "a maximum of three personal items may be left in the common spaces," or "the coffee table and kitchen counters must always be left clear," or whatever. Ask her to put a box/basket at the bottom of the stairs and put all her stuff in it when she leaves the common spaces.

With regards to the trash, you say that she "feels excused from bringing the trash to the dumpster," but you don't say how the rest of you have reacted. Have you explained to her that regardless of how she feels, she still has an obligation to take the trash out in rotation with the rest of you? Have you made a chore chart showing the rotation? Have you asked her how she would be willing to compensate the rest of you for the service of hauling her trash?

4. Our friends don't want to come over because of her.

That's too bad. What behaviors, exactly, do they object to? Can you ask her to change her behavior?

5. At work, she's bossy. Or rather, she tries to be.

Hopefully she will outgrow this attitude. At any rate, it should be up to her boss to deal with. If you really want to be friends with this woman outside of work, then I suggest you try to compartmentalize work vs. home life and not take work-based disputes home with you.


Look, here's another way of thinking about it. I used to teach a first-year college course on a regular basis. The first time I taught it, I was frustrated that my students failed to do really elementary things such as keeping track of assignment due dates, stapling the pages of their papers together, or taking notes in class. But I later figured out that these 18-year-olds simply did not know how to be college students. It may have been their fault, or their parents' fault, or their high school teachers' fault, but none of that mattered—if we were going to have a pleasant semester together, I had to explain to them how to be college students. I had to help them learn not only the content of the course, but how to conduct themselves as students.

Some of your frustration with your roommate stems from personality differences (introvert/extrovert), but a lot of it comes about simply because she DOES NOT KNOW HOW TO BE A GOOD ROOMMATE. Unless you left a lot out of your account of the situation, it seems like you're just silently stewing and wishing she would be a better roommate. But she's never going to learn that way. Yes, she should be a good roommate, and you shouldn't have to teach her, but here you both are: you live together, she's a lousy roommate, you're older and wiser. You'll probably both feel better if you take more of an explanatory, mentoring approach towards her.
posted by Orinda at 11:25 PM on October 4, 2010 [2 favorites]

Why is it that your friends won't come over if she's there? None of what you put in your original question seems awful enough for that -- pretty much all the things you list are things that don't affect your friends at all.
posted by sarcasticah at 11:26 PM on October 4, 2010

Why is it that your friends won't come over if she's there? None of what you put in your original question seems awful enough for that -- pretty much all the things you list are things that don't affect your friends at all.

I thought that too but I think most of these 'friends' are co-workers. If she's not liked at work they maybe don't want to hang out with her in their free-time.

1. I don't get it. I get not wanting to be late in order to give her a lift in the morning but honestly, I think you're coming across as the ass here if you refuse to give her a lift home when you're leaving at the same time and going to the same place.

2. Again, she's not in the wrong here. She's being polite and friendly, you're being rude and this is somehow her problem? Would it really kill you to say good morning and engage in a little small talk as you head towards your room?

3. Why can't you deal with the trash the same way you deal with her other mess? Put it in her area.

Seems like most of your problems stem from the fact that you just don't like her and nothing she can do will change that. Nothing you've said here makes her sound like a nightmare roommate or super annoying. What do your other roommates think about her?
posted by missmagenta at 12:46 AM on October 5, 2010 [3 favorites]

You didn't even mention what male roommate and boyfriend think of the situation. You're the new person here, so did they get along with her fine before you moved in?

You're co-mingling the three spheres of life: home, romance, and work. If one goes sour, the other two come crashing down.

You need to save up and move out.

I'm with sfkiddo here. You're living with people you work with, you're living with and dating someone you work with, and your other friends are also people you work with. That's too much exposure to such a limited group of people, even if you got along famously with everyone.

If you moving or her moving aren't options you seriously need outside interests. Non-work friends. A tennis group. Volunteer with the Boys and Girls Club. Anything to get you out of the apartment with different people.
posted by 6550 at 2:35 AM on October 5, 2010 [3 favorites]

Orinda is right. She likely just does not know how to be a good roommate, or why these various things that seem small to her are so huge to you. You've got to communicate firmly and explicitly with her, and stop being so constrained by your own (basically good) desire to just get along. In some instances with her, you've got to be semi-parental and explain without embarrassment (and hopefully without anger or tears), but with clear gravity, that these things are important not just to you, but to everyone.

If you can get your roommates to back you up, that would be even better, but you're going to also have to explain credibly why they haven't made a big deal out of these things before you arrived -- the "just get along" imperative, which you are temporarily breaking in order to help socialize her as a to-be-cool adult.

I'm writing as a former 20-year-old disliked roommate here, who didn't get this kind of feedback until my roommates were so furious with me they couldn't communicate calmly.

One other thought - the advice above telling you to move out seemed a bit harsh, but it might be worth considering whether she'd be happier with roommates with whom she has more in common.
posted by amtho at 3:19 AM on October 5, 2010 [1 favorite]

Since she's not your kid, your sister, or even your friend, really - though she must think she is, you're not under any obligation to give her rides, and if she follows you out to the car after work expecting one, tell her that you've got some things to take care of and you'll see her at home. And of course, then don't go home for at least half an hour. This is not the option that will bring the most harmony at home, though. I'd fall back on that only when you're just really going nuts and need some time alone.

I think you need to tell her clearly and straight out. "You need to get your trash to the dumpster every week. Trade jobs with someone if you don't want to walk it down there but it's your responsibility." "I'm not a morning person, so I'm not going to be chatty, sorry." Basic courtesy requires more than a grunt, but a mumbled "'morning" in reply to her greeting should be enough. She wants social interaction - so what. You aren't obligated to provide it; that's part of growing up too, to realise that the people you live with don't have to be anything more than cordial acquaintances.
posted by lemniskate at 4:05 AM on October 5, 2010 [1 favorite]

1. She has respected your boundaries about being on time in the morning, and now only asks for a ride a couple of times a week on the way home. If the gas money were the problem, you could stop for gas en route and ask her to contribute. If the problem were simply that you don't like her (and it is), you won't solve that by pretending she's doing something wrong here. If she got her pilot's licence tomorrow and flew you to work every morning in a private learjet, it wouldn't change your opinion of her, instead you would use the showing-off of the learjet as evidence that she's a jerk.

Having said that, you are not obligated to get into a car with someone you don't like. If you don't want to give her a ride and you don't want to say, "that won't be possible", you'll have to find some way of giving her the slip.

2. It is extremely hostile to refuse to greet somebody who greets you. Phrases like "Good Morning" and "Hello" are called "phatic communion" and they are important and not trivial because they boil down to "who goes there? friend or foe?" I'm a night owl to the nth degree and I can manage to utter three syllables to greet someone else, and the reason you can't is because you are her enemy and you are annoyed that she keeps on showing basic civility towards you despite your enmity. Sorry, but I'm siding with her on this one.

3. Echoing others, trash is unacceptable, you'll have to find a way of enforcing her on this.

4. Your friends sound rather immature for their age. Your roommate sounds immature too, but she's 20.

5. Is your boss's problem.

And yeah, she's only 20. You are supposed to be more mature than her, so you need to accept that there are some people you're not going to like, and keep your cool about it. If you work with someone and you also live with them, things can rapidly get too close, and I think that's a major part of the problem here, if not necessarily one you can solve.
posted by tel3path at 6:05 AM on October 5, 2010 [3 favorites]

I find it hard to be annoyed by people I have *something* in common with. Sure, they'll still have their faults, but the wanting to stab them in the face feeling? That's hard to maintain if I know they're my drinking or tv watching or video gaming buddy.

So, what do you and her have in common? Do you both like the same types of movies or music, enjoy baking or fixing cars? Whatever it is, make a point to do that with her once or twice a week or so, just so you're doing something positive with her from time to time. If your only dealings with her are negative, that's just going make her more annoying over time. You two may never be good friends, but you can probably be ok roommates, with a bit of effort from both of you.
posted by nomadicink at 7:54 AM on October 5, 2010 [1 favorite]

Well, you start by realizing that it is not her fault you have built up this amount of resentment by avoiding confrontations this long, and calming yourself down so that you might have a reasonable conversation with her.Then you look at exactly what problems she can actually address and which are yours to address.

The car thing it sounds like you've dealt with and now you're looking for reasons to be irritated. If you have other plans or some reason that you cannot give her a ride home, say so, or if you need notice or gas money, say that. If you're just annoyed, determine exactly why that is: do you not like the expectation that you'll give her a ride? Do you want alone time? I would venture to say that because of how you've described your relationship, she's putting off asking you until the last minute because she's trying to avoid making you even angrier than she already senses you are.

The morning thing you're being unreasonable on. I'm not a morning person and don't like to talk in the mornings either, but if you're in a common living area while getting your coffee, you can at least say good morning before heading back to your room. If you cannot do this, make coffee in your room. Saying hello does not make her a bad roommate.

The trash thing is a valid issue, and needs to be addressed by all roommates together. Come up with a chore assignment daily or weekly. Addressing it as a group means that everyone will hold each other accountable, and makes it clear that this is not some quirk you have.

Why friends won't come over is unclear. Presumably they're friends from work so she also feels like they are her friends, and everyone is trying to avoid her. This seems sad for her, but if that's how everyone feels meet them elsewhere. It's difficult to exclude someone in their own living space, and it sounds like that's what you'd like to do. If this is a deal breaker, then pursue your own living options, or consider- as a group of roommates- asking her to move out. If there are specific behaviors that annoy everyone, try talking to her about those behaviors.

Unless you're her supervisor at work, I'm not sure how much of her performance issues you can take on, but acting like her supervisor if you're not won't go well. Coaching her seems to be working, offer lots of positive feedback, and frame suggestions as, "Hey, you handled this situation great. Next time, you might also try Y, which would help in Z way." Be upbeat, explain the benefits of your suggestion to either herself, the coworkers, or the customer, and let it go or you also risk being bossy.

Basically, she sounds young, and you sound tired of being surrounded by her all day. Cut her some slack in areas that are more your irritants, hold her accountable to roommate issues and common courtesies, and consider making plans to move out in the future if this situation does not get better. Additionally, work on having small conversations to address problems as they arise rather than building up a list of All That She Has Ever Done Wrong. You keeping this mental tally is not making either of you happy.
posted by questionsandanchors at 9:11 AM on October 5, 2010 [1 favorite]

I've been your roommate (not exactly, but it's not for nothing that I ended out alone in a triple and alone in a double and got a single room without the extra fee over the course of my four years in the dorms.) Today I am a hard-core "if we're not bound by blood or marriage I can't live with you" girl.

It may be too late to salvage this one. The only roommate I had who lasted from our assignment together to the end of the school year was older, wiser, clear in her expectations, happy when I wasn't doing something she hated, and spoke up the second I veered into wacky "I didn't notice I had 96 empty Coke cans sitting next to my bed" territory. She tried to get to know me and didn't expect to be best buddies and it probably helped that the two of us shared a room meant for four (when built it was meant for six, actually.) We also spent great honking hordes of time not in the room and not there together.

Anyway, try to be like that. Above all, don't bother her about stuff that happened more than, say, two days ago.

(Have you guys ever sat down, the four of you, and talked about how the house should be run?)
posted by SMPA at 9:35 AM on October 5, 2010

From Here: "How do I not stab my roommate in the face? My roommate is mind numbingly annoying and I'm starting to hate her"

To There: "While A is a very nice person and I am friends with her, and want to be friends with her..."

In 10 words or less.

I'm not making light of your situation, calling you out, or anything along those lines. I noticed that track of thought because I can completely understand it.

Maybe it's not similar in your case, but for me, I want to like people. I really do. Sure, it's mostly because I really hope everyone will like me too, but I don't like it when I don't like someone. Whether it's something they did, said, or just a general feeling/non-compatibility.

It's fine though. Not everyone likes me, and I don't have to like everyone. I don't have to agree with how anyone else lives, from deep moral convictions to being habitually late, messy, and immature.

I have tried to change people, and began to resent people because if they just didn't do these couple little things, I would like them just fine. If only they were on time, or weren't so flighty in conversation or dwelled on certain subjects, etc. etc., we could be buddies! However, that thing or things that are stopping me from turning an acquaintance into a friend is exactly that. It took me a while to realize that it's ok if we don't become friends, drift apart, or just don't really speak at all. It's also fine to be able to tolerate someone just enough to not want to cancel plans or go out of your way to avoid them. That is a very real part of social interaction. People do it to me, people do it to you.

With my roommates, I set mutually acceptable boundaries, I ask myself "Why?" when I get irrationally angry at them over small stuff (it's usually something going on with me), I talk to them, but I am not friends with all of them, and I no longer try to be, nor think I should be. It really takes the pressure off of already strained social interactions, and my expectations of them severely diminish, which really, is what made me pissed off in the first place. When I expect someone to know enough not to do something, or behave a certain way, and they don't, it makes me mad. I expect the same qualities out of my friends that I expect out of myself. I don't expect these things from people I dislike. I can finally admit to myself: "I don't like (insert name). I may never, and that's just fine." and I like that.
posted by Debaser626 at 10:47 AM on October 5, 2010

Wear your headphones in the morning when you're getting coffee, or suck it up and say "good morning".

Wear your headphones when you're driving her home (not a huge deal, you're already going home anyway, suck it up and ask for gas money).

The first time she asks if you're mad at her say "no, do not ask me again." The second time say "No, stop asking." The third time tell her seriously "I told you not to ask me again. Stop." If you reassure her, it will just reinforce the behavior.

As for the trash, just take it out yourself. Don't be resentful. Consider it a small price to pay not to have to hear her whine about it.

And take the trash out with your headphones on.
posted by the young rope-rider at 12:29 PM on October 5, 2010

Just to chime in from the perspective of three and a half years of being blissfully car-free: Her lack of a car is not your problem. You are under no obligation to give her rides. She wants a ride in the morning but can't be ready in time? Tough luck; you leave without her. She wants a ride in the evening but you have other plans, even just "stop by the lake and stare into space for half an hour"? Tough luck; she finds her own way home.

Seriously. It's unfortunate that so many places have inadequate public transit and that walking or bicycling is often challenging due to poor infrastructure. That doesn't change the fact that individuals need to take responsibility for getting themselves around.
posted by Lexica at 2:57 PM on October 5, 2010 [2 favorites]

« Older Rate the pain from sheer agony to soul destroying.   |   No Halloween costumes without irony. Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.