When living with others, what are unreasonable requests?
October 2, 2013 7:36 PM   Subscribe

And what to do when someone blows up at you for what you believe to be a reasonable request.

I just moved in to a place about a month ago. I didn't have much time, so I picked a place I wouldn't have picked if I had more time. To find the place, I wrote a couple paragraph long craigslist ad detailing that I need a QUIET place to sleep. I sleep with earplugs and a box fan (sometimes 2), so I don't think this is too much to ask. I've lived at about 6 other places and I've only had a few problems with noise control. The times I did have problems were people who moved in after me and who I didn't really get to know before hand.

I live with 3 other people, a couple and an owner of the house.

I was woken up a few times because of the roommates not closing doors quietly during that period of light sleep right as I'm going to bed. I mentioned it to 2 of the 3 roommates (2 of of them are a couple) and I thought that would be the end of it. I didn't get a chance to mention it to the boyfriend of the girl, but said to myself that I would the next time it was an issue.

A week or two pass and I noticed it happen a couple times but I didn't want to bother them while them might be, hmm, having sex or whatever. I kept forgeting to mention it and then the night before last they did it twice, so I got up when I was sleeping, knocked on the bathroom door and said annoyed “Please don't slam the door while I'm sleeping, Thank you”. I realize I probably sounded bitchy, but I was ½ asleep and annoyed. . 10 minutes later someone did it again so I got up again to complain and they were gone. I was pissed so I slammed my door (even though I doubt they were asleep.)

When I came home after college the next day, I decided I wanted to just have a cool convo before bed just reminding them to “close the door quietly” and that I'm a light sleeper and have a lot of school to do, ect. I wanted to do it out in the open when I wasn't pissed and to apologize for the previous night. I also hadn't really talked to the boyfriend about it at all (except the sudden “please be quiet” last night), so I wanted to be sure he knew about it.

So, a little before bed as they were wrapping up their TV watching, I came into the kitchen and mentioned it and the girlfriend went off on me “OK, you just need to chill You've mentioned this like 3 times already! “ and I said back, calmly (since I didn't understand where her anger came from) “I know I mentioned it a few times, but I wouldn't be mentioning it again if it wasn't a problem” . She then went on a tirade about how I woke her up on Saturday going in and out the front door. I would have been more quiet if she had mentioned it to me earlier as I did have to let the cat in and out several times and the owner really needs to put grese on the door. I didn't realize she could hear it, though, since her bedroom doesn't share the wall of the front door. I responded back calmly, “You can just tell me if you have a problem, I'm cool.” since I LOVE resolving things out in the open. Then she started saying “The only time it happened was last night” and then something along the lines of “You live with 3 other people. We were here first, and you want us to change for you!” She stormed off into the bathroom and slammed the door.

Her boyfriend was there in the hallway and we had a reasonable discussion. He mentioned how I might be an unreasonably a light sleeper and I mentioned how that was the main thing I mentioned when I moved in so a sorta expected a quiet environment to sleep in. I understood what he meant by having to compromise, but I did mention that I had earplugs and 2 box fans running and I could still hear it and how I had lived at 6 other places and only had a problem with one other (drunk) roommate. I apologized for the previous night and said I wasn't trying to be a bitch about it, just trying to get it out in the open without making it an issue.

Suddenly the girlfriend came out and was saying “Just shut up! Just shut up!” and then her and the boyfriend went in their room. Is this how living with females is? I never had a sister.

The thing is, I wasn't really directing the question to her. I was really saying it to the boyfriend. I wasn't looking in his direction, though, because I was putting some trash away and the girl came yelling at me before I could really get to level-headed discussion. I wanted to mention it before I got resentful about it and to say it calmly because of sorta saying it madly the night before in my 1/2 asleepness.

Anyhow, I realize it might be annoying to ask for something for what it appears to be the 3rd time, but if it wasn't still a problem I wouldn't need to mention it. Was I really being unreasonable? I've only lived there a month and I don't really get in the way of things. I keep things clean and am gone most of the day. I say hi and make a little chit chat, but we don't really talk all that much. I let them have free reign of the TV and am usually in my room or the kitchen preparing meals. I did break a picture frame of the owner, but I will fix it when I get some wood glue.
posted by eq21 to Human Relations (52 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Sit down and agree on what the quiet times for your residence will be. Without an agreement like that, you are just dealing in vagaries.
posted by gjc at 7:43 PM on October 2, 2013

You have 2 distinct problems.
One is that, as a light sleeper, you're going to have to put more effort into finding an environment that can accommodate you. It's not a matter of reasonable or unreasonable, it's just what you need to sleep soundly. You can do this.
The other problem is that you currently live with a nut: 'Just shut up! Just shut up!'
Don't try to fix that. Just move on.
posted by LonnieK at 7:44 PM on October 2, 2013 [5 favorites]

I get that you need quiet but you will get it nowhere other than your own apartment or house. When you live with other unrelated adults they will not kowtow to your every whim. Sorry, that's just the way it is. Put up or move.
posted by brownrd at 7:45 PM on October 2, 2013 [50 favorites]

It takes a lot of reminders for people to develop a new habit like closing a door softly. You might have more success with strategies like pads that cushion the doors' noise as they close.
posted by salvia at 7:46 PM on October 2, 2013 [4 favorites]

Also, no, the housemate is not being reasonable by blowing up. But please make no sexist generalizations.
posted by salvia at 7:48 PM on October 2, 2013 [48 favorites]

Most people don't consider doors opening and closing a big deal at night- some doors do make noise even if you don't slam them but just let them fall closed, depending on the air circulation. Your new roommate probably didn't realize that she was making much noise at all until you called her on it, and she might have been irritated that you were, in her opinion, harping on something that to her doesn't seem like it could possibly be a big deal.

I'd give her a one-time pass on the "SHUT UP" deal, but if stuff like that happens again this is probably not a reasonable person to live with. This is not how all "females" are to live with.

My husband is an unreasonably light sleeper (especially when working nights) and it really sounds like you are, too. You may not be cut out to live with roommates if this is the case. BUT- I couldn't live in the house with him without him having tricked out all the doors with adhesive felt pads (which he shaved as necessary for the Perfect Fit) which cushion all wood-on-wood contact points and make the doors close quietly. He has also done this to the cabinets in the kitchen. I think it's crazy but hey, whatever works. I suggest you try this so that you can appear to be making an effort, and it may actually solve or ameliorate the issue for you somewhat.

Also, oil the front door hinges (and all other doors! why the hell not?) yourself as an act of further goodwill. Yes, it has been done at my house. Yes, it makes a difference. You can pick up the oil at the hardware store when you get the felt pads.
posted by charmedimsure at 7:51 PM on October 2, 2013 [15 favorites]

"Is this how living with females is?"

No. But it may be how living with that one woman is.

Agree with salvia that taking steps (with the homeowner's permission, of course) to reduce door noise (oiling front door, putting anti-slam pads on doors that have a tendency to slam, etc.) would be a proactive approach.

Ultimately, though, you seem to me to be making a fundamental strategic error in assuming that your sleep-conducive quiet environment is going to be your housemates' top priority. It is not. It will never be. Just because you stated your preference for a quiet house in your Craigslist posting doesn't mean that you and your housemates agree on the definition of "a quiet house," or that they will accommodate your definition automatically.

What you're asking for is an accommodation to your special needs, unless they're slamming the fuck out of the doors.
posted by Sidhedevil at 7:56 PM on October 2, 2013 [19 favorites]

> I was pissed so I slammed my door

Man, if my new roommate got violent (and slamming a door is violence), I'd be pretty pissed.
I'm not surprised your female roommate reacted so strongly.

You need a new place. You need to be VERY clear about your needs, earplugs and 2 box fans is pretty far along the "I need quiet" spectrum that you need to over explain your needs in your next place.

Good luck.
posted by bottlebrushtree at 7:57 PM on October 2, 2013 [11 favorites]

I also have had trouble sleeping lately, so I feel your pain, but agree with others who have said your expectations of what "quiet" means are not normal. I would recommend moving, and ideally, trying to find an in-law apartment or something that doesn't have apartments above or below, because if you're that sensitive to noise, I'd imagine neighboring apartments could be an issue, too. Good luck.
posted by three_red_balloons at 7:59 PM on October 2, 2013 [6 favorites]

It was not appropriate for your housemate to yell at you. On the other hand, did you slam your door so hard it broke someone else's picture frame? Not appropriate, either.
posted by Sidhedevil at 8:02 PM on October 2, 2013

Response by poster: I didn't mean the female comment, I am after all a female myself.

Also, I forgot to add that she called me "Psychotic!" I personally think it takes a lot more to get to that point, I mean I had a roommate once who I guess was bipolar and would go off in anger at times and had a fight with his friend in the room next door a 3am.
posted by eq21 at 8:02 PM on October 2, 2013

"Is this how living with females is?"

This is how it is when you yell at people for the exact same thing you do. You woke her up. She didn't even mention it to you. She used to living with people. On the other hand, you've bugged her repeatedly about closing the door because OMG YOU INSIST ON LIVING WHILE I AM ASLEEP!

Apologize. She isn't going to cooperate with the door thing until you make the first move here.
posted by 26.2 at 8:03 PM on October 2, 2013 [42 favorites]

Opening and closing doors is something that most of us do rather mindlessly, while we're on auto-pilot or occupied with something else. Sometimes, they close more noisily than other times.. we've all accidentally slammed a door or two in the past. I don't think anyone was intentionally slamming doors to rile you. More likely, your roommates realized it slammed after the fact, and probably kicked themselves or winced in light of the knowledge that you were sensitive to the sound of doors at night.

What would you have liked them to have done at that juncture? Your roommate made it clear, later (and perhaps inappropriately), that yes, she is aware of your issue. Surely you didn't expect an apology at the time, when the best case scenario would have been that you slept through it.

Just relax. They're trying their best, for all you know.
posted by wats at 8:04 PM on October 2, 2013 [1 favorite]

Doors make noise when they close even if you're being quiet. I think you need to a) not throw temper tantrums b) not expect other people to be perfect c) not live with this girl because she is awful d) probably live alone altogether. The door shutting is usually considered to be within the normal bounds of noise that people are going to make and still consider themselves "quiet". "Loud", to most people, is, for example, audible music after 11 pm or whatever, and quiet is not "providing a perfectly soundproof bubble". People aren't going to mince around on tiptoes for you. I'm noise sensitive as well, and I have to live alone.
posted by windykites at 8:04 PM on October 2, 2013 [7 favorites]

Response by poster: Don't mean to threadsit. The picture frame thing was something else. I was listening to podcasts absentmindedly the other day and put my back against the wall and it fell. The picture is a little too close to the fridge and no glass. I am known to be absentminded :)
posted by eq21 at 8:05 PM on October 2, 2013

You're new and you didn't make a great first impression and then on top of that she didn't handle it well either. Maybe she's stressed about something else and just doesn't have any more bandwidth to be polite to someone who is making her life more difficult. If you want to make nice, you should apologize, as it's the only way to put this behind you.

I think you would be happier in a studio.
posted by bleep at 8:06 PM on October 2, 2013 [1 favorite]

1) What time were these incidents taking place?

2) Sorry homes but doors closing is well within the normal spectrum of housemate behaviour. The fact you have earplugs and two fans makes me wonder if you have a bit of a complex about sounds.

3) If you are this sensitive, I'm afraid it's really your problem, not theirs. I don't think they are under any obligation to help you out here, even if it's the nice thing to do. Additionally, as a housemate of many myself, if someone who had moved in just a month ago was already making weird requests and getting pissy at non-compliance for something that is hard to remember, I would have grave doubts about their suitability for the house. Grave doubts.

I don't think group housing with young people is gonna work for you. Maybe some kind of granny flat thing or boarding with old people would be better.
posted by smoke at 8:07 PM on October 2, 2013 [22 favorites]

Granted that your description of the events are fairly accurate, it doesn't sound to me like you're being unreasonable at all. Snapping through the bathroom door was harsh and unfortunate, but pretty understandable considering, and most people would realize this upon a few seconds reflection even if their immediate reaction might be to be angry back, especially if you apologized about it and explained that you understood it was not a good way to go about the issue.

That female roommate sounds like an unreasonable spazz if everything happened as you described. But a lot of people seem surprising spazzy about just this sort if thing (you reiterate a very reasonable request, which is so reasonable you could be annoyed at having to reiterate it, but aren't, are patient about it, and then they turn on you as if you're nagging them or something).

One question I have is, what "question' were you directing at the boyfriend? I'm assuming you didn't say "is this what it's like to live with females?" That would be incredibly rude.

I think your request that they close doors quietly enough not to hear it with ear plugs and two box fans running is 100% reasonable. And I doubt if their closing of doors is waking you up it's because you're an "unreasonably light sleeper". Many people are just plain loud and don't notice it. I also think the roommate had no cause at all to be angry at you for waking her up by opening and closing the front door. You had no idea you were doing it, and as it stands these two situations don't seem to have anything to do with each other. You have not continued to do this after she requested you not to, and then expected her to grant your request.

I think just keep talking to them as reasonably as you have so far, even if they don't seem to get it. You were completely up front about this need before moving in, and if they failed to properly consider it before they accepted you as a roommate then that's their mistake and they should still have to abide by that stipulation even if they don't like it.
posted by Blitz at 8:12 PM on October 2, 2013

There are some people who can't handle anything they perceive as criticism, no matter how reasonable you are they feel like they have to be "assertive" and defend themselves. And there are some people whose idea of idea of being "assertive" is to act like an aggressive psycho. It sounds like you have found out that your female roommate is one of those people. I seriously doubt she will change anytime soon and become more reasonable when she feels criticized or when you are trying to bring up a perfectly reasonable thing.

Anyone who stomps around slamming doors and screaming "shut up" at people has the maturity level of a six-year-old and should not be attempting shared living situations with adults.

In all my years of having roommates, I have lived with, no exaggeration, a total of over 30 women over the years if you added them all up. I have only had someone act like that ONCE. She was several years younger than me and had never lived away from home before, and had no idea how to act like a mature adult in a shared living situation. She thought, something we had to talk about, needed to equal ANGRY FIGHT, CATTY INSULTS, NASTY NOTES, HOSTILE TONES AND DRAMAZZZ! I don't know if she felt like she needed to be so aggressive with me because I was older and she thought I'd be more likely to take her seriously, or if she was just like that. But all it did was make me think she was just really immature and dramatic. I can absolutely guarantee you, the way your roommate acts is an outlier among women. And this sort of person is actually pretty easy to deal with if you just see them as immature and roll your eyes when they have a drama flare, and deflect yourself from being their drama target.
posted by cairdeas at 8:12 PM on October 2, 2013 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Sorry, I forgot to mention that it's not really closing of doors. I've lived with people who have closed doors before. I've lived at about 6 different places. I've lived with people who have TV on semi-loudly and light parties in the living room, so I don't expect them to be angels. This is more of a sort of slam but not full slam. A habit and unintentional. I've asked the owner of the house this same request and he closes the door without me waking up. Oh, and this was at 11:30 or midnight and also at 3am, 5am
posted by eq21 at 8:13 PM on October 2, 2013

I have trouble falling asleep if there's noise like talking or music playing, or if there's a sudden noise when I'm falling asleep (I am lucky in that once I'm asleep, it's hard to wake me up), so I feel you. But you can't expect your roommates not to do things like shut doors when they're sleeping - it's just not going to happen.

Your best bet is to find a roommate situation where you agree on specific quiet hours (and what that means) upfront. It's going to be tough to work that out at this point, since the issue is already so fraught, but it can't hurt to apologize to the roommate who got upset and, at a later date, try to sit down and work something out.

One thing I will say: I used to get really stressed out about noise when I was trying to fall asleep. I would try really hard to tune it out, which just made it harder to fall asleep. Once I relaxed about it and realized that losing a little bit of sleep wasn't the worst thing in the world, it got easier to fall asleep.

I wonder if part of the issue is that you are so stressed about the possibility of losing sleep that you are actually unconsciously listening for noise, especially in between REM cycles?
posted by lunasol at 8:13 PM on October 2, 2013 [1 favorite]

I kept forgeting to mention it and then the night before last they did it twice, so I got up when I was sleeping, knocked on the bathroom door and said annoyed “Please don't slam the door while I'm sleeping, Thank you”. I realize I probably sounded bitchy, but I was ½ asleep and annoyed. . 10 minutes later someone did it again so I got up again to complain and they were gone. I was pissed so I slammed my door (even though I doubt they were asleep.)

When I came home after college the next day, I decided I wanted to just have a cool convo before bed just reminding them to “close the door quietly” and that I'm a light sleeper and have a lot of school to do, ect.

This does sound like you are being overly aggressive in this case, to be honest. You had it out the night before, things were very clear on where you stand, and your first instinct is to remind them the very next day on what they need to do, although arguably you may have a bit more to apologize for here.

You perhaps need to lead with a bit more humility, rather than making demands. To be this pushy about what you need, repeatedly, while being the "new person," can be a bit disrupting. Even though you have full rights, you are the new person who has been allowed in, and you need to tread carefully on insisting that others change their behavior. The slamming the door bit means that you probably have an uphill battle here, but it's perhaps not unresolvable.

I'd suggest pacing your need for public discussion and resolution a bit. It sounds like you have an emotional need for talking it out, where sometimes the best things is to let things sit and to see if people will actually do what you already talked about doing, even if it wasn't under the best of circumstances. Sometimes when things cool, people actually agree with you and will try to be more careful. But by pushing the issue again, you didn't give that the opportunity to happen naturally. It also suggests that you won't be willing to extend much grace if you feel like you need to be so on top that issue all the time.

There's probably a lot more on you to problem solve than there is on others to be even more quiet. The ideas about padding the doors is a good one. If you want to fix it, I'd start by apologizing before making ANY demands on others, and perhaps say that you have some ideas that you would like to implement that don't require drastic and pushy changes of behavior in others. Although you can assert rights if you want to, it's not going to win you any friends if it comes from the angle that others need to change their behavior drastically to tend to the person who has only been there for a month. It might be that some of the feelings that prompted the "psychotic" comment may have come from the concern that you will always be difficult to live with on this issue, or pushing your preferred communication style on your roommate. You can fix this perception by being a bit more self-deprecating.

I say all of this as a very, very light sleeper, so I feel your pain.
posted by SpacemanStix at 8:20 PM on October 2, 2013 [10 favorites]

I would just like to add, too, that your roommate did not handle the situation well. In an ideal world, you can have a discussion about how to have a discussion, without it needing to turn into a huge thing.

cairdeas is right, too, that some people just do not handle intentional discussions well about issues, and they internalize it as criticism on a deep level. Couple this with some family dynamics where you simply did not talk about things after you yell them out (everyone goes to their own corner to cool off, and then things magically fix themselves), a follow-up conversation so soon can feel aggressive and totally contrary to relational survival mechanisms. It's a pretty common one, actually, if someone grew up in a family that had no idea how to talk things out. You sort of avoid things until they go away. Some families though do talk it out when issues come up, and these two worlds can collide pretty violently when they need to coexsist (believe me, I know).

So, you aren't 100% wrong that you should have received a better response. But I do think (as noted above) that by leading with a slightly more humble foot, while inviting others to "help" you rather than telling others what they need to be doing, you can move this is the right direction. At the end of the day, though, it's possible that a perfect solution isn't going to materialize, which unfortunately is sometimes the reality of communal living.
posted by SpacemanStix at 8:31 PM on October 2, 2013

Is it possible you could add some rubber gasket to the problematic doors? I did that to some doors that were letting cold air into an old apartment, and they became noticeably quieter.

You might not even have to do the whole door.
posted by overhauser at 8:45 PM on October 2, 2013

Thanks for clarifying that the picture frame was unrelated. Sorry I misunderstood.

Yes, your housemate was rude, and calling you "psychotic" was way out of line.

So. It still seems both strategic and pragmatic to begin by focusing on modifying the physical environment to reduce the chances of door-slams, etc.
posted by Sidhedevil at 8:46 PM on October 2, 2013

The main problem here, as I see it, is that your request isn't as reasonable as you think.

I lived with roommates from age 16 to age 31 (so literally half my life), and I have never been in a situation where someone couldn't sleep because of roommates opening and closing doors. I suppose it's possible that your roommates are exceptionally clueless and slam doors very loudly at all times, or that the walls of your place are paper thin and it's possible to hear the tiniest noise even with earplugs and multiple fans. I understand what it's like to have to get along with roomates, and so I say this with as much grace as I can muster:

It's kind of not reasonable to expect people to close doors carefully because you might be trying to fall asleep at that particular moment and might hear the door and might have your sleep disrupted.

I know you're trying all you can to make noise less of an issue. Good for you! And you probably can't help that you're a light sleeper. But you can't always get what you want, and sometimes you have to just put up with irritating things you'd prefer not to.

I once had neighbors whose every move I could hear from my bedroom. Unfortunately they were, like, nocturnal or something, and I worked crazy hours and would come home from work and need to go to sleep immediately (and this was at like 2AM, so not an unreasonable time to expect quiet). It drove me apoplectic that, inevitably, I'd be trying to drift off and they'd decide to watch a loud action movie, or cook a meal (seriously????), or vacuum (!!!!!). But there was nothing I could really do about it. So I just had to learn to make my peace with a shitty situation. Eventually I taught myself to go to sleep despite the noise.

Is there a way you could do this? One thing I noticed when I had my problem was that what really woke me up was my own anxiety, tension, and eventual anger at their behavior. Couldn't they understand how tired I was, and how soon I had to be awake again? What the fuck were they doing cooking dinner at two in the goddamn morning? I would work myself up with this thought pattern to the point that I was in a panic and couldn't possibly sleep.

Once I resigned myself to the fact that this wasn't something I could change, when I heard their noise instead of getting so upset that the adrenaline woke me up, I would just remind myself that there was nothing I could do, they would quiet down eventually, and sort of will myself to relax and ignore it.

If it was really loud, I'd turn on a relaxing podcast (I used the BBC's "In Our Time", but you might also like "Welcome To Night Vale") to drown out the noise even more. I think at one point I even splurged on headphones that blocked almost all external sound and which were comfortable to wear lying in bed.

Eventually I would relax enough to where the neighbors' noises didn't register, and I was able to sleep. The noise never stopped bothering me completely, but by developing a calm response and a routine I knew would work to get me to sleep, it stopped detracting from my quality of life.

Is this something you could do? Because short of getting your own place I don't think you can compel your roommates to never open and shut doors in the evening.
posted by Sara C. at 8:50 PM on October 2, 2013 [12 favorites]

I understand you were irritated, but talking to them again after you had JUST complained in the middle of the night was probably a bit too much. Also, how do you know they were wrapping up the evening? Mayfe they were in the middle of watching a TV show when you brought the door slamming up again--if you had brought this up during the Season Finale of Breaking Bad, for instance, I might have asked you to shut up myself. ;)

Have you gotten to know your roommates act all or made any friendly overtures? I think, as you have what I'd consider a lower-than-average tolerance for noise while you are trying to sleep, you kinda want to counteract that by making an attempt at being especially agreeable in other ways, since you are the new girl here.

It sounds like you are trying to do that by staying out of their way most of the time, which I, being a bit of a loner, understand completely! But you know, that does make it harder to remember you ARE around and that you need it quiet, too. Have you tried doing anything like putting up a sign on the door to remind others to close it quietly (seeing as how you letting the cat in and out also woke them up, might be a good idea to have a sign on all the doors). Also, oil those hinges already!

By the way, if you are interested, In my experience, earplugs are not that great at shutting out sounds compared to noise-cancelling headphones. You would probably love a pair of those if you tried them!

For sure, the girlfriend over-reacted. But she was probably just as angry with her boyfriend for continuing to talk to you after she left the room (instead of flouncing off with her as a show of solidarity). That's not to excuse her behavior toward you, of course, but it might not be you, if you get what I'm saying, so much as her feeling like she was being put on the spot in front of her boyfriend, and then you two being so reasonable just made her look worse and she knew it, so she wanted to put you down and get him away from you. It is not a "female" or a "male" thing, it is an insecurity thing, IMHO.
posted by misha at 8:52 PM on October 2, 2013 [2 favorites]

...I was pissed so I slammed my door...

I just wanted to speak to this little episode from your post.

I've been the roommate who needed quiet, before.

I can't explain why this is, but for some reason coming out of your room at night and declaring to whoever is in earshot that X or Y unilaterally needs to happen righthefucknow is just not a good coping strategy for this sort of thing. You will inevitably come off like a shrill complainer.

Again, no idea why this is. I have been on both sides of the dynamic. It's just... not a mature coping style. I think it might have to do with the fact that one inevitably comes off as much more angry than one is, or maybe one actually is more angry than one wants to admit? (Using convoluted "one" language to avoid making it about you, eq21.)

I think that in sleep noise situations, it's much better to address it when everyone is rested and awake and sort of on the same page, emotionally. I know you tried to do that eventually, but sniping at your roommates to keep it down (when they weren't even being loud, just closing a door), and then slamming your own door in anger really didn't start things on the right foot with them.

This definitely could have been a contributing factor in the "Just shut up!" thing from your female roommate, and is in a way every bit as immature and unreasonable as her own behavior.
posted by Sara C. at 9:02 PM on October 2, 2013 [8 favorites]

Oh, and this was at 11:30 or midnight and also at 3am, 5am

Yeah, this is not evening - it's the middle of the night.

I think it's reasonable to expect that people in a shared house generally be aware of how much noise they are making between, say, 11 pm and 6 am. I've lived in a squillionty-squillion shared houses (no, really ;), in about 4 different countries, and in the best share-house situations, people are just aware. Like, after about 11 pm you close doors softly, don't clank dishes in the sink, open and close drawers in your bedroom gently, that kind of thing.

I don't think anyone is being wholly unreasonable here. They weren't aware how much noise they were making (and to be fair, some people will sleep through a bomb going off; maybe their previous flatmate was one of those, and they've got used to being carefree). You, perhaps, did not approach it as tactfully as you thought you had. Maybe you just have different communication styles. Although yes, she was horribly rude and childish with her 'shut up!' thing.

On preview: Sara C just made some good points. I think you could salvage this by maybe baking a cake or a meal, or just opening a nice bottle of wine, and approaching your flatmates with an apology (for any part you played in escalating the drama), and a request to talk things out re: expectations in the future.
posted by Salamander at 9:05 PM on October 2, 2013 [2 favorites]

Maybe it's not the housemates maybe it's the doors? Have you thought about having a look at the doors to find out what it is about them that makes so much noise? (Maybe when everyone is out if you think it will add to the stress but on the other side don't go mucking with people's room doors without checking first) If they need oiling a bit of wd40 will fix that quick. Do they slam, can you put some foam on the frame, much like you would use for weather stripping you need zero handy man skills or tools for that.

Look into noise cancelling headphones, moving your bed so the vibrations of the doors shutting shaking walls etc isn't so bad, putting carpet under your bed to help cut back on vibrations. There is only so much you can do to change other peoples behaviour, and if you have lived in other houses with other people for the most part OK, I suspect it's the house not the housemates that are working against you here.

As for how to handle the situation. Apologize first, lifes too short they certainly aren't going to be quieter for you if they are still mad at you. Remember you don't know what else happened in your room mates day to make her like that, the reaction really makes me think she had had a really shitty day and your request was just the final straw.
posted by wwax at 9:07 PM on October 2, 2013 [2 favorites]

Oh, and FWIW, I feel your pain. I sleep with earplugs and a fan running, and I live alone. I have been woken up through earplugs by a bird chirping. In my share-house days, it took me a while to realize that people who are not light sleepers sometimes really have no idea. They're not being inconsiderate, they are just unaware that sleeping lightly enough to be woken by a normally-closed door is even a thing.
posted by Salamander at 9:08 PM on October 2, 2013

I too am extremely sensitive to noise and get really fucking pissed when my sleep is interrupted by people who are inconsiderate.

That said, in this case you both seem pretty unreasonable about the overall situation. However, your roommates appear to be the kind of people who can actually live with/adjust to other people's thoughtless noises. You do not appear to be this kind of person. I suggest you do not live with roommates in the future, and that you accept whatever other inconveniences this adds to your life in exchange for your peace of mind.
posted by elizardbits at 9:30 PM on October 2, 2013 [2 favorites]

Also if you have health insurance/can otherwise afford it, it might be worthwhile for you to see an audiologist and find out if you have hyperacusis. Personally, knowing that this is an actual medical issue for me has made me a lot more reasonable about the noises other people make.
posted by elizardbits at 9:33 PM on October 2, 2013 [3 favorites]

i get it that you have special sleep needs, but i think you are bringing this up way too much. you asked them to keep it down in the night, got mad when they didn't & then slammed the door yourself, and then the very next day before they've made any noise to disturb you...

When I came home after college the next day, I decided I wanted to just have a cool convo before bed just reminding them to “close the door quietly” and that I'm a light sleeper and have a lot of school to do, ect. I wanted to do it out in the open when I wasn't pissed and to apologize for the previous night.

honestly, at that point i'm not surprised the woman went off on you. this wasn't a cool convo at all but being kind of a pain in the rear. please do not say anything else to them about noise at this point. either they will be as quiet as you want or they won't. it does sound like they are a bit noisy but they were there first so it is a disruption to them to accommodate you. i do think you'd be better off getting your own place--a granny flat where you really don't have close neighbors would be ideal for you.
posted by wildflower at 9:36 PM on October 2, 2013 [5 favorites]

Excellent points above, and I suspect that you may be coming off more angry or snarky than you intend. It's really hard to say who really is being unreasonable here, but I think the way to get past this issue is to apologize for your approach. You don't need to take back the request or agree that your needs are unreasonable, but I think you realize that you could have handled this better. I recommend sincerely apologizing to both for reacting the way you did and saying you wish you had approached it differently. I also like the suggestion of offering cookies, wine, or some other tasty treat as a peace offering and asking to start with a clean slate.

Also, from your description, it sounds like you didn't apologize for waking her up with the door in the morning and dismissed her grievance easily by saying you didn't know and the owner needs to do something to fix it. While both of those things are true and logical, actually saying something along the lines of, "I had no idea, I am so sorry! Please let me know as soon as something like that happens again," will go a long way towards building goodwill with the people who share your living space. I think this is totally solvable if you are willing to do some very simple things to smooth things over. Good luck!
posted by katemcd at 9:37 PM on October 2, 2013 [3 favorites]

Also- although this is more on him than you- avoid any situation where you have the boyfriend in the middle between the two of you. Or anyone else really- this is best sorted out between the two of you, but discussing it with the boyfriend after she left the room (even if he started it) is to be avoided. Bad form on his behalf and it's pretty likely that his explanation of your conversation afterwards will make him look good, and possibly you bad as a means to demonstrate his loyalty after potentially looking a bit disloyal by talking with you about her.
posted by jojobobo at 9:37 PM on October 2, 2013 [1 favorite]

You've only been living there for a month and one of your roommates is already screaming at you? If things are this bad during the "honeymoon" period they are only going to get worse as resentments build. Even if all the doors in your place magically became noiseless tomorrow I'd still advise looking for a new place to live because this does not sound like a good roommate situation for you.

Regarding your sleep difficulties in general, have you tried experimenting with different "colors" of background noise instead of or in addition to just running fans? I've found that brown noise blocks out a lot more of the types of noises that tend to wake me up than white noise does. You can sample brown, pink, and white noise with or without modulation at SimplyNoise.com.
posted by Jacqueline at 9:39 PM on October 2, 2013 [1 favorite]

I wonder if you're not a "light sleeper" because you have sleep apnea and aren't getting the deep sleep you need. If you ARE getting deep, adequate sleep with plenty of REM time, you're much less testy and focused on whether you're sleeping or not, whether others are disturbing your almighty sleep, etc. If you aren't getting the right kind of sleep in the right amount, you're operating all the time in a half sleep-deprived state and that's no joke.

I think you should seriously consider asking your doctor about a sleep study - they can just send an instrument home with you which you use overnight and then they read the data off the chip the next day.

Might be worth a try?

But - when you live with other people, they make noise; and, there's always one in a household who is a "blower-upper" - that's all just life with other people. It's really not practical to expect the others to tiptoe around the house because you're sleeping - particularly considering you're wearing earplugs and have fans going for white noise (another reason I'm suspicious of apnea - the fans and earplugs should be enough.)
posted by aryma at 10:42 PM on October 2, 2013

Buy some melatonin and apologize.
posted by oceanjesse at 10:53 PM on October 2, 2013 [5 favorites]

but I did mention that I had earplugs and 2 box fans running and I could still hear it and how I had lived at 6 other places and only had a problem with one other (drunk) roommate.

FWIW, suggesting that your new roomies compare poorly to everyone else you've lived with, except maybe the one who had a drinking problem, is not a good way to win friends.

Your requests may be reasonable, but their established habits and preferences are just as reasonable. The fact that your desires are "reasonable" doesn't mean other people have to meet them.
posted by jon1270 at 4:02 AM on October 3, 2013 [6 favorites]

I am known to be absentminded :)

So it's cute and smile-inducing that your absentmindedness results in things falling and making sudden noises, but it's a point of contention that other people close internal doors the same way they have their entire lives without considering your need for absolute silence whenever the moon is out. And their not closing doors quietly enough causes you to intentionally slam your door?

Everyone is absentminded :) Give others the same slack you give yourself. At this point your housemates probably think you have bionic ears which means no privacy for them! You monitor their TV watching, their bedtime routines, their bathroom activities. That's too close for comfort by far.

A big part of living harmoniously with other people is purposefully ignoring each others more private/intimate comings and goings. They don't notice that you eat a lot of ice cream and you don't notice that they have an unusual pooping routine.

At this point you are going to be hyper aware of any night sounds and every interruption will further reinforce your need for quiet. You were likely hyper alert about it bedore you moved in. I suggest dealing with your unusual need on its own and stop expecting others to accommodate it. Housemates will never be quiet enough for you.
posted by headnsouth at 4:30 AM on October 3, 2013 [24 favorites]

*Is this how living with females is?
No. This is how it is to live with one particular female.

* the owner really needs to put grese on the door
If it bothers you, grease it yourself. This is a 2-minute, 2-dollar operation, maximum.

This is your necessary condition and you need to take care of yourself to get there. White noise machine? Better ear-plugs? A pillow cave for your head? Do yourself a favor and try such new elements while looking for another place away from this set of people.

Someone above says you won't get quiet until you get your own apartment or house. Don't count on it even then. I live in an apartment with fighting neighbors on on side, an airbnb flat on another side, and an elephant who blows his nose really loudly above me (seriously). I'm not a light sleeper and I still find myself sleeping in the kitchen some days because the husband on one side scares me, the tourists don't give a shit, and I think I'd be a jerk to complain that the guy has to blow his nose.
posted by whatzit at 5:10 AM on October 3, 2013 [2 favorites]

I like Sara C's suggestion that you learn to sleep with noise. When I was pregnant with my first baby I took a class where you learn to self-hypnotize to a point where you're almost asleep - in spite of any ambient noise. You practice with an instructional CD for ten minutes a day, at first in a completely quiet environment, gradually allowing more external sounds. I find it easy to fall asleep now even without the CD, just mentally going through the steps.

My particular class was specifically geared towards facilitating birth, but there are many forms of self-hypnosis out there that could be more appropriate for you.

Look into a yoga nidra class - while it's intended for you to remain in an awake state you can also use it as a sleep aid. Here's an example of a session you can try at home.
posted by Dragonness at 6:59 AM on October 3, 2013 [2 favorites]

How long have the previous tenants lived there?
If they've been there for years and all of a sudden their previous acceptable behaviour is now being picked apart by a new roommate, I can understand their annoyance.

Also, you say you've lived there a month and write "A week or two pass and I noticed it happen a couple times"..... to me, that indicates that perhaps once a week they close the door too loud for you and wake you up. Personally, I don't consider that to be bad behaviour on their part.

So, I guess what I'm trying to say is I think you're being unreasonable and some of your actions have been out of line.
posted by JenThePro at 7:54 AM on October 3, 2013 [3 favorites]

Your roommate was a bit snarky, but you're being totally over the top here. I doubt you would have gotten the same reaction if you'd come at it from the angle of "Hey can you do me a favour and make an effort to close the doors more carefully at night...I know it's a big pain to remember but I'm a really light sleeper" instead of making demands tersely through the bathroom door and then slamming the door intentionally in a passive-aggressive fit.

You are absent-minded yourself. Consider how difficult it is to form new habits, particularly when it's something that doesn't directly affect you and is something you've done many times a day for your whole life, unthinkingly. Even if your roommates are nice enough to agree to be extra careful closing the doors, you seriously need to cut them a break when they forget sometimes. Being passive-aggressive or hounding them about it all the time is not only unhelpful, it's going to make them hate you. Especially since they seem to be remembering almost all the time - you said it happened a few times in a week or two!

You can ask your roommates to be quieter. You can't demand it. They have a right to live without worrying 24/7 about their normal activities making noises that 99% of people would be ok with. It sucks that you're a light sleeper, but that's your problem, not theirs. If you can't deal with it, you need to move somewhere quieter.
posted by randomnity at 7:57 AM on October 3, 2013 [5 favorites]

I think you have extremely unrealistic expectations for a shared living environment. You may want to invest in a white noise machine - I have this one - to better control your environment. My toddler sleeps through everything, including loud movies in the other room, with that machine cranked up to high on the "white noise" setting.
posted by barnoley at 10:30 AM on October 3, 2013

I mentioned when I moved in so a sorta expected a quiet environment to sleep in.

When someone asks if the apartment is "quiet", they normally interpret that as "we don't play loud music, we don't have parties every day, our friends don't come over for beers or dinner and 'talk-with-but-actually-yell-at' each other." They don't interpret it as, "must be extra careful about closing the bathroom door after 11:30pm for the roommate sleeping with earplugs and a fan."

No one deserves to be yelled at or called psychotic in these circumstances, but you are actively attacking people for their normal behavior and routines.
posted by deanc at 10:35 AM on October 3, 2013 [8 favorites]

How often are they really waking you up?

You say it's happened a "few times" which in my book, really isn't enough to have a huge problem with the way your roommate closes a door. Yes, it's disturbing your sleep a bit, but it doesn't sound if your roommates are watching TV loud or having parties or being intentionally rude.

She probably mentioned that you woke her up opening the door to let the cat in, not because you waking her up is a terrible thing, because it's something that happens time to time when you live in apartment with other people, and people let it go.

A week or two pass and I noticed it happen a couple times but I didn't want to bother them while them

So...is this really happening once or twice a week? I think you might have some seriously unrealistic expectations for what "quiet" is.

And you know what, knocking on the bathroom door to tell someone to be quiet while they're in the bathroom, and then "reminding" them about it again the next day isn't cool behavior at all.

You are sleeping in a new environment, maybe you just need some time to adjust. However, that is your problem, not your roommates' problem.
posted by inertia at 11:27 AM on October 3, 2013 [4 favorites]

Yay verily there is a difference between closing and slamming the shit out of a door. As far as I'm concerned my flatmates' rights to slam the everloving fuck out of doors, instead of closing them like normally raised adults, ends where my acoustic territory begins.

This is really about territory. Shared acoustic territory is going to have unwanted noise. Sure, when it's shared, don't get too territorial. (DUH, low hanging fruit answers.) Psychologically this can help (for the part of it which is not simply being shook out of bed by doorslamming psychos)... "this noise is not an intrusion because this is not my space alone". When it wakes you up though it's too loud.

Sounds to me like you're in couple territory. Why is it couples seem to usually take more living space, more drama space, and generally more advantage in a flatshare, and are oblivious/assholes about it? The least they could do is be mindful of the doors. I think they're trying to show you they own the territory - acoustic included - and you get "shut up".

From the way you're asking (drawing all the coward high horse responses you get here), vicious revenge and domination doesn't seem to be your thing . But is it either be a good girl letting the couple do what they want, or move on? I'd hope you can just become well enough aquainted soon enough you can talk about this normally and they start normally door closing by themselves because as a new flatmate they'd want to be doing you a favour.
posted by yoHighness at 3:10 PM on October 3, 2013 [1 favorite]

This is why most people stop living with roommates as soon as they can afford it- because living with other people that you're not in love with (and probably even then) can be really freaking annoying.

Guaranteed you will also be doing things they don't like...that's the nature of being roommates, especially if it's a couple, two against one.

You need to either just cope or actively look for a new place with similarly quiet-minded rommates...specifying EXACTLY what it is you're looking for. Which usually means you will have to be the leaseholder and interviewing roommates yourself.

Some people are better off just living alone, I'm one of them so I know!
posted by bquarters at 3:40 PM on October 3, 2013 [1 favorite]

It was really rude for your roomates to have carried on as usual, noisewise, in a shared home late at night (and this goes whether you're a light sleeper or not). Slamming doors, making clunky noises, playing the TV loudly - all of this at night is just the height of rudeness. I mean, did these people have parents to teach them some manners or were they raised by wolves? It doesn't matter that it's their home too - what, will they be slamming doors in their home when they have put a baby to sleep? No, they won't! So their behavior shows you that they're inconsiderate, ill mannered, and rude, and that they don't care about getting along with other people in a shared home environment. This is a fact. Ignore everyone upthread who tells you that you're at fault or that your expectations of a home environment are unreasonable. And find better roomates because yours are horrible.
posted by gardenbex at 9:21 PM on October 3, 2013

Response by poster: Thanks for all your help.

I'd like to add that I'm sure they aren't just normally closing the door if I can wake up from it through earplugs and 2 box fans. I'm a light sleeper, but I'm sure others who don't sleep with earplugs or a box fan (I had to buy a 2nd one because of this issue) would have heard it if it was in that beginning part of sleep.

Mentioning it again was a sort of "Hey, I live here too. Remember?" Of all the things a roommate can do, I seriously doubt what I asked for is something that my female roommate could resort to calling me "psychotic" for and react as if I killed her dog. I had a roommate who had a fist fight in the next room at 3am and was yelling with a voice of pure anger at his friend and have heard stories of roommates who steal things, break things on purpose, never clean up, have wild parties, grow pot, sell drugs ect. I specifically asked for a place to live where my sleep needs are important and "if I can hear you through earplugs and a box fan you are too loud." and that I want to live in a place with "mature people who talk about problems calmly without letting them snowball". I don't want to live in a house where asking the boyfriend calmly (who I never talked to about the issue except through the bathroom) and trying to apologize for the previous night will warrant a hissy fit. It might have been annoying for her, but she overreacted.

Anyhow, I am going to move out to a place that is closer to my school in a month with an older woman who occasionally works nights and who knows how important sleep is. I actually picked the place before this whole thing happened but didn't tell the owner yet in case things changed. Now I have even more reason to move.

THanks again for all your help.
posted by eq21 at 9:39 AM on October 4, 2013 [2 favorites]

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