How to get someone to STFU and go away
January 29, 2015 10:50 AM   Subscribe

My roommate works from home and it is driving me fucking insane. She is here 24/7. Her desk is in the living room and she's pretty much monopolized the common area. Additionally, she ALWAYS talks to me. Whether I'm just passing through the living room to pee, or I've just woken up, or any other time, she won't stop fucking talking.

(I am PMSing, so this may be tinged with a bit of that. Still, I'm fed up.)

I'm in school as a post-bacc, so my schedule is a little bit irregular as well. I've lived with people who had full time jobs as well as my friend from class, and both situations were fine. Because either the other person was gone all day, or in the case of the student, she at least had scheduled times to be away from the apartment (class, tennis, part-time job, etc.) That way I could plan to unwind during those times alone. I am also very independent and prefer a LOT of alone time. Or at least comfortable silence, which my roommate doesn't seem to be capable of.

The problem is also that I don't particularly like her as a person. As far as typical roommate things: she's not particularly messy, or loud if I'm asleep, and she's punctual with bills. But I feel like we are irritatingly interconnected because I'm literally never at my apartment when she isn't. I can't stand seeing this much of someone, particularly a chatty, over-zealous 21 year old. She is the type of person I'd probably avoid in real life situations because she is so annoying and talkative (about herself, usually).

She is also very involved in my life, to where she is infringing on my personal space. The other night she was going to bed and "suggested" that I do too to make for an easier wake up. I was fucking livid. When I sleep in, she calls me "sleepyhead" and once she told me she heard me turn over in my sleep at 130pm so she knew I was alive. Basically she is paying WAY too much attention to me and what I do. I don't want this type of relationship with a roommate. I don't need to or want to be her pal. Especially because when she perceives me as such, it makes it harder to establish rules.

Her desk is right outside my bedroom door.

She moved in two weeks ago. I've been living here since Oct 2013 and have loved my apartment. At first the desk was next to the TV, but I asked her to move it because it was obstructing my view of/enjoyment of the TV. I also mentioned at that time that I like her but that I'm not used to having someone around all the time, and that I really need my alone time. So we moved her desk, and she mentioned that maybe she'd work at a coffee shop on the days that I'm here. So far, that hasn't happened.

Because she works from home, she is able to write-off half of her rent. So this girl is paying like $600 to have a cushy home office situation in the living room, as well as a fully-functioning bedroom (where a desk previously resided happily for a year). She has mentioned that she hates working from the same place she sleeps. I understand that, but I still think it's unfair to me, and way too entitled of a college-grad to expect such accomodations. Not to mention she "loves cooking" so she has cluttered up the kitchen with all of her supplies. I feel like it's not my home/place of R&R anymore.

The lease is up end of June, after which I'm planning to leave NYC for grad school. I can't decide if it would be harder to fix this or to move. I really, really don't want to move. The only pseudo-solution I can think of would be to have a series of really awkward conversations and boundary-setting. I've tried watching TV in the living room while she's there, but she just types away or pretends she's watching the show with me from her desk.

I need the desk to be in her room, and additionally I need her to schedule at least small intervals of time to be away from the apartment. Just a few hours a couple of times a week seems like a luxury at this point. Is this too much to ask? How do you tell someone that you'd like them to be around less, and to talk to you less?

She is an intellectually very smart girl, and she did move the desk the first time I asked.

Am I out of luck? What do I have the right to ask of her? I really need specific ways to phrase things, because I can't think of a way that doesn't sound super bitchy.

TL;DR - My roommate is in the living room working all. fucking. day. When she's not working, she's engaging me in unwanted conversations from her desk. She is the first thing I see when I wake up and the last before I go to bed, and every other fucking time I'm at the apartment because she NEVER ISN'T HERE. Can I ask her to move the desk into her bedroom? Is there a way to ask her to stop talking to me all the time? Can I ask her to schedule time away from the apt? If so, how do I phrase these things?

Thanks for reading!
posted by DayTripper to Human Relations (79 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
I need the desk to be in her room,

That's more than reasonable. Maybe buy a huge sofa and say, oh, gosh, gee, where can we put it?

and additionally I need her to schedule at least small intervals of time to be away from the apartment.

That's not reasonable, but I suppose you're free to ask since you might be moving this summer.
posted by resurrexit at 10:55 AM on January 29, 2015 [4 favorites]

Tell her you need quiet hours and ask her to find some place to spend a couple of hours a day so you can study. I would suggest she look into an enterprise incubator where she can get networking support. Not knowing what she does makes it hard to know how to proceed. I agree, talkative housemates can be awful, but at least they are not likely to throw your food away.
posted by parmanparman at 10:56 AM on January 29, 2015

It is totally reasonable for you to ask her to move her desk to her room so you can have access to the common area during working hours. You can frame it as not wanting to disturb her.

It's not at all reasonable for you to ask her to not be at home sometimes, though. She lives there. She pays half the rent. It's not your business whether she can write it off on her taxes or not. It's her home - she can stay there the whole time if she wants to. This is part of having a roommate and you're going to have to get over it or figure out how to live on your own.
posted by something something at 10:56 AM on January 29, 2015 [51 favorites]

She's paying half the rent. What she deducts from taxes has NO impact on her contribution. If she's paying $1,200 for rent, then she gets half the place. All day, every day if she likes.

I suppose if there's no lease between the two of you, and you're the primary lease holder, you could say, "This isn't working out for me. I'm giving you 30 days." Then get another roommate.

You could set up a schedule for alone time, where you get the living room alone from X to Y and she gets it from Q-T.

Ask her flat out to move the desk into her room, "Your working from the living room bothers me, please move your desk into your room."

You're out of line and out of luck on kitchen stuff. Half the rent, half the space. She gets to put her mung beans in the fridge, right next to your yogurt.

This just sounds like a mismatch. Have her move, or you move.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 10:58 AM on January 29, 2015 [33 favorites]

The best way to ask is, "I go out everyday, and you have time to yourself; can you please do the same, so I can have time to myself?" Then you say nothing until she gives you a straight answer, which will usually be a commitment to think about it, them you start seeing goals based on the number of hours you really need.
posted by parmanparman at 10:58 AM on January 29, 2015 [2 favorites]

I feel bad for you because it sounds like your roommate is a big pain to you. And I feel bad for her because you clearly despise her.

The only really thing bad (as in, not just super annoying) that I saw in her actions was when she told you to go to sleep, too. That'd annoy the heck out of me and I know the kind of person you're talking about here: well-intentioned but socially awkward and lacking self-awareness. The fact that she wants to talk so much, etc. really is fine, just a complete mismatch with your personality and living style.

Did you two make a roommate agreement of sorts when you first moved in? If not, I'd do that now and see how it goes. I saw in your older posts that assertiveness has sometimes been a challenge for you but I'd definitely try to approach this directly, if as kindly as possible. Right now I see you're angry at her for essentially being herself (as annoying as that personality is!) and quietly fuming where the best solution is being direct and firm. Statements like, "I know that you are very social and I respect that. However, I prefer/need my living situation to be a bit quieter. Let's make a plan together that works for both of us."

If it doesn't work out, then I would move. Six months is a long time to feel so horrible and unhappy at home and you deserve to be happier. As does she. However, I think creating clear guidelines and boundaries that you both truly commit will improve things a great deal.
posted by smorgasbord at 11:01 AM on January 29, 2015 [5 favorites]

Best answer: Holy shit she needs to move her desk into her room. Full stop. I think that will solve the majority of your problems and she will be tolerable for 5 more months. You need to come up with a firm but kind way to say this (I'm sure another Mefite is good at this kind of language).
posted by radioamy at 11:01 AM on January 29, 2015 [16 favorites]

Well, she has a right to the common space and to live in your shared apartment. She doesn't have a right to monopolize the common space with her desk. It shouldn't be in the common area.

I think the personality stuff wouldn't bother you as much if she wasn't always there, but she is because that's the roommate you brought aboard.

What her tax status is re: rent is a non-issue. She pays what you asked her to pay. Bottom line: never get a roommate that will always be at home.
posted by inturnaround at 11:01 AM on January 29, 2015 [5 favorites]

Best answer: It's been two weeks. This is a good time to ask her to move her desk into her room, away from the common area.

If she doesn't want to work where she sleeps, suggest she goes to that coffee shop, or works at the kitchen table or something.

If you have a laptop why do you need a dedicated desk?

But the main thing is you're still in the window of being able to ask for adjustments.
posted by Nevin at 11:03 AM on January 29, 2015 [7 favorites]

It can be really hard to be in a roommates arrangement with someone who works from home. The only way there's any hope for it is if you otherwise get along really well, communicate well, and have a deeper understanding of each other than just a mutually agreeable living situation.

If this is really a 2000 word level problem for you, you should just move. Your next roommate should not be someone who works from home.

It is certainly not on her to go out every day for a few hours to give you uninterrupted private time, or to make sure not to talk to you between the hours of foo and bar. This is your cross to bear, and if you don't want to do it, solve the problem yourself by finding a living situation that works for you.

(FWIW I've been through this twice, once in a way that worked out well because my roommate was a close friend and we could be honest with each other about boundaries and needing space, and another time in a way that was a disaster because we didn't really get along otherwise. The solution in the latter case was for someone to move. Luckily she ended up moving out before my patience wore completely thin, but yeah, sorry.)
posted by Sara C. at 11:04 AM on January 29, 2015 [3 favorites]

The key here is to be open, direct, and reasonable. If there is any leverage you have over her that would be good, but it's best just to state clearly what you want, and not to be passive-aggressive (ie, don't buy a massive couch just to get her out of the room).
posted by Nevin at 11:04 AM on January 29, 2015 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: I think there is a misunderstanding- half the rent, half the space, any amount of time she wants to be there- that I understand. But her being in the LIVING ROOM during most of these hours is not okay.
posted by DayTripper at 11:05 AM on January 29, 2015

Also, she sounds very lonely. Is she new in town? Perhaps you could encourage her get out and meet people. For example, you two could look up some Meetups together and you could even attend one, if you're feeling truly kind.

While her social life is totally not your responsibility, helping her find some new buds and social outlets could help give you more peace and quiet.
posted by smorgasbord at 11:06 AM on January 29, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Maybe buy a huge sofa

No. Really. Don't buy a huge sofa. Or anything else ;)

You can frame it as not wanting to disturb her.

Then she will just say she isn't disturbed. Don't make stuff up. Just say the desk has to be out of the common area. That would bug the fucking daylights out of me too. Too bad that she doesn't want to work where she sleeps. It's called compromising. And it sounds like so far, you're the one doing all of it.

Say something to the effect of "Hey roomie, the desk being in the common area is just not working for me. I know you said you don't like to work where you sleep but moving your desk into your room is the thing to do. Our common area is for relaxing and watching tv, and I need to relax. I can't relax if I hear typing and clicking the entire time I'm trying to unwind.

She needs to get out more for her own mental well-being, it sounds like. But of course that's not really your business, and something you can't control. And her talkie talkie talkie is probably anxiety masked as chattiness - mostly her trying to get you to like her, because she is most likely well aware of the fact that you don't.
posted by the webmistress at 11:07 AM on January 29, 2015 [33 favorites]

Of course it's OK for her to be in the living room. It's her apartment. Where she lives. She pays for the use of the living room. She can be in there for as many hours as she pleases.

How would you feel if she told you that she felt you were monopolizing the living room, or another common area of the place like the kitchen, the bathroom, etc? You'd feel like that was bullshit, because it's your apartment and you can spend hours baking or plucking your eyebrows or whatever if that's what you want to do. Right? Same goes for her and the living room.
posted by Sara C. at 11:08 AM on January 29, 2015 [18 favorites]

It's common space and you absolutely need to tell her she needs to move her desk into her room. This won't stop her being in the apartment 24/7 but it will give you a fighting chance of staying there until the lease is up.
I'm terrified of confrontation but I just maxed out on roommate crap and started to just be honest. I'd rather tell them the truth than secretly seethe and resent them. It's just putting them before me. I have had a similar situation to you the past few months. I am a big hermit and when I've lived with roommates I've just kept in my room. I like being silent at home. It's quiet time. One roommate I'm moving away from this weekend has no job and isn't going to school and is ALWAYS home and never stops talking to me. It drives me crazy.
You can do a few more months of this, but it's tough shit that she doesn't like working where she sleeps. She cannot have her office in the living room. Period.
Good luck!
posted by shesbenevolent at 11:10 AM on January 29, 2015 [1 favorite]

To follow up on your last point: in my shared living situation (many years ago, thankfully!), the understanding was that common areas, like living room and kitchen, were free for anyone to use as much as they wanted. (The areas just had to be quiet at night for those trying to sleep.) She probably comes from this school of thought. You come from a different school of thought on shared spaces. Neither of you is right or wrong, just different. With this in mind, I'd be direct and honest to kindly create a new room sharing agreement where she can have her space and you can have your quiet. It's not perfect but it's fair.

Annoying as she may be in person (and no one is doubting you there), she's entitled to use the space. If you two can't work something out, then one of you -- perhaps you because you're annoyed or perhaps her because she came later on -- should move out.
posted by smorgasbord at 11:11 AM on January 29, 2015

Response by poster: Last thing I'll say-- it's not that she is in the living room per se, but that she is using it as an office so it is unavailable for other uses during all daylight hours.
posted by DayTripper at 11:12 AM on January 29, 2015 [7 favorites]

And I second the suggestion, can you give her 30 days notice?
posted by shesbenevolent at 11:12 AM on January 29, 2015

How about: she can be in the living room for 50% of whatever waking hours you want to designate?

Also: She should go to a cafe to work for her own sanity. There's a whole world out there and she won't really experience it from a desk in the living room.

Really, though, I think putting her desk in her room makes sense.

("writing off" half of her rent means she won't pay taxes on it - that probably amounts to ~25% of half her rent. If, for example, she's paying $1200 per month, she's only saving .5 * .25 * $1200 = $150 from her taxes; it means she'll pay $1800/year less in taxes, but you and the landlord still get the full amount).

Do what you need to do, set very clear boundaries, and tell her things that you think would be obvious to a 5-year-old; if she's that clueless, you probably don't have to worry much about hurting her feelings. (I had a roommate who hated me while I was in college; she was older and putting herself through a grad program and working, I was on scholarship and spending a lot of time at the apartment. She eventually lost control of her anger, which was humiliating for her and not great for me. Don't underestimate the effect of cluelessness on your temper, but don't underestimate the effect of cluelessness on her behavior either).
posted by amtho at 11:16 AM on January 29, 2015 [3 favorites]

My answers to all your questions is yes. You can ask her to move the desk to her room, you can ask her to talk to you less, and you can ask her to spend less time in the apartment. But you cross into the wrong side of the jerk threshhold somewhere in the middle, depending on how you ask her to shut up.

None of the things you mention seem to cross any reasonable "unacceptable roommate behavior" line. You just don't like the woman.

Your options are to put up with living with someone you don't like and make the best of it, or move out. There is a reason you can't think of a nice way to tell her most of these things, one doesn't exist.
posted by pseudonick at 11:17 AM on January 29, 2015 [8 favorites]

I would be direct with her: tell her that you have a hard time using the living room for relaxation/TV while she's using it as an office because of the typing/talking/etc. Ask her if maybe you guys could come up with some sort of shared schedule for the living room, like every day from 10am-1pm she uses it for her work, and 4-7pm you use it for TV (or whatever). I also would tell her that you sometimes just need time to unwind and be alone with your thoughts and not chat. So, at times when you are really feeling like you need a couple of hours to not talk, just kindly and gently say, "I really just need a couple of hours to sit by myself with my thoughts and not talk. I hope you understand." I think if you phrase it that way and say it very nicely, it won't cause offense.

Also, were you living alone before she moved in? If so, you can mention that you got used to living alone and having someone around all the time is not something you're used to and you still need some quiet/alone time now and then.

I also agree with the webmistress that her chattiness may very well be due to trying overly hard to be friendly since she likely senses your dislike of her.
posted by sunflower16 at 11:17 AM on January 29, 2015 [3 favorites]

Huh. I guess I'm opposite the rest of the commenters here: I feel like asking her to move her desk into her room would be the thing that's 100% out of line, but asking her to spend an hour or two at a coffee shop is... well, maybe a little intrusive but not ludicrous (would it fit in your budget to chip in for her coffee if you want this, maybe?). Some people have to be ruthless about their sleep hygiene or a whole bunch of things go out the window; if I use my sleeping space for anything other than sleeping, I'm psychologically hosed. And it's not the kind of thing I would necessarily say to a random roommate, so if this is true of her, how would you know?

it's not that she is in the living room per se, but that she is using it as an office so it is unavailable for other uses during all daylight hours.

I guess I don't see how her working on her computer in the living room is meaningfully different from her, say, screwing around on the internet or watching Netflix on her computer in the living room. If she were in the living room constantly but was working in her PJs on the couch instead of having her own desk, would you still feel like she had taken it over as her solo home office? The fact that she's using the common space to do common-space things is not unreasonable, and she doesn't gain unilateral psychological control over the space just by being there -- that's your perception and she's not really responsible for it.
posted by dorque at 11:18 AM on January 29, 2015 [13 favorites]

Best answer: Also - tax implication - if she's using part of the living room as a home office and deducting it, that presumes that that % of the apartment is entirely unavailable _to you_ as shared space. This is not what you agreed to. Don't feel that you're being unreasonable; you're being reasonable.

Finally, if she's claiming a home office deduction, there might need to be some kind of wall around her workspace (tall bookshelves? Screen?). Maybe that would help a lot.
posted by amtho at 11:18 AM on January 29, 2015 [4 favorites]

she is able to write-off half of her rent

This does not mean what you think it means.

She sounds awful, but I'm not getting the sense you've actually tried to enforce any boundaries except for the desk thing. She might think she's trying hard to be friendly, as she sees it. A lot of this should have been discussed before she moved in. If you don't want roommates who are home a lot, don't accept roommates who work from home. You can't really ask her to leave her own apartment on a regular basis, imho, but you can absolutely tell her to stop chatting all the time and you can let her know that commenting on your sleeping patterns is creepy as hell. Just say "sorry can't talk now" every time she tries, or even "It's ok, you don't have to say hi to me every time I walk through. Just keep on working, I won't mind." When she comments on something personal, stare right at her and say "You know that's really creepy, right?" And you can arrange a schedule where each of you gets time alone in the common space. Just say "Hey, we need to arrange a schedule so I can watch tv when you're not working in here. How about we split it up like every other day?"
posted by DestinationUnknown at 11:19 AM on January 29, 2015 [3 favorites]

Best answer: I think the key here is that she's using the living room/common space in a way that is making it impossible for you to co-use that space pretty much all of the time. It sounds like you're not comfortable watching TV/having friends over/meeting with a study group/whatever when she is essentially using your living room as a workplace and office, and that's not cool. While I totally think it's fine for common spaces to be used for working for some amount of hours (i.e. you need a change of scenery, meeting with a study group that wouldn't be cool to have in a bedroom, etc.) all day-everyday seems way too extreme. I would try to approach it in a calm, patient sounds like you are super frustrated and worked up about this, which is understandable but is not going to help the situation. Just state what your needs are calmly and give her space to respond.

I strongly suspect that once the living room/office situation is cleared up, the rest of it will become much more bearable (at least for a short 6 months). It does seem like you've lost a bit of perspective here -- obviously she should be able to use the kitchen to cook! -- but I understand how once you are in a place of extreme annoyance, things snowball quickly. I would at least give things a chance with talking about the common space issues, and see where things go from there.
posted by rainbowbrite at 11:21 AM on January 29, 2015 [13 favorites]

When you were interviewing her, was she upfront that she works from home and can't work where she sleeps and needs the desk in the living room? Or did it just happen after she moved in? Because I think how you approach this is dictated largely by that answer.
posted by umwhat at 11:22 AM on January 29, 2015 [10 favorites]

Best answer: Yeah, her having her office in a common area is commandeering shared space for personal space.
posted by rhizome at 11:22 AM on January 29, 2015 [11 favorites]

I am also very independent and prefer a LOT of alone time.

I think maybe it's time to try to find a place where you can live alone. There's nothing wrong with that at all -- I live alone for this very reason and I'm so much happier with my own place. FWIW, I think you're right: your roommate should be more respectful of the use of common space. But when it comes down to it, it's unfair to unilaterally impose your particular preferences for noise level, conversation limits, and use of space when you're both paying 50/50.
posted by mochapickle at 11:22 AM on January 29, 2015 [17 favorites]

You seem really, really angry about this. She seems like she's trying to be friendly and nice.

Then, you're crazy resentful of her financial situation. Which is really bizarre.

Look, if you don't want to live with people or don't like a roommate situation, then don't have a roommate.

Just ask her to move her desk and work from her room, that you'd like the living room to be an actual living room space to have friends over and you don't want to disturb her or want some personal time in the living room.

But in the future, don't have a roommate.
posted by discopolo at 11:22 AM on January 29, 2015 [41 favorites]

I think you really need to give her a chance to hear you and respond to your needs.

1) You need her to move her desk/office into her room and out of the common area.


You should put on your big girl pants, act and speak like an adult (but not a condescending one), ask for what you need, and let her respond.

If she goes off the reservation and her head starts spinning, then you give her her 30 day notice and you find someone else.
If she acquiesces, and moves it, then she's out of the common area, out of sight, out of ear shot, and hidden away where she's less likely to be annoying and your anger level might go down just enough to make the next months bearable.
posted by John Kennedy Toole Box at 11:27 AM on January 29, 2015 [6 favorites]

You have five months to deal with this. Your two paths to a partial success here are to either ask her to move her desk into her room so you can relax in the living room, or just come home, turn on the tv at a reasonable but loud volume and watch crap tv that interferes with her concentration.
posted by 724A at 11:27 AM on January 29, 2015

it's not that she is in the living room per se, but that she is using it as an office so it is unavailable for other uses during all daylight hours.

If you want to stay living there, you're going to have to talk to her and make an arrangement about this.

With my work-from-home roommate who was a close friend, we just had a deal that, before 6PM was Office Hours. No TV, and while I was welcome to be in the living room, it wasn't hangout chitchat time. After 6, anything went.

This may not be workable for you. My roommate in the above situation was a good friend, and I was happy to facilitate his work. It didn't feel like a compromise for me at all.

But you're going to have to communicate on some level and come to some kind of arrangement about the live/work boundaries. Or it's not going to work out. (And YMMV whether you can put up with a toxic living situation from now till June.)
posted by Sara C. at 11:29 AM on January 29, 2015 [2 favorites]

I'm with everyone that thinks that you should move if you don't like it. Sorry.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 11:31 AM on January 29, 2015

The only pseudo-solution I can think of would be to have a series of really awkward conversations and boundary-setting.

On further reflection... it's not a "pseudo-solution." It's an actual solution. Your main issue with her seems to be the constant conversations and intrusive comments; the way to fix that issue is to have a discussion with her about that, not by rearranging furniture. I get that the current location of her desk exacerbates the issue, but having her move it feels to me like treating the symptom but not the disease. Similarly, if the issue is that she's at home all the time and you want some space, deal with that, not with whatever she's occupying her time with when she is at home. The home office thing is kind of a red herring.

I've tried watching TV in the living room while she's there, but she just types away or pretends she's watching the show with me from her desk.

FWIW, this sounds pretty much like how a shared common space reasonably works -- she's doing her thing, you're doing your thing, maybe she watches the show (I'm not sure what pretending to watch a show looks like). I would not expect her to understand that "I'm watching TV now" means "You should stop what you're doing and leave" unless you explicitly said so.
posted by dorque at 11:50 AM on January 29, 2015 [14 favorites]

Honestly, it sounds to me like she checks all the boxes for a decent room mate. She has a steady job, she's pretty clean, she pays her rent, she doesn't have bizarre personal habits and she's friendly. That's a really good basis for a successful room mate situation right there.

So she's a little too friendly for you, and a little too in your space. This is stuff you can easily negotiate if you don't let it fester. It sounds to me like she's trying to build a friendly home environment, not encroach on your boundaries. Invite her to have dinner and talk about some of your needs, and ask if there are any of her needs you could be meeting better.

It's a two-way street. Right now she's living with a grouchy passive-aggressive person who doesn't like her and hates having her in the apartment (just one possible perspective). If you can let go of the resentment and meet her on equal ground, you might be able to make it work.

I mean, if you hate her and you need her gone, that's that, either move or give her notice that she needs to move, whatever your personal lease situation requires. But you've given this only two weeks, so I think it's worth trying a little longer PLUS TALKING TO HER in an honest and friendly way about your needs before you throw in the towel.

Please remember, too, that you're not guaranteed a perfect room mate in life. I'd prefer one who's a little too chatty to one who doesn't pay the rent or smokes up in their room or refuses to wash their own dishes.
posted by kythuen at 11:51 AM on January 29, 2015 [5 favorites]

I work from home. Working from my bedroom is not an option - there's not sufficient space, and it would be suffocating, plus that's my sleeping place. I don't think you have much of a leg to stand on - you perceive her as monopolizing the space, but is she really? Or are you just irked by this? Unless she's asking you to be quiet so that she can work, she's just...using the space that she paid for. I think you're out of line. If you need quiet time, you've got your bedroom, after all.

This is your third question about dealing with roommates. I would strongly consider living alone in the future.
posted by punchtothehead at 11:54 AM on January 29, 2015 [16 favorites]

I feel like it's not my home/place of R&R anymore.

It's not - it's a shared apartment, where two people are splitting the expense, and both of those people can use the space as they want (within reason).

Stop focusing on the desk. I think you'd be complaining just as much if she was working while sitting on the couch, or at the dining room table, or anywhere else.

What you object to is having a roommate. Get over it, or get your own place.
posted by NotMyselfRightNow at 11:58 AM on January 29, 2015 [26 favorites]

Best answer: I too would be frustrated in your position. Having a roommate suggest what time I go to bed would make my hair catch fire, and having someone comment on the fact that I turned over in bed is incredibly creepy. That's just...I don't even know what the word for that is. Hearing you do it is fair enough - maybe she heard the bed springs creak, or something, and she can't exactly stop her ears from working. But commenting on what someone else is doing in bed in this sort of living situation is just ugh.

Can I ask her to move the desk into her bedroom?

I've never had roommates, so I don't know how the living space thing generally works. From my perspective, anything in common areas is for common use, though - you both can watch the TV, you both can set your mugs down on the table, you both can sit on the sofa, etc. Having a non-universal-use item there is a little off, I think. I also think that the reason it's in the living area, rather than the bedroom, is perhaps because she wants some social interaction and spending large amounts of time in another room wouldn't work for that. Yes, I think you can ask her to move her desk into the bedroom, but don't bank on it happening.

Is there a way to ask her to stop talking to me all the time?

Use "I statements" when you do this. "I need a lot of alone time. I am an introvert. I need a long while to decompress after work." Don't say things like "I need you to shut up", because that's about your roommate, not you. Making it about you means that she can't really argue with what you've said. She's not really in a position to say that you don't need several hours of quiet a day. She can say that she doesn't understand why you'd want that, but that's about her, Just reiterate that you need some quiet time and that she shouldn't take it personally when you put your white noise machine and headphones on.

Can I ask her to schedule time away from the apt?

You could suggest that she try leaving the apartment occasionally to actually meet some people instead of relying on an unwilling person for all of her social interaction. It sounds like she needs much more than you can give her. In fact, I think if you stop giving her all of the attention you currently are, she might try a little harder to get out into the world and find someone else to fulfil her needs. I wouldn't offer to pay for her to leave the house, because that seems paternalistic to me as she already has an income. Just straight up ask her if she's got any plans for the weekend, because you're looking forward to having the place to yourself for a day.

I think getting her desk into her room is going to be your best bet. It's always struck me that you might date someone for several years before deciding to move in together, but with roommates, you do it straight away with someone you might only have met a couple of times. Living with someone involves a huge amount of intimacy and it does seem that what you have here is a very mismatched relationship. Having her not be the first thing you see in the morning and the last thing you see at night might help take the edge off things. Her expecting you to validate her existence like this is not on.
posted by Solomon at 12:00 PM on January 29, 2015 [4 favorites]

The only pseudo-solution I can think of would be to have a series of really awkward conversations and boundary-setting.

They don't have to be awkward conversations but you do need to discuss things. I've heard people complaining about their roommates say "and she just sits quietly in her room all the time, ugh." To me that would be a perfect roommate, but others expect lots of conversation and feel affronted when it doesn't happen. There's no way to sort these differences out without discussing them. Except moving.
posted by DestinationUnknown at 12:07 PM on January 29, 2015 [4 favorites]

Did you know she worked from home when you interviewed her and let her move in? If so, you're being really unreasonable.

For about two years, I was that roommate who worked from home. My roomie knew about my employment situation before I moved in, and I tried to be considerate -- I worked in my room some of the time. You know what? Closing yourself into a bedroom and working all day, then sleeping in that same room all night? It gets MISERABLE. I have two at-home jobs; one I can do at a coffee shop (but that gets expensive), and one that absolutely must be done at home due to the supplies I need handy. So I often worked at Job #2 in the living room. I didn't monopolize the whole room, but I camped out on one section of the enormous couch and worked. If Roomie wasn't home, I had the TV on; if she was home, I had no problem with her watching what she wanted, or chatting, or whatever, but I paid my rent every month and I had as much right to use a portion of the common area as she did.

I guess I'm not seeing how someone working at a desk monopolizes the space, unless she's picky about being disturbed (which would be unreasonable of her). Does her desk somehow block off the entire space? Just ignore her and use the space as you want. How does her sitting at her desk stop you from watching TV? Or, you know, you could work/study/whatever in YOUR bedroom sometimes, since you expect her to hole up in hers all day.

I do think it's reasonable to remind her -- nicely -- that you really need some alone time to study or whatever each week, and suggest a coffee shop again. (Get her a gift card to whatever local place she might like as a way to nudge her out the door -- I would've been over the moon if Roomie had done that for me to buy herself some alone time.)

Roomie had her own habits that drove me crazy sometimes, but I adjusted my expectations and dealt with it because no living situation is perfect. I'm sure I drove her crazy sometimes too, and she lived through it.

But jeez. You chose this roommate. You invited her to move in. If the behavior you've described is really getting you this angry, you'd be better off with your own place. It's fine and healthy to set reasonable boundaries, but you can't charge her rent and then not want her to use the shared space.
posted by QuickedWeen at 12:10 PM on January 29, 2015 [18 favorites]

I work from home and have shared my house with another person who worked from home. We each worked in our own room with occasional forays into the living room with a laptop, not an entire, permanent desk. We also regularly went out to coffeehouses to work. We got along fine as a result.

Your anger seems a little out of proportion, and it seems like the deduction is one thing that's bothering you. It's possible you or your roommate misunderstood, but I don't think she can write off half her rent as a home office deduction, if this is happening in the US. Here are the IRS rules. Regardless of the options she uses, it's hard to see how a desk in the living room accounts for one-quarter of the apartment's total costs. Plus the "home office" area has to be used exclusively for business.

So if every time you look at her desk you think "$600?!!!" you might want to stop thinking that, because it seems to be adding to your anger.

I'm just bringing that up to try to counteract some of the anger. I wouldn't mention the IRS rules at all in the conversation, just that her staking out a permanent "my" place in what is supposed to be shared space isn't working for you.

Her desire to avoid working where she sleeps plus what sounds to me like loneliness will naturally encourage her to find a coworking space or at least a cafe.
posted by ceiba at 12:27 PM on January 29, 2015 [5 favorites]

I've lived with people who had full time jobs as well as my friend from class, and both situations were fine.

Based on your AskMe question history, it's clear that those situations weren't "fine" either.

Also, she moved in just two weeks ago? Give her time to adjust to you, for Chrissakes. She's still trying to figure you out and it's not fair to ask her to anticipate you when she barely knows you and is trying to be friendly/adjust to her new living situation.
posted by discopolo at 12:27 PM on January 29, 2015 [15 favorites]

She only moved in two weeks ago. Eventually she'll go somewhere. If this goes on for much longer, it's not outside the realm of decency to just be honest with her and ask if she wouldn't mind working in a coffee shop at least sometimes just so you can have some space to yourself occasionally. She brought up the idea herself, after all. If she refuses, there's not much you can do outside of figuring out how to tolerate her presence until June. Keep in mind your roommate probably talks to you so much because she's basically alone all day and you're the only person she sees.

If this only has to go on until June and you don't want to move and don't want to confront your roommate about it and don't want to be friendly with her, my suggestion is to get a lot more comfortable hanging out in your bedroom. If you want to be able to watch TV in private, watch it in your bedroom. If you can't fit a TV in your bedroom, watch it on a laptop in your bedroom. If you don't want to do either of those things but still want to watch TV, watch it in the living room and figure out how to tune out her typing.
posted by bananana at 12:28 PM on January 29, 2015 [3 favorites]

"Because she works from home, she is able to write-off half of her rent." Not legally, but I guess she's just hoping no one decides to audit her. The home office deduction is way more complicated than "I put a desk in my living room."

It sounds like you would be better off living alone, or in an apartment with a layout that minimizes this kind of shared space issue (they do exist, when I had roommates I had one).
posted by zdravo at 12:36 PM on January 29, 2015 [1 favorite]

The lease is up end of June, after which I'm planning to leave NYC for grad school.

Suck it up for five months. Go to the gym. Go to Starbucks. Go to the library. Don't have a roommate again.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 12:40 PM on January 29, 2015 [12 favorites]

You were fortunate to have previously had roommates who spent more time out or in their rooms. No one is required to do this. If you want to be by yourself, stay in your room. Bring the TV in there. Tell her you don't want to chat. You don't have to be friends with her. You only have to be courteous (but avoid being passive-agressive, please).

I feel like it's not my home/place of R&R anymore.

It is only half your home. You share it. You are never guaranteed to be in your apartment by yourself. This is the price you pay for paying only half the rent.
posted by maryr at 12:52 PM on January 29, 2015 [2 favorites]

This would drive me bugnuts crazy too but, for the sake of all concerned, I think you probably ought to find a place all your own in June. In the meantime:

1. Ask her to move her desk into her room. As a work-from-home person, I think that's totally reasonable. Make sure you explain why, using some of the great scripts you've been given above. Otherwise she may move her desk and then plant herself on the living room couch with her laptop all day.

2. Wear headphones every time you leave your room. If she tries talking to you anyway, put on an exasperated expression, take one earbud out, and ask her to repeat herself. Do this over and over until she gets the message. It's passive-agressive as hell but it may help you keep your sanity until you move in June. Because you're moving in June, right?
posted by _Mona_ at 1:06 PM on January 29, 2015

Do you live with my old roommate?

You're going to have to do three things:
1. Learn to ignore her. Easier said than done; I know!
2. Move ASAP.
3. Set up a fridge, a desk, everything you need to function in your own room for the time being.

Sorry. I had your roommate and it SUCKED. She never left me alone and it ruined my life until I moved out. I will never have a roommate again.
posted by sockermom at 1:10 PM on January 29, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I thought I had written this question from an alternate universe. Everything about it from monopolizing the common area right down to the bit about taking over the kitchen and commenting on things like hearing me turn over in bed at night. Only what made it worse was that it was a friend, and the couple of times I tried to gently broach with boundaries, she clearly was very upset and struggling not to reveal just how upset she was. So I, um, sucked it up and dealt and it went on for MORE THAN A YEAR. (And I couldn't ask her to leave because, long story, she basically had nowhere else to go.) I nearly lost my damn mind. I stayed out of the house or holed up in my room a lot.

Anyway, this is just by way of saying that I disagree with people who are saying you are being unreasonable or this is just what having a roommate is like. I've lived with lots of people before and I live with people now, and while I would prefer in the main to live alone, I was generally fine with people in the past and I'm fine with the people I live with now. Because they are not just constantly all up in my business 24/7.

You're going to have to test the waters by talking to her and seeing how that goes, and if that doesn't work, you're going to have to move or suck it up. But you aren't being unreasonable. It's hard to explain how intrusive and smothering this particular roommate can be, but I get you. After my clone of your roommate moved out, it was like my entire being let out this massive sigh of relief. I could move around without explaining myself! I had more than one tiny bit of shelf in the kitchen for my stuff! No one was obsessed with my movements and constantly commenting on everything I did or in the house all. the. time.
posted by tiger tiger at 1:12 PM on January 29, 2015 [4 favorites]

Best answer: This may be colored by the fact that I've never had trouble working in my bedroom while working from home (maybe thanks to experience in having to work from hotel rooms of all shapes and sizes?) but I am completely confounded by people thinking it's okay for the roommate to set up a desk in the living room.

Sitting on the same furniture everyone else shares while using a laptop is one thing, but if you share an apartment that doesn't include a separate room as an office for you, you don't get to just convert the common room into your office. Likewise, if there isn't a separate room allocated to you to use as a home gym, you don't get to convert the common living room into your home gym, not on your own initiative without the say-so of your roommates.
posted by XMLicious at 1:16 PM on January 29, 2015 [21 favorites]

Best answer: The other night she was going to bed and "suggested" that I do too to make for an easier wake up. I was fucking livid. When I sleep in, she calls me "sleepyhead" and once she told me she heard me turn over in my sleep at 130pm so she knew I was alive.

You absolutely have a right to ask her to stop commenting on your sleep patterns.
posted by soelo at 1:21 PM on January 29, 2015 [10 favorites]

I don't think you're being unreasonable. But I also don't think she is being unreasonable. People have different modes of living with roommates: there are default "in their bedrooms" people and default "in communal space" people. In roommate situations, default in-their-bedrooms people hang out, by default, mostly in their own bedrooms, and default communal-space people hang out, by default, mostly in communal space. These types of people have a hard time living together because both positions are reasonable from their own perspectives. Communal space people see living with roommates similar to living with family--"it's a living room; why can't I spend all my time here?" Though even as a bedroom person, I can't sum up what bedroom people think, except "aaaah why do you have to be in the living room all the time!" I think this may track closely with introversion vs. extroversion, and maybe also family size/situation growing up. (I'm an introvert/only-child-who-grew-up-in-big-empty-houses: Major bedroom person).

I definitely understand your frustration. Back when I was a person who lived with roommates, I once lived with a close friend who was a communal space person, and even though I liked (and still like) her a great deal and usually enjoyed her company, it drove me insane that she spent most of her time watching TV in the living room--both because even though she'd never have said "you can't be in the living room if I'm here," she was effectively monopolizing the space for her own use, and because sometimes I just couldn't handle running into a person if I had to leave my room to pee. I can't even imagine how much worse this would have been if I hadn't actually been close friends with her and liked her a lot.

Later I lived with my best friend who, like me, was an in-her-room person (also introvert/only child/big empty house!), and we had pretty much the most functional roommate situation ever. We both did things, by default, in our rooms, and if one of us wanted to hang out with the other, the one that wanted to hang out would creep out to the living room, and the other one of us would hear, and if that one wanted to hang out too, she'd also come out. And if not, no big deal. Sometimes we'd email from our rooms about meeting in the living room. We lived together for years and I don't think I ever once saw her when I didn't want to.

So what I think you should do is find a way to get out of this roommate situation and find a roommate who, like you, is a bedroom person. I don't think you need to give up on roommates entirely, like others in this thread--I think you just need to realize what you require in a roommate. You need another slinky introvert who stays in her own space and avoids you as much as you avoid her. That is a completely reasonable thing to want in a roommate and not that difficult of a thing to find.
posted by millipede at 1:30 PM on January 29, 2015 [3 favorites]

Why don't you hang out in your bedroom more often? It has a door. The door ostensibly closes.

Shared space starts the moment you take on a roommate. It would be nice of her to work from a coffee shop some days, but she has just as much right as you have to be in the living room. It's not "your" living room anymore, you know? She's not an interloper there.
posted by harperpitt at 1:33 PM on January 29, 2015 [7 favorites]

It seems like the problem is that she expected to be able to use the living room as an office 9-5 and you don't work a 9-5, so when you're at home between the hours of 9-5 you want to watch TV in the living room. She's working, so you watching TV doesn't work very well. Maybe she didn't realize that you keep odd hours.

I think that your easiest option is to get a TV in (or move your TV to) your bedroom and hang out there when you're home. Treat the living room, kitchen, and bathroom as common space. Yes, she "wins" but it does end your problem.

You can ask her to move her desk to her room, but she might and might not.
posted by k8t at 1:49 PM on January 29, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Wow; my daughter in NYC is having the same problem with one of her roommates, except there are 5 of them in the apartment. But same thing: newest roommate set up her office in the one shared space. New roommate also did not like working in her room.

My kid sat the new roomie down and said something like, "Hey, we apologize that this wasn't explained all that clearly to you, but the living room/kitchen is a shared space. It's better for everyone if nobody sets up their own office in the shared space, so you're going to need to move your computer and stuff to your room."

The new roomie had no idea they didn't want her to set up and was fine with moving her computer to her own room.

I think you could get away with a variation of this; that you want the common rooms to remain generally open and unclaimed.
posted by kinetic at 1:53 PM on January 29, 2015 [10 favorites]

I'm wondering if you can try something like, wearing big headphones 24/7 for a week or two. So she can't talk to you (just a nod/smile). Not that you should have to do this, but maybe it can break the habit of being chatty whenever she sees you.
posted by ana scoot at 1:56 PM on January 29, 2015 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I absolutely disagree with the notion that you should just hang out in your room more. That's pretty much just ceding the living room to her defacto.

I guess I don't see how her working on her computer in the living room is meaningfully different from her, say, screwing around on the internet or watching Netflix on her computer in the living room.

Because it's awkward. Even if she says nothing, and isn't super passive aggressive about it, it makes it really hard to relax in a space that someone is trying to work in. There's just this weird energy to it, like you're obviously the asshole for watching tv or whatever.

I've had roommates who worked odd hours so were home a lot during the day, or who were just as far as i could tell home almost all the time. Either they worked long shifts only a few days a week and only in the mornings, or whatever. They made a point of hanging out in their own rooms a lot and not monopolizing the shared space and everything worked great. It wasn't that they didn't ever come out in the common areas, they just split time really well.

I've also had a roommate who barely worked, and spent almost all of his time on the couch and constantly awkwardly barged in to conversations or brought up creepy stuff like this.

Overall, i think you're 100% in-line to say she should move her desk to her room and not be right outside your door like 100% of the time. If she doesn't like working in her room all the time, she should go to a coffee shop or something. That's what normal people do in this type of situation if they hate working in their room.

IMO this is as out of line as if she started sleeping on the couch because she didn't like her room and slept in until 3 all the time. Some of the stuff here, like the conversation stuff, is just "eh, suck it up" kind of annoyance. The actual usage of the common space isn't.

Yea, it's her space too, but the way she's using it is literally just making it her space. The uncomfortable vibes when you're just trying to relax in there thing isn't something to just dismiss, since even if she never says anything there just is that "Um, i'm working in here" vibe.

"I don't want to work in my room but i don't want to have to go anywhere else" is not really fair to you. It's actually pretty inconsiderate. It's the kind of thing that would only work if there was like, a dining room or something that didn't really get used anyways. In a small place where it's just two rooms and a living room, that's pretty unreasonable of an expectation and she's really kind of foisting her preferences on you. Seriously, i've lived with a bunch of varied people and if they wanted to get work done they either did it in their room or went somewhere. The common spaces were for doing activities you didn't care if you got kind of distracted doing, that didn't feel like you were breathing down the neck of someone else in the space. This is not normal, or reasonable. You are not unreasonable.

Yea, you might have to suck it up until june in reality, but if you ask her to move her desk to her room and she says no she isn't being fair.
posted by emptythought at 2:05 PM on January 29, 2015 [6 favorites]

If trying to get her to move her office out of the living room fails, maybe it would be possible to set up the room so there's some sort of partition for her office space. One of those folding walls, or a curtain that can be pulled shut or something.

And if all her kitchen tools have overtaken the kitchen, come up with something where you guys each have your own space for kitchen tools and food. That's how it worked when I had roommates.
posted by bananana at 3:02 PM on January 29, 2015 [1 favorite]

I really don't think there is a good solution to this but moving out. But I disagree a bit with other answerers -- from the sounds of your question, it doesn't seem like you would necessarily be a bad roommate or incompatible with another roommate, just this one.

Living with someone who works from home in shared common space, especially when they work/sleep different hours than you do, can be TERRIBLE. I feel you; I have done it and it was a really hard time, and also made me crazy resentful/bitter. Leave, find a different roommate, don't look back. Spending another 5 months this way is no way to live. Really.
posted by likeatoaster at 3:24 PM on January 29, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I guess I'm not seeing how someone working at a desk monopolizes the space,

Because she's monopolizing the conversations too and she is making the OP uncomfortable by commenting on personal issues like rolling over in bed, that lets her know constantly watching. Watching and judging. Having a roommate who tries to control you like that is fucking maddening, and it's usually a girl thing so it might be hard to understand if it's never happened to you.
posted by fshgrl at 5:10 PM on January 29, 2015 [4 favorites]

Best answer: (I am PMSing, so this may be tinged with a bit of that. Still, I'm fed up.)

You might consider that just right now you are confronting all of your problems with her at once in one undifferentiated ball of go-the-fuck-away and if you can manage to resist taking any action for a couple of days, you might get a bit more clarity and be better able to pick which battle you want to fight that will allow you to get the greatest percentage of your needs met.

I say this as someone sitting here with a head filled of my own PMS induced rage thoughts, which like yours, are true and valid and justified, but are nonetheless feeding on each other and growing into one big ball of crazy that caused my husband to take me aside earlier and confide in me that I'm not in my right mind and probably shouldn't do much of anything.

I am on team desk-goes-in-the-bedroom fwiw. And also on team that-person-would-drive-me-crazy-too.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 5:44 PM on January 29, 2015 [3 favorites]

Best answer: So, I have a roommate and she has a desk in the living room, because her room is quite small. And I'm perfectly okay with that. I invited her to do it and it doesn't bother me. (Though had I known when I invited her to do it that her desk was approximately the size of an Airbus A380, I might have made a different choice.)

Having said that, I imagine you're thinking I'm going to come down in favour of your roommate, but I'm not really. I actually think someone who works from home and also doesn't have a life and spends all day, every day in the shared space of a shared apartment is being unreasonable. Not wildly, crazily unreasonable, but not reasonable, either. Yes, she has a right to use shared spaces, but roommates also have a responsibility to give each other a little breathing room, and if she's never not in the living room unless she's sleeping or shitting, that's not being a good roommate.

What's reasonable to ask as mitigation depends on what you agreed before she moved in. Did you discuss her having a desk in the living room? If you agreed to it then, you can't really ask her to move it into the bedroom, because she likely wouldn't have moved in with you if she had expected to have to share work space and bedroom space.

If you didn't discuss it and she just assumed it would be totally okay to monopolize the living room like that, then I think you can say that it's really not working out for you, and she either needs to move her desk into her bedroom and work there or find someplace else to live.

PS. She's totally cheating on her taxes. There's no way that a desk in a shared living room counts as a home office that she can deduct.
posted by jacquilynne at 5:44 PM on January 29, 2015 [1 favorite]

If I was in your situation I would also be driven batshit insane. However, as a former 21 year old, I'm begging you to be kind to her.

I was this bubbly and overly involved and friendly with my coworkers at my first job. I would ask questions about their personal phone calls after they hung up. I would. It's hard to even say that, decades later I am still embarrassed that it never occurred to me this was intrusive. But I didn't. I wasn't a bad person. I wasn't averse to changing my ways. But I really wish the woman who decided to be the one to tell me had done it with a smitch of kindness or understanding. I cried for days after her screaming public rant at me. Then another office lady kindly took me aside and explained the situation in a way that made it clear. And I shaped right up.

What I'm saying is, if she doesn't mean ill, please don't treat her like she does. She sounds childlike in many ways. Explain to her what boundaries you need, absolutely. Kindly. Please.
posted by The Noble Goofy Elk at 6:27 PM on January 29, 2015 [13 favorites]

Best answer: You've already decided you don't like her. This is your perception, there's nothing wrong with it, but it colors how you see her. Sometimes, for no good reason, we just don't like someone. Even though we know rationally that they're perfectly nice and fine. It makes no sense, but we're just caught on a barb and it'll never stop bothering us. Sure, she sounds young, probably a bit needy and bad with boundaries, and clueless about sharing spaces with folks not in the same place in their lives as her, but in a different household it probably wouldn't make much of a difference.

Even if she were to take her business to her room or a cafe, you're griping about her kitchen stuff, and you'd probably find something else to be irritated by, so at this point it's personal and irrational, but that's ok!! Really! It's ok not to like someone for visceral reasons you can't put your finger on. What's not ok is playing passive aggressive games where you try to radio hints at her that she's just not able to hear.

Tell her kindly, but directly, it's just not a good fit and she needs to find another housing situation. If this is not an option and you would rather wait it out til June, tell her kindly but directly that the common space needs to be treated as common roommate space, not as business space, and she needs to understand that for this to work, everybody in the apartment should have the opportunity to enjoy the apartment solo once in a while. Tell her you do not enjoy personal commentary. You can even couch it in terms of "I don't like attention and I need personal space". She sounds young and clueless. Hints aren't going to cut it, so practice telling it straight.

It's not her fault. She doesn't know she's bothering you (or more likely, she perceives it on an intuitive level and is trying to heal things with you), and despite your rage (believe me, I can sympathize that her behavior would grate on me too), she can't read your mind or understand that she makes you livid for no discernible reason.

Consider also that you've learned some important life lessons in that either you a) don't like roommates b) need to ask better questions or establish better rules when choosing roommates c) are irritable and only like certain kinds of people (and that's fine!!) and d) are experiencing a chance to learn how to resolve interpersonal issues maturely and respectfully even when inside you want to throttle a person.

Good luck!!
posted by Queen of Spreadable Fats at 6:55 PM on January 29, 2015 [5 favorites]

Best answer: Wow, my opinion differs from 90% of the comments here.

"Hey, I'm kind of a person who needs a lot of time alone with her thoughts. You seem like a considerate person who is just trying to be friendly, but because you're in the living room so often, and because you are so willing to chat, I'm craving a little more quiet time than I'm getting. It's hard for me to decompress when I'm interacting with someone else. Could we talk about some ways to handle this?"

She may or may not be willing to move her desk or go out. Hopefully so. You could use your room more. And another solution could be that you and she develop a code that means "DayTripper is having quiet time now; ignore her."

I think the fundamental problem here is what you stated in another question, that you "suck at being assertive." Resentment builds up, and up, and up. Your needs are totally reasonable. What you describe would drive me crazy too. I suspect you are someone who REALLY needs time alone to decompress, and it's hard to do that with her around.

Keys to success in the conversation: make it about your needs, not her behavior; emphasize that you know she means well; and be open to a variety of solutions.
posted by salvia at 9:55 PM on January 29, 2015 [16 favorites]

"Hey, I'm kind of a person who needs a lot of time alone with her thoughts. You seem like a considerate person who is just trying to be friendly, but because you're in the living room so often, and because you are so willing to chat, I'm craving a little more quiet time than I'm getting. It's hard for me to decompress when I'm interacting with someone else. Could we talk about some ways to handle this?"

Salvia's suggestion sounds like a really nice, neutral, non-attacky way to approach this conversation in a productive way that isn't going to make it weird every time you cross the living room to get a soda out of the refrigerator for the next five months. That's a rock-solid goal.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 5:14 AM on January 30, 2015 [4 favorites]

I'd be happier in this sort of situation if the desk and office got move to the room but if for whatever reason it's not or can't I found something that worked in a similar situation.

I lived with room mates and sometimes the common area bustled with activity. If all I wanted to do was veg and watch tv in the corner I used a set of wireless headphones hooked up to it. They were awesome. Just me in my tv bubble world with no other distractions.
posted by Jalliah at 7:56 AM on January 30, 2015

You're on the lease. She's not. Give her 30 days notice, and find another roommate.
posted by Automocar at 7:57 AM on January 30, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I think you should suck it up till you leave and arrange living situations in the future where you can live alone. FWIW, I'm like you with needing alone time and I ultimately did everything short of moving mountains to get my own space I didn't have to share with anyone except my dog. Worth it.
posted by WeekendJen at 9:05 AM on January 30, 2015

It sounds like this is your apartment: with only you on the lease. That means you get to create whatever apartment rules and boundaries you like. And this 'she is renting 50% of the space' argument does not reflect my experience at all, or the experience of a single person I've heard of, at least in NYC. If this is all taking place in a large city, the person is renting a ROOM in YOUR apartment, and anything else is gravy. I would give her 30 days' notice in a heartbeat, and I would never in a million years put up with someone using my living room as their daily established workspace. No way on this planet.
posted by thegreatfleecircus at 10:42 AM on January 30, 2015 [4 favorites]

It sounds like this is your apartment: with only you on the lease. That means you get to create whatever apartment rules and boundaries you like.

You should prepare yourself for this to very much NOT be the case when you move to NYC. I suppose that's how it works in smaller places where roommates are uncommon and the arrangement is more descended from "renting a room". But in major cities where roommates are the default for single adults, usually it's assumed that everyone has equal access to the space and equal standing under the law.

It's interesting to me that thegreatfleecircus mentions that the above has been her experience in NYC, because I lived there for 12 years and not only never had a living arrangement like that, but never met anyone who did, and never heard of a situation where anyone was able to kick out a paying, stable roommate over not liking how much time they spent in the living room. I knew a lot more people stuck in genuinely shitty roommate situations than I knew people who were able to even contemplate kicking other tenants.
posted by Sara C. at 11:16 AM on January 30, 2015 [2 favorites]

You should prepare yourself for this to very much NOT be the case when you move to NYC.

I've lived in NYC for twelve years, and I was speaking from my own personal experience. People rent rooms here and follow the rules laid by the lease-holder, at least based on my experience, and every single person I have known. That ranges from rooms in lofts, to rooms in apartments, to people living with elderly roommates, or just whatever. Take a look at any Craigslist ad and read what the leaseholders are demanding: a quiet person who keeps to themselves, is rarely at home, etc. I've sublet rooms out most of my time here, and I always gave people 30 days' notice, and accepted 30 days' notice if things didn't work out. This was in Manhattan, Queens, and Brooklyn.

If your experience is different, fair enough.
posted by thegreatfleecircus at 12:33 PM on January 30, 2015

Legally speaking, roommates have no rights to stay in an apartment of which they're not on the lease. Of course, if they refuse to leave, you need to start official eviction proceedings.
posted by Automocar at 4:45 PM on January 30, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Having equal access to space is one thing. It's still uncool to be in the common space 100% of the time. I'm pretty sure I remember a past Ask thread about someone with an unemployed roommate who sat in the living room watching TV all day and into the night in which people were really sympathetic to the OP's dilemma.

In this case, the roommate has made part of the common space into her personal space. It's "her desk," not a shared desk, and she's there all the time, and she chats at OP every time OP appears. To OP, who doesn't want to chat, and who doesn't want to assertively negotiate things, the path of least resistance causes the living room to become exclusively the roommates'. No wonder it's infuriating that the roommate takes the home office deduction -- she has inadvertently turned the living room into her personal home office.

I don't think you need to never have a roommate, OP. I think this roommate needs to rent two rooms somewhere, since it's so important to them to have their bed in one room and their workspace in another. I think the housemate is over-using a shared resource, myself. It's just like the kitchen. It's one thing to use it. It's another thing to be a professional baker who monopolizes the kitchen all day long for their business. If that wasn't agreed to before moving in, I think it's fair to say "this is not going to work."

Anyway, OP, until you get up the gumption to have a conversation, at least you could come up with ways to send the signal that "we aren't going to chat much" so that you can use the living room as you normally would. You could say, "sorry, I'm too tired to chat now, I just want to watch TV." Or you could wear visible headphones as you "listen to podcasts" (or the sweet, sweet silence).
posted by salvia at 11:34 PM on January 30, 2015 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Postscript: the longer you avoid having this conversation, the more resentful you'll get, the more she'll pick up on it, and the more tense the conversation will be.

"Hey, could I ask you a favor? This might sound kind of weird, but I'm an introvert who needs a fair bit of quiet time and alone time. And now that you've moved in, it's been a little hard for me because I find myself naturally talking to you when what I really need is to putter around lost in my own thoughts."

From there, you could go anywhere, maybe starting with "How could we make our house a place where that's possible?" or going directly to "to be honest, it's really not working for me to have your desk in the common space."
posted by salvia at 11:54 PM on January 30, 2015 [1 favorite]

Is it possible to put up a divider wall in the living room, so that the common space is compartmentalized into a smaller office space and a smaller living room? I'm pretty sure Jysk or Ikea sells reasonably sized (and often nicely designed) 3-panel divider walls for about $100.
posted by human ecologist at 9:11 AM on January 31, 2015

"You're on the lease. She's not. Give her 30 days notice, and find another roommate."


Either ask her to move out, or move out yourself. Sometimes people are not supposed to be roommates.
posted by stackhaus23 at 7:10 AM on February 1, 2015 [1 favorite]

eh not sure how to respond to this but I feel like I should from the viewpoint of someone who does work from home (and has the roommate from hell). You can ask her to move her desk to her room if that really bothers you (but seriously, why?) but honestly she sounds like she's just trying to be friendly and be nice to you. Working from home can be incredibly lonely and so many people who don't work from home don't realize this.
Also doesn't sound like she's monopolizing the common area as much as you're kind of just being immature. She pays her rent and has as much of a right to the common areas as you do, you have no right to tell her to leave certain times or whatever. Seriously unless you plan on warning her that you're having friends or a SO over you're being the shitty one here. However, as a freelancer myself I think it's odd her desk is in the living room without asking first -it's one thing to take your laptop to the couch if you need to, or take breaks like anyone else would at work....but if you're a desk person this just seems odd.
Also re: taxes.....that really doesn't involve you or hurt you in any way? She can write off wherever her desk/workspace is on taxes but honestly unless she were renting out a separate place they do it by square footage, total rent, total square footage, and it writes off virtually nothing. So no, she's not just paying half rent. This would only be an issue really if she actually did only pay you half and then gave you some bs like this since her tax write offs are between the IRS and her, not you.
Another solution would be to you know, go to your room when YOU need quiet time...
posted by mannequinwithkillappeal at 11:00 PM on November 23, 2015

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