Roommate and new "girlfriend" making me uncomfortable. Solutions?
April 29, 2015 9:05 PM   Subscribe

My roommate/landlord has a new "girlfriend" - my space feels invaded, but complicating factors ensue. Snowflake details inside.

Okay, so a roommate I've been living with for 3 years now has gotten a new "girlfriend". I don't feel comfortable at all with the situation, and it's really thrown me off track. Let me explain.

I live with 5 other roommates. The roommate I'm pointing at; let's call him Kyle, lives next to me, and we share a bathroom together. The layout is very weird, as in him having his room behind a door, then another door next to his room leading into a bathroom, then INSIDE the bathroom, another door leading into my bedroom. (The only entrance and exit in/out of my bedroom is the bathroom Kyle and I share.) We have had this arrangement for about 2 years now.

I have parcopresis. It's pretty bad, but manageable. I was able to slowly adjust to having Kyle live next to me, and only can go #2 when he's out of the house (which is often) or when he's asleep. (I can go #2 other places, but that requires finesse, which is details I can share for another time.) I don't feel comfortable using other toilets in the house. You can see some previous questions concerning my parcopresis in my history. I am currently getting therapy for this, and my counselor has been helpful so far, but we're both still figuring out how to wean off my parcopresis.

Focusing on Kyle and his "girlfriend" - I put quotes because he has been giving conflicting answers. Lately, he has been seeing this girl, Maureen, more and more - starting slowly, but when other roommates asked Kyle (as recently as last weekend) if he was in a relationship or getting serious with Maureen, he denied anything and said they were just friends. Well, last night, Maureen slept over with Kyle (I know this because I saw her enter his room in her pajamas, and her shoes was in the living room), in addition to using our bathroom. I don't feel comfortable with this AT ALL, because: a) she's using my/our bathroom, which feels like an invasion of my personal space, b) I don't want our water/other bills going higher. She had the door to our bathroom closed - putting me in an awkward position. As Kyle and I are both men, we usually do our thing with the door opened (with the exception of me doing #2, obviously), for easy exit/entrance to my room.

I know this seems silly, but since, I have felt like the bathroom has been mostly mine, and especially with my parcopresis, I've felt comfortable. Now that Maureen uses it (and uses it pretty often during the night), I really don't feel comfortable. I feel invaded. I know it may seem unreasonable, but my therapist (whom I discussed this with today) suggested it was because I felt my personal space was invaded due to my parcopresis. This is a big upheaval for me.

I also don't feel comfortable because I felt the bathroom was a "man's" bathroom - Kyle and mine. Ours only. I also don't want Maureen locking me out - Kyle never did that. Maureen only lives about a block away. This is ridiculous.

I really am not sure what to do now. This was unexpected, confusing, and a big upheaval. I've contacted my therapist to see if we could meet tomorrow on an urgent basis, but in the meantime, I really DO NOT want Maureen here, in terms of sleeping over. This is unfair of me to expect, because another roommate in the basement (two floors below) has his girlfriend over all the time, and because I do not want to hamper Kyle's happiness. That would be awful of me, I think. It's also kind of not my business. But, how about my needs/comfort?

So. What do I do? Complicating factors: my parcopresis (I really don't feel comfortable having Kyle and I's shared toilet having another person use it, and it's never been an issue up to now), Kyle's actually our landlord, and we're friends. Kyle also does NOT know about my parcopresis (not many people do).

Oh, and before you suggest: "use another bathroom" / "try and ignore Maureen" / "just go #2" - parcopresis is a very complicated, very deep, very little-known "disorder" - also known as shy bowel syndrome. Please try and keep that in consideration here - it's something I am actively trying to get help for, but this whole new thing with Maureen really has thrown me off track, AND it's also other logistics involved (sharing a bathroom with someone who doesn't live here, who isn't even OFFICIALLY a girlfriend of Kyle's, and feeling my space has been invaded, as well as higher water/Internet usage).

Thanks for the advice on how I should proceed. I would really appreciate it.
posted by dubious_dude to Human Relations (142 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
 
Are there other bathrooms in the house? It seems like you could just blame the weird floor plan (is that even legal?) and ask that she use a different one so that you can always have access to your room. You wouldn't even have to bring up the parcopresis.
posted by Weeping_angel at 9:09 PM on April 29, 2015 [15 favorites]


Weeping_angel: I THINK she was using our shower as well (something else I completely disagree with). There's a bathroom in the master bedroom (which only a couple share), and a bathroom in the basement, which two roommates share (and them only). An half bath on the first floor, which will suffice for toilet runs, but showers, etc., no. It's also just the parcopresis thing that's making me feel "crowded" and uncomfortable, if that makes any sense.

It's sticky too because I don't want to sound unreasonable or hard up with Kyle, but I feel this has happened too fast.

I'll try not to threadsit but this was a good question that deserved a quick answer.
posted by dubious_dude at 9:14 PM on April 29, 2015


If you and Kyle switched bedrooms, would it help you at all? That might be an easy first step.

Otherwise, no, honestly, it is not unreasonable to say no overnight guests considering the weird configuration of your bedrooms/bathroom.
posted by kate blank at 9:17 PM on April 29, 2015 [7 favorites]


Basically, Kyle is not doing anything out of the ordinary by having his girlfriend (or any other guest visiting him) use the bathroom you share with him. It just so happens that you have an extremely complicated issue that makes Kyle's relatively normal roommate behavior a huge problem for you. If you want to resolve this without moving or finally getting some kind of medical treatment that cures your parcopresis (if that's even possible), you will have to explain to Kyle exactly what's going on AND be prepared for him to leave or ask you to leave.
posted by deanc at 9:17 PM on April 29, 2015 [73 favorites]


Your condition aside, it's odd, socially awkward, and arguably not very safe either, to have the only exit to your bedroom be through a bathroom and somebody else's bedroom. (I bet this isn't to code.)

If Kyle is now in a relationship it's ridiculous for you to be in a situation where you could get marooned in your bedroom unable to exit because Kyle and Maureen are having sex. You need to switch bedrooms with Kyle, or make some other living arrangement.
posted by zadcat at 9:28 PM on April 29, 2015 [35 favorites]


I get that this is a medical issue for you, but I would address it with Kyle in terms of the access to your room and privacy for all three of you (am I getting it straight, the only access to your room is through Kyles room and then through the bathroom?). It seems a little embarrassing all around; what if you want to leave your room while the girl is in the shower? Are you just stuck there waiting for her to finish?

The other rooms in the house may be configured such that having and overnight guest does not present these odd problems, but since yours is configured this way, I think it would be really big of Kyle to not have her stay overnight.

If he just won't accommodate you, I mean, he's entitled to his life regardless of your medical condition; you may have to consider moving. I don't think you can realistically push him too much other than asking him one time to be accommodating to your situation. He will either agree or not.
posted by vignettist at 9:29 PM on April 29, 2015 [2 favorites]


Sorry for the continued threadsit, but very important questions to be addressed in order to save others' time, as well as a clarifying with the layout (as it seems everyone misunderstood a bit).

(am I getting it straight, the only access to your room is through Kyles room and then through the bathroom?)
If you and Kyle switched bedrooms, would it help you at all? That might be an easy first step.
Your condition aside, it's odd, socially awkward, and arguably not very safe either, to have the only exit to your bedroom be through a bathroom and somebody else's bedroom. (I bet this isn't to code.) If Kyle is now in a relationship it's ridiculous for you to be in a situation where you could get marooned in your bedroom unable to exit because Kyle and Maureen are having sex. You need to switch bedrooms with Kyle, or make some other living arrangement.

Sorry I wasn't clear, so let me try and clarify. There's a hallway/landing (the 'public' area of the house), with two doors. The first door leads directly to Kyle's bedroom. That's it. The second door leads to a bathroom (the one Kyle and I share), then inside the bathroom is another door into my bedroom. Does that make more sense?

finally getting some kind of medical treatment that cures your parcopresis (if that's even possible)

I bought the eBook mentioned on the parcopresis support website (link in my question) - and it explained that many people who had parcopresis didn't have luck with medicine, as it's all linked to the sphincter and surrounding "threats" - the sphincter is basically one of the toughest parts of your body - so relaxation techniques, etc., doesn't really help, as well. There's much more to that than what I've just explained, but that's kind of the gist of it.

you will have to explain to Kyle exactly what's going on AND be prepared for him to leave or ask you to leave.

I don't know if I would feel entirely comfortable sharing my parcopresis with Kyle, and he can't leave, as he's the landlord. I also have signed a lease for another year (recently; before Maureen came into the picture).
posted by dubious_dude at 9:32 PM on April 29, 2015


So the layout is like this, right?
---     ----------    ------
|           |              |
|           |   bathroom   |
|           |              |
|   kyle    |-----    -----|
|           |              |
|           | dubious_dude |
|           |              |
----------------------------

posted by Blue Jello Elf at 9:34 PM on April 29, 2015 [13 favorites]


@Blue Jello Elf: BINGO! Thanks, appreciate it. Wish I was better at 'drawing' that kind of thing for a more clear illustration.
posted by dubious_dude at 9:35 PM on April 29, 2015


I actually think that your parcopresis is somewhat of a red herring here.

The layout you describe, with you only being able to enter and leave your room through the bathroom, makes it impossible for the bathroom to be shared by people who are not comfortable with you walking in on them. And of course Maureen won't be. So you can't ask her not to lock the door, but she also can't expect to be allowed to keep you from entering/exiting your own room even during the short time she is going to the toilet. What if there was a fire, and she had locked the door to your room, and then ran out of the bathroom herself through the other door, forgetting to unlock yours? It's a serious hazard.

On the other hand, it's not reasonable for your roommates never to be able to have sleepovers.

So I think the only way forward is to ask Maureen to use the half bath for when she goes to the toilet, even in the night, and for her to use the basement bathroom when she showers, or to shower at home, or (maybe) only when you are not home.
posted by lollusc at 9:38 PM on April 29, 2015 [42 favorites]


Is there any way to have another door put into your room from another wall, and the one between your room and the bathroom blocked off entirely? It just sounds very dangerous regardless of your other personal issues, and Kyle as the landlord should be more concerned about this than he seems to be.
posted by Mizu at 9:47 PM on April 29, 2015 [4 favorites]


@lollusc and @mizu - just a quick point of clarification- there's no lock on the door leading into my bedroom from the bathroom. So, for example, if Kyle was using the bathroom, he can't lock me in my room - he can only lock the main door leading to the "public" hallway. My door does have a lock, but only for ME to use (so, for example, I can lock Kyle and everyone else out from my room).

So, Maureen leaving me locked in my bedroom during a fire and blocking my exit by way of a locked door isn't a possibility. But, the privacy issues remain.

As for changing the layout, it's not possible. My room is on the corner of the house, and Kyle's on another - our room being the same size. (Think thin townhouse style in a big city.)
posted by dubious_dude at 9:53 PM on April 29, 2015


Wow, I'm sorry, this sounds really stressful for you. A+ to everything that lollusc said, with the following additions: don't bring up their relationship status at all. She doesn't need to be an "official" anything to use utilities or a bathroom in someone's home, no one does. Second, the fear about utilities going up seems like a red herring, too. I know when I get anxious about something then I instantly look for more ways to confirm how awful This Awful Thing is. There are five people in the house; one more person flushing and flipping light switches is a non-issue. So don't bring that up either.

When you talk to him, make it about the real issue: you don't want to be trapped in/blocked out of your bedroom. AND AND AND: it can be a casual conversation! I know that you're anxious, this is a bug upheaval, but ultimately this is a conversation that any two people in those rooms would have to have:, "hey, haha, wow, we haven't had to navigate the weirdo bathroom/bedroom situation yet with anyone else yet huh? I didn't really realize I'd be stuck in my room if she's in there," etc.

Be open-minded, and expect to hear him say that he'd rather let her just use that bathroom. (OR that he'll ask her to use another but it will be 3am and she has to take a whiz and like hell she's going farther than she as to.) The sucky thing about being in therapy and doing the hard work is that yay you're making progress okay here's more difficult stuff to deal with, but the good news about having more stuff to deal with is yay you're in therapy. Good luck, and I hope this resolves in a way that works for all of you.
posted by good lorneing at 10:04 PM on April 29, 2015 [37 favorites]


Ok, at first I was thinking this was an issue due to your personal problems with sharing a bathroom, but with that layout I do not understand at all why Maureen is using that bathroom. Especially when you are IN YOUR ROOM!

Tell your roommate/landlord you aren't comfortable having other people in the bathroom, particularly when you are in your room and can't leave while they are in there without walking in on them. Tell him you were fine with sharing with him, because you are both guys and you know each other, but that having a strange woman blocking you from leaving or entering your personal space whenever she has to pee is just one step too far.

You could also simply knock while she's in there and ask how long she'll be as you need to leave/enter, then politely ask that she use the other bathroom in the future, but it's better if it comes from him.

Don't bring up not wanting a high water bill, that's... not a reasonable concern. You don't make houseguests pee in the shrubs to save 50 cents.

(I also think this living arrangement is one of the worst possible ones you could have if you have parcopresis, except maybe having the toilet in your actual bedroom, and you should be looking for another place to live, or consider changing rooms with one of the other 4 roommates.)
posted by Dynex at 10:07 PM on April 29, 2015 [24 favorites]


Unfortunately, the bottom line here is that socially, you can't forbid the girl from using a toilet, or from being in your mutual home, even if you have a medical condition and are uncomfortable. I honestly think that if you try to lay down these rules with Kyle and Maureen, they're both going to think you are rude and weird and making them uncomfortable as well. If any kind of moving or room switching or apartment moving is 100% Out Of The Question/Not An Option.... well, I don't know what else I can tell you to do that won't tick everyone else off. Adults have sleepovers. It happens. If you can't afford to live alone, then you have to put up with roommate sleepover stuff.

Maybe your therapist will have a better idea, but I just can't think of anything you can say or do (if you can't move) that won't make things even more awkward.
posted by jenfullmoon at 10:09 PM on April 29, 2015 [4 favorites]


Okay, so my fire safety suggestion is not the case, if she can't lock the bathroom from the inside. But in that case it's a privacy issue for her too. You can't be 100% sure whether she is in the bathroom, and there's no lock to stop you walking in on her by mistake. That's bound to lead to awkwardness. You shouldn't be having to knock whenever you want to leave your room!
posted by lollusc at 10:27 PM on April 29, 2015 [1 favorite]


Update:

Upon further examination, it looks like Maureen DID take a shower (saw a stray hair). This made me even more angry, because last year, Kyle asked me if his friend could shower in our shower during an emergency situation. He never asked me this time. I really do NOT want this to happen (Maureen using our shower) - again, it's about this being my personal space. What if I thought the person showering was Chris, entered the bathroom, only to see it was Maureen?

After some self-thought, I realized that most of you are right; this doesn't really have to do with my parcopresis. Yes, my parcopresis is part of it, but the fact that I feel our personal space is invaded (her using the bathroom, effectively blocking egress to/from my room, etc.) is still there. Small minor fact: we're all Deaf, so knocking wouldn't do anything. Therefore, Maureen using the first floor half bath for toilet runs and showering at home would be the best solution.

Question is: HOW do I frame this in a reasonable way? I mean, asking that Maureen use the first floor for toilet runs probably would be perceived as reasonable, especially given the layout of my room and the privacy issues, but how can I also ask that Maureen not use our shower? I don't want to sound like an unreasonable person at all, but using our shower really is going a bit too far. I mean, she lives right around the block! But how can I frame this and not come across as selfish/inconsiderate/self-occupied/demanding? I can kind of see that if Maureen were to use the 1st floor, my parcopresis probably wouldn't be that much of an issue. On a good day. So, how can I ask for and receive, while having everyone happy? Kyle's generally a reasonable person.

Thanks.
posted by dubious_dude at 10:53 PM on April 29, 2015


You are being unreasonable. Perhaps you would be better off living in a different arrangement if you can't deal with roommates having guests over and using the shower. This sounds like a "you" issue and not a "Kyle and Maureen" issue.
posted by holybagel at 11:12 PM on April 29, 2015 [43 favorites]


I think most people would consider it in-bounds for their lady friend to use the shower that they usually use. I don't think you're going to find a way that that request is going to feel reasonable. They may be able to accommodate you, but I think you should be looking for a living situation where you don't share a bathroom.
posted by vunder at 11:15 PM on April 29, 2015 [24 favorites]


Part of the problem is that I've signed a lease for another year (starting June through May 31, 2016) already. Finding a new place would be another upheaval/hassle, and I don't know if I have it in my budget to do that. Also, I'm starting a new job conveniently located very near to my place. I also like it here and like all roommates. It's just this specific problem that's sticky, especially as it just RECENTLY began out of the blue.
posted by dubious_dude at 11:19 PM on April 29, 2015


I remember you from previous questions, and you seem obsessed with your "parcopresis." You mention it a lot and focus on it far more than is necessary. I say this in a nice way, but dude, you need to get a little perspective and stop freaking out about it so much. I don't like pooping around other people either, for the record, and it has never hampered my life or consumed my thoughts to the point that it does with you. Has it even happened that you needed to poop and she was around? From your question, it sounds like this hasn't actually happened and you are merely afraid of the possibility that this will happen.

As for the issue at hand, this isn't even about your fear of pooping around people, this is about you being way to territorial about this new woman coming into your roommate's life. I think the bottom line is you need a place with your own bathroom -- both for your privacy to poop, but because you are freaking out because she is locking the door to pee, which is totally normal for a guest to do. She is not going to leave the door open while she is in there -- that is ridiculous. I think because this bathroom is weirdly connected to your bedroom, you are acting like it's part of your bedroom, and it just isn't. I once had to share a bathroom with roommates, and since then I have always had my own, even with I lived in a place with roommates. Yes, my rent was a little higher to have a bathroom inside my bedroom, but it was totally worth it.

If you have a lease, ask Kyle if you can find a new tenant to replace you so you're not locked into the lease. The new guy can either take over your lease, or Kyle can just let you out of yours once the new guy signs a lease. When I lived in a big place with multiple roommates, this happened all the time. I don't think you can reasonably ask Kyle to not let his girlfriend use the bathroom. It doesn't matter how close she lives -- it is normal for her to use the bathroom and lock the door. Maybe since you're deaf and there could be a legitimate fear of not being able to notify each other, you can have signs you use, or you can make sure you have Maureen in your phone so you can text her if she locks the door and you need to leave.

I'm not sure what you can say about her using the shower that will sound reasonable. What is your reason? You don't like it? You saw a hair? It sounds like this is Kyle's bathroom just as much as it's yours, and either way she is using a shower that other people use. You can mention that Maureen didn't do a good job cleaning up after herself and you saw some stray hairs, if she could clean them up. But Kyle may not even pass along the message, because he probably won't want to criticize her and make her staying over awkward over something so small.
posted by AppleTurnover at 11:29 PM on April 29, 2015 [18 favorites]


AppleTurnover: You don't understand. You really don't get how crippling parcopresis is, because you don't have it. If you walked a mile in my shoes, you'll understand. The link I shared in my question sends you to a website that explains what parcopresis is, along with people who shares their experiences in a message board. It impacts my life because I need to go #2 everyday, and it's difficult/impossible to do so with people around. I've already asked in my question that people be considerate of this, even if they don't understand. I know it seems vague, and I'm sorry, but that's the way it is. To say I'm obsessed with my parcopresis is not only insulting, but it's minimizing my feelings and thoughts. I'm "obsessed" with my parcopresis because I'm trying to work around it, and even am going to therapy for it.

Also, another point of clarification: I'm not being territorial about my roommate's life. I've already clearly explained that I don't want to hamper his lifestyle at all, so am trying to get advice and workarounds.

Sorry for the threadsit.
posted by dubious_dude at 11:36 PM on April 29, 2015 [2 favorites]


The fundamental problem here is that whoever is in the bedroom behind that bathroom door should be the only one who uses that bathroom. So you should never have accepted tenancy without that as a condition.

I assume that ship has sailed? How many other bathrooms are there? Why are you guys sharing this particular bathroom given that you are essentially imprisoned any time someone is in the bathroom?
posted by Justinian at 11:37 PM on April 29, 2015 [6 favorites]


Can you use some of the same techniques you used to get used to sharing a bathroom with Kyle to help with the additional person?

Would switching the rooms up work? I assume your roommates and you get along well, and they'd like to have you stay. Its awkward to bring up sometimes, but someone might not mind.

However, I think this is a very odd living situation and lots of people would be uncomfortable with it. You should be able to leave your room whenever you want. Your roommate and guests should be able to use the bathroom without being walked in on. There's really no good way for it to work. It might be time to look for alternatives, if she is staying over most days that's a legitimate reason to get off the lease.
posted by hermanubis at 11:39 PM on April 29, 2015 [3 favorites]


Oh, I assume you are in therapy for the shy bowel? But I really think that's irrelevant to the question here. I would have no problem using that bathroom with someone else present in the other bedroom but I sure as hell would freak out if I knew I could be locked in my bedroom without notice!

(yes I understand that technically the door won't be physically trapped but in the absence of a fire or whatever you are locked in for all intents and purposes.)
posted by Justinian at 11:40 PM on April 29, 2015


Switch rooms with Kyle if it's about your entrance, or just move out if it's about his girlfriend being around. You may not want to hamper his life, but you are being territorial. You didn't say, "I don't like being trapped in my room." You said you didn't like that you saw a hair in the shower. It's ok to want privacy and to feel like your space is your space, but then you need a different living situation. There's not a way you can ask them to accommodate your very specific needs/wants if others will use that bathroom.

What you can say is that it was one thing when the bathroom was open all the time between you and Kyle, but since you live behind the bathroom, it shouldn't be used as a guest bathroom because you could get trapped or aren't free to come/go as you please. Leave it at that and don't make it about Maureen specifically at all. If Kyle wants it to be a bathroom that his guests can use, he should switch rooms with you. If he won't do that, he should let you out of the lease. I don't think that would be unreasonable to say.
posted by AppleTurnover at 11:41 PM on April 29, 2015 [11 favorites]


Oh, sorry, I agree with hermanubis. If his girlfriend is staying over this much he should be the one with your bedroom so as not to trap you in your room.
posted by Justinian at 11:41 PM on April 29, 2015 [2 favorites]


I also prefer to poop in solitude but think the real issue here is access. I think the simplest way would be to talk to Maureen about how you feel trapped and would she be ok with you quickly transiting the bathroom when you need to. Maybe stick a hand in and flick the light on and off so she knows? There must be some way to communicate about who needs what when.
posted by Mr. Yuck at 11:45 PM on April 29, 2015 [2 favorites]


If his girlfriend is staying over this much he should be the one with your bedroom so as not to trap you in your room.
Would switching the rooms up work?
No. As explained above, in one of my answers, that would actually be detrimental to my parcopresis. The system Kyle and I had worked just fine before Maureen came in the picture.

How many other bathrooms are there?
2 1/2. I explained the layout of our house in one of my first answers above, so check that out for more details.

but you are being territorial. You didn't say, "I don't like being trapped in my room." You said you didn't like that you saw a hair in the shower.
It's not the hair. It's the fact that a strange woman is using our shower. Maybe it's territorial, but I pay rent, too, so I have a right to feel this way. Using the toilet is one thing which isn't really an issue (other than the privacy issues/egress), but the shower... that really is not courteous and should be reserved for emergencies/urgent situations only. IMHO. I also don't feel comfortable about a random person using our shower and having their bodily liquids fall on my soap/shampoo/whatnot.

Maybe stick a hand in and flick the light on and off so she knows? There must be some way to communicate about who needs what when.
No. I don't want her using our toilet. Period. Full stop. That solution is a good idea, but doesn't help with the parcopresis situation.

Sorry if I sound stubborn here, or like I'm deflating your suggestions. I think using the main floor for toilet runs is a good idea and a compromise. It's the shower thing I'm still mulling over.
posted by dubious_dude at 12:01 AM on April 30, 2015


I think the solution is to move.
posted by Justinian at 12:15 AM on April 30, 2015 [52 favorites]


[You pretty much are threadsitting at this point, OP. Maybe leave the thread alone for a while? I understand where you're coming from here but Ask Metafilter isn't really a good place for discussion.]
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane (staff) at 12:15 AM on April 30, 2015 [5 favorites]


This is not a workable living situation. You need to find somewhere else to live.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 12:21 AM on April 30, 2015 [11 favorites]


I don't know what to say; you see everyone saying that you're being unreasonable on this, and you change parameters, seemingly looking for people to say "wait, no, you ARE the reasonable one" and it just isn't gonna happen. You are flat out being pretty unreasonable in this situation. It honestly sounds like, with your issues between parcopresis and your territoriality, you may be better off living alone, or at least in a situation where you have significantly more privacy.
posted by holybagel at 12:23 AM on April 30, 2015 [79 favorites]


but the shower... that really is not courteous and should be reserved for emergencies/urgent situations only. IMHO

It would be helpful to recognize that most people don't feel this way and would regard your attitude as strange and off-putting. She's not being rude to use your shower, and if you express this idea to her or Kyle you will get absolutely nowhere.

Basically though a shared bath is a shared bath, and in a normal floor plan it would be completely unreasonable for you to ban your roommate's gf from the bathroom. Your only recourse is the weird floor plan and the privacy/egress circumstances, but even that is difficult since the status quo has the bathroom as shared. Maybe discuss having her use the basement shower, though I guess there are issues attached to that too.

* as a sidenote it's weird to me too that you were comfortable in the past with the weird floor plan given your parcopresis, but c'est la vie.
posted by crazy with stars at 12:27 AM on April 30, 2015 [28 favorites]


I do think you're being a little... inflexible about the sharing a shower thing, but I also don't really think it matters. While I don't think it's unreasonable for her to expect to be able to shower at the house of the person she's sleeping with, I DO think it's unreasonable for her to have to use the shower that you have to walk past to exit your room.

I think the fact that you are all Deaf and therefore don't even have audible cues (knocking, hearing the shower running) to tell you if it's safe makes it even more important that no one use that bathroom if they or you are not ok with you accidentally traipsing in on them. If switching rooms is not ok because of medical reasons (and that's all you should have to tell him), then she will just have to use a different bathroom to shower. You said there was one downstairs? She can go there.
posted by Weeping_angel at 12:30 AM on April 30, 2015 [4 favorites]


Continuing on my first comment: is there some kind of tenant's rights organization that you could contact for help breaking your lease? I doubt the lease is enforceable, since I can't imagine your room complies with housing codes.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 12:35 AM on April 30, 2015 [5 favorites]


The fundamental problem here is that whoever is in the bedroom behind that bathroom door should be the only one who uses that bathroom. So you should never have accepted tenancy without that as a condition.

I pretty much agree with this one.

I've lived in or stayed in a BUNCH of shared houses, and so have my friends. It's actually, especially with how rent is in my city now, unusual not to.

I lived in a house where there was a pretty awesome bedroom with the downside that there was another, even cooler bedroom you could only get to THROUGH that bedroom. No other access.

Even though this was otherwise a large, kickass bedroom with huge windows, nice light, and a good floor plan... it was the cheapest room in the house.

If me and my friends were moving in to this house, there'd be a big discussion that would probably just end with that point. This room would be really cheap because of this setup. It would also only be taken on by someone ok with it working this way.

Alternatively, there would be some kind of agreement that no one gets to shower in that room or possibly use it at all except for whoever took it, and that it could only be used by other people if the person who the room belonged to either wasn't in the room or wasn't home(and probably the latter, because what if you need to run in to your room and grab something? shitty).

Since you've said there ARE other bathrooms, but they're less convenient, i think at this point you need to either argue that this is your private bathroom or move out.

I think justinian is 100% right here, and i would have campaigned for it being a private bathroom if i was going to or wanted to take that room. Rooms with private bathrooms generally pay a higher share of the rent, but i'd be ok with that in this setup because it seems like you don't get a dinky half or 3/4 bath like a typical ensuite but actually a full sized bathroom.


That would be what i'd present it as though. No weird rules about how exactly it can be used beyond if i'm home it's private. If they're like fuck that fuck off, you should move out.

Fuck a lease, you can sublet the room. My roommates have done that because of less over the years.
posted by emptythought at 12:58 AM on April 30, 2015 [6 favorites]


Basically, i think you got played as far as having this declared a community bathroom. ESPECIALLY if you're paying equal rent. It doesn't matter if it's right off the living room or something, it's part of your room and you can only get in and out of your room through it. It never should have been seen as anything other than part of your room.

The only time that's ever not true is when a place has several rooms, but the only bathroom is INSIDE another bedroom or set up like this. Ugh, i've seen that, but that's not the case here.
posted by emptythought at 12:59 AM on April 30, 2015 [5 favorites]


I'm sorry you're going through this. I think an important strategy will be for you to step back from language that implies they're going anything wrong (in my experience, it's not considered weird to let your GF use your shower) and instead simply request what you want without any hint of accusation. You don't have to "out" yourself or whatever; you could say that privacy is a big issue for you without saying you have parcopresis.
posted by salvia at 2:01 AM on April 30, 2015 [6 favorites]


I think you need to move out and go live by yourself.

I used to have all sorts of problems with roommates. Time and time again. Looking back in the clear light of day, I know it wasn't just me being unreasonable; I lived with some real problem people. But the way I am, with my various idiosyncrasies, I am just always going to be happier living without roommates, period. No situation living with a roommate would ever be 100% for me.

So that is what I think you should do. You have the benefit of living socially with your landlord, which means you have a better chance of breaking off the new lease you signed. I understand money is tight and this place is convenient to your job, but living by yourself would erase all of these problems from your life. You take a hit in quality of life in one area but make up for it in spades in another.

No more weird room exit configuration issues.
No more strange lady impinging on your space.
All the time and privacy in the world to poop to your heart's content.

If I were you I would be scraping together whatever resources I had to make that happen. Maybe get a second part time job for a while to make extra cash to make the move possible. You just don't sound to me like someone who's built for harmonious roommate relationships. I'm not, either. It's ok.
posted by phunniemee at 2:35 AM on April 30, 2015 [17 favorites]


How did you get used to sharing the bathroom with Kyle? Since this is a new situation and it involves something that you find very stressful, it makes a lot of sense that you're having trouble with it. It seems though that in the past you were able to adjust to sharing a bathroom with someone else. Right now, since she's a new person in the situation, you're thinking of her as "other", it is possible that once her relationship with your roomie becomes regular (if it does) she may transition to being "us" as opposed to "them".


Is that the fact that Maureen is female is an additional stressor for you? This is something you can work on with your therapist.

There is someone I know who has difficulties with a wide variety of things that she perceives as dangerous. I've found it useful to think of her anxiety as a series of phobias. It helps me be more understanding of what I sometimes see as irrational behavior. People tend to understand the idea of phobias - fear of heights, snakes, spiders, etc can be easier for people to be sympathetic about. You're going to need to talk to your roomie about your parcopresis and I'd suggest that you frame it as being a phobia.

I hope that through talking to Kyle you'll be able to come up with a solution to this problem. It is very clear from your question that this situation is really hard for you so in addition, I'm sending you hugs if that helps at all.
posted by sciencegeek at 2:36 AM on April 30, 2015 [3 favorites]


When you live with roommates, you have to be able to cope with the fact that they might have guests sometimes. If they're dating people, that might mean overnight stays a couple of times a week. If it exceeds two or three nights a week, then I think it would be fair for you to talk to Kyle about how often the women he is seeing stays over. Otherwise, you just have to get over this.

I think that it is reasonable for you to request that your housemate's guest use the toilet on the first floor. But I do not think that it's reasonable for you to request that she never showers at your house. If she's having sex with your housemate, it's likely that she's going to want to have a shower at some point in proceedings. If the only shower she has access to is yours, then so be it. Talk to Kyle about making sure that she either showers when you're not home, or that they let you know when she's going to shower so that you know what's up and don't walk in on her.

I also don't feel comfortable about a random person using our shower and having their bodily liquids fall on my soap/shampoo/whatnot.

She's not really a random person. She's the girl that your housemate and friend is seeing, however serious or not serious. It's not like he's bringing home a different girl every night and they're all using your shower, right? Please talk to your therapist about this too. That kind of worry about bodily fluids is not normal.

Perhaps you should suggest to Kyle that if the girl is going to be a long term feature, that you should get to know her. Maybe you'll actually think she's an okay person and it will help you feel less like she is invading your space.

Above all, though, the layout of the house is shit and you should move when you can.
posted by kinddieserzeit at 2:39 AM on April 30, 2015 [26 favorites]


"Hey, Kyle! I've noticed you and Maureen have been hanging out a lot lately -- which is nice, I'm happy for you. The thing is, I don't feel great about having people use the bathroom in front of my room. It's so close to my bedroom, and I've always thought of it like a private bathroom that only you and I use. Having someone else in there gives me a very uncomfortable feeling. Could you ask her to use a different bathroom when she's over? It would mean a lot to me."

I would avoid talking about the hair in the shower, or the water and internet, or parcopresis (unless you really have to). Just say it makes you feel un-private and uncomfortable and leave it at that.
posted by feets at 3:52 AM on April 30, 2015 [15 favorites]


Sorry, you are being unreasonable here. If you are allowed as per your roommate agreement to have guests stay the night, then they are allowed to use the same facilities that their hosts use.

Although I'm starting to wonder whether having guests/significant others really is ok with all 5 of you? You mention that the other roommates have been asking Kyle whether he and Maureen are dating and he has been denying it and frankly . . . I can't see why you all care.

This entire situation is very strange, and it sounds like right now, at your current point in therapy, you are not equipped to share a bathroom at all.
posted by chainsofreedom at 3:59 AM on April 30, 2015 [7 favorites]


Sit down with Kyle and point out to him that you have to go through the bathroom to get to your room, meaning that if his guest is in the shower or on the toilet, you are trapped, which is not okay. Give him the option of switching rooms or staying at her place more. That is it, that is all you can do.

I'm squeamish about sharing a bathroom too but, you entered into a roommate situation which implies that you knowingly agreed to share a bathroom. You cannot, at this time, pitch a fit about it, unless the bathroom is now being left in a state of disarray and your things are being used. But, you can insist that she spend as little as time as possible (no showers) in there because of the weird room layout. Emergency use only. Don't even bring up the water or internet usage. It isn't going to be that much more expensive and you don't want to split hairs here. Focus on the trapped in your room angle and try to keep the bathroom free with that.
posted by myselfasme at 4:29 AM on April 30, 2015 [3 favorites]


I would be verrry uncomfortable in the same situation with this room layout, and I don't think that it's strange to feel that way. The only odd thing is that it hasn't really come up as an issue to work out until now. I think it would be totally reasonable to talk to Kyle and say that because of the odd setup with the bathroom as the only way out of your bedroom, that you are feeling really uneasy with the idea of someone else who could be there at any time, and you'd rather they use the half-bath downstairs so you can feel relaxed and private in your own space. As others have mentioned, I don't think you need to oversell it with concerns about water usage, etc.

If he refuses, then you have a problem that you may need to address more forcefully, or discuss moving out, but at the moment you just need to tell him that it's very uncomfortable for you, and you'd appreciate if Maureen or other guests would use the downstairs facilities.
posted by taz at 4:44 AM on April 30, 2015


Instead of focusing on rehabbing the issue here, I would consider this to be a bad setup in general and focus your time and efforts on finding a way to live alone. If your comfort in your home life requires a strict set of rules and regulations that cause stress or exacerbation of health conditions if they're not met, you would be much better off without roommates.

It seems like you are having trouble with:
1. The fact that Kyle is dating/sleeping with someone at all (you seem pretty judgmental on this, actually)
2. The fact that someone other than Kyle is using your shared bath for anything
3. The fact that someone other than Kyle is using your shared shower
4. The fact that an occasional guest is making use of your utilities (unless she's secretly mining Bitcoin with ten computers, I doubt her presence is even making a dent)
5. The fact that no one is being sensitive to an issue that you haven't made public/obvious

Your options here are:
1. Deal with it (doesn't appear to be an option for you)
2. Talk frankly with Kyle about it (I would expect him to be like 'no, that's unreasonable')
3. Find your own place

Sounds like your place may not be up to code/you may be able to sublet/who knows. Speak to a tenant's association or an informed friend or community member. Live alone. It really sounds like that would be best for you.
posted by rachaelfaith at 4:49 AM on April 30, 2015 [27 favorites]


I am going to be up front about this: if I were looking for roommates, and you expressed a whole list of requirements regarding whether guests could use the shared shower and toilet (without even mentioning your shy bowel condition), I would definitely not invite you to rent a room and would pass you over in favor of someone more laid back. The fact remains that this is DC, and I assume the reason you live in this situation is that the rent is so low that if Kyle posted your open room on craigslst, there would be a line a dozens of people willing to rent it who WOULDN'T have a problem with Maureen using the toilet and shower every now and then. You have no leverage here. Your best bet is to break the lease and find a living situation that offers you the privacy you need.
posted by deanc at 4:52 AM on April 30, 2015 [9 favorites]


It's not unreasonable for you to have the need, based on a legitimate health issue, that you're expressing here.

It is unreasonable for you to expect your housemates to accommodate a need that you have never expressed to them based on a health issue they're unaware of.

You entered into a legal agreement and social compact to share a bathroom. You explicitly did not enter into an agreement for exclusive bathroom use. Health issue or no, it's not an invasion of your privacy if it isn't a designated private space.

You are absolutely within your rights to talk about this with your roommate and - politely, not accusingly - ask him to accommodate you. He's within his rights to disagree. Good luck.
posted by headnsouth at 4:55 AM on April 30, 2015 [13 favorites]


Wow, what a bad situation for you. You've explained how swapping rooms wouldn't really solve the problem for you. One suggestion that I haven't seen mentioned: Could you arrange to poop in your own room? Maybe via some baggies and baby wipes? Seal it up and toss it at work the next day? Maybe a tupperware container? How did astronauts in spacesuits do it? If you could get such a system working, it'd have benefits all thru-out your life: at work, travelling, etc.

Also, if you do want to explore breaking the lease, i bet it room isn't at a legal setup, so you could break the lease and he'd have no recourse because suing you would expose the sublet as illegal.
posted by at at 4:57 AM on April 30, 2015


Agreed that switching rooms with Kyle is not a solution, because this would still be your shared bathroom that you'd feel was being invaded.

I do think that moving somewhere with a private bathroom would make the most sense, and it'd be worthwhile to channel at least a bit of the mental time you're using being worried about this situation into at least evaluating other rooms available in your area. Maybe you'll find nothing, but that in itself is information that will help guide you.

In the meantime, I recommend that you propose a compromise to Kyle. Tell him that you are happy he is dating and you know that it's totally, completely reasonable for any guest to use your shared facilities, but that you can't help it -- it makes you very, very uncomfortable to have another person using your shared bathroom. Ask if, out of consideration for that, he could spend a little bit more time at Maureen's than he does hosting her. Ask him as a favor. You will still need to accommodate Kyle's guests in your shared bathroom when they are there, but this would reduce the frequency and duration of those uses.

Imagine that Kyle has a guest one night a week (on average). Could you live with and work around that? Would there be a way to ensure that you can still go #2 around such visits? Obviously you will not LIKE it, but if the amount of stress and anxiety that one night per week would cause is fundamentally unworkable for you, then you need to tell that to Kyle and find another living situation. I see that as the line where your unique personal needs cannot coexist with Kyle's general reasonable rights.

Best of luck.
posted by argonauta at 5:01 AM on April 30, 2015 [2 favorites]


I think if you were to walk in on Maureen (all "Oopsies!") using the bathroom a couple times she probably would decide herself to limit her usage of said bathroom.

As a woman, personally, I would not feel comfortable using a bathroom set up like you described where there is an unlockable door with a dude who is not my SO on the other side. Do you have some system set up where she notifies you that she's in there?

Nthing to not mention her utility usage. It's like pennies a day, let it go man.
posted by ZabeLeeZoo at 5:09 AM on April 30, 2015 [3 favorites]


Also, if you do want to explore breaking the lease, i bet it room isn't at a legal setup, so you could break the lease and he'd have no recourse because suing you would expose the sublet as illegal.

Yeah this setup is definitely against DC code.

DC Regulations ยง 14-604, on "ACCESS TO BATHROOMS," subsection 4, reads: "A bathroom may not be used as the only entrance to any other room."

So he doesn't have much of the legal upper hand here and the lease is unenforceable, should you want to move out (according to LawHelp anyway).
posted by crazy with stars at 5:16 AM on April 30, 2015 [32 favorites]


It's not the hair. It's the fact that a strange woman is using our shower. Maybe it's territorial, but I pay rent, too, so I have a right to feel this way. Using the toilet is one thing which isn't really an issue (other than the privacy issues/egress), but the shower... that really is not courteous and should be reserved for emergencies/urgent situations only.

You have a very strong case to make about being "boxed in" your room when another person is in the bathroom. What the best solution is, I don't know, but this is your most powerful complaint about the current situation.

On the other hand, in your average shared-house situation, some people are going to have boyfriends and girlfriends, and sometimes those boyfriends and girlfriends are going to stay overnight, and sometimes they are going to have a shower. This happened in virtually every shared house or apartment I ever lived in. Unless someone's really hogging the shower or preventing rent-paying tenants from using it at critical times, it won't likely be easy to come to an agreement if you object to her using the shower.
posted by theorique at 5:19 AM on April 30, 2015 [4 favorites]



"Hey, Kyle! I've noticed you and Maureen have been hanging out a lot lately -- which is nice, I'm happy for you. The thing is, I don't feel great about having people use the bathroom in front of my room. It's so close to my bedroom, and I've always thought of it like a private bathroom that only you and I use. Having someone else in there gives me a very uncomfortable feeling. Could you ask her to use a different bathroom when she's over? It would mean a lot to me."


You need to use the script that feets laid out for you. It is a very good one. If Kyle doesn't respond well, then you should work on finding a new apartment as soon as possible. If there is any reason you feel this script insufficient, I encourage you to think hard about why and talk about the deeper issues that may be underlying this problem with your therapist.
posted by pretentious illiterate at 5:33 AM on April 30, 2015 [11 favorites]


Your shy bowel condition does not make you fit to share space with other people. You should consider moving out and living alone.
posted by Kwadeng at 5:33 AM on April 30, 2015 [10 favorites]


I came to say what ZabeLeeZoo said: totally walk in on her "accidentally". She will not want to use the bathroom under these conditions, unless she's an exhibitionist.
posted by Dragonness at 5:38 AM on April 30, 2015 [1 favorite]


I don't think sexual assault, or the threat of it, is a good answer here.
posted by ftm at 5:41 AM on April 30, 2015 [67 favorites]


2nd feets and pretentious illiterate. IMO, though, odds are good Kyle will not agree, so it's worth preparing yourself for that.

The other thing you could reasonably ask for is improved communication around timing of use of the bathroom, and some kind of signalling system. You don't want Maureen using the shower, though, so it won't help with that, or with the problem of resenting her. I do think you should find a different living situation.

totally walk in on her "accidentally".

This could really backfire, don't do it. If you're already evidently expressing upset about Maureen and it's clear to Kyle, it may be interpreted as intentional.
posted by cotton dress sock at 5:46 AM on April 30, 2015 [2 favorites]


Please do not walk in on Maureen "accidentally on purpose." That would be a really shitty thing to do to someone who is going about their life adhering to perfectly acceptable social norms regarding shared bathroom use and is ridiculously passive aggressive.
posted by wondrous strange snow at 5:47 AM on April 30, 2015 [61 favorites]


"Hey Kyle, can I talk to you for a minute? Would you ask Maureen to use the other bathroom? Its ok when it's just you, you're a dude and I know you so it's no big deal, but having Maureen in there is just too up close and personal for me. Thanks, dude."
Wait till you've calmed down though. Kyle and Maureen, at this point, have no idea that you are totally freaking out and may get defensive if you go at him frothing at the mouth.
I don't think, given the room set up, that this is an unreasonable request.
Get your therapist to "talk you down" if you need to (ask me how I know this might be necessary). As one of my friends used to say "You don't ask, you don't get".
posted by BoscosMom at 5:51 AM on April 30, 2015 [3 favorites]


FWIW, it's not a shortcoming or negative to admit to yourself that living alone is your best option. I am a much happier person when I have a space all to myself, and my habits/preferences are a lot less strict and stress-inducing than yours. Because it can be expensive, I cut corners elsewhere in my budget, but my happiness and overall-much-lower-stress are more than worth spending the extra to have no roommates.
posted by rachaelfaith at 5:58 AM on April 30, 2015 [6 favorites]


'Walking in' is not really acceptable, but neither is trapping someone in (or out of) the room because of showering.

>The water usage, even a shower, is still not a big issue. Need to generally let go of her using the space, it is not your space exclusively. If her using the soap freaks you out then keep some soap in your room for you to use.
>She is not a woman who is a stranger, you know her, not well perhaps, but you do know her.
>It's pretty hard to complain to your landlord about him having friends over

Yes, you have a year lease, but those aren't always the end all be all absolutes you make it sound like, especially if your landlord is also a friend, you likely will be able to exit the lease if you approach him reasonable.

Yes, moving would be a hassle and upheaval and so on, but you have to weigh the benefits/costs. If this is causing as much anxiety as it sounds like moving might be less stress producing.

I think the only real, legitimate complaint you have is being trapped in your room if she is using the bathroom for a long time, or if you need to get into your room quickly. The rooms layout really suck
posted by edgeways at 5:59 AM on April 30, 2015 [1 favorite]


You can't frame this in a reasonable way, because you're not being reasonable. Sorry.

If you're sharing the bathroom with Kyle, then social norms dictate that his girlfriend/guest can use his bathroom, including to shower. The problem is that you're trapped in by the bathroom, but the solution is that you not share it. It should be your bathroom exclusively. But if you're okay with sharing it, I don't see how your request is going to seem reasonable.

That said, look, of course you don't have to seem reasonable. Just explain this situation to Kyle and ask him to accommodate you, and see what he says. If you do so calmly, that's about as reasonable as you can be here.

Honestly, you should move out. You're probably best suited to live alone, but at the very least, you would do better in a different roommate setup where, say, you and your roommate each have your own bathrooms.
posted by J. Wilson at 6:04 AM on April 30, 2015 [1 favorite]


I am going to hazard a guess that, if you are living with multiple roommates in a weird inconvenient bedroom setup that is against code and affords you so little privacy, especially when bathroom-related privacy is an especially important thing for you, moving into your own place is likely not a realistic solution at this time. Apartments and even shared living situations with private bathrooms are expensive and hard to find in cities like DC. That said, I think you should keep an eye on Craigslist postings and be prepared to pursue leads that meet your criteria. This shared bathroom issue was bound to happen sooner or later; if not with Maureen, then with another girlfriend, boyfriend, platonic friend, relative, etc.

Your best and most reasonable argument here is "I can't get into or out of my room when Maureen is using the bathroom." It's understandable that you'd be uncomfortable with a sudden, frequent guest in a space that was previously mostly-yours, but that comes with the territory of living with roommates. It is sort of understandable to get grossed out about someone else using your shared shower, but it's unreasonable to forbid overnight guests from using it. Your parcopresis is a complicating factor, but access to your own bedroom is the main issue here. (And Maureen using the water and internet? Unless she's regularly crashing your network or the water bill's way up and you're taking the hit, you're just digging for reasons.)

If you can afford it and if Kyle agrees, consider asking if you can pay a little extra rent in exchange for having the bathroom be private. Whether or not this is enforceable in practice, I don't know. But the current setup is just going to cause you problems. It's not Maureen's fault; it's the combination of your own needs and a really crappy layout.
posted by Metroid Baby at 6:11 AM on April 30, 2015 [4 favorites]


The thing is, it sounds like you have 3 bathrooms with showers, and each of these bathrooms is unofficially designated for different roommates -- you and Kyle exclusively use your bathroom, and no one else does, and the same for the other bathroom. So it would be weird to expect Maureen to shower in any other bathroom.

Given the weird setup, it's reasonable to negotiate how Maureen is going to use the bathroom. You're Deaf, and the bathroom can't be blocked from your side, so it's reasonable to worry about accidentally walking in on her overnight (or her locking you out when she locks the door to the hall).

But it is a negotiation, because it is totally normal for someone's partner to come over and use the bathroom.
posted by jeather at 6:12 AM on April 30, 2015 [1 favorite]


I feel like it can't be emphasized enough that walking in on Maureen "accidentally" is terrible advice and an asshole move. None of this is her fault (sorry, sleeping over at a friend's house, sexual or not, gives you shower privileges) and no one deserves to have strangers intentionally disturb them in the bathroom.
posted by TwoStride at 6:17 AM on April 30, 2015 [18 favorites]


I see three issues:

1. You don't like someone other than you and Kyle using this bathroom.

I've felt icky about having a strange new person use my bathroom, even though that doesn't really make rational sense. The feeling subsided after awhile, and I was glad that I didn't let my irrational feeling control my reaction. Maybe you need to give it some time.

2. Your bedroom is accessed through the bathroom.

There are several approaches. First, short term, create a signal system for when she is in the bathroom. Can she slide something under the door to your room so that it can be seen on the bedroom side, but that is long enough so that she can pull it back when she's done? Longer term, you could switch bedrooms with Kyle so there's no problem, or see if any of the other roommates would swap with you.

3. Accommodating your parcopresis

It sounds like you had trouble when you first started sharing the bathroom with Kyle, but that you've made progress. Have faith that you can work through this change as well.
posted by girlpublisher at 6:54 AM on April 30, 2015


First, how often is it that Maureen is using that bathroom? If it is once or twice a week, you should just grin and bear it. Perhaps you could work with your therapist to develop some placebo rituals to make you feel safe.

To emphasize, if Maureen stays over, say once a week, and uses bathroom couple of times, you don't have much of a case about preventing Maureen from using the bathroom.

If it is becoming an every day occurrence, I think you do have a small case you can make to Kyle. Here is how I would go about it:

"Kyle, I dont want to offend you about this but we need to discuss Maureen using the bathroom often during the past few weeks. It makes me uncomfortable for couple of reasons. First, while she is using the bathroom, I am locked in/out of my room which is a problem. You and I could use the bathroom without me being locked out but now with Maureen here, I have to wait every time she is using the bathroom.

Second problem is that there is a chance that I dont realize that she is using the bathroom and I might walk in on her. I really want to avoid a scenario, especially late nights or early mornings, where I don't hear the bathroom being used and just open the door while she is in there. I don't want this awkward situation to happen.

I think it might be comfortable for everyone involved if Maureen doesnt use the shower or uses the other bathroom in the apartment."

See how he reacts and work with him. Given that you cannot talk to him about your problem, you need to understand that he might not see why this is such a big deal to you and so you have to take that into account while dealing with this. Just focus on the part that you being locked out of or locked into your room is not good and neither the chance that you might walk in to his friend having a shower.
posted by TheLittlePrince at 6:55 AM on April 30, 2015


There are three separate issues here.

First, basic social norms and dynamics related to having roommates. I have lived in 6 different houses with roommates in my life, and I have slept over at the houses of friends (both platonic and otherwise) who had roommates more times than I can count. In some houses, it's been the norm to ask before having an overnight guest, but those have been the minority and in every case in my experience the asking has been a polite gesture that is always answered with "of course."

And guests, overnight or otherwise, have always had free access to bathrooms, including showers. If I'm a guest at someone else's house, I will ask them (the person who invited me) before using the shower, but it would be very weird if they said no. Yes, you pay rent and have a right to your personal space, but by choosing to live with roommates, you are making a compromise as to what that personal space entails. Unless you have explicitly agreed upon rules other than the above with your roommates, you should assume that these are the default. And it would seem rather petty of you to try to change the rules now that Maureen has entered the picture.

Second, there's the issue of your parcopresis. As other commenters have pointed out, it seems to be a red herring. You say that you're already unable to take a crap when Kyle is in the house, so unless Maureen is spending a substantial amount of time in the house when Kyle is not there, nothing has changed. If she is spending a lot of time around without Kyle, that is something you can bring up. Having your guests stick around when you are out of the house is definitely a roommate etiquette grey area, and it would be totally reasonable to object to it without mentioning your parcopresis. Regardless, the degree to which you can reasonably expect other people to accommodate your own special psychological needs is minimal. If it's that big of a deal, you really need to start looking into getting your own place.

Finally, and most importantly, there's the weird layout of the house. Everything above aside, it seems perfectly reasonable to me to talk to Kyle (and Maureen, ideally) and say that this bathroom needs to only be used by people who are comfortable with you walking through while they are using it (and that only you should have the right to use the outside lock). It is not at all okay to have you essentially locked in or out of your room, even for the short time that someone is peeing. Even if you are out of the house, anyone who uses the washroom should understand that you might come home at any time and want or need to get into your bedroom.

Of course, it might end up that Maureen decides to call your bluff/take the risk. If she uses the washroom anyway after the above conversation, so be it. If you do need to get in or out when you think she might be in there, pass through as quickly as you can and avert your eyes.
posted by 256 at 6:55 AM on April 30, 2015 [3 favorites]


I think whether or not he's calling Maureen his girlfriend is also a red herring. Honestly, it has no bearing in the situation what their relationship is. She's his houseguest, and that entitles her to use the restroom for whatever, including showering.

It's kind of creepy of you to be checking the shower for hairs.

Also, if they are sleeping together, I can imagine at least one situation where her running home to use the shower there is not an option. (Gross.)

This situation is not going to resolve itself in your favor, so you should start figuring out how you are going to deal with it the way it is, or saving some serious money so you can live on your own. Even if he breaks up with Maureen, it's unreasonable to expect him to never have overnight houseguests.
posted by fiercecupcake at 7:02 AM on April 30, 2015 [10 favorites]


Going off what Metroid Baby pointed out above, I'm going to assume that it's relatively difficult to find a living situation in DC that is cheap, and also accessible/comfortable for a Deaf person. Thus, I'm going to assume that moving, as many have suggested, is a distant or impossible option for you. A similar bind is how I spent a year living in a living room with a curtain strung across it to mark "my" side, with the kitchen in the same room more or less.

You only have one piece of legitimate tactic here, but I think it's significant -- the combined issue of Maureen's privacy and your ability to leave the house. I think your process should go like this:

1. Casually, approach Kyle and comment that you're worried that you might interrupt Maureen in the bathroom, since the bathroom is between you and the exit. If he looks at you blankly, you can say something to the effect of "it was chill when it was just us guys, but I really don't want to make your visitor uncomfortable." Stress your desire to make her feel welcome and comfortable in your home.

2. Kyle will respond in one of two ways.
a) "oh, I hadn't thought of that! She should probably use a different bathroom -- I'll mention it to her next time I see her." In this case, your stated problem is solved.
b) "oh, thanks for your concern , I want her to feel comfortable too. I guess you just shouldn't go in or out of your room when she's got the door closed." In this case, Kyle has revealed an expectation of you that is completely unreasonable.

3. In the event that Kyle responds in the second way, you have every right to calmly but firmly explain that you're not able to change your schedule to suit Maureen's bathroom habits. Do this by giving a benign but compelling example, eg. "Oh, I'm not sure if that's going to work -- what if I forget my keys in my room before work/school and she's in the shower? I really need to be able to get to my room at all times."

4. Kyle will have one of three responses:
a) "Oh, that's a good point. I guess I'll ask her if she can use a different bathroom in the house." Problem solved.
b) "Don't know what to tell you, I guess that's just going to be how it is..." This is your cue to talk to casually talk to your other roommates about how uncomfortable you are with the potential that you might interrupt Maureen on the toilet or in the shower, or be otherwise unable to access your belongings. I believe that they will find this compelling, and might even be convinced to talk to Kyle on your behalf.
c) Kyle will propose some sort of compromise (though it might not be framed like that), such as "she'll only use it at night," "she'll use the toilet but not the shower," or "just let her know before you're walking through." If he offers one of these, he is conceding that the current arrangement is untenable. That's a positive for you. Only you can know if you'll be comfortable with the arrangement that he proposes, but once he proposes a compromise you can certainly counter with your own.

I think that this will get you through the conversation. I recognize from what you've written that there are a number of other concerns for you. I don't think that you can or should bring up those concerns with Kyle. Hopefully, resolution of this issue will reduce your anxiety about some of the other, more personal issues.
posted by femmegrrr at 7:03 AM on April 30, 2015 [18 favorites]


It seems like everyone is commenting on your behavior/feelings and not really the overall question of what you can do/how you can approach your roommate. I think the key take-away here is if everyone responding on metafilter is having this reaction, you bet your roommate will too.

So here is my suggestion:
Tell roommate that you aren't comfortable with girlfriend using bathroom because it is only entrance/exit to your bedroom. Ask that she use one of the other bathrooms and if questioned about roommate using bathroom, mention that you guys always just walk through when someone is using the bathroom so its different. Stick to that, say it over and over again. Make a big stink about it if necessary. Be a total pain in the ass about it.

If you feel comfortable sharing, then tell your roommate about the other issues with your health.

That is all.

Do not say that this woman is not really a girlfriend. Do not say you found a hair in the shower. Do not say you are worried about water usage. Do not say anything else.

Period.
posted by Toddles at 7:26 AM on April 30, 2015 [5 favorites]


I find some of your reactions to someone else sharing your shower, especially when Kyle already does, a bit concerning. I think you need to talk to your therapist about all your issues here before bringing it up with Kyle, as they may be able to ground you a bit more.

I think the problem with your position is that, as others have indicated, your position in this thread feels unreasonable, and may come across as such to Kyle. The best compromise solution seems to be to persuade Kyle to get Maureen to use a different bathroom, based on access concerns (while staying well clear of hygiene and utility concerns)
posted by Cannon Fodder at 7:26 AM on April 30, 2015 [5 favorites]


I do not think your parcopresis is a red herring. There are other issues at play, but they seem related to it. Perhaps they all stem from the same thing. That's something to discuss with your therapist. Regardless, I think you need to move, & the best way to break your lease is to tell Kyle that you have a medical condition called parcopresis & never discussed it before because it was a non-issue. Now that he is seeing someone, you realize that the current living situation is not conducive to your medical issues, so you need to move. It sounds like the two of you had/have a good relationship, so I think he will be understanding & not hold you to your lease or refuse to give you your deposit back, especially if you are proposing a solution that is mostly inconvenient for you. If he pushes back at all, just say you would never have reupped the lease if dating & overnight guests had been introduced into the situation before then. I'd also throw in some acknowledgment that this is an issue for you, & not one that would bother most people.

This is a unique situation, and, for your own well-being, you need to live someplace conducive to feeling comfortable while you address it. Your territorial feelings and such are atypical and come across as unreasonable, but they become understandable in the context of your parcopresis. Good luck!
posted by katemcd at 7:50 AM on April 30, 2015 [1 favorite]


I don't think you are being unreasonable at all, FWIW.

The issue is the configuration, and only Kyle should be allowed to use the bathroom, with the door open, as you described. Just tell him it is trapping you in your room when she uses it. She can figure out her shower or whatever- as you pointed out she lives nearby.

Good luck with the conversation, and definitely think about getting your own apartment as soon as you are able, it will likely make you much happier.
posted by rainydayfilms at 8:22 AM on April 30, 2015


Put a sign on the door leading to your room (please remember to open this door when finished using bathroom!) after discussing your concern with your roommate.

Clean the shower before using it if you think the girlfriend has used it.

I know you have a lot of anxieties but it's not fair to burden your roommate with unreasonable requests. It's his bathroom too and that includes his overnight guests.

It seems like you're uncomfortable most of time because of your parcopresis. If discomfort is the norm, then you can only poop when Kyle is gone. That shouldn't be any different now that Maureen is there, right? Kyle is still there, therefore no pooping anyway.
posted by charlielxxv at 8:31 AM on April 30, 2015 [2 favorites]


Assuming that moving isn't an option (although, if it is, you absolutely should seek your own space or at least a room somewhere with a private bathroom. could you lengthen your commute a bit and move out of the city if it meant having a more comfortable home situation?), the only thing you can change is your own reaction to the situation.

You are being unreasonable. Not "you're an asshole" unreasonable, but maybe "you might have an anxiety disorder" unreasonable. Work on this with your therapist. Try meds if that's an option. You remind me of myself prior to starting an anti-anxiety med. Now, my reaction to stressors like this is "meh" and also "so this is how normal people feel about [stressor]."

It could also be worthwhile to examine your extreme feelings w/r/t Kyle and Maureen--why does their relationship bother you so much? Does it bring up discomfort about your own relationship situation, or is it something about your friendship with Kyle? If it's dating, maybe try going on some dates yourself, and see if you don't end up with your own overnight guest at some point. If it's the friendship with Kyle, take some time to work on it and build goodwill between you two. Exercise a lot, do some mindfulness work, take care of yourself, and let Kyle and Maureen live their lives.
posted by witchen at 8:35 AM on April 30, 2015 [6 favorites]


Can you arrange to switch rooms with either Kyle or one of the basement roommates? Maybe offer to pay a bit extra to cover the inconvenience?

Living with 5 roommates means a lot of compromise and learning to deal with things not being 100% the way you would like them to be. And you need to come to the table with some possible solutions that will improve things a bit for you without making it impossible for Kyle to have sleepovers with his lady friend.

- Have a shower cleaning arrangement. After every use, everyone agrees to a quick wipe down?
- 24hr notice before any guests sleep over.
posted by brookeb at 8:46 AM on April 30, 2015


This is a weird one, because I feel like your request is actually totally reasonable on access grounds (it really is NOT okay to not be able to get into/out of your bedroom whenever you need to!). But, so many of the reasons you have listed are extremely unreasonable and (rightly) raising people's hackles, such as that it's rude to use the shower when visiting someone's house (it's not), that you don't like your roommate having overnight guests (too bad), that you don't want someone's "bodily fluids" on your shampoo (what??), that this isn't really his girlfriend (irrelevant), water bills (just...no), etc. etc. I think you should have a conversation with Kyle about the bathroom that focuses solely on the access issues and keeps all the emotion out of it. And work on the other stuff with your therapist.
posted by rainbowbrite at 8:46 AM on April 30, 2015 [41 favorites]


Just to be clear, I imagine that since there is no lock between d_d's room and the bathroom, it is possible that he will accidentally walk in on her using the bathroom, not "accidentally on purpose". This is a thing that sometimes happens to everyone, but the weird bathroom layout makes it much more likely.
posted by jeather at 8:48 AM on April 30, 2015 [3 favorites]


I've had my share of weird living setups, as a formerly extremely poor, extremely addicted person. Those co-living situations often required some compromises on my part that, in hindsight, were utterly bizarre and unacceptable (at least by "first world" standards). I'm thinking, just for one instance, of a place where a downstairs neighbor held opposite hours and was frequently annoyed by me playing music on a small boombox. The solution? A wired baby monitor that ran from his bedroom to mine (through our respective windows), that he could use as an intercom to let me know when I was disturbing him. The insanity? That intercom was effectively always-on and one-way: he could - theoretically - eavesdrop on anything that transpired in my bedroom, at any time. (Thankfully [?], there wasn't much going on in there, at that point in my life...)

OP, you've been having issues with this specific living situation for a while, including trust/boundary issues with your friend/landlord and other roommates. I have to wonder why, if you struggle with health, privacy, and trust issues, you deliberately chose to remain in this situation. Don't get me wrong; I understand feeling trapped (metaphorically and physically). But I know that in my previous life, a lot of that feeling came from my own approach to problem-solving. I always had a reason why I couldn't improve my situation, and a backup reason for when someone would disprove the first one. I had infinity reasons why I couldn't improve one bad living situation (job, relationship) or another. And, as in the case of your hiring/rehiring Ask, I always had reasons why my particular situation was special, and therefore why I was worthy of special consideration. Guess what -- I wasn't -- and, even with your health/emotional issues, neither are you. Everyone, regardless of particulars, is responsible for their own agency.

What I was struggling with, and what I'm recognizing here and in your other posted questions, is related to the concept of learned helplessness. I felt powerless to change the unreasonableness of my living situations, etc., and ultimately used that sense of injustice to give myself license to be unreasonable, myself. In reality, there were all sorts of ways -- even with my then-limited means and particular needs -- to make progress; I'd just been conditioned/conditioned myself to believe that there weren't.

I'm not trying to come from a position of superiority here. I still have to fight this pattern, sometimes on a daily basis. But acknowledging it and trying to address it have made the sorts of weird, uncomfortable situations you tend to describe much less common in my life. After some effort and reinforcing successes, the idea that an apartment can have working plumbing, or ceilings higher than six feet, or not flood when it rains, or -- in your case -- allow basic at-will privacy/access, becomes the new normal.

Concrete suggestion? Move out. Might be scary, might cost a bit more, but there's no way a city the size of DC doesn't have better options for deaf people who want to live alone (which seems advisable for you) or in a supportive group setting, than you are currently dealing with. Secondary concrete suggestion? Have Kyle switch rooms with you, for the obvious and sensible access reason that everyone else has addressed, without going into accusations of space invasions, stray hairs, or utility bills. Tertiary concrete suggestion? Kyle's the landlord, correct? If physics allow (i.e. it's a ground-floor property), he needs to create another, external access point to that room. Because once you've finally left, he's going to have a hell of a time getting anyone else in there. Kyle's also your friend, correct? Offer to offset his expenses with some friendly labor on this project, if you feel like it (at the end of the day, he's the landlord and is responsible for keeping the unit rent-able and up to code, at no cost to you).

Larger, fuzzier, suggestion? Keep working with your therapist in order to get on top of your perceptions, or your reality is going to continue to seem unfair and out of control. Believe me, this is not impossible to accomplish.
posted by credible hulk at 9:02 AM on April 30, 2015 [23 favorites]


Hi! I have misophonia and would say, as you do for your issue, that it is manageable.

Here is what is tricky about having a specific neurosis: it lies to you about what is reasonable.

Everyone (including people in this thread!) can sympathize with the desire for privacy when using the bathroom. Everyone can sympathize with me as well - many people find certain sounds irritating. I do not find certain sounds irritating; I find certain sounds intolerable. When I'm exposed to a triggering sound I don't feel anxiety, I feel like whoever is making the sound is doing so in a clear breach of the social code and is ignoring the fact that it is causing me harm. This is how my neurosis interprets the event - it's not reality.

That is where I think the neurosis gets you - it tells you that the things you are suffering from are things that would be universally recognized as painful. It makes you feel like you have reasonable requests, like you are only asking for reasonable things, like the people around you who are making you miserable are obviously behaving badly. It is AMAZINGLY persuasive. It's also horse shit.

I think it must be at least somewhat the same for you because I can hear you using language that shows you are trying to be rational (don't want to hinder Kyle's happiness) but you are also being told by your neurosis that is reasonable to be upset at this situation where a "girlfriend" is "intruding". You are using angry language to describe an event that is so far from a hostile situation that it makes you sound like you are the one with a problem. Because you are! I am a person with a problem too, and it sucks. I'm sorry you're experiencing so much discomfort.

What I would ask, though, as a fellow sufferer, is that you take the high road. Tell your neurosis to fuck off. Kyle and the new lovely friend he has made are not doing anything wrong, your neurosis is telling you to do something wrong. You sound angry and selfish when you describe this new girl, and that doesn't seem to be in line with the part of you that recognizes you don't feel this way at the downstairs girlfriends. Here are the only two options I would recommend:

1) Disclose to Kyle that you struggle a little bit with sharing the bathroom due to what is a very hard to admit mental fixation or something. Use whatever words you feel comfortable with - but it is important that you admit to him and to yourself that it is you who is asking a favor due to a personal issue. Then tell him what would work for you. Phrase it like you are asking for help. If you take this road - DO NOT EXPECT 100% COMPLIANCE. Kyle will forget at some point - not because he's an asshole, but because other people have pretty much zero understanding of how big a deal this is because it is just not something they have experienced.
2) Make this your demon, hide it, figure out a way to cope and don't get passive aggressive holding a grudge. Move out as soon as you can to a situation where you can have more control.

I hope this helps.
posted by skrozidile at 9:02 AM on April 30, 2015 [60 favorites]


Part of the problem is that I've signed a lease for another year (starting June through May 31, 2016) already. Finding a new place would be another upheaval/hassle, and I don't know if I have it in my budget to do that. Also, I'm starting a new job conveniently located very near to my place. I also like it here and like all roommates. It's just this specific problem that's sticky, especially as it just RECENTLY began out of the blue.
posted by dubious_dude


You are formulating these reasons why Kyle and Maureen must accommodate you, as if they justify your position. But to most people none of those reasons would seem very important to anyone but you.

I suggest you ask Kyle to let you out of the lease, on the basis of your psychological situation.
posted by JimN2TAW at 9:14 AM on April 30, 2015 [4 favorites]


Given the layout of your room and the shared bathroom, I think it is reasonable to ask that Maureen uses a different shower and toilet when you're home. I would try to bring this up in a nonconfrontational way when you and Kyle are at home without Maureen around. You can explain that you're not comfortable with potentially being trapped in your room, and you don't want to risk violating Maureen's privacy by accidentally walking in on her.*

However, I don't think it's reasonable to forbid anyone else from using the shared bathroom when you're not home. I get that you feel territorial about this, but part of living with roommates is making reasonable concessions, and as you can see, the vast majority of people do not consider it reasonable to forbid guests from ever using a shared shower. Again, I think it's fine to request that she not do this if you're at home so that you're not trapped in or out of your room, but if you're out of the house, I think it should be fair game for her to use the shared bathroom. I also would not think twice about letting a guest use a shared shower if they were staying over, and I would not expect roommates to ask my permission before letting their guest use our shared shower. It's another matter if they start using your shampoo/soap/etc, or if they are taking super long showers, but it doesn't sound like that's the issue.

I also understand that it may not be financially feasible for you to live by yourself given that this can be prohibitively expensive in some cities, but that means you need to either be willing to make these reasonable concessions, or you need to find a shared apartment that allows you to have a private bathroom.

*Since it was already suggested upthread, I feel like I should be clear that you should absolutely not "accidentally" on purpose walk in on her, but I'm assuming you weren't planning on that anyway.
posted by litera scripta manet at 9:21 AM on April 30, 2015


I also hate sharing accomodations with people I dislike or don't know well. But I have noticed that, as long as I like and know the person, I don't care that much. That's more or less what happened with you and Kyle: you could manage your privacy issues and parcopresis admirably. That's, in part, because Kyle is your roomate, not some random.
Why don't you try to do the same with his girlfriend? Get to know her, find things about her to like, befriend her if you can. Make a conscious effort to like her. Then, you won't be sharing the bathroom with Kyle and his "girlfriend" (quotations mark included), but with your friends who happen to be a couple.
posted by clearlydemon at 9:22 AM on April 30, 2015 [1 favorite]


You keep moving the goalposts, so to speak, to the point where nothing is acceptable. The only valid complaint you have is your access, which is totally reasonable. Everything else sounds ridiculous, and makes this come off as being unreasonable. In asking for things to be done differently, I don't think you can separate the shower and the toilet -- you just need to make it about the bathroom, period. Otherwise it looks nitpicky and petty. And you can't separate Maureen from other guests -- it just needs to apply to all non-roommates. Otherwise it comes across as being personal against her. Either ask Kyle if all guests can always use the downstairs bathroom because the bathroom is your only way to exit. Or, move out. Reading what everyone else has to say and looking at what you've said, those are really your two options.
posted by AppleTurnover at 9:41 AM on April 30, 2015 [6 favorites]


I agree with those who are saying you're moving goalposts. In one of your responses, you say:

"Using the toilet is one thing which isn't really an issue (other than the privacy issues/egress), but the shower..."

Then, right after, you said:
"No. I don't want her using our toilet. Period. Full stop."

So, which is it? The toilet or the shower? You are going to have to decide what you can live with and what you really can't, otherwise you're going to have a hard time talking to Kyle about this. You'll also have a very difficult time overcoming some of the issues you're dealing with. We also can't help you if you keep changing around the parameters.
posted by thebots at 10:05 AM on April 30, 2015 [8 favorites]


That is where I think the neurosis gets you - it tells you that the things you are suffering from are things that would be universally recognized as painful. It makes you feel like you have reasonable requests, like you are only asking for reasonable things, like the people around you who are making you miserable are obviously behaving badly. It is AMAZINGLY persuasive. It's also horse shit.

This puts into words what you're going through the best. All of your concerns are your anxiety/neuroses speaking. Requests that you think seems perfectly reasonable to you come across as totally inappropriate to everyone else. The reason you feel you have no other options (THE LEASE!) is because your anxieties are telling you that.
posted by deanc at 10:39 AM on April 30, 2015 [9 favorites]


It sounds like you're getting frustrated because, from your perspective, this is a unique one-off with a small, polite solution.

That isn't how it appears to other folks. When you make a request that requires compromise or effort from another party in a relationship (friendship, romance, authority figure, business), the person or system you're interacting with will look at all past interactions and make a risk/benefit analysis; will accommodating you really be a one-off, or are you likely to keep requesting further and further compromises? Is this really a unique situation (like the death of a family member) or is this a basic inability to function within the current system? Because eventually they will decide the latter, and their desire to compromise/accommodate/interact will drop dramatically. It may feel unfair, because to us, each situation is unique ("I'm not asking for much, this is really important to me, those other situations were completely unrelated to this one"), but it's just how it is. Imagine someone you knew constantly asked you for a cigarette, if you were a smoker, and finally one day you said no and they replied, "It's only one cigarette - what's your problem?" See the point? They may feel like you've already asked for the whole pack and you're always wanting one more.

So you see it as asking for one social coin, and they see that you've got previous requests on the system. In this case, because the situation you can't live with is common and generally accepted by society, the social value of the coin you're asking for is even higher.

It's not unreasonable to ask politely and present a short "I can only get out through there and it's uncomfortable to think I might be interrupted or might accidentally interrupt her - can she use another washroom, because this setup is so weird?" Your affect during the inevitable back-and-forth might be more productive if you're aware that the people facing you aren't trying to harsh your living situation out of malice or a desire to hurt or frustrate you personally.
posted by Nyx at 11:01 AM on April 30, 2015 [3 favorites]


You're only going to solve this problem if you deal with it on a purely practical level.

You have an excellent (legally supported, even) case for restricting a guest's access to that particular bathroom on the basis of layout and fire-code factors.

Mention this, and ONLY this, to Kyle and/or Maureen.

The poop anxiety and territoriality about the shower, etc., are totally irrelevant to how you need to deal externally with the situation. Just keep reminding yourself that these will become non-issues once you address the matter from a safety/code/access standpoint.

As an aside, I am always able to immediately recognize your questions on MeTa on the basis of the extreme level of over-explaining and self-justifying you engage in. Believe me, as a person diagnosed on the autism spectrum, I am no stranger to social difficulties, and I actually used to have a very similar issue with over-justifying that took me years of effort to break.

It took getting into a multitude of extremely frustrating and unpleasant communication situations before I finally got it into my head that maybe I could do things differently. E.g., one problem I used to have was writing excessively lengthy emails and then getting mad when people didn't read them all the way through. After all, I'd taken great trouble to write out ALL my thoughts and provide ALL the information supporting my assertions! I felt unappreciated, ignored, and disregarded. But things got better very quickly once I started learning to shorten my emails and "boil things down to the essentials". It wasn't that people didn't value my contributions, it was that I was overwhelming them with details and engaging in a distracting amount of over-sharing re. my thought processes.

So - I'll stop now as I certainly don't want to drift back into old habits, but perhaps consider looking at this situation as an opportunity not just to solve a practical dilemma but to practice communicating in an "instrumental" manner vs. one devoted to convincing people that your perspective is valid from every possible angle.
posted by aecorwin at 11:18 AM on April 30, 2015 [7 favorites]


I don't understand why Kyle doesn't understand that Maureen is TRAPPING YOU IN/OUT OF YOUR ROOM. Any other anxiety aside, this would be incredibly trying for anybody.

"Because of the crazy layout of this house, we need Mo to use some other bathroom. It's not going to work like this."
posted by Lyn Never at 11:18 AM on April 30, 2015 [6 favorites]


Maybe it's territorial, but I pay rent, too, so I have a right to feel this way.

You have created this situation by living in a shared living space with your disorder. The only thing you can do is basically ask Kyle not to let Maureen use that bathroom. I don't think it will fly.

You are going to need your own space to deal with your disorder effectively.
posted by Ironmouth at 11:27 AM on April 30, 2015 [2 favorites]


Late to the party, but I agree with almost everyone else that you should tell Kyle you need to move.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 11:27 AM on April 30, 2015 [1 favorite]


Wow. After stepping back from this thread and reading all the replies, I definitely want to say thank you to each of you who has given advice, even advice I don't agree with or can't utilize.

So, looks like from this juncture, I'll have to focus on the safety/egress issues with Maureen using our bathroom, and ask that moving forward, she uses the first floor half bath. I won't bring up utility concerns (which was me grasping at straws; something I do recognize) or the shower, but maybe include the shower as bathroom use, and hope that Maureen will use her own shower, save for emergencies or unusual situations.

Moving out, while theoretically possible, WOULD provide as a difficulty. Breaking the lease, especially as it hasn't even officially began (6/1 is when it does) may be possible if not subletting, but I'm starting a new job on 5/11, and this job has a 6-month probationary period, so anything can happen. I pay $500/month for my current room. I do love living here and enjoy my roommates; it's just this specific situation that has caught me off guard. Chances are, if Maureen/Kyle agree that Maureen uses the first floor half bath moving forward (including other guests), I'll be okay. Not only that, but my fear is that if I live alone, I'll become so comfortable going #2 without virtually anyone around that when/if I find my boyfriend or visit family for the holidays, I'll be unable to go at all. I do want to expose my #2 softly with other people around (even if they're asleep, or aren't Kyle) to keep me balanced, if that makes sense.

As for why I changed my parameters, sorry for any misunderstanding. I meant that Maureen using the toilet downstairs wouldn't be an issue; even though she would be using our water. But that's just me splitting hairs. I definitely stand by my word that I don't want her using our bathroom at all, but I'll see what Kyle says (and, of course, bring it up in a reasonable manner), and go from there.

Oh, and for those of you who suggested purposely walking onto Maureen while she does her business - I would never do that, and the thought didn't even cross my mind until someone suggested it upthread. That would be awful and awkward for both of us, not to mention downright mean. Maybe a bit funny, but definitely wouldn't be productive in this situation.
posted by dubious_dude at 11:43 AM on April 30, 2015 [4 favorites]


So, looks like from this juncture, I'll have to focus on the safety/egress issues with Maureen using our bathroom, and ask that moving forward, she uses the first floor half bath. I won't bring up utility concerns (which was me grasping at straws; something I do recognize) or the shower, but maybe include the shower as bathroom use, and hope that Maureen will use her own shower, save for emergencies or unusual situations.

Breaking the lease, especially as it hasn't even officially began (6/1 is when it does) may be possible if not subletting, but I'm starting a new job on 5/11, and this job has a 6-month probationary period, so anything can happen.

A girfriend sleeping over and wanting to shower the next morning is not an unusual situation. You're going to have to

a. ask to switch rooms (with kyle or anyone else in the house) so that when she does use the shower, you are no longer stuck in a room with no exit until she's finished.

b. Move. You have plenty enough time to find a subletter before 6/1 especially in a hot market like DC. I don't understand why a new job with a probationary period would interfere with this. Move on a weekend. People move while they have jobs all the time.
posted by asockpuppet at 11:53 AM on April 30, 2015 [1 favorite]


I definitely stand by my word that I don't want her using our bathroom at all, but I'll see what Kyle says (and, of course, bring it up in a reasonable manner), and go from there.

Kyle is going to tell you what we are telling you-- that you are being unreasonable and acting in a manner unacceptable in terms of established social norms of group housing. YOU are the one who cares a lot about your lease, your shy bowel syndrome, whether you can handle things with your new job coming up, etc. HE doesn't. For him, none of your concerns or barriers towards resolution are that important, in part because they aren't his concerns but ALSO because he does not approach your situation with the same level of anxiety and neurosis that you do.

You're creating a situation where you are becoming a high-maintenance roommate, and one that is easier to live without than to live with.
posted by deanc at 12:14 PM on April 30, 2015 [3 favorites]


So, looks like from this juncture, I'll have to focus on the safety/egress issues with Maureen using our bathroom, and ask that moving forward, she uses the first floor half bath.

That is completely unreasonable.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 12:37 PM on April 30, 2015 [9 favorites]


Maureen is going to need to use that bathroom. She is not going to be wondering through the house in the night looking for a toilet, and she is surely not going to be trooping a block away to another apartment building just because she needs access to a bathroom. That's Kyle's bathroom, too, and as Kyle's guest, she has the right to access to it in the same way that he does. I hate to break it to you, but they might often be in the bathroom together, as well, especially for showers. That you are trying to find ways to bar her from this shared bathroom is selfish and unempathetic. And tbh, really weird.

Your responses also make me wonder if you're not understanding the physical reality of why she would need access to a shower/toilet immediately after sex? Or why she'd need that bathroom to be in a very accessible location (i.e., not in some other part of a house that has 5+ other people in it at any given time)? I'll let you use your imagination as to the specifics of why, but she *does.* For health reasons as well as comfort/hygiene.

I'm not trying to be hard on you, but I'm telling you this because you're going to be digging a hole for yourself with Kyle (and with Maureen) if you come at this as though barring people from a toilet/bathroom is reasonable. It's not.

If you make this into an explicit conflict, and it becomes you v. Kyle/Maureen, you are not going to win. So try to keep it from escalating *at all.*

To be frank, I believe that you're going to have to just suck it up and deal with this, switch rooms with Kyle (the best solution imo), or move out.
posted by rue72 at 12:40 PM on April 30, 2015 [4 favorites]


I don't understand. I got many suggestions upthread suggesting that I focus solely on the egress/privacy issue of the bathroom usage and suggest that Maureen uses the toilet on the 1st floor, and many suggestions that it would be reasonable. Now, I'm doing that. I caved on the shower bit. And I'm being told I'm still being unreasonable?

I just don't get it.
posted by dubious_dude at 12:43 PM on April 30, 2015 [1 favorite]


Your responses also make me wonder if you're not understanding the physical reality of why she would need access to a shower/toilet immediately after sex? Or why she'd need that bathroom to be in a very accessible location (i.e., not in some other part of a house that has 5+ other people in it at any given time)? I'll let you use your imagination as to the specifics of why, but she *does.* For health reasons as well as comfort/hygiene.

I'm a little mystified by this. Were you never a college student who had sex and then...used the public dorm bathroom down the hall? Maybe some people do want immediate access to a close-by bathroom right after sex, but I think plenty of people are not that picky. (For what it's worth, I'm a woman and I wouldn't have a huge issue with accomodating SOME version of the request here, if it's worded as a "don't trap me in my room" deal as opposed to a "don't get your lady cooties on me" deal.)
posted by rainbowbrite at 12:46 PM on April 30, 2015 [5 favorites]


I just don't get it.

You cannot tell someone's else's friend they cannot use the bathroom in that person's apartment.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 12:46 PM on April 30, 2015 [7 favorites]


I don't understand. I got many suggestions upthread suggesting that I focus solely on the egress/privacy issue of the bathroom usage and suggest that Maureen uses the toilet on the 1st floor, and many suggestions that it would be reasonable. Now, I'm doing that. I caved on the shower bit. And I'm being told I'm still being unreasonable?

I just don't get it


It was the only thing here that had the slightest and I mean slightest shred of legitimacy out of all of your reasons for no girl allowed in the bathroom, and even then it's only on a technicality of a building code, that you yourself don't even seem to mind.
posted by asockpuppet at 12:47 PM on April 30, 2015 [1 favorite]


Man, I feel like people are being rough on you in this thread. I think it's perfectly reasonable to say that being trapped in your room when someone else is in the bathroom is an awkward situation to navigate. It's just plain inconvenient for you, regardless of all the other issues you have surrounding this situation.

Bring it up with Kyle, see what he says. I bet you'll come to some sort of amicable resolution. At the very least, bringing it up might ease some of your anxiety. Good luck!
posted by megancita at 12:48 PM on April 30, 2015 [5 favorites]


Don't seem to mind (when it isn't a girl) that is.
posted by asockpuppet at 12:49 PM on April 30, 2015 [1 favorite]


It's not unreasonable to ask politely and present a short "I can only get out through there and it's uncomfortable to think I might be interrupted or might accidentally interrupt her - can she use another washroom, because this setup is so weird?"

Given the layout of your room and the shared bathroom, I think it is reasonable to ask that Maureen uses a different shower and toilet when you're home.

This is a weird one, because I feel like your request is actually totally reasonable on access grounds (it really is NOT okay to not be able to get into/out of your bedroom whenever you need to!)

I don't think you are being unreasonable at all, FWIW.

The issue is the configuration, and only Kyle should be allowed to use the bathroom, with the door open, as you described. Just tell him it is trapping you in your room when she uses it.
Casually, approach Kyle and comment that you're worried that you might interrupt Maureen in the bathroom, since the bathroom is between you and the exit. If he looks at you blankly, you can say something to the effect of "it was chill when it was just us guys, but I really don't want to make your visitor uncomfortable." Stress your desire to make her feel welcome and comfortable in your home.

Given the weird setup, it's reasonable to negotiate how Maureen is going to use the bathroom. You're Deaf, and the bathroom can't be blocked from your side, so it's reasonable to worry about accidentally walking in on her overnight (or her locking you out when she locks the door to the hall).

Those all are suggestions/advice I was given in this thread. I was planning to incorporate those suggestions and said so above. Then I was told I was being completely unreasonable. That's why I don't get it.

Sorry for threadsitting, but I really AM trying to be reasonable here, and the shower/utilities bit I already said I was willing to be flexible/cave on that. I will acknowledge that I WAS being a bit unreasonable with the shower/utilities issue, but I am willing to be flexible with that.
posted by dubious_dude at 12:53 PM on April 30, 2015


I think the most reasonable thing to do here is to move. Find a roommate and a room with a private bath attached. Commute a little farther if you have to. I think you will be a million times happier. Everything else, if you stay here, you will be mad about "caving" or "being flexible" and your resentment will grow and grow. Just move! Move.
posted by witchen at 12:55 PM on April 30, 2015 [4 favorites]


Deep breath, relax. :) The reason you're getting conflicting advice is that there are a lot of different people responding, not just one. And this is an issue where people obviously have different beliefs/understandings of what is reasonable. Ultimately, all that REALLY matters is what Kyle and his girlfriend believe is reasonable and are willing to compromise on. I think you can make a reasonable case here based on the privacy/egress issue. Of course, as with ANY roommate dispute, things can go badly no matter how reasonable or unreasonable you are being. That's just the reality of living with other people...you cannot force them to comply with what you want. So I'd have the discussion with Kyle, make your best case, and then decide where you want to go from there.
posted by rainbowbrite at 12:56 PM on April 30, 2015 [6 favorites]


FWIW, I'm with you on your confusion dubious_dude. I don't understand the sudden cries of "that's completely unreasonable" either when focusing on the access / egress issue. It's a sucky situation all round (I mean, the layout is completely ridiculous and, as pointed out far above, probably not to code - and Kyle is the landlord?!). Saying "I don't wanna be locked in / out of my room" seems fair. (I won't comment on the many other issues already raised, just wanted to give you reassurance on this point.)
posted by ClarissaWAM at 12:59 PM on April 30, 2015 [17 favorites]


There are two separate issues here. The first is that you can't access your room if someone is using the bathroom. The second is that you don't want your roommate's SO using the bathroom.

The former, IMHO, is a completely reasonable complaint. If I want to enter or exit my room I shouldn't have to wait 20 minutes while someone takes a shower or poops while playing Angry Birds on their iPhone. You appear to have reached an accommodation with your roommate (I'm not entirely sure what it is. Is he perfectly okay with you walking through the bathroom while he's peeing/showering?), but that doesn't extend to your roommate's SO. If the same rules apply for her that apply to your roommate, then maybe that would work. The whole thing would drive me nuts, personally.

However, that doesn't seem to be your actual problem. Based on what I read, it seems like if you had normal access to your room you still wouldn't want your roommate's SO using the bathroom. That's not reasonable. Yes, you have a medical condition and deserve reasonable accommodation for that, but asking a guest of roommate to use some other bathroom is not a reasonable request. They should be tidy and so forth, but they should be allowed to use the bathroom. Your problem is, ultimately, your problem to deal with.
posted by It's Never Lurgi at 12:59 PM on April 30, 2015 [7 favorites]


Saying "I don't wanna be locked in / out of my room" seems fair.

Except OP doesn't mind when it's a guy.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 1:00 PM on April 30, 2015 [5 favorites]


The explanation for the contradiction is this: Metafilter is not a single entity. It is made up of multiple people who disagree about best way forward. Some people (myself) think it's okay to gently ask Kyle if he would mind requesting that his girlfriend use a different bathroom. He has the right to say no, but before you move out, why not check and see if Kyle and his GF would be okay with accommodating you? Some people (like the ones who responded to your update) would definitely and aggressively say no to this, and tell you it was an unreasonable request. But they are not Kyle! Kyle is Kyle! He might think it's totally fine, not a big deal, and definitely not worth the trouble of finding another roommate. (as would I.) But you don't know what Kyle will feel about this until you ask. So ask him.

edit: what rainbowbrite said.
posted by pretentious illiterate at 1:00 PM on April 30, 2015 [3 favorites]


I think part of the disconnect may be that the privacy/egress issue is the BEST (probably only) conventionally-reasonable grounds you have to ask Kyle to limit his guests' use of your shared bathroom... but it sounds like you can't be comfortable with her using the bathroom even when you are not home. Which means you and Kyle and any guests are still going to be unhappy even if he agrees to try to accommodate the doorway issue.

It's worth a try, but, if I were in Kyle's shoes I'd be much more understanding and interested in a mutually-agreeable compromise if I understood that you have true, quality-of-life-affecting, anxiety about this situation, not just some kind of rules-lawyering that you didn't mention when you moved in or re-signed the lease. I think you'll have better luck if you convey the seriousness of your anxiety at the outset of this conversation, with the added benefit that it will be more understandable later if you must approach Kyle about moving out. I think you can do this even without mentioning parcopresis specifically, since the concerns you expressed (to us) about the shower, for example, seem to go well beyond concerns about her privacy or even your ability to go #2 uninterrupted.

[on preview, as It's Never Lurgi (and rainbowbrite / pretentious illiterate) said even more clearly above.]
posted by argonauta at 1:12 PM on April 30, 2015 [3 favorites]


I think people thought it was unreasonable because you made it about your territory, seeing a hair in the shower, letting Maureen use the toilet, water usage, private pooping, and whether or not Maureen is really his girlfriend -- all issues that aren't really that reasonable in a shared living environment. If you make it about your access issues and ONLY that, then it is perfectly reasonable to mention.

Even if the door doesn't lock and you can't get trapped in there, you still can't leave or enter your room if a guest is in the bathroom, which is annoying and a major inconvenience, especially if there is another bathroom people can use. I once lived in an apartment where the driveway was tandem, and my "spot" was on the inside, which meant if I wanted to leave the house, I had to ask another roommate to move her car, which drove me batty. I wanted to be able to leave when I wanted to leave. The only solution was for me to move to a place with a better parking situation because there just wasn't space in the area to park anywhere else. In your case, there is another bathroom that can be designated as the guest bathroom. Focus on that.

One other potential option is offer to pay higher rent to designate that bathroom as your own private ensuite bathroom that is only yours. Pay the money so that bathroom turns into an extension of your room (which it should've been from the beginning). Of course, this means there needs to be another shower Kyle can use. When I lived in DC, I paid $75 a month more than my roommates for the room that had a private bathroom.
posted by AppleTurnover at 1:14 PM on April 30, 2015 [1 favorite]


Not sure if Kyle would be willing to use the basement shower, or if the basement roommates would even be willing. I don't want to inconvenience Kyle. I would be willing to pay higher rent to make the toilet completely my own, but I don't see how that would be fair to Kyle, either. Good suggestion, though, AppleTurnover. Any suggestions on how to perhaps frame that to him? Maybe him only using the shower, but toilet etc. downstairs in lieu of higher rent?
posted by dubious_dude at 1:17 PM on April 30, 2015


Wait, I'm confused, are you now suggesting you want KYLE to not use this bathroom either?? I don't think asking for EVEN MORE concessions is going to win you any favors. I would stick to the bare minimum of what you think you need.
posted by rainbowbrite at 1:20 PM on April 30, 2015


Maybe him only using the shower, but toilet etc. downstairs in lieu of higher rent?

Either you buy your way completely out of a shared bathroom or you suck it up and share the bathroom.
posted by asockpuppet at 1:22 PM on April 30, 2015 [3 favorites]


>Wait, I'm confused, are you now suggesting you want KYLE to not use this bathroom either?? I don't think asking for EVEN MORE concessions is going to win you any favors. I would stick to the bare minimum of what you think you need.

rainbowbrite, someone right before him suggested that he ask if he could pay more rent to make the bathroom his alone, which is what he was responding to.
posted by hejrat at 1:23 PM on April 30, 2015 [2 favorites]


Sorry, no, @rainbowbrite. I'm just taking AppleTurnover's advice in consideration, that's all. She did make a good suggestion, but if that's not a good idea, it's fine. I've gotten many different ideas in this thread, so I'm just trying to make sense of them all and decide what works best for myself. I'm fine if it's only Maureen who uses the toilet downstairs, based on egress issues.

Sorry again for any confusion.
posted by dubious_dude at 1:23 PM on April 30, 2015


The reason paying more to make the bathroom private would be fair to Kyle is that you are paying him more money. You aren't asking him to do it as a favor. He would have to decide if he would want more money or he wants a bathroom next to his room. As for the basement roommates, it could reduce their rent as well. Your extra payment could either go toward making each of their shares of the rent smaller, or it could go toward giving Kyle extra money. I guess that would be a house decision -- it could perhaps do a bit of both. But you would need to think about how much more you'd be willing to pay.

The problem is, having Kyle switch rooms with you would fix the access issue (which is reasonable) and cause the least amount of disruption for the whole house -- but you have a bunch of other issues (which are not reasonable) that switching rooms won't fix. Paying extra for a private bathroom that is connected to your room is totally normal and reasonable, and would fix all your problems, but that is not how things have worked and would definitely be a disruption to how things have worked in your house. The money may not be enough for your roommates who may just find it annoying.

I think you should raise the access issue to Kyle and see what he says and whether he shares your assessment that it is indeed a problem. I would lay the foundation of your concerns by mentioning that it's an issue and see if Kyle is able to adjust things with Maureen on his own, and see how that goes before you start requesting major changes. But that's just me.
posted by AppleTurnover at 1:35 PM on April 30, 2015


"Kyle, when I moved in I thought it would only be you and me using this bathroom. I'm fine with that because we leave it unlocked and you're okay with me walking through when I need to go to/leave my bedroom. But now someone else is using it and I can't enter or exit my room when she's in there. Can you think of a solution?"

Let *him* propose the solution. Maybe, after all this handwringing, he's perfectly okay with asking Maureen to use the downstairs bathroom. Or maybe he'll think you're unreasonable, but he'll go sleep at her place instead of dealing with you.

[If his solution is unacceptable]

"I know it seems like a small thing but it makes me really uncomfortable and it's something we need to address if I continue to live here." And if he refuses to budge, then you look for another place.
posted by desjardins at 1:38 PM on April 30, 2015 [15 favorites]


I just...don't think it's reasonable to dictate to your roommate which bathroom his guest can use for whichever ablutions she needs to be doing (showering, using the toilet, etc.). I also don't think it's reasonable that you get trapped in your room while she is occupying the bathroom. You're in a sticky situation, even removing your specific toileting issues.

The ideal solution is that you and Kyle switch rooms. This assumes that you will never have a guest using the bathroom that is now attached to Kyle's room, or that Kyle will never be worried about being trapped in his room should your guest need the bathroom. I'm assuming since you're gay, any overnight guests of yours who would need the bathroom would be male, and would therefore not present a modesty problem to Kyle.

But you really should be talking to Kyle. If I were you, I would say something along the lines of, "Hey, Kyle, when Maureen spends the night and needs to use the bathroom for showering or whatever, I feel trapped in my bedroom. I know that she has no intention of trapping me, it's just that I feel like I can't walk through when she's there; I would hate to walk in on her and even if she's okay with it, I'm just not. I would feel like it's a violation of her privacy. Is there something we can do to prevent me from feeling trapped in my room?" Maybe Kyle and Maureen come up with some sort of signaling system, or if he doesn't have a suggestion, maybe you bring up changing rooms.

We can't give you a script beyond that, because we just don't know what Kyle is going to say. Keep it light, keep it respectful, and above all, make it about how you feel (trapped) and NOT about how Maureen should never, ever be allowed to use the bathroom you and Kyle share. Because that's not reasonable.
posted by cooker girl at 1:40 PM on April 30, 2015 [3 favorites]


You need to move.

The reality is that people other than you need to use the bathroom.

They are not going to trek to some across-the-house, downstairs bathroom when there is one literally right next door. Especially if they wake up in the middle of the night to pee, or want to take a shower after sex.

This is your issue, and while it may suck that you just signed a lease or whatever, your inconvenience does not turn it into someone else's problem--you need to deal with it (by moving--or by offering to up your rent substantially to have full use of both the bathroom (which you could then put a lock on) and your room).

It's not fair for you to put your thing in front of everyone else, and I think that's just what most landlords are going to tell you if you try to bring this up (especially the weird obsession with finding a woman's hair in the tub, which just seems really dramatic--it's was a single natural piece of hair, not a used syringe or something).
posted by blueberry at 2:15 PM on April 30, 2015 [12 favorites]


I think the best option is too move. Yes it's more expensive, yes it's inconvenient, and yes you don't want too but in this case, those are the breaks. You're condition is so rare and severe that even if this situation gets resolved another situation will pop up.

It's kyle's house so he's allowed to do and have over whoever he wants...within reason. The layout is annoying but I also wonder why you agreed to the arrangement with your condition. Especially since yon refuse to tell anyone. I get that it s probably embarrassing and kyle can be a bully at times but when something has such a serious affect on your life and want other people to adjust because of it you should speak up.

it sucks because I know it's hard to find another situation with deaf roommates. You have A group of people who understand and can communicate with you but, I don't think complaining about kyle's girlfriend is going to make things any better. In fact I think he'll resent you for it. It's his house and his rules...if you want your own rules you need to have your own place.

Maureen doesn't seem to be trapping you anywhere and it's totally unreasonable for you to ask the owner if he can use another bathroom in his own house.

I know this is harsh and that you won't agree with what I've said but you'll have to move at some point. This situation doesn't seem realistic or sustainable. Plus if you do you can defecate in peace and privacy, which is a major plus!
posted by CosmicSeeker42 at 2:31 PM on April 30, 2015 [2 favorites]


If nothing else, OP, consider moving as an issue of your own safety--it seems pretty clear that this bedroom is in violation of fire/safety codes, so you shouldn't be living there anyway.

Another silver lining: if/when you do bring a friend of yours to spend the night, they are far more likely to be impressed if you live somewhere in a bedroom that's not a firetrap behind a bathroom.

Also: the water bill issue. You REALLY need to let it go completely--it's not even an issue of "being a bit flexible." It's a total non-issue and if you're that fixated on the water bill, it's something else to discuss with your therapist at your next session.
posted by TwoStride at 2:40 PM on April 30, 2015 [5 favorites]


Man, I feel really bad for you here. Yes, you've brought up a lot of things that honestly do sound unreasonable and kind of angering in some ways, but I suspect that all of us have internal reactions to certain stimuli that would be considered socially unreasonable if we acted upon them (me, I get seriously wigged out by infants - if I could ban them from my person space I would do so joyfully). The good news is that you haven't acted upon those impulses yet - you're being sensible by talking it through first. And even more in your favor, there actually IS a point where you do have traction: people shouldn't be blocking you from accessing your own room.

As you've seen here, there are a LOT of different potential reactions that you might get from Kyle when you bring this issue up with him, but I do think it's okay to bring it up. Do so in as low-key a manner as you can, focusing ONLY on the issue of access to your bedroom, and be prepared for any of the reactions you've seen here. Maybe Kyle and Maureen will be fine with having her use a different bathroom. That's great. Maybe they will not be okay with that. That's completely their right, and they wouldn't be unreasonable if they felt that way. You won't know either way until you ask, eh?

Start planning what you'll do if they aren't willing to acquiesce to your request; personally I feel MUCH better in situations like this when I feel like I have some sense of what I'll do if the scenario doesn't play out the way I'd hoped it would. Be ready to ask them what solution THEY can suggest to the problem of them blocking you from your bathroom. Consider being a little more flexible on the possibility of switching rooms with Kyle. And yes, depending on how much this issue bothers you (it sounds like a lot, obviously) you may need to include the possibility of moving out as one of your potential actions at that point - but you aren't there yet.

Good luck; I hope you all can work out a solution that works for all of you.
posted by DingoMutt at 2:55 PM on April 30, 2015 [7 favorites]


>a random person using our shower and having their bodily liquids fall on my soap/shampoo/whatnot.

She's not random, she's Kyle's girlfriend, and I can pretty much promise you any cooties in her "bodily liquids" are now mingled into HIS "bodily liquids" too. Maybe remembering that will help you stop being so weirdly grossed out by her? They swap spit and fluids, so they are, from a bacterial point of view, almost the same person now. That level of distaste for her random hair and "bodily fluids" is unrealistic and worth mentioning to your therapist.

Also- did I read the question right that Kyle doesn't even shut your bedroom door when he poops- so you're ok with hanging out in his poop smell but one hair from his lover on the shower floor is freaking you out?

Do you have romantic feelings for Kyle? Because, honestly, this just sounds like jealousy to me.
posted by pseudostrabismus at 3:02 PM on April 30, 2015 [17 favorites]


Saying "I don't wanna be locked in / out of my room" seems fair.

Except OP doesn't mind when it's a guy.


Because the guy leaves the door open and OP isn't locked in/out of his room.

OP, I suspect if you'd asked this question without any of the shy bowel/girl body fluids stuff, you'd have gotten a lot fewer hostile responses. It's completely normal to not want to be trapped in your room because someone is using the bathroom that is your only ingress/egress. All the rest is chaff. It's important to you, but it's not reasonable to most other people. Tell your roommate that you need to work something out so that you're not trapped in your room when the gf is in there.

You're getting conflicting answers because it's a big old world out there. I'm surprised there are people who think you're unreasonable for not wanting to be trapped in your room, but there you go.
posted by Mavri at 3:24 PM on April 30, 2015 [3 favorites]


I remember your previous Ask concerning your parcopresis and want to say that this mefite is proud of you for the progress you've made. The last time you talked about this on the green your anxiety about isolation while defecating was leading you put yourself into incredibly dangerous, sketchy situations (trespassing onto the local university in the middle of the night) where you were at risk of mugging or assault or arrest or god knows what. Right now you've beaten down that monster phobia so much that the worst impact it's having on your life is a petty but relatively normal roommate bathroom dispute? That's really, really excellent progress. You and your therapist have been doing good work. I don't like that people are saying you're "obsessed" with what is obviously a major mental health issue, I have a ton of respect for the work you've done with your anxiety so far, and I appreciate that you are asking how to proceed to let this phobia interfere as little as possible in your life and relationships while still feeling and being safe in your own space.

That being said, you are kind of grasping at straws here, and you know it- the single hair, the bodily fluids, the water bill nonsense, disrespecting Maureen by calling her a "girlfriend" in scare quotes, and all the other things you've admitted you're trying to use to rationalize the current huge anxiety flareup you're having. I think you owe Maureen, Kyle, and *yourself* better than that. I think it might also help to try to get your therapist or some other trusted person to run a reality check on the way your old phobic habits have colored your ideas of normal social toilet use. Your wish for Maureen to just go back to her own apartment to shower after sex or claiming that communal showers should be for emergencies only sounds like it comes from the same crazy anxiety troll logic that convinced you that sneaking into abandoned university property at night to do your business was safe, okay behavior. It was was unfair and inhumane to you when your phobias were pushing you to live that way and it's inhumane for you to suggest that Maureen have to do the same thing, which is why you're getting contradictory pushback from people saying that yes, the floor plan/exit situation sucks, but it's also unreasonable for you to ban Maureen and other future people from the shower in a house where they are guests.
posted by moonlight on vermont at 3:29 PM on April 30, 2015 [52 favorites]


Btw the most practical solutions are either sucking it up and being ok walking past ppl in the shower, communicating with Maureen ("hey can you use the downstairs toilet when I'm home so I'm not trapped?") switching rooms or paying for that bathroom to be only yours. It sounds like your room, Kyle's room, and the bathroom were originally a single suite or your space was a large walk-in closet that was converted, at some point in the house's history, into a bedroom to make room for another person to live and pay rent. The only solution I can see to that floor plan is either renting the bathroom and connecting bedroom as a suite OR renting the entire top floor to a couple or to super laid back people who don't care about walking through an occupied bathroom to get access to the rest of the house. If you're not getting a major rent reduction for living in the bathroom-door room you really should be. Good luck.
posted by moonlight on vermont at 5:11 PM on April 30, 2015


A lot of people are saying "focus only on access." But then others are pointing out that this doesn't get you what you want, because she could shower in your bathroom when you aren't home. I'd try to be honest with him.

You: "I have a sense of privacy that's different than a lot of people, I guess, in that it makes me uncomfortable to share a bathroom. I really like a bathroom to feel like private space. It's actually a really big deal to me. I even use the bathroom at work as little as possible. I got used to sharing with you, but to be honest, that took some time. I'm now pretty uncomfortable sharing the bathroom with Maureen. It's nothing personal to her, she's great, it's my issue, but I'm wondering if there's any way she could use other bathrooms. I realize this is a huge request, but I'm wondering if there's any way we could work this out."

Him: "hmm... I don't know..."

You: "if it helps, I'd even be willing to pay extra rent to have this be more of my private bathroom. That could reduce what you or others pay, to compensate you for the inconvenience."

Him: "you know, the more i think about it, the less I think that will work. So, I'm sorry, but no."

You: "okay, I understand. I will try to get used to it and see if it gets easier with time. If not, though, I'm wondering if we could work out a way to let me out of the lease early. I don't want to break an agreement or leave you in the lurch, but I just never considered the possibility of guests when I signed the agreement. And privacy is just a really big issue for me."

Then, come back in a week or so asking about breaking the lease. If he doesn't let you out, start making noise about the building code until he realizes that it's in everyone's best interests to let you find a place that better meets your needs.
posted by salvia at 6:39 PM on April 30, 2015 [5 favorites]


I think a lot of the difference in whether people think this is reasonable or unreasonable is cultural. If you grow up in a house with one bathroom and lots of people sharing, then having to walk to the other end of the house to use the toilet in the night, or to shower (even after sex) is just what happens. And people suck it up.

But to people who grew up in a house where everyone has their own bathroom, and are used to popping straight into the ensuite, naked, after sexy funtimes, then of course it seems unreasonable that Maureen might have to walk past a perfectly good bathroom next to where she is sleeping and go down to the basement instead.

Kyle and Maureen's background here will probably determine whether they find your request reasonable or not, sorry.

I think the scripts given above are your best bet. And the alternative option for Maureen has to be in the house. There is no universe where it is reasonable to ask her to pop home to go to the toilet. What if she wakes up in the middle of the night to pee? She's not going to go outside down the street to do so, but she could quite reasonably go down the stairs. I think it's reasonable to ask this even though currently the basement bathroom is only used by the other two housemates. I mean, why does the extra person visiting get to use your bathroom automatically? If the house has two (and a half) bathrooms, then any one of them should be fair game for visitors, unless someone is paying extra rent specifically to get sole use of a bathroom, OR if one of them is located in a place that is, oh just to pick an example, completely blocking someone from getting into or out of their room which they do pay good rent to access!
posted by lollusc at 7:51 PM on April 30, 2015 [1 favorite]


Although I agree you should move or switch rooms with Kyle, here's another idea not yet mentioned...

Is there any way you could work with Kyle to put in a hospital-style curtain system using ceiling tracks? (IKEA sells straight and curved lengths of the track as well as the curtain fasteners.) Using long opaque curtains that reached from the ceiling to the floor, could you block off visual access to the toilet and shower area such that you could come and go freely when Maureen was using the bathroom? Then it's on her (or any other guest) to pull the curtains shut when using the facilities.
posted by carmicha at 8:14 PM on April 30, 2015 [4 favorites]


You've got to just talk to Kyle, and see what he says.

You're a gay dude? I'd be WAY more comfortable having you walk in on me as Maureen (no sexual attraction issues) than Kyle! Men's and Women's restrooms, I always thought, were so segregated to avoid unwanted perving. I'd think the reason Kyle doesn't mind you walking in on him is that he's straight and not interested in you whatsover (not necessarily true in reverse). So yeah - Marueen might not care if you don't care! So anyway, there's another potential outcome. Freak out with your therapist, and talk to Kyle about egress.

Also - I am a girl who uses the bathroom a lot because I have a diagnosed medical condition. I'm medicated, but I still pee decidedly on the "more frequent" side of things (it's also sometimes painful). I know this, and (I totally sympathise here!), not having easy access to a toilet makes me anxious which makes me have to pee even more. So if I were Maureen, I might easily just say - yeah, I need easy toilet access, don't want to lock you in/out - we'll just stay at my place! You don't know until you ask.

You also might be able to negotiate use hours - maybe it's okay for Maureen to use the toilet between midnight and 5am (or whatever) so she's not stumbling around the house in the dark, and otherwise can use the 1st floor toilet. That way there are sort of designated other-person-free times.

You definitely should have some way (an indicator light?) of knowing that someone is in the bathroom.

You should have a rule that if they're going to be more than, say, 5 min (anything more than a quick pee) they need to TELL YOU and accommodate you somewhat (if you're about to leave but need to grab your laptop and a sweater, or can wait, or whatever).

You can get out of the lease if you want/need to. If Kyle's halfway reasonable, he's going to realize this is a mutually benefitial option. He's also going to realize that it will be beneficial for future tennents to address the egress issue somehow - not everyone is going to want to be walking in on Kyle.

You don't need to live alone - you just need an ensuite. Realize that in group living situations partners and friends are always going to come and go - it really needs to be yours.

And dude... stop walking in on Kyle! wtf? Not a real solution.

(That said, I do get a "girls are icky" vibe - we really aren't. It's worth discussing with your threapist. Our hair, and bodily fluids, aren't really any different to yours or Kyle's. A lot of dudes - my husband included - got squicked out by women's bodies in 6th grade health class, tuned out, and never learned how things work. It's worth getting over, for your own peace of mind and because you know - women are people, and I bet you know how men's bodies work.)
posted by jrobin276 at 8:15 PM on April 30, 2015 [5 favorites]


I think a lot of the difference in whether people think this is reasonable or unreasonable is cultural. If you grow up in a house with one bathroom and lots of people sharing, then having to walk to the other end of the house to use the toilet in the night, or to shower (even after sex) is just what happens. And people suck it up.

I grew up with only one bathroom and have lived mostly in one-bath apartments as an adult. Including in a shared, "co-ed" apartment in which the only bathroom was inside my bedroom. IMO, that perspective doesn't make the OP's unwillingness to share the bathroom more reasonable, that makes it *less* so.

This bathroom that the OP wants to bar Maureen from *is* the shared hall bathroom. In my understanding of the layout, there *isn't* another full bathroom that he is willing to have her use.

As I read the OP, the "compromise" he's willing to make is that she uses the *toilet* in a half-bath on another floor in the house, so that he doesn't even have to shit in the same toilet that she occasionally does. He wants to bar her from showering in the shared bathroom, and therefore from showering in the house altogether -- he wants her to trek to her building a block away if she wants/needs to shower instead.

Anyway, since this is also Kyle's bathroom that's being discussed, where Kyle himself is presumably going to be showering and taking a piss after sex or when he gets out of bed, I think that it just isn't "enforceable" to bar Kyle's sex partner from using that bathroom, too. If nothing else, Kyle and his girlfriend will likely sometimes want to use it together.

If the OP wants to try making and enforcing a ban on anyone but Kyle using the bathroom, that's his business. But I doubt that any good will come of it, because he really doesn't have any alternative arrangement to offer that's at all comparable. I doubt that, "I guess she can shit in the downstairs half-bath from time to time, but she can't go in your bathroom or shower here" is going to fly with Kyle (though of course, the OP is free to try).

So my advice is for the OP to find a way to stop thinking of the bathroom as his personal territory and to stop being so possessive of it (and probably, to stop being so possessive of Kyle, as well). To me, he's most likely to be successful if he either changes rooms so that the bathroom isn't the literal entrance/exit to his personal bedroom, or if he moves out altogether.

Realistically, I doubt that the OP paying extra to keep the bathroom solely for himself is an option, since there's not really any other full bath that Kyle can use without a lot of inconvenience. It sounds like there's one full bath en suite (in a couple's bedroom), and one full bath in the basement (that another roommate and her SO uses -- as more-or-less en suite also, I think?), and a half bath in some public area of the house (off the kitchen or something?). This is the only remaining bathroom -- the one that he and Kyle already share. Of course, the OP is free to ask Kyle about the possibility, too. Who knows, maybe if the OP makes it worth his while financially and the other roommates agree, he'll go for it.
posted by rue72 at 8:57 PM on April 30, 2015 [2 favorites]


I'd think the reason Kyle doesn't mind you walking in on him is that he's straight and not interested in you whatsover (not necessarily true in reverse)
I'm not interested in Kyle either, whatsoever.

And dude... stop walking in on Kyle! wtf? Not a real solution.
Where did I say that? I just meant that sometimes when he goes pee/poop, I walk past him. We have mutually agreed it wouldn't be a problem and that he doesn't mind if I walk past him while he's doing his thing, as long as we don't stare at each other.

Thanks for all your advice. If any of you have more thoughts, feel free to pipe in. However, in the meantime, I'll discuss this with my therapist tomorrow and shoot all the proposed ideas and see what her thoughts are.
posted by dubious_dude at 9:14 PM on April 30, 2015


Re: the hospital curtain idea I posted above, Kyle might like it too, based on your update.
posted by carmicha at 9:21 PM on April 30, 2015


[A few comments deleted. Commenters, please don't get into JudgeMe or repeated answers second-guessing what OP has said; if you've given your advice, just leave it at that. And dubious_dude, at this point please just let the question sit without getting into further back-and-forth with people answering. Thanks.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 10:33 PM on April 30, 2015


One last note I want to give here, dubious dude, please please please talk to your therapist about all this before talking to Kyle. They are more likely to know you, and understand how you might come across when you talk to Kyle. I think some people react to the way you are writing here in a particular way, and the way you communicate to Kyle may be off in a similar way, or it may be far more comfortable than you come across here.
posted by Cannon Fodder at 12:56 AM on May 1, 2015 [3 favorites]


I think you need to prepare yourself to move.

But I definitely suggest you talk to your therapist before even telling Kyle about your upcoming move.

Your seeming hang up on women in general, or this poor woman specifically--who you alternatively describe as "[Kyle's] girlfriend" in a derisive way, a "stranger", and a "clingygirlfriend" (for needing to go to the bathroom?!);
your focus on a single stray hair and, perhaps most alarmingly, your freak-out about her hypothetical "bodily fluids" really comes off as either (at best) pettily jealous, worrying in a mental-health way, or more likely just plain old ugly misogyny.

These things you are saying are offensive.
If you don't see that, you need someone to introduce reality to this situation.

You need to not say any of these offensive things to Kyle about a woman he obviously seems to care about. Any mentions or references to Kyle about the offensive things would serve only to make you look terribly small (at best--at best!), and it could be the difference between
"Well, it was nice having you live here, so long :)" and
"Get the hell out of my house."
posted by blueberry at 7:38 AM on May 1, 2015 [20 favorites]


First and foremost I think you need to figure out, maybe with the help of your therapist, whether you can be okay with her using the shared shower and toilet when you're not home. I think what caused a lot of people in this thread to jump on you for being unreasonable was your apparent insistence that she not use the shared bathroom ever. If you are unwilling to let her use the shared bathroom even if you're not at home, then I agree with the others here that you should seriously consider moving.

However, it sounds like you do want to work on breaking down some of your more rigid issues and anxieties surrounding the parcopresis and related problems, so I would suggest that you work with your therapist on getting to the point where you can be okay with someone other than Kyle using the shared bathroom. You mention wanting to continue living in a shared situation so that you can work on your parcopresis, so I think you should approach the Maureen bathroom situation as a similar kind of "exposure" therapy.

With that being said, I still think it's okay to request that Maureen not use the shared bathroom while you're at home so that you don't have to deal with being trapped in your room. Maybe you can work with your therapist to practice broaching this discussion in a friendly, low-key, non-accusatory way. The only concession here that you might want to consider is if you would be okay with Maureen using the bathroom at night when you're asleep, so that she doesn't have to go to a different floor if she wakes up and has to use the bathroom at like 4 am.

It sounds like you like your living situation overall, so I hope you'll find a way to be flexible enough to make this work with Kyle.
posted by litera scripta manet at 11:05 AM on May 1, 2015 [5 favorites]


Definitely talk through all of this with your therapist. The fact that your anxiety jumped immensely with her spending just ONE night is worth exploring.

How did you get used to Kyle sharing the same bathroom, and especially get used to walking past him while he's in the middle of his private business (the same private business you struggle with)? Use those techniques to calm your anxieties about Maureen being suddenly around. Backing your anxiety down a bit will help you think and communicate more effectively.

Get a basket or shelf to hang your shampoo/soap/shower supplies higher in the shower so that no one else's bodily fluids fall on them. Easy solution to that problem. Use some strong Command hooks and a wire shower basket (most also have suction cups but they don't always hold) to make that work.
posted by MultiFaceted at 12:53 AM on May 3, 2015


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