Conflicts abound with roommates, including a trigger situation.
April 28, 2016 10:26 AM   Subscribe

Currently going through a conflict with roommates, and unsure of how to navigate the situation. (toilet paper, nobody taking ownership of getting more toilet paper, and a harsh text from a roommate)

I live with five other people in a house (single family unit) with five bedrooms. Two of those people are our landlords (let's call them Kyle and Manuel), Manuel's girlfriend Chelsea, and two other roommates (Mark and Dan). We're all deaf. This is just to establish the big picture.

I have signed the lease for another year (2016-17). However, unlike my last question, plans has changed. I'll be living at the same house, same room, for another year. The landlords did this because it seemed to them that construction would take longer than expected. I am sharing this to head off any questions about why I signed the lease again related to the room with no window; that part is an non-issue.

So. Things lately has been a bit hard/tense. First, background information: Manuel (landlord #1) is currently out of state, visiting family. Chelsea, who shares a room with him, is staying around. Manuel is a nice guy - I've known him since the seventh grade - but he used to bully me in high school. He has came a long way since then, and is no longer a bully. He can, however, be a bit intimidating at times, and moody as well. Chelsea moved in one year after I moved in, and since her moving-in, the house dynamics changed a lot (as she is the landlord's girlfriend). She's tough to talk to - she's bossy, intimidating, very reserved, takes over the kitchen, rarely responds to group roommate texts, and in the past, has yelled at roommates/scolded them (including me) over little things. We've all learned to live with her, but she can be hard to live with. Manuel seems "blind" to all this and defends her, seemingly, unconditionally. Kyle is overall a nice guy - but very passive and does not stand up for himself, and also seems a bit intimidated by Manuel at times. (I could be wrong, but that's my impression.)

The other day, I discovered we had run out of toilet paper, with only a few rolls remaining. As Kyle was leaving for an international trip soon (today actually), Mark was going to be out of town, and Manuel was already out of state, getting toilet paper was a challenge, due to our various busy schedules. Only a few of them had Costco memberships, where we usually get TP. I sent a group text explaining we were almost out of toilet paper and suggested that someone with Costco either get it or coordinate with Kyle for a ride. There was a lot of back and forth on the group text, and everyone was busy. Chelsea, who has a Costco membership, did not respond to the group texts at all. Mark got increasingly frustrated by Chelsea's lack of response, and texted her, but did not get a followup. Dan "could, but I'm busy with finals." This back and forth went on - it was just bad timing. Finally, I said I would go to Target after work and pick up TP, to get it over with. Manuel, Kyle, and Mark agreed. A while later, Chelsea finally replied to the group text and said this:

"OMG you all are complaining over a small thing. I'll go to Costco myself and get TP. I expect someone else to get it next time."

This triggered me hard. I have bad experiences with being bullied, and her message came across as very divisive and somewhat bullying, especially as: a) it's not a small thing; it was important for us to have toilet paper; and b) she didn't respond to the group text or Mark's texts initially - Kyle and Mark even had to contact Manuel to ask him about Chelsea's lack of responses. It was a mess. I also found it very rude and somewhat bullying. I'm not sure if it was directed at me; it didn't seem to be, but her text was also unclear - what 'little thing'? The TP itself? The ride? Logistics of who picks it up? And why minimize our feelings?

Nobody responded to her text. Instead, I responded and said that getting TP was not necessary - I had bought a pack already at Target. What really hurts is, only Mark and Kyle thanked me. Manuel, Chelsea, and Dan did not thank me or show any appreciation. I feel like I "saved the day" by cutting across all the red tape and getting the TP, saving Kyle a trip to the store (he had to pack), saving Chelsea a trip to Costco, and saving Dan/Mark from having to give up time to do it. Especially Manuel - he did not thank me, even as a landlord.

When I saw Kyle later that night, he thanked me for putting up with Chelsea, saying that Chelsea was a blunt person and not to take it personally, and that nobody was perfect. I may have taken it wrong, but that implied he seemed to agree with Chelsea that we were complaining over a small thing. However, it could also mean he knew she was overreacting/being rude and didn't want to get too involved. His position may make things more "sticky." I wish he could have stood up to her, however. I really wish Manuel and Kyle could have stood up, or not enable her to treat us/talk to us that way.

I just feel like the whole house environment has felt tense/frustrating. Mark often shares how frustrated he is with Chelsea and her taking over the kitchen/her approach to people. For example, she would tell people as they were drying dishes, to make sure everything was completely dry. Calling people out for not immediately washing their dishes. Generally nagging people and just making the household feel unpleasant. Both Dan and Mark admitted to me that they avoided the kitchen/common area because of Chelsea, and I've been guilty of doing that many times myself.

Manuel seems to be blind and "kiss the ground" she walks on (probably because she cooks for him all the time), and defends Chelsea. We did have a roommate meeting in 2013 to air our then-frustrations - Chelsea was looking at roommates' shoes and seeing who was home and who wasn't, and was wondering if a roommate had a girlfriend over. This caused an outcry, and Manuel defended Chelsea, while admitting what she did was wrong - but did defend her nonetheless. It was an ugly roommate meeting, with tempers all over the place. When Chelsea called out Mark for having his sister over when he wasn't there (only for a short time) and ended up kicking out his sister, this caused another outcry, with Manuel defending Chelsea. Just many little messes here and there. Oddly enough, other than those spates, we (so far) get along for the most part.

I have signed the lease already, so I'm stuck - and it's a really good deal, and what I can afford right now. (DC is getting more and more expensive by the day.) So, "move" isn't exactly the advice I'm looking for; rather, how do I navigate this? How can I "get through" to Manuel, make him realize that his girlfriend is really driving us all up the wall with her behavior, and making me feel uncomfortable/triggered? How can I make this a peaceful environment again? I also feel hurt and underappreciated by not being thanked by everyone; particularly, Manuel and Chelsea. I spoke with my therapist this morning, but my feelings are still jumbled and I still feel shaken up, as I'm sensitive to triggers (her text, then not being thanked by anyone except for Mark and Kyle).

Thanks.
posted by dubious_dude to Human Relations (71 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
 
Dude. This really is not a major situation.

Toilet paper retrieval is not worth 10 paragraphs of explanation and grief, and if it is that stressful for you, consider having fewer or no roommates.
posted by rachaelfaith at 10:39 AM on April 28, 2016 [166 favorites]


... all this over toilet paper? It wasn't like a stalemate for weeks as the last roll dwindled down to the last square. There was a problem and eventually you did the quick thing (Target) rather than your preferred solution (Costco). That's how life is with roommates. Many things are far from ideal.
posted by stowaway at 10:40 AM on April 28, 2016 [39 favorites]


The other day, I discovered we had run out of toilet paper, with only a few rolls remaining
This is not an emergency. Toilet paper is readily available everywhere. You are in a modern metropolis, IIRC. This should not be a crisis.
Chelsea finally replied to the group text and said this:

"OMG you all are complaining over a small thing. I'll go to Costco myself and get TP. I expect someone else to get it next time."

This triggered me hard. I have bad experiences with being bullied
While I appreciate it that you have had rough times, I would respectfully suggest that you find a new therapist. You are getting upset about group texts regarding toilet paper. Your therapist is not helping you move along through life, you don't sound like you are in a very good place! I would have responded the same way that Chelsea did, if I had been involved in some other activity for a few hours, and people blew my phone up about toilet paper. The response is not out of bounds.
posted by kellyblah at 10:46 AM on April 28, 2016 [118 favorites]


This could be restated as follows:

My roommate's girlfriend annoys me and my other roommates. However, the boyfriend owns the place. What should I do?

Answers are: 1. Move out. 2. Deal with it. 3. Try to make her be less annoying.
Sounds like (1) isn't an option, and (3) is very difficult in general.
posted by demiurge at 10:46 AM on April 28, 2016 [23 favorites]


Sounds like Chelsea has become the proverbial 'bitch eating crackers,' to you, i.e. whatever she most recently did to irritate you isn't really the problem. Her reaction to the toilet paper discussion seems fully within the range of normal and legitimate, and miles away from bullying.

It might help, in a way, to consider that it's not always other people's responsibility to fix your bad feelings for you.
posted by jon1270 at 10:47 AM on April 28, 2016 [70 favorites]


With all due respect and considering your posting history, the best thing you can do for yourself is to find a way to live by yourself. DC isn't cheap, but it isn't NYC either; surely you can find at least a studio apartment.
posted by easily confused at 10:49 AM on April 28, 2016 [20 favorites]


a) it's not a small thing; it was important for us to have toilet paper; and b) she didn't respond to the group text or Mark's texts initially

Of course it's important, but you can't reasonably function as a household with this level of discussion and interaction over small things. She is probably annoyed at all the group texts if there's lots of chatter about household tasks with no clear system and no clear responsibilities. People have stuff to do!

If you don't have systems in place for who is responsible for what, I'd work on getting some ASAP. If someone flakes on a responsibility, fix or band aid it if you can (like go to the grocery store and get a couple of non-bulk TP rolls or something), and bring it up at the next house meeting.
posted by Jon Mitchell at 10:49 AM on April 28, 2016 [12 favorites]


The other day, I discovered we had run out of toilet paper, with only a few rolls remaining. As Kyle was leaving for an international trip soon (today actually), Mark was going to be out of town, and Manuel was already out of state, getting toilet paper was a challenge, due to our various busy schedules. Only a few of them had Costco memberships, where we usually get TP. I sent a group text explaining...

This is where you went wrong.

While you usually get toilet paper from Costco, if you suddenly realize you only have a few rolls, and nobody is going to have time to make a Costco run soon, the answer is to go to a regular store and buy a small amount of toilet paper yourself. 7-11 sells toilet paper by the single roll, if mobility or deaf communication issues are the key. It also sounds like you solved this one yourself by agreeing to pick some up from Target. You should have just done that in the first place and not generated a flurry of texts.

I just went through an annoying roommate situation where, ironically, Who Buys Toilet Paper was a major issue. In that situation, it was my crap roommate using my toilet paper and never buying any, or even doing a basic human adult thing like asking me to be The Person Who Buys The Toilet Paper and offering to pay for her share. She just assumed it was my job to provide her with basic household items like this. Which got very frustrating, very quickly, especially as other issues escalated in the living situation. So I kind of get Chelsea's annoyance. It sucks to feel like you're the real adult in the house, taking care of all the most minute domestic tasks, for a bunch of people who don't even know how to buy their own goddamn toilet paper. (I may have said this sentence myself, out loud, in the past few months!)

Going forward, it sounds like you guys should set up a monthly Costco trip (or however often works/is sustainable), wherein each of you split the costs for household basics like this, and, yeah, if you run short of something unexpectedly, the person who notices or needs the thing or who will be around to want it just goes out and buys it without all the back and forth.
posted by Sara C. at 10:50 AM on April 28, 2016 [28 favorites]


I just want to say that I understand that it's not really about TP; it's about one roommate not treating you, or others, with respect. You all seem to live in close quarters, and have done so for a while, so these kinds of small things not only add up, but set a standard for larger issues.

I think you might benefit from thinking about ways to talk about these issues that don't focus on the small incident at hand, but that focus on the underlying issues. It's hard to do that without seeming to attack other people, or their personalities, but if you can it will be significantly helpful.

(Also - People being dismissive of this issue because it's framed by the TP incident is probably not helping you. It's hard to be patient with this kind of thing, but one advantage of strangers on the Internet is their ability to engage only when they _can_ be patient.)
posted by amtho at 10:50 AM on April 28, 2016 [3 favorites]


Agreed that this has become a "bitch eating crackers" situation.

I can see how Chelsea isn't the best roommate ever, but in this specific instance she did literally nothing wrong at all. All she did was not be at your and your roommates' beck and call to text back immediately about a non-emergency. Anyone would be a little snarky if they set down their phone for ten minutes and returned to find a WWIII of texts over *toilet paper.*

You weren't even actually out of toilet paper! You yourself say there were still "a few rolls left."

You need to ride out this lease and then not live with roommates, because if you are being triggered by only being thanked by several people instead of all of them, I do not think any communal living situation is going to be healthy for you.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 10:51 AM on April 28, 2016 [64 favorites]


"OMG you all are complaining over a small thing. I'll go to Costco myself and get TP. I expect someone else to get it next time."

This to me sounds like an exasperated comment coming from someone who has no time for the melodrama. Don't get me wrong, she sounds like a bit of an ass and a control freak, but not a bully, in this particular situation. You were not bullied.

I'm sorry you feel so diminished by not being thanked. Please try not to dwell on this. You are not going to be thanked for everything that you do, nor are you going to remember to thank others for everything that they do. Try to reframe this in your mind not as you "saving the day" but more like "oh hey we're running low on TP", which may be how everyone else saw it...not as an emergency but as something to be noted and taken care of soonish.
posted by the webmistress at 10:56 AM on April 28, 2016 [17 favorites]


I would look at how Chelsea responded to you and the steps that she took 1) ignored a significant amount of group texts, 2) made an observation (not a big deal - reread the several paragraphs you made about TP - it isn't a catastrophe, it's okay, everyone fixates on something negligible at some point), and 3) she stated a limit. Why should she get the TP each time?

So use that in your guidebook as to how to deal with her. She sends texts about washing dishes /ignore most of it and if you engage, do it carefully. You can agree to do something to help out, but negotiate and don't get trapped into doing it 10000 times.

I wouldn't gossip about her (that is what the elaborate conversations her about what she does in that place and this place.) Spend your time focusing on work, or plans as to how to get a new apartment next year.

I don't mean this in a bad way, I understand the desire to save money, but do you want to spend your days thinking about TP? To the point it makes you angry? Make plans to get out and not renew next year. Focus on that and let go of the rest of this.

Nthing a suggestion above. Make a system (all supplies needed to on a white board.) Take turn shopping, or everyone puts in an equal amount of money, etc. If it is really insane, you can always buy your own roll, take it in and out with you, but that gets petty and it means you should have left long long ago.
posted by Wolfster at 10:57 AM on April 28, 2016 [6 favorites]


With all due respect and considering your posting history, the best thing you can do for yourself is to find a way to live by yourself. DC isn't cheap, but it isn't NYC either; surely you can find at least a studio apartment.

I disagree with everyone saying you just need to live alone. First of all, that would like triple your rent, amirite? That's pretty unrealistic. Second of all, a minor conflict like Who Got the Toilet Paper is Adulting 101. All of you have some learning to do.

Probably there are some structural fixes you could implement, like
-a regular house meeting where Supplies is one of the agenda items
-a shopping list app like Wunderlist
-my personal favorite: a list above the toilet entitled "Did I Buy Toilet Paper?" where you get to put your name and the date down if you did

But really, it's about accepting that the purchase of TP is just one of those little house chores that everyone needs to take responsibility for without expecting a gold star. Maybe next time you can allow yourself to just buy the TP and forget about it. If people really care that you didn't go to Costco, someone else will step up. But most likely they'll be happy to have the toilet paper.
posted by the_blizz at 10:59 AM on April 28, 2016 [2 favorites]


Is there some reason you don't just keep a few extra rolls of TP in your room for emergencies?
posted by AugustWest at 11:02 AM on April 28, 2016 [13 favorites]


This is not about the toilet paper. It's about the tensions of living in a house with a bunch of people. This kind of stuff is going to come up, and it's not going to be fun.

I would strongly encourage you to save your energy for finding a new housing situation -- one that doesn't include a bunch of people, or if it does include a bunch of people you are all strangers -- not former middle school classmates with a bad power dynamic in your history. Every time Chelsea does something that causes you pain, or makes you feel bad, I'd suggest that you do something concrete, ideally related to the situation: Look for housing on Craigslist, put some amount of money into a jar that you can use to help put down a deposit or pay application fees, even just go for a walk and find three things to appreciate in the outdoors.

Sometimes people are not perfect. Try to empathize with Chelsea here. Imagine this: she's at work, at an important meeting. Her phone starts to buzz. And buzz. And buzz. It's going wild, blowing up with texts. She picks it up -- unfortunately, she forgot to turn off her ringer -- just to turn off the sound and sees 5 texts that seem to be discussing toilet paper, from her roommates. Really? She gets back to her meeting. She apologizes to the senior people at the table, her boss, others, and feels really embarrassed that she forgot to turn off her phone. Two hours later, she leaves the meeting and looks: 7 more new texts. She's exasperated. She does a lot of emotional labor -- she cooks most of Manuel's meals, cleans up the kitchen multiple times a day, washes other people's dishes (she's stopped doing that, now, since she decided to stand up for herself and remind people to do it themselves, so that she doesn't have to either cook in a dirty kitchen or do someone else's dishes constantly) -- and she's the only woman in a house full of men who seem to want to fight about who is going to do the chores rather than just doing the chores themselves.

This could be her perspective. It might not be entirely right, or correct, but she is probably having trouble too. She might feel triggered as well. Instead of perceiving her actions as spiteful, bullying, and aggressive, maybe you could frame them in your mind as the reactions of a person who is kind of at her wit's end with things, and who just wants to stop being everyone's mom for awhile.

This, in turn, might help you to cope with her reactions a bit better while you figure out how to get a new place. Because saying "OMG you all are complaining over a small thing. I'll go to Costco myself and get TP. I expect someone else to get it next time" and not thanking you? Those things are pretty minor in the scheme of things. I am not saying that they don't feel major, but she did not do anything hostile. She got irritated, expressed her irritation, and did not feel like thanking you for the toilet paper which to her came at the expense of dealing with an unnecessary text-a-thon when she was busy doing something else.

Best of luck. For now, try empathy, and for the long-term, come up with a plan to move.
posted by sockermom at 11:09 AM on April 28, 2016 [76 favorites]


getting toilet paper was a challenge, due to our various busy schedules.

To be honest, this is where I stopped reading. You need to grow up a bit and figure out how to adult. It is not a hardship to go out and spend a few dollars on toilet paper for the house.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 11:28 AM on April 28, 2016 [50 favorites]


To add to that, I'm on Chelsea's side of this. She did nothing wrong, and if she had come here asking the question from her perspective, I think most of us would have told her to send that exact text.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 11:31 AM on April 28, 2016 [36 favorites]


ok, since i realize my advice was solely "move" and you don't want to hear that, here are answers to your questions:

How can I "get through" to Manuel, make him realize that his girlfriend is really driving us all up the wall with her behavior, and making me feel uncomfortable/triggered?

You cannot do this thing. You have an issue with Chelsea? You need to take it up with CHELSEA. Manuel isn't her owner or her dad or her boss. He IS her boyfriend, however, which means hello, he will 100% all of the time take her side over yours. So there's no point in going to him anyway.

How can I make this a peaceful environment again?

Well, you could start by picking up enough slack that Chelsea doesn't feel the need to ride herd on you guys for leaving wet, dirty dishes everywhere. If you know damn well you're cleaning up your shit and she's still nagging, then let it roll off your back. She's just talking to hear herself talk.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 11:34 AM on April 28, 2016 [47 favorites]


As Kyle was leaving for an international trip soon (today actually), Mark was going to be out of town, and Manuel was already out of state, getting toilet paper was a challenge, due to our various busy schedules. Only a few of them had Costco memberships, where we usually get TP. I sent a group text explaining we were almost out of toilet paper and suggested that someone with Costco either get it or coordinate with Kyle for a ride.

Look, I’m sorry, I know this is related to your legitimate medical issues, and so you are extra sensitive, but you were the one being unreasonable. Being down to a few rolls while the majority of the housemates are out of town is not the same thing as being “out of toilet paper”.

Asking someone to drive you to Costco (especially in the DC metro area) shortly before that person leaves the country? Incredibly unreasonable. Asking other roommates, who are out of town or about to go out of town, to get involved in planning a toilet paper trip? Also unreasonable. Chelsea was right to be annoyed, and her response is not remotely bullying.

You need to print out this post and show it to your therapist. Your expectations are wildly out of sync with those of everyone you live with, and almost everyone answering this question.
posted by a fiendish thingy at 11:34 AM on April 28, 2016 [69 favorites]


Manuel seems to be blind and "kiss the ground" she walks on (probably because she cooks for him all the time), and defends Chelsea.

Also, this attitude on your part is frankly baffling and pretty sexist. He feels this way about her because she is his girlfriend. That's how people feel about the people they date! They date them because they like them!
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 11:38 AM on April 28, 2016 [77 favorites]


I'm with Chelsea. If my four male housemates were group texting about who had to buy the TP and making it into an urgent thing and clearly implying that I had to be involved in a trip to Costco to buy some goddamn toilet paper and that it's a joint decision that I, the sole woman in the house, had to be involved in, I'd have a tough time not being pissed off either.

cutting across all the red tape and getting the TP

You went to the store and bought some toilet paper. This is not cutting red tape. This is... going to the store and buying a few rolls of toilet paper.
posted by The corpse in the library at 11:56 AM on April 28, 2016 [89 favorites]


I wonder if part of Chelsea's frustration and why this is such a big deal is that you seem to have put yourself in a situation where you thinks it's reasonable for other people to do your chores explicitly because they are paying for resources you aren't. It seems like you think "getting toilet paper" is someone else's job because you don't have a CostCo membership/transportation but being unwilling or unable to pay for a car or CostCo membership so you can't undertake that particular errand yourself doesn't absolve you of household responsibilities. I know that these may not be possible for you, which is fine, but they don't mean that it's someone else's job to run errands and spend money on stuff you need.

I would be very frustrated if I shared a house with a group of people and I got a flurry of texts about a minor problem* anyone could solve but have decided is my problem because they think I need to donate my time as well as money to the household. If they were then upset when I didn't thank them for asking me to run an errand, I would be pretty angry, especially if stuff like that (asking me to to errands they could do themselves) were a pattern.

* "We have literally run out of toilet paper" is major problem; "we need to buy more toilet paper soon but there are a few rolls left" is a minor problem . Source: I previously bought all the toilet paper in a house with roommates.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 11:56 AM on April 28, 2016 [29 favorites]


Going to chime in here and say that that you need to figure out why you escalated what is a small errand into Defcon 1 state of emergency. Were I Chelsea, I'd have the exact same reaction.

So what kept you from just getting some from Target in the first place and asking one of the Costco people to pick some up on the next run?

Here's what it looks like from Chelsea's point of view, "OMG, Dubious_Dude drives me up the wall. He puts out an emergency call because we got low on TP. Then he acts like picking up a 12-pack merits laurels. His passive-aggressive actions make me really angry."

Everyone has quirks. Chelsea has hers, you have yours. She is probably seeing your text as a way of blowing an errand out of proportion and asking for attention. Not that it was, but it could be perceived that way.

Now I feel you on the shit-ticket stockpile. I don't feel comfortable unless I have at least 24 rolls in the house. But I'd be goddammed if I send out a big old text to organize Balto to break through the mountain pass for some bog rolls.

So you made a mistake. My recommendation is to act towards Chelsea the way you'd like for her to act towards you. Tell her, "I'm sorry I got all wrapped around the axel on this toilet paper thing. You're 100% right, it was silly, and easily resolved with a quick trip to Target."

The more you feel misunderstood, I guarantee you others feel it too.

The next time you think something is an emergency, stop. Take a deep breath and ask yourself:

1. Is this really on fire such that I need to bring others into the situation?
2. Can I resolve this issue quickly, on my own without too much hassle?
3. What benefit would there be to my getting others involved in this situation?

This is part of communal living and of being an adult. You HAVE to be okay with doing something for the house without being thanked or even recognized.

That said, I'd stash my own small stockpile in my room because I'm THAT bugged out about not having any.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 11:57 AM on April 28, 2016 [33 favorites]


At my house, we basically have a quarterly "get all the things" day. My house is less tense and smaller than yours so I understand that I'm not having to deal with all the personalities, but:

We pick a day and make sure we have a car. Sometimes we all go on Things Day, sometimes only two of the three go. But we buy a LOT of paper towels, toilet paper, dish detergent, cleaning supplies generally, light bulbs, cat litter and anything else that is heavy or bulky. We aim for at least a 3 months' supply. We make multiple trips if that's what it takes.

Buying all the things at once makes it easy to figure out money and minimizes the necessary but awkward "oh could someone else do this thing ASAP since I can't do it because life" texts.

Obviously this doesn't solve your problem with Chelsea, but it might streamline the household goods bit.
posted by Frowner at 12:11 PM on April 28, 2016 [7 favorites]


I have bad experiences with being bullied, and her message came across as very divisive and somewhat bullying, especially as: a) it's not a small thing; it was important for us to have toilet paper; and b) she didn't respond to the group text or Mark's texts initially - Kyle and Mark even had to contact Manuel to ask him about Chelsea's lack of responses. It was a mess. I also found it very rude and somewhat bullying. I'm not sure if it was directed at me; it didn't seem to be, but her text was also unclear - what 'little thing'? The TP itself? The ride? Logistics of who picks it up? And why minimize our feelings?

Nobody responded to her text. Instead, I responded and said that getting TP was not necessary - I had bought a pack already at Target. What really hurts is, only Mark and Kyle thanked me. Manuel, Chelsea, and Dan did not thank me or show any appreciation. I feel like I "saved the day" by cutting across all the red tape and getting the TP, saving Kyle a trip to the store (he had to pack), saving Chelsea a trip to Costco, and saving Dan/Mark from having to give up time to do it. Especially Manuel - he did not thank me, even as a landlord.


I think part of dealing with roommates is being able to 1) accept that you're going to have to put up with some amount of their bullshit, and 2) realize that THEY are also putting up with some of YOUR bullshit. I know that it's not about toilet paper ultimately, but in this specific instance you should have accepted that Chelsea isn't going to respond to group texts, and you should have realized that you could have nipped this all in the bud by just going to Target in the first place, and sending a group text afterwards saying that you bought extra toilet paper.
posted by 23skidoo at 12:15 PM on April 28, 2016 [5 favorites]


When I saw Kyle later that night, he thanked me for putting up with Chelsea, saying that Chelsea was a blunt person and not to take it personally, and that nobody was perfect.

Aside from what's been said above, I wanted to point out this: it sounds to me like your roommates are walking on eggshells around you. Kyle knew that you were close to erupting (over a very, very small issue), and pre-emptively tried to smooth things over. He shouldn't have thanked you for putting up with Chelsea -- that's weird. A thank-you for getting the TP is fine, but this emotional work of his that you wrote about was made necessary only by your overreaction.

Do you want to be the person that everyone walks on eggshells around? Do you want to require that much emotional work from everyone?
posted by Dashy at 12:16 PM on April 28, 2016 [40 favorites]


You're overreacting.

getting toilet paper was a challenge

no. No it's not. You made a mountain out of a molehill.

"Hey we're almost out of TP can anybody pick some up on the way home? If not I'll buy some from target. "

Then you go get some from target. It doesn't merit a medal of valor, either. Your reward is not having to wipe your ass with your sock.
posted by Green Eyed Monster at 12:31 PM on April 28, 2016 [40 favorites]


Set a date for a house dinner.
Buy some alcohol if that works in your group.
Cook them a group meal and share it. (A big pot of pasta with some fresh tomatoes and peppers in the sauce, nice parmesan shaved on top, an interesting salad kit on the side and a loaf of buttery garlic bread is easy and pretty cheap).
Get a box of cake mix and bake it into cupcakes for dessert, with canned frosting and fresh berries on top.

Put on some fun music, get tipsy, and eat and laugh. Maybe play a board game after.

In other words do something fun together.
Don't air any problems at this dinner, just get tipsy and have fun and laugh.

If you don't socialize with your close associates, you start to frame them as "problems I have to solve". If you do socialize with them, you see them as "cool people who occasionally annoy me but who overall I like and value".

My solution will cost you under $100 and will help the house dynamic tremendously for months.
posted by pseudostrabismus at 12:34 PM on April 28, 2016 [30 favorites]


Everyone above has covered the rest of your question quite ably, so I'm going with straight logistics on how to avoid this specific situation in the future.

Does anyone in the house have Amazon Prime? Because if you're creating/experiencing this much angst over toilet paper, what you need to do is Subscribe & Save and be done with it. An entire case of TP can be automatically delivered to your house every [x] days/weeks/months, no reminders or automobile or CostCo membership required, and whoever's credit/debit card is hooked up to the Prime account can send the rest of the housemates an invoice through Square Cash, PayPal, or Venmo. The end.
posted by amnesia and magnets at 12:34 PM on April 28, 2016 [26 favorites]


I have been where you are, and I feel you. Life with roommates is life in hell.

The strategy you've been trying, building alliances with friend roommates against foe roommates, is not working. What if everyone had thanked you for going to Target to buy toilet paper? What if your roommates had joined forces with you against Chelsea and sent a group text to Manuel to complain that Chelsea complained that you complained about toilet paper? What's the good outcome of everything going as you imagine it could have? Manuel suddenly sees Chelsea as the problem and kicks her out of the house? Manuel has proven again and again that he's not going to do that for you. You can't make this behavior change in Manuel and you can't make the other people's behavior change, either. You can only change your own behavior, and (maybe, slowly) your feelings.

I agree with everybody that you should see Chelsea's side and understand where she's coming from. Like everybody else, I agree with Chelsea. On the other hand I also think that while maybe you should see Chelsea's side, probably you won't because at this point there's so much built-up animosity between you, that is probably impossible. (I'm sure my housemate J.C. way back in the day was probably right about the dishes, but I don't care: I will despise J.C. until the day I die because of the recitatives I sat through about the dishes. I'm sure my other roommate whatserface was also right about... no she wasn't, she was a nightmare. No. Stacey! Yes! I remembered her horrible name! A total nightmare. She had charge of all the common areas of the house for some reason. She determined what "clean" was for everybody who lived there. She... She... OH MY GOD! And this was twenty years ago. And J.C. was 25 years ago. And I'm still enraged. About dishes.)

Since you have to stay there, and since if you're anything like me and you sound a lot like me, you're not going to suddenly start being a whiz at living communally without resentment, why not see if you can live alone amidst the crowd? Quit trying to build alliances with friends against foes because that doesn't work. Get your own supplies of everything you formerly thought of as communal. Leave nothing of yours out, clean up all your messes immediately. Use nothing of theirs. Care less about them. Care a lot less about them. Cease to care about them at all. Find friends outside the house and spend more and more time with those friends. Cease to pay attention to the things the housemates do and say. Cease to participate in all unnecessary communal activities (like that group text). Cease to analyze their motives: who cares? Be unfailingly pleasant to them, attend all household meetings cheerfully and accept chore assignments cheerfully and cheerfully do the chores: whatever, that's the price of admission for living in this great, cheap place. Treat the roommates as you treat the weather. It's there, you do what you have to do to accommodate it and live with it in as hassle-free a manner as possible, but you're not a meteorologist, so you don't have to think about it. Think about more important things.

Once you've moved out and have lived alone or with amicable strangers for long enough for this all to seem as small as it actually is, you can probably be friends with some of these people again. I'm friends with some of my old housemates today, and just now I even caught myself wondering wistfully whatever happened to that Stacey kid. Why, she must be 40, now... I can barely imagine such a thing, that child being 40 years old. (But no fond thoughts about T.L. or S.M. Not them. NEVER IN THIS WORLD! Because of an event involving baked gruyere in the case of the former, and a wrongheaded position on crepe-soled shoes on the part of the latter.)
posted by Don Pepino at 12:36 PM on April 28, 2016 [22 favorites]


You seem to be trying to have your roommates be your family or at least a really tight knit circle. This is not working for you. Instead, you need to take a dramatic step back and start thinking of this not as like a shared house but as an apartment. Like, if you were living alone you would buy your own toilet paper so that's what you should do. You wouldn't be having big group text conversations with everybody. You would be dealing with things on your own. In short, you need boundaries. You need to start thinking of yourself as separate from them, and not in a bad way! It's *good* to be your own person and independent and get your own TP. These are roommates, not your spouse or siblings or relations. You need to start developing a life outside of your interactions with them so that things like the TP don't seem so huge.

Because I'll be honest: I am over sensitive. I really am. And that text from Chelsea? Doesn't strike me as bullying at all. Like somewhat exasperated, but she has every right to be! And even if it was out of the blue, well. She gets to have feelings and be exasperated because who knows what's happening in her life. But her having feelings is not the same thing as bullying. She didn't call anyone names. She didn't lash out. She just said her piece and moved on.

You need to disentangle. Right now you are so so wrapped up in these people that you have no sense of proportion. And, honestly, lots of people have been there. You don't need to beat yourself up over it. But it leads to a ton of unnecessary drama. It leads to assigning emotional content to things like running errands. Which..... No one at all needed to thank you for getting toilet paper. That's just like doing your part. You noticed something was low and replenished it. That is being a good roommate.
posted by stoneweaver at 12:51 PM on April 28, 2016 [9 favorites]


Wow. Many answers to wade through here. Wanted to share a few additional thoughts/clear up a few things.

a) We roommates explicitly made an agreement that if we had to buy any household supplies, we'd have to text each other first so we all could be on the same page (i.e., no surprise expenses). We also made an agreement that all supplies, if possible, would be purchased from Costco in bulk to save expenses. That's why I sent the group text about the TP instead of buying it myself straight up.

b) As for the group text, I didn't urge anyone to buy toilet paper from Costco. I just shared that we were low on TP with a few rolls left, and suggested that someone with a membership make a Costco run. From there, it snowballed, with Mark trying to coordinate a Costco run and people not very willing to do so, and Chelsea not responding. Mark asked Manuel why Chelsea didn't respond, and it snowballed even more. I ended up making the suggestion to get TP from Target to get it over with. I fail to see how I aggravated the situation here, perhaps other than originally announcing we were low on TP (which is what we all have done in the past, according to our "agreement").

c) As for the TP being low and me making an announcement - yes, some roommates were going/already were out of town, but some are still staying, and sometimes we have guests, so I wanted to be considerate of everyone and make sure we were properly supplied. I had 1-2 rolls already stockpiled, but I didn't want anyone to be out, especially given the timing. Maybe I could have just not said anything, but I did what I thought was best at the moment. It was not an emergency situation, but I felt it was important to bring up.

With that said...

SockerMom, you really nailed it well. This really HELPED me to reframe how Chelsea may have took the situation, and her frustration. Thank you for helping and giving me a completely new perspective. This is what I needed. I now see it more of her own frustration instead of bullying. Those were trigger words, but it's important to also see it from another point of view.

As for feeling triggered because I wasn't thanked and that it shouldn't be an expectation - I felt underappreciated because I had to step up and buy TP since everyone else were arguing about who would get it - and I brought in TP for people - that I should be thanked for helping to defuse/save the situation. Maybe that was too high of an expectation on my part, though.

Also, for Dashy's suggestion that my roommates felt like they had to walk on eggshells around me, that Kyle saw I was near to erupting... not true, that I know of. I didn't show any emotions and stayed calm throughout (and this was all on text). I rarely show my true emotions. I should have added that Kyle told the same thing to BOTH Mark and I ("thanks for putting up with Chelsea). I think it was because he was taken aback by Chelsea's response, as well.

I wanted to address one more important point that was brought up. Never would I intentionally be sexist. I realize now that the way I said it was wrong, and could have been interpreted otherwise - but before Chelsea moved in, Manuel mostly went out to eat instead of staying in. Mark and I speculated that Manuel loves Chelsea partly because she cooks for him (and herself) everyday. It was tongue in cheek, but I realize now it was a poor choice of wording/explanation and was unnecessary without any context - my apologies again.
posted by dubious_dude at 12:54 PM on April 28, 2016 [2 favorites]


Here's a sample group text conversation that would have gone better:

You: We're just about out of tp. Anyone have a trip to costco planned? Otherwise I'll just stop at Target.
Other people: nope, not going soon
You: cool! I'll stop on my way home.

And that's it. Even if you didn't hear back from everyone, you can still take care of your own needs and grab some tp at Traget. You don't need anyone's permission to do that. So you don't need to hear from absolutely everyone in the house. You just do it.
posted by stoneweaver at 12:56 PM on April 28, 2016 [30 favorites]


I think you need to get rid of the policy that you have group text messages to buy things like toilet paper, or any other household supplies. Maybe just assign one person to be in charge of certain supplies per month or something. There is no need to have a discussion about this over group text.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 1:05 PM on April 28, 2016 [16 favorites]


We roommates explicitly made an agreement that if we had to buy any household supplies, we'd have to text each other first so we all could be on the same page (i.e., no surprise expenses).

OK, it should be understood that each month there will be some level of expenses for TP and any other products you buy communally.

I'd venture to guess that no one on AskMeFi reading your post would have guessed that your roommates have agreed to have group texts "to get on the same page" each time you guys run out of ketchup, or salt, or whatever. That's way too complicated (as shown by this thread).

Suggest you move to one of the more automatic, tried-and-true systems recommended by the other posters.
posted by JimN2TAW at 1:10 PM on April 28, 2016 [11 favorites]


I think usually when people talk about checking with each other before buying certain things for the house, they mean so that someone can object if they think someone wants to spend money on something frivolous/too expensive. You're always going to need toilet paper, you don't have to check in with your roommates before you buy it. It's perhaps the most essential thing that you and your roommates go in on together.

While theoretically it saves money to get the toilet paper during a Costco run every single time, it isn't fair to always make it the responsibility of the roommates who have Costco memberships. I'd rather waste money on expensive toilet paper and cancel my Costco membership than have my roommates on my case to get more toilet paper every time we were running low.

It was cool of you to go to Target and get more toilet paper, but it was also a pretty basic "good roommate" action. You needed toilet paper too, after all.
posted by cakelite at 1:11 PM on April 28, 2016 [5 favorites]


dubious_dude: "We roommates explicitly made an agreement that if we had to buy any household supplies, we'd have to text each other first so we all could be on the same page (i.e., no surprise expenses). We also made an agreement that all supplies, if possible, would be purchased from Costco in bulk to save expenses."

This is a pretty stupid policy pretty much guaranteed to blow up like it did. You guys need to rethink things. I'd suggest having a house shopping list (electronic or physical) where you simply write 'toilet paper' when it gets low.
posted by crazy with stars at 1:14 PM on April 28, 2016 [17 favorites]


TP is not a surprise expense. Everyone uses it every day. If there are always the same number of people living there, then it should cost roughly the same amount every month. You need a different system.
posted by AFABulous at 1:18 PM on April 28, 2016 [21 favorites]


a. You need to get rid of that stipulation. It's understandable for large purchases or things that simply cannot be handled by one person (and I totally get why being deaf makes this shit harder and makes it feel like there's safety in numbers), but for stuff like toilet paper which costs a buck a roll and is sold at literally every store including online? This is just going to manufacture drama and bad blood.

b. It doesn't matter whether you "urged" or "shared" or "gesticulated" or "smoke signalled" or "sighed" or whatever verb. Low on toilet paper? Buy toilet paper. Done and done. This is why your above arrangement in section A about having to have a group convo about the tiniest purchase will inevitably lead to drama.

c. Wanna be considerate? Buy toilet paper when you notice it's getting low.
posted by Sara C. at 1:20 PM on April 28, 2016 [3 favorites]


"We roommates explicitly made an agreement that if we had to buy any household supplies, we'd have to text each other first so we all could be on the same page (i.e., no surprise expenses). We also made an agreement that all supplies, if possible, would be purchased from Costco in bulk to save expenses."

Amazon Subscribe & Save.

Anyone can add household supplies to the cart as-needed; no one has to arrange for a ride. Bill gets split up at the end of the month.

ETA: Amazon Prime delivers free in 2 days, often in 1 day, and just as often I've ordered in the morning and received things the same afternoon.
posted by vignettist at 1:25 PM on April 28, 2016 [11 favorites]


Set aside one day a month (every third Sunday or whatever works--just get it on the calendar) to make a Costco trip to pick up any depleted household items. Divvy up the costs however it makes sense, use PayPal, take turns paying, whatever. This should help ensure that supplies are always more or less in stock and maybe you can avoid sticky group texts like this in the future.

However, I'm going to level with you, dude: You cannot possibly expect to be showered with praise from every single one of your housemates, including the out of town ones, for taking care of a mundane household errand. You are setting yourself up for a lot of unnecessary emotional turmoil.
posted by helloimjennsco at 1:32 PM on April 28, 2016 [18 favorites]


I don't expect praise, per se. Just a simple "thanks" would be nice. I was raised to always, always thank people for what they do. It's simply good manners. Why cannot people return this same courtesy?
posted by dubious_dude at 1:39 PM on April 28, 2016 [2 favorites]


"I didn't show any emotions and stayed calm throughout (and this was all on text). I rarely show my true emotions. "

In my experience, people who think this about themselves are rarely correct; usually everyone else can tell you're vibrating with repressed anger.

"Maybe that was too high of an expectation on my part, though."

You live in an imperfect world with imperfect people, and sometimes some of them will not say thank you. I suppose it's reasonable to be passingly annoyed about this. It is totally unreasonable to dwell on it. You cannot control other people's actions, and your anxiety here is entirely self-created by having unreasonable internal expectations for how others act that, when they don't conform to, you get angry at them and/or experience it as triggering. How do you think your roommates would react if you made this expectation of yours explicit? "I need you to thank me every time I perform a task, no matter how small, or I experience it as bullying and it triggers me, and I will be angry with you if you fail." How would they respond to that? Would they find it an unreasonable demand? Because that's the demand you're making right now, only you're keeping it a secret. You either need to talk with your therapist and understand how it's unreasonable and work on changing that expectation, or you need to be explicit with people you interact with what your standards for their behavior are.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 1:44 PM on April 28, 2016 [46 favorites]


> Just a simple "thanks" would be nice.

Sure, it would be nice, I get that. And you actually got that 'thanks', from more than one person. But if you find it actively hurtful not to get it from everyone involved, you are clearly too invested in this, much more than suggested by the above. Yes, it's simply good manners, but as you know by now, people will not always have the time, energy or attentiveness for it.

It would be really helpful if you could dial that expectation down. It's not doing you any favours.
posted by Too-Ticky at 1:50 PM on April 28, 2016 [21 favorites]


Another shopping possibility - Google Shopping Express delivers some Costco shelf stable items. There is a delivery fee if you don't join with an annual membership.
posted by oneear at 1:54 PM on April 28, 2016 [2 favorites]


> Why cannot people return this same courtesy

Because they're already frustrated with the amount of time that has been spent on this one thing.
posted by The corpse in the library at 1:56 PM on April 28, 2016 [48 favorites]


I don't expect praise, per se. Just a simple "thanks" would be nice. I was raised to always, always thank people for what they do. It's simply good manners. Why cannot people return this same courtesy?

well for one thing, they did not all get raised by your family, right?

People aren't saying your roommates are behaving perfectly here; they're saying that you are far too emotionally invested in how perfectly your roommates are/are not behaving.

It seems as though you have written here before about some mental health issues (based on comments in this thread, I haven't gone into your history), and I don't really know what those are about, so forgive me if there's a "duh" aspect to what I'm saying, BUT: I think you might need to consider that your calibrations for "okay and peaceful" are not at all set to the same levels as the people around you.

To your roommates, everything you've described in this post falls under the category of "humph, that wasn't ideal." Not "toxic" or "bullying," with the possible exception of Chelsea counting shoes -- which happened THREE YEARS AGO, and thus falls under the category of "huh, I forgot that happened. Guess that sucked a bit". I say this not to be all "you're wrong," but to show you how your roommates likely feel about all of these things that you're writing paragraphs about on AskMe. They have already forgotten anything happened. They have already forgotten toilet paper exists, frankly. They didn't remember to thank you because they already forgot the thing even took place and because it was never a big deal to them in the first place.

It really seems that for you to feel "okay" in your home, you require a level of near-zero friction. As such, again, communal living spaces really might not be healthy for you right now.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 2:02 PM on April 28, 2016 [27 favorites]


One thing I've discovered as I get older is that what most people appreciate more than a text message alerting them that they're out of something, and a long conversation that results in the person who brought it up in the first place buying more of the thing, is for household tasks to just get done without fanfare. Even now that I live with my fiance and not drama-prone roommates, I am so appreciative if I come home and find out that some minor domestic situation got taken care of without me having to be involved. It takes a GIGANTIC load off my mind.

"Thanks for running to Target and picking up house stuff we needed!" would be apt if you had not enacted the above performance piece, but instead had taken it upon yourself to pick up toilet paper and maybe treated everyone to a carton of Ben & Jerry's while you were there.

"Thanks for bothering me all day about something you clearly felt was my responsibility, then grudgingly agreeing to do it yourself!" is not really a thing.
posted by Sara C. at 2:12 PM on April 28, 2016 [60 favorites]


I don't expect praise, per se. Just a simple "thanks" would be nice. I was raised to always, always thank people for what they do. It's simply good manners. Why cannot people return this same courtesy?

I get the feeling that you are really invested in our understanding how right you are here. And that might be the crux of your issues with communal living. Even if you're right, sometimes you have to be okay with being wrong.

If someone has to pick up the Charmin no thanks should be involved unless someone got stranded on the privy and you handed the roll to him personally.

Not everyone is you, does things the way you do them or thinks that the way you do things is the one and only right way to do them. Other people's methods and ways are just as valid.

Give what you want to receive. Don't fret too much if you don't get it from your housemates. They pay their share and they don't eat your food. That's pretty good.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 2:39 PM on April 28, 2016 [16 favorites]


Yes, Sara C.! My friend is staying with me while she looks for a place. I'm used to living alone and after my experiences with housemates in the past, naturally thought this was going to be a trial. But no. She bought wine and coffee yesterday. Last week she bought dishwashing liquid, my favorite kind, three bottles. She bought a haybalesized pile of TP! Long before we run out of these items, they simply appear. When she leaves and I'm back to trying to remember all this myself...? I don't want to think about it.

My friend has Amazon Prime.
posted by Don Pepino at 2:40 PM on April 28, 2016 [12 favorites]


You have, in this and other comments, come across as if you don't like women. This may not be what you truly feel, but it's how things sound. It is possible that this disdain comes out offline as well, and Chelsea picks up on your combination of difficulty with women and dislike for her personally.

What she said isn't even particularly blunt, and expecting extra gentleness from a woman feeds into a lot of cultural issues surrounding emotional labour that probably bother her. Especially when your descriptions of her tend to misogynistic.

Along with finding your own place with no roommates when your lease expires -- which I strongly urge -- you might want to work on coming across differently about women, which might help with the drama level at home.
posted by jeather at 2:47 PM on April 28, 2016 [44 favorites]


Everyone has done a good job on pointing out how the TP issue could have been more easily resolved, and how it can be better handled in the future.

What I hope to do is reassure you that everyone here understands you. Most people have lived with roommates who are any combination of: inconsiderate, aggressive, neglectful, naggy, loud, mean, too sociable, antisocial, nit-picky, favouritist, holier-than-thou, misguided romantically, uncooperative, culturally inexplicable, unfriendly. We have lived in situations with unpleasant dynamics that make routine things like toilet paper seem indicative of larger problems and thus seem like they need to be fixed, because everything is unpleasant and we just want to be able to wipe our privates without worrying about group texts and people's budgets and girlfriends and trips abroad and Costco membership and it's all just one thing on top of another.

It sucks, and it's boring, and it plays on our long-established personal gripes and neuroses. We all do get that. We get that there's nuances to your housing situation that you wish to make clear. We get that you were doing what the household decided was protocol. What you don't seem to be getting is that you have choices in this, and other, similar, scenarios. You have a choice to be the bigger person. You have a choice to laugh off this as a non-issue that got blown of proportion. You have a choice to think, well, actually, TP is not a lot of money and if I or another housemate don't get totally reimbursed for buying it a few times, really, I can live with that. You have a choice to think, "who were these people raised by, haven't they heard of please and thank yous?" and give yourself a gold star for being both practical and a decent citizen. Right now you're making the choice to hang on to grievances, buy into unhealthy group dynamics and go along with nonsensical group decisions. Take some agency here. You need to stop trying to persuade US to see YOUR perspective (both on the green and in real life) and start just rolling with things a little more. We get you. We've all been you. But it's how we react to these situations that dictates how much we enjoy life and like ourselves.
posted by mymbleth at 3:00 PM on April 28, 2016 [20 favorites]


Okay. Thanks for the feedback. I agree. The situation could've been handled better on all fronts, and I agree - life is too short. I was triggered. I'm still processing that. You're right; not everyone can show gratitude the way I expect it. It just sucks sometimes when I go out of my way to make sure people are always thanked, and they don't do the same, but hey, different strokes, I guess.

Some of your scripts were very helpful. I especially liked stoneweaver's script. That's perfect! This is a great learning experience for me.

May I ask how I came across as not liking/respecting women? That couldn't be further from the truth. I identity as gay and more on the feminine spectrum. I'm not understanding how my approach comes across even remotely as that way. Not being defensive, just truly confused.
posted by dubious_dude at 3:06 PM on April 28, 2016 [1 favorite]


May I ask how I came across as not liking/respecting women? That couldn't be further from the truth. I identity as gay and more on the feminine spectrum.

To be honest, this seems like a totally separate question. And also, being a femme gay man has nothing at all to do with not being misogynistic. I haven't really looked in your history or through these comments for anti-women statements, but you can't really say "I'm a feminine gay man so there's no way that I don't respect women." Because that doesn't exist as an excuse.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 3:08 PM on April 28, 2016 [46 favorites]


I agree that there's a lot of frustration with your roommate situation, so therefore everything gets tinted with frustration whether it's warranted or not. Really, I get it. I lived with 4 dudes and 1 girl (Plus SO's staying over) in a bad party-house where dishes would pile to the ceiling. There ended up being a lot of tension living there.

Now, luckily I lived upstairs and basically only shared the bathroom with one roommate plus his GF when she stayed over. I think we kinda unofficially rotated buying TP for that bathroom but I'd hazard a guess that I bought most of it.

I get that you guys may split this stuff - we only split utilities and internet - but I think that toilet paper is just literally a cost of living. Assume that you will need to pay for it. Get a smaller pack for your room or something if you don't want to drop a ton of cash on something you won't be reimbursed for.

If you do need to text about it as you say then say "Hey, anyone running to costco soon for TP? Otherwise I'll grab a bit from Target." Done.

I agree that Amazon Prime would be great for this stuff since it seems like such an issue. I also agree that therapy/finding a better living situation will help.
posted by Crystalinne at 3:08 PM on April 28, 2016


Kyle and Mark even had to contact Manuel to ask him about Chelsea's lack of responses.

Here and in other places, you keep going past her to deal with her boyfriend to ask him to deal with her. She's your roommate too, she's a full human, deal with her yourself. This is insanely offensive when you are on the receiving end.

Calling people out for not immediately washing their dishes.

You have six people in one kitchen! If people leave crap around, no one else can use it.

Generally nagging people and just making the household feel unpleasant.

Nagging is a seriously gendered term. It's also impossible to believe that Chelsea is the only one who does anything wrong as a roommate, but she's the only one you say anything negative about, and your descriptions are generic or "expects people to clean up after themselves", which is basic roommate etiquette.

Manuel seems to be blind and "kiss the ground" she walks on (probably because she cooks for him all the time)

As if she can't have any good qualities other than cooking? He loves his girlfriend of 4 years and presumably doesn't agree with your gripes.

I believe a number of people commented about where you came off as weird about women when one of your roommates' girlfriends was using your shower.

Gay men can be sexist, just like women can. We all live in a culture infused with sexism.
posted by jeather at 3:28 PM on April 28, 2016 [42 favorites]


how can I "get through" to Manuel?

You can't. Or you can. But you have no control over that at all.

how do I navigate this?

By completely erasing any expectations and removing "they should" from your brain space. Don't expect to be thanked, don't expect prompt responses to texts, don't expect to "get through" to Manuel, don't expect people to be polite. By imagining and imposing these expectations on them you are setting them up to fail you, and as the saying goes, expectations are resentments waiting to happen.

Navigate this by accepting that this will happen again. And again. And again. You cannot control people and so one of your responsibilities in life is to accept that the world is not your stage to direct. You can respond to their actions by rolling with it and owning your own emotions or getting wound up about it and blaming them for feeling wound up. Neither reaction changes their behavior, so why choose to get wound up?
posted by good lorneing at 3:45 PM on April 28, 2016 [3 favorites]


Basically 90% of your problems in this household are caused by living with your landlord. You want him to be someone who only has a regular roommate's vote in how things get done around the house, but what's really happening is he owns the house so he makes the rules. That includes bringing in a girlfriend you don't like and making decisions you don't like. You've had problems with these people over and over for YEARS and you're going to keep having the same problems until you move out. One of the roommates being the landlord plus being someone who you have twenty years of bullying history with means this is always going to be an untenable situation for you. The toilet paper is the least of it.
posted by MsMolly at 4:06 PM on April 28, 2016 [15 favorites]


With respect, your questions always seem to contain an element of 'how can I change everyone around me to fit into my rigid world view' and the answer is, you can't. You can't change anyone, except yourself. You've deliberately put yourself back into a situation which makes you miserable, yet you're expecting that things will magically change. This isn't about TP, it's more about your lack of understanding of human dynamics and social niceties that allow people to live together without ripping each other's throats out.

I get that you've signed the lease again. This basically means you've agreed to play nice with these people for another year. So do it, turn it into a social experiment or game if you must, where the game is to be the best room mate ever and win them all over by the end of the lease. I can see they're trying hard with you - particularly Chelsea, who I bet could write her own version of this question where you are bullying her via text message about TP.

Keep in mind that you need this place more than they need you, you're there in your cheap room by your landlord's good graces, and it seems like you're constantly pushing that 'friendship'. I get that you're not enjoying it, we've all been there but for whatever reason you decided to stick with it so when in doubt, smile, keep your mouth shut and go to your room and scream into a pillow. In the meantime, find a different therapist. And keep looking for a place by yourself, right now it's clear you're not cut out to live with others.
posted by Jubey at 4:42 PM on April 28, 2016 [21 favorites]


A quick note on the "thank you's". If I'm on a group text and 3 people have already said thank you, I probably won't. It just clogs up peoples phones with unnecessary tests. The person has already been thanked. Especially if the conversation has already been way longer than I think it should be.
posted by kjs4 at 5:19 PM on April 28, 2016 [16 favorites]


Are you kidding me?

I'm sorry, but nothing about running out of toilet paper should be triggering. Here is what I do when I run out of toilet paper: I buy more. Granted, I live alone, so I'll tell you what I did when I ran out of toilet paper when I had roommates: I bought more.

Roommates are annoying. It's annoying to coordinate buying shared stuff. But this is what happens when you live with people. You are clearly not someone who should have roommates. But you do, so you need to learn how to pick your battles, because in the grand scheme of things (hell, in the TINY scheme of things), this does. not. matter. You've gotta let this go, or you're going to have a very difficult life indeed.
posted by chestnut-haired-sunfish at 5:54 PM on April 28, 2016 [12 favorites]


I didn't show any emotions and stayed calm throughout (and this was all on text). I rarely show my true emotions.

Mostly, people do show emotions, in many small ways, whenever they talk to or relate with, or are just in the same room with, other people; people also show emotions when they're alone. It's like a consistent bass line (like in music) that's always there.

If you're suppressing emotional expression, that's going to be noticeable; people usually do this when they believe their emotional expression would be problematic, which is generally when people are angry (or sad, since sad situations sometimes call for one to lead or comfort others rather than focusing on one's own sadness).

So, people associate "blankness" or lack of emotional expression with anger, or some other kind of distress. Generally, happy people let their emotions show, and even mildly annoyed people usually have no problem allowing others to see this (except in certain cultures, to be sure -- I'm talking about mainstream non-southern US culture).

If you are lacking emotional expression all the time, people are going to think you are probably angry a lot.

Source: I tried this too, for a long time, and also didn't see why it was a bad idea. I've worked it out as best I can based on years of paying attention, studying psychology, and noticing my reactions to others.
posted by amtho at 10:54 PM on April 28, 2016 [2 favorites]


My soon to be MIL is like this. She score-keeps when she does nice things for us, even if the things were her idea and of her own volition, and even if we've never wanted her to do these things-- nor do we necessarily need her to, either. Moreover, when she does do nice things for us, if we don't praise her enough (we do always thank her but it never is enough), she pouts and simmers over it and files it away.

See, I'd rather she didn't buy us groceries or whatever at all, rather than buy it 'out of the goodness of her heart' and then freaking resent us. It creates aura of beholden-ness and resentment for things that should be just easy, and done from a place of love and caring-- and that's the actual toxic thing, not us not 'thanking her enough'.

Being on eggshells around a person is exhausting. Meanwhile, I'm not sure I was ever thanked for the times I made group meals or bought group items. But see, I didn't do them to receive praise.

Because here's the thing. The world doesn't owe you anything, and people don't owe you a 'thanks' in life -- especially since buying toilet paper is a basic mundane thing that millions of people handle daily, and it appears all your roomies with Costco memberships have done hundreds of times. Are you sure that you've thanked every single one of them, every time they've bought any household utilities? Or cooked? Or cleaned? If so, sure, but understand you're the exception here; we as humans have a tendency to take things for granted unless we check ourselves constantly. Also, does everyone else thank them? Because I'm betting the same people who didn't thank you probably don't thank the others, either, because that's life.

But if you do good things and then get offended because the praise isn't sufficient: see, you are not actually doing a good thing at all. Because you are not doing it to be helpful, or to be kind-- you're doing it to get praise, ultimately, which means you want something out of it, and that's kind of selfish. If you're going to get upset for being 'taken for granted' (which I don't think happened here) then just don't do those things in the first place. Doing good should be its own reward, and you should be emotionally healthy enough to take it if the praise isn't forthcoming.

Because praise isn't guaranteed, and you're not entitled to it. Nobody is. You can lament the unfairness of this forever-- people should thank each other more, but it's not going to change. It could be said that there's a certain level of manipulation in wishing to control the reactions of others. This is folly, by the way, because as it's been said here on the green many a time, you cannot control or hope to change the actions of others-- you can only control your own reaction.

So my advice is, do things if you want to do them, and don't if you don't. Work on letting go of stuff. Work on not escalating stuff that in the grand scheme of things is meaningless and only makes you feel awful to ruminate over. Work on being the best room-mate you can be, and don't worry about what everyone else is doing or not doing. Focus on the positive. Yeah maybe she's not a pleasant person to live with, but she appears pretty civil from her text--not exactly unmanageable. Plus you get cheap rent, and you have room-mates that appear to offer you perks offered with Costco membership, and that will buy useful household items with it. That's a lot more than other people get. Perhaps you should read some of the questions about room-mates on here, because some of the stories are night-mare inducing. Living with a bunch of people is hard. All in all, you've been there a while and you're ok. You don't have it too bad at all.

So stop trying to make it worse for yourself.
posted by Dimes at 12:45 AM on April 29, 2016 [30 favorites]


Amazon Prime is pretty awesome, but if you live in DC, you can literally get to-your-door Costco delivery (without a Costco card) with Instacart. I have a Costco card, but having basic necessities from Costco just magically show up at my door has been life-changing. If you have an agreement to shop from Costco, this will save you guys SO much time.
posted by instamatic at 4:45 AM on April 29, 2016 [6 favorites]


do things if you want to do them, and don't if you don't.

And lay in a private stock of toilet paper. I suggest hiding it under your bed.
posted by flabdablet at 9:21 AM on April 29, 2016 [1 favorite]


...I still feel shaken up, as I'm sensitive to triggers (her text, then not being thanked by anyone except for Mark and Kyle).

Hi! Fellow super-sensitive person checking in. I tend to be overly emotionally invested in things, take stuff way too personally, and have really high expectations of other people. Last night I had to take a Xanax because someone was wrong about something on the Internet and I really, really could not sleep at all. (I also have plenty of great qualities, just like I'm sure you do!)

Your questions, including this one, really strike a chord with me. Even though I agree intellectually with the other posters here, I can also see where you're coming from. So I wanted to chime in with some advice that I hope will be helpful.

* It's great that you're in therapy. Have you talked to a doctor about medicines that could help with this stuff? Taking Prozac for my anxiety has literally changed my life. (Sorry if you've addressed this in this thread or a previous one.)

* One thing I'm working on in therapy is owning my problems but not making them other people's problems. (It's really hard.) So if you want to internally acknowledge that things like brusque text messages and not being thanked for chores "trigger" you, then that's great. But I would really emphasize in your mind that You're Sensitive to Some Mostly Innocuous Things, not that Other People Are Triggering You.

Anyway, good luck with everything! I mostly just wanted to chime in because this Ask (like a lot of your Asks) has become a bit of a pile-on, and well, I just wanted to say that you're not alone.
posted by schroedingersgirl at 12:19 PM on April 29, 2016 [9 favorites]


Especially Manuel - he did not thank me, even as a landlord.

Providing toilet paper isn’t a landlord’s responsibility pretty much anywhere. He doesn't have an extra responsibility to thank you

May I ask how I came across as not liking/respecting women? That couldn't be further from the truth. I identity as gay and more on the feminine spectrum. I'm not understanding how my approach comes across even remotely as that way. Not being defensive, just truly confused.

Like others have said, you can be gay and sexist at the same time. Those are not related things at all. The very specific way you talk about Chelsea is off-putting. You say she’s “bossy” and “nagging” and assume her boyfriend loves her because “she cooks for him all the time.” Bossy and nagging are both very gendered terms.

But the bigger thing is the household system you have for common needs is awful. I'm convinced there is nothing worse than a group text. I'm not always looking at my phone so in a group text situation I might not see the initial text until there are several responses that have dragged the conversation away from the original plan. The house needs a new system. There have been great suggestions made so far in terms of what that system should be and I think that's something your household needs to discuss because your current system doesn't work for several reasons. First, group texts are evil and at least one roommate is too busy to respond at the speed the rest of you would like. Second, you're putting an unfair burden on the Costco membership-having roommates to do the bulk of the household maintenance.
posted by GilvearSt at 12:51 PM on April 29, 2016 [7 favorites]


you're putting an unfair burden on the Costco membership-having roommates to do the bulk of the household maintenance

I used to live in a shared house where we stocked up on things like this at Costco. Our way of evening out this disparity was to make the Coscto run that housemate's share of the chores for the week. So in return for them keeping the house in paper towels and ketchup, they got a break from all other roommate-shared household chores. (This obviously doesn't count things like doing your own dishes, picking up after yourself, etc.)
posted by Sara C. at 1:20 PM on April 29, 2016 [2 favorites]


A thing that a college friend (who was living with 7 other people + bf/gf's of the moment) taught me about communal living was just picking one or two items (like washing dishes) and considering them the price of entry. She would NEVER (despite the house of 7) get annoyed about doing dishes and dishes and dishes even though she just washed all the freaking dishes and then someone went and made a 5 course meal dishes. It was the price of entry for living there. She never brought it up, never mentioned anything about it, but it was just something she would do to help out. I've carried that with me and it's really helped me step back from any score keeping that can happen. Maybe your roommates price of admission was the Costco membership and yours is doing last minute errands.

Another anecdote; my ex (boyfriend at the time) and I lived with another couple. They were dirty AF, left dishes in the sink, didn't wipe down the sink, etc. However, they also mowed the lawn almost weekly, occasionally mopped the floor or cooked great meals that they shared. My ex was a neat freak and it drove him crazy. But he also never even saw all the other stuff until I pointed it out. He realized that while he was really good at cleaning up after himself, he never did anything to benefit the house or group. Once he realized all the other little shit that got done it made him a lot more agreeable to just washing their pots and pans too. I really like pointing out to myself "Oh, X brought home cookies!" or "Y put my leftovers away that I forgot about!" It really helps me to cut down on the easily built up frustration that comes from living in a group (note: do not follow these statements with "Well I did ABC this week and no one cared!")

Sorry for the unsolicited advice, but I thought it may help with the general re framing of thinking and living with roommates situation.
posted by raccoon409 at 6:30 PM on April 29, 2016 [8 favorites]


On the reframing front, it might be helpful to bear in mind that (if I've read this right) not only is Chelsea the only woman in a house of six, and there as someone's girlfriend rather than as an independent housemate - already enough to maybe make her feel a bit defensive - but *she doesn't even have a room of her own*. She has nowhere she can go and close the door and take five minutes to breathe and pretend she doesn't live in a house with a whole bunch of people she doesn't always get on with. Maybe it's not surprising if she's a bit on edge - can you use that to help you put her reactions in perspective?
posted by ManyLeggedCreature at 11:54 AM on May 1, 2016 [6 favorites]


Isn't DC the capital of the United States? Are there no convenience stores? I live basically in the middle of a forest in Queensland, Australia, and there are still about a dozen places within easy walking distance (and certainly many more within affordable and relatively-regular public transport distance) where I can buy rolls of toilet paper for a reasonable price. I also have an extremely busy schedule but I still manage to find a way to wipe my ass when I'm at home. Next time you notice that the toilet paper is running low, just go next door and buy some.
posted by turbid dahlia at 4:17 PM on May 2, 2016 [2 favorites]


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