How to not explode at my housemate
February 13, 2020 11:26 AM   Subscribe

Lazy and stealing housemate. Please help me decide whether to ask him to leave or not

My housemate has so far let me do all of the emotional labour and managing of chores in our flat. When there is something that needs to be bought, I generally do it. We initially agreed we'd clean one area a week, and I was clear I liked a clean flat. He agreed he wanted one too. But he has not once cleaned without me asking him to, and also always does a half-arsed job even though there is literally a list of things to tick off. He doesn't even look at it even though I've literally handed it to him twice. I am feeling more like a manager than a flatmate, and I hate asking him to clean. But he will let get things get very dirty otherwise. He will also leave a mess on the counter when he cooks even though it takes two seconds to wipe down.

He also drank an entire box of posh beers that I ordered online, without asking or telling me. I only realised when I wanted to drink them. He said 'oh, yeah, I've been drinking those over the past few weeks' and looked guilty, saying he'd go out and buy some more. I explained he can't actually replace them with the ones from the crappy shop down the road, because they're one-offs that get sent as a subscription thing. I asked for the money back, and had to chase that too.

I cook for him occasionally. He never returns the favour. I have friends over for dinner, and politely ask him if he'd like to join via text. He says yes, I ask him to buy his own booze as there isn't enough to go round (and I want my guests to get the nice ones) but no he tucks into the nice ones without acknowleding that I'd sent the text.

Now, I realise that he's just drank the rest of the beers without asking or acknowledging, along with other nice alcohol I had lying around (I don't drink often, but I buy nice stuff for when I have friends over, whereas he just buys cheap beer). I am literally fuming and want to ask him where he thinks it's okay to do this seeing as I clearly said it was not okay previously.

I also want to say that if he can't even be bothered to send off for the free box I gifted to him through my subscription then this is just a huge sign of disrespect (along with the non-cleaning stuff).

This is starting to make me think really mean things about him about him being a lazy freeloader. He is currently jobless and living off of his parents, which I know is none of my business, but he can see my life is super stressful and busy as I try to make ends meet and he doesn't try to lift a finger to not let me do all the lifting in the flat.

I've known this guy as a distant friends for years, and actually lived for him in a big houseshare for about three, but never saw him because he just stayed in his room. Now it's just me and him. I don't think he means harm, but he is a funny character - extremely awkward, avoidant - to the point of not even acknowledging me when I enter the room. This is one of many odd quirks which I don't really mind - he's probably borderline aspergers. He did do an online test where he didnt recognise the emotions on anyone's faces, so I think he finds it hard to read people and situations.

When he moved in he had a job, but it was the first he'd had in many years. He spent at least 5 before that (maybe like 8?) unemployed, just basically reading twitter all the time. He has anxiety and depression issues, and I have felt sorry for him in the past, and thought he was better. Inn many ways he is. I think he just really likes doing nothing, and he's in the lucky position of not having to work because his parents have just sold two flats and given him the proceeds.

It isn't all bad. cause he's so quiet it's kind of like not having a flatmate which is kind of ideal, but this behaviour is really starting to grate on me. I don't think he means to annoy me this much.

He tends to respond very well to being told what to do - I just don't want to have to do that. We're both adults, you know?

How would you deal?
posted by starstarstar to Human Relations (38 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
Oh god, I’m only three paragraphs in and the answer is already ‘get rid of him’. Life’s too short and it’s not your job to be his mother and teach this guy how to be a good housemate. Rip off the bandaid, do it now.
posted by Jubey at 11:34 AM on February 13 [65 favorites]


Who's on the lease? Are you subletting to him? Otherwise, start keeping your beer in your room, stop doing any emotional labour regarding your being housemates (not sure what this actually entails, but stop doing anything that you're expecting to be reciprocated, like inviting him to dinner), and I'd honestly start looking to find a place on my own.

He does sound like a bad roommate, but I'm not sure there really are any secret strategies that will work without amounting to nagging him.
posted by sagc at 11:36 AM on February 13 [5 favorites]


Who's on the lease? If it's just you, then it's time to say, "Hey, this isn't working for me. I'd like you to move out by X date." Then follow it with an email mentioning the same thing. Something like, "I'm starting to plan ahead for the utility bills. After you move out on X date, I'll let you know within 60 days if there are any bills you still owe a portion of. Otherwise I'll be assuming the full billing as of X date [move out date]."

If he plays really dumb, or is maybe not even aware of his actions on others, and asks why you want him to move, then I think it's time to trot out the line, "I have no interest in living with a child and that's what the last X months have been like."
posted by cocoagirl at 11:41 AM on February 13 [12 favorites]


You can't fix this. He is useless and is not going to change.

You need a new roommate. Until then, find a housecleaner and tell him since he isn't keeping up with his share of the cleaning he needs to pay 1/2 the cost for the cleaner.

2nding the suggestion to keep your nice alcohol in your room. At the very least, explicitly tell him he can not drink it anymore.
posted by CoffeeHikeNapWine at 11:41 AM on February 13 [6 favorites]


It might help to sort out the anti-social things he's doing from the non-social. For example, unless it's an agreed policy, housemates don't have to cook for each other. So while it's not nice from a social perspective for him not to reciprocate, you really didn't have to cook for him in the first place, and if it bothers you that it's not reciprocated, you can just...stop. In other words, adjusting your expectations down from "household member" to "dude who happens to live in the same space as me" could help a lot.

Other things, though, like consuming your stuff without your permission (bad) and not cleaning according to your agreement (annoying to bad), are actual offenses against you. Given the way you've described him, I suspect some folks are going to come in here and tell you that it's not fair to hold him to basic adult standards for someone living with a non-caregiver. But you're not his caregiver. It doesn't much matter, from a quality of life point of view, whether his behavior is impacted by any sort of mental issues (though that should make a difference in your assessment of his character). What matters is that he's stealing your nonreplaceable stuff and leaving you to do all the cleaning despite explicit agreement otherwise. You have a right to feel your possessions are secure in your own home. For me, if it was a repeated behavior/not a misunderstanding, casually consuming my expensive booze would be a dealbreaker, but, honestly, it's a question of individual tolerance. If you find this unbearable, then you need to answer two questions before proceeding: (1) Can you afford to carry the rent during a waiting period of finding a new flatmate? and (2) What legal rights does he have to stay in the house? Only you can answer (1), and (2) is jurisdiction-specific (I'm assuming you're not American from "flat").
posted by praemunire at 11:43 AM on February 13 [19 favorites]


This is starting to make me think really mean things about him about him being a lazy freeloader.

Really TRUE things.

I have friends over for dinner, and politely ask him if he'd like to join via text

Stop doing this.

I am literally fuming and want to ask him where he thinks it's okay to do this
I also want to say
He tends to respond very well to being told what to do - I just don't want to have to do that. We're both adults, you know?


It would be a very adult thing in this position for you to just say the things you want to say, that he is overstepping your limits and your hospitality. You have just told us he responds well to direct speech. So do it.
posted by fiercecupcake at 11:52 AM on February 13 [6 favorites]


I just spoke to him. He says he didn't drink any new beers (I dont believe him). He also said sometimes I don't take the rubbish out (true) and sometimes I leave food out (kind of true, but it's mostly that I eat before washing up).

He was obviously really awkward and taken aback, and agreed to just do the cleaning on a weekly basis without being asked.

I now feel like kind of a dick and like a massive deal out of this. Ugh.
posted by starstarstar at 12:03 PM on February 13


I would still eject the MF for drinking your beer before, let alone all the rest.
posted by rodlymight at 12:05 PM on February 13 [17 favorites]


I now feel like kind of a dick and like a massive deal out of this. Ugh.

Don't. He should be taken aback. You're not his mom, it's not your responsibility to manage or pamper his lazy ass. It's ok to speak directly and plainly to people. If he can't handle it without pouting and lying, that's on him.

Nobody's perfect, just because you sometimes don't leave the space pristine or take the rubbish out is in no way any kind of justification for him not covering the basic already-agreed -upon duties and parameters of being roommates with you.

And nthing everyone else that if he continues to fuck off and you have the legal ability to do so, go ahead and give him the boot.
posted by soundguy99 at 12:13 PM on February 13 [36 favorites]


> I just spoke to him. He says he didn't drink any new beers (I dont believe him). He also said sometimes I don't take the rubbish out (true) and sometimes I leave food out (kind of true, but it's mostly that I eat before washing up). He was obviously really awkward and taken aback, and agreed to just do the cleaning on a weekly basis without being asked. I now feel like kind of a dick and like a massive deal out of this. Ugh.

No no no. This is not the first or second or third time you've communicated to him about cleaning up and respecting your stuff, this isn't brand-new esoteric news requiring advanced social intuition from a roommate. Whatabouting about the rubbish and food is irrelevant to the question of his own lack of cleaning and other agreed-upon things.

Don't cook for him. Don't invite him to dine with you and your friends. Don't leave posh alcohol or anything else special in the fridge.
posted by desuetude at 12:51 PM on February 13 [11 favorites]


I now feel like kind of a dick and like a massive deal out of this. Ugh.

You're not a dick. He's a dick. He steals from you. Do not live with people who steal from you.
posted by FencingGal at 12:53 PM on February 13 [27 favorites]


I just spoke to him. He says he didn't drink any new beers (I dont believe him). He also said sometimes I don't take the rubbish out (true) and sometimes I leave food out (kind of true, but it's mostly that I eat before washing up).

Have you ever heard the acronym DARVO?
DARVO refers to a reaction perpetrators of wrong doing may display in response to being held accountable for their behavior. DARVO stands for "Deny, Attack, and Reverse Victim and Offender." The perpetrator or offender may Deny the behaviour, Attack the individual doing the confronting, and Reverse the roles of Victim and Offender such that the perpetrator assumes the victim role and turns the true victim into an alleged offender. This occurs, for instance, when an actually guilty perpetrator assumes the role of "falsely accused" and attacks the accuser's credibility or even blames the accuser of being the perpetrator of a false accusation.
What your roommate did there is textbook DARVO.
posted by Lexica at 1:24 PM on February 13 [36 favorites]


Hm. That's a good point. Maybe I should ask him to leave. Also, his entire being is just starting to really get to me. I dont understand how a grown adult can be content with literally just sitting in their room all day every day. It's sad but right now he just makes me angry. Hes very entitled. The reason why he didnt stay in his last job was because he felt the grunt work was beneath him. But he knew if he got through it he'd get to the interesting stuff. He never did. He just quit. Maybe I just dont want this negative influence in my life anymore.
posted by starstarstar at 1:32 PM on February 13 [7 favorites]


He was obviously really awkward and taken aback, and agreed to just do the cleaning on a weekly basis without being asked.

I now feel like kind of a dick and like a massive deal out of this. Ugh.


I still think you should kick him out.

He's the one being a dick, and if he was anything other than abjectly apologetic when you called him on it, he knows and is aware that he's been terrible and doesn't want to change - he just wants you to stop bothering him about it.

If you're not ready to boot him, set a deadline and don't move the goalposts, like, he has X long to get it together, and if at any time after that he fails to live up to expectations, he's out. I'd say if he doesn't clean this week, or drinks one more of your beers, he's out; and if he "forgets" after this, he's also out. Cleaning up after yourself in a shared living situation is basic courtesy, and it's especially rude when he doesn't even have to work.
posted by bile and syntax at 1:34 PM on February 13 [3 favorites]


Me again. The fact that he turned this around and made it about you while claiming he didn’t steal your beers makes my original statement of kicking him out truer than ever. This guy’s not only a lazy housemate, he’s a thief and a liar. With credentials like that, how can you ever hope that he’s going to turn it around if he can’t even accept responsibility? Plus now you feel like you have to watch all your possessions like a hawk. That’s no way to live. Don’t you dare buy into his BS and feel like a dick about this. Kick him to the curb. Today.
posted by Jubey at 1:35 PM on February 13 [9 favorites]


Show of hands as to the chances this will happen:
agreed to just do the cleaning on a weekly basis without being asked

Trust me when I say that you are not the one who should be feeling like a dick. But he's probably immune to that.
posted by fiercecupcake at 1:35 PM on February 13 [4 favorites]


He's lazy, doesn't have a job, doesn't do his part to clean up after himself, lies to your face about drinking your booze, and doesn't replace it. Kick him out. If he's wealthy enough to not have to work, he can rent his own flat and drink his own beer. The fact that you have to chase him down for money he supposedly has in hand is infuriating.
posted by Autumnheart at 1:48 PM on February 13 [3 favorites]


Oh, and he also does this big sigh whenever hes just about to do a chore. Like a 'do I have to' kind of thing.

On the other hand, at least it's the devil I know? His footprint on the flat is pretty low (like he doesnt leave loads of stuff everywhere kind of thing) because he spends all his time in his room. It's kind of like living on my own, which is ideal. Hes super quiet - even treads quietly and closed doors quietly. Sounds silly but these things matter to me. He never has people over, I never have to worry about being woken up. I think he likes and cares about me in his own odd way.
posted by starstarstar at 1:55 PM on February 13


Just tell him to leave. He may tread quietly and close doors quietly, but he is taking up WAY too much of your energy. Think of all the angry thoughts you're having in your head as loud mental arguments he's having with you. Just because it's not audible disturbance, doesn't make his presence less disturbing.

Plus he steals your beers. He's a dick.
posted by EllaEm at 2:10 PM on February 13 [11 favorites]


Trust me, plenty of people have decent housemates who are quiet and tidy yet also somehow manage to pay their rent, do their chores and not steal your booze. It is possible. Go find one of them.
posted by Jubey at 2:12 PM on February 13 [14 favorites]


There might be a little stockholm syndrome and some "devil you know."

Can you afford to be without a roommate for a month or two while you can be picky about a new one? His parent's gifted him cash from not one but two flats - surely he can afford his own place.

I understand that it will be difficult, but perhaps you can start nudging him to leave then get more insistent over time.
posted by porpoise at 2:26 PM on February 13 [1 favorite]


Do you have to decide right away? You can wait a short while and see if he picks up the slack, and kick him out if he doesn't (or if he does for a bit and then backslides).

Since your question is titled "How to not explode at my housemate", it might help to think of him as someone to pity more than to be mad at. Think of him as having mental issues that are keeping him trapped in his room and making interfacing with the real world so much harder for him than it is for other people. Doesn't mean you should keep him as a roommate, just that it can be worth thinking of him that way for your own mental health.
posted by trig at 2:34 PM on February 13


Oh, and he also does this big sigh whenever hes just about to do a chore. Like a 'do I have to' kind of thing.

OMG, he's me when I was 10.

I dont understand how a grown adult can be content with literally just sitting in their room all day every day. It's sad but right now he just makes me angry. Hes very entitled. The reason why he didnt stay in his last job was because he felt the grunt work was beneath him. But he knew if he got through it he'd get to the interesting stuff. He never did. He just quit. Maybe I just dont want this negative influence in my life anymore.

OK, again, you're not his mom. Stop letting him in your head like this. He wants to sit in his room all day, he can't stick with a job to get through the grunt work - NOT YOUR PROBLEM as long as he comes up with his share of the rent and utilities. He's only a "negative influence" because you're burning all this mental and emotional energy trying to figure out why he's not a different person. WHO FUCKING CARES why he is the way he is and why he's not living the kind of life you kinda think he should. Not your circus, not your monkeys.

It's kind of like living on my own, which is ideal. Hes super quiet - even treads quietly and closed doors quietly. Sounds silly but these things matter to me. He never has people over, I never have to worry about being woken up.

OK, cool, fine. So, you could maybe give it a little bit, see if you actually motivated him to pull some more of his weight around the flat, and either way you get to make a sort of cost-benefit analysis - you ask yourself, "do the benefits of having a "mostly invisible" roommate outweigh the costs of "I gotta do almost all the cleaning and hide the good booze"?" That's an equation you're gonna have to figure out for yourself - lots of us and everybody else in the world will Have Opinions on this, but you're the one who has to actually live with this.
posted by soundguy99 at 3:38 PM on February 13 [10 favorites]


The only way this jackass is going to grow up is by getting kicked out of situations that require him to grow up and him not doing so. You've been super clear that you require a grown-up housemate, and he's not being one and is putting up a lot of shit about learning how to be one. Fuck outta here.
posted by seanmpuckett at 3:45 PM on February 13 [4 favorites]


I dont understand how a grown adult can be content with literally just sitting in their room all day every day.

He may have some non-obvious form of mental illness, but please do not use this as a reason to pity him: if this is the case, he is fully funded and could seek treatment, but is opting not to do that just as he is opting not to clean up after himself. I previously had a roommate like that and his terrible behavior ultimately cost him everyone we know in common. You may, in a roundabout way, be doing him a favor by kicking him out - it's possible he will realize that he can't spend his life acting like this. I mean probably not, but - all the more reason to kick him out.
posted by bile and syntax at 3:46 PM on February 13 [1 favorite]


Why are you inviting him to join you socially? In general, it's not that unusual to drink someone's beer if you're their guest. I get that you don't feel like he counts as a guest, but you invited him to join you for dinner with your friends, so...? -- don't do that anymore. (Yes I see you told him to bring more booze -- but you still invited him to join in the social gathering, where your booze was being drunk.)

That said: that's enough with this guy. Get rid of him; he sucks. And next time, don't leave stuff out that could be construed as available for sharing, particularly not tempting items like beer, candy etc.
posted by fingersandtoes at 3:53 PM on February 13


He stole from you. That's enough, imo, for you to kick him to the curb.
posted by urbanwhaleshark at 3:55 PM on February 13 [2 favorites]


His footprint on the flat is pretty low (like he doesnt leave loads of stuff everywhere kind of thing) because he spends all his time in his room. It's kind of like living on my own, which is ideal. Hes super quiet - even treads quietly and closed doors quietly. Sounds silly but these things matter to me. He never has people over, I never have to worry about being woken up.

Any time you live with someone there is a trade-off where you have to put up with some bad qualities in order to also have the good qualities. Dan Savage calls it "the price of admission." The question is whether the price is worth it to you.

Having a roommate who is quiet and non-social to the point where it is "like living on your own" is kind of awesome. It might just be worth trying to find solutions or workarounds for the other issues, such as don't invite him to dinner, don't cook for him and lock up your booze where he can't get it. Maybe see if he will pay 1/2 of hiring a cleaner. Or, if as you say he will do what you want if you tell him to, then get comfy with the idea that you will need to tell him to clean and you will also need to tell him to go back and redo the stuff he half-assed. Don't judge him for the sigh. He doesn't have to like it, as long as he does it (this is assuming you are not having to actually NAG him... having to repeatedly ask someone to do something they've agreed to do is bullshit.) Anyway, if you think about it as "this is the price of having this ultra-quiet and mostly ok guy as a roommate" then you can decide if the price is worth the benefits.

And you'll also feel better about the whole thing if you can stop judging the parts of his lifestyle that don't really affect you personally, such as him being content not to work, enjoying sitting around in his room, living off his parents. Those behaviors are not actually hurting you in any way, you are creating the irritation in your own mind by dwelling on them in a judgmental way. Stopping the judgment will also stop the irritation.
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 6:07 PM on February 13 [13 favorites]


I wouldn't want to live with this person, but it also sounds like you REALLY dislike this person and yet have some expectations of them that do not really map to reality? Like being bothered that he isn't taking advantage of a gift or reciprocating cooking for you does not make sense when you seem to actively resent this person for existing.

The emotional stress would not be worth it to me, but if you are going to keep living with this person you are going to have to do some major work on boundaries (internal and external) if you want to enjoy living in your own home.
posted by sm1tten at 7:34 PM on February 13 [5 favorites]


Some day in the future, when this thread feels like a distant memory, something will tweak your memory and you will seek this out, almost more as a bit of nostalgia than anything. And when you do, you will see that you need out of that situation and you will say to your previous self that you should just get out and cut your losses! And your reading of this thread after all these years will be good, because you left that situation and it is now a distant memory.
posted by jjray at 8:13 PM on February 13


he stole from you and lied about it, like you're stupid enough to believe a mysterious third party entered your home and drank your alcohol, and it will absolutely happen again, with any number of other things in your home. i personally would kill him in his sleep but since you are probably a normal human being you should do the normal thing and just tell him he has to move out ASAP.
posted by poffin boffin at 11:15 PM on February 13 [7 favorites]


I was on Team Ask Him To Leave at "Lazy and stealing housemate."
posted by Gelatin at 8:10 AM on February 14


One more thing: The whataboutism, sighing, and making promises he doesn't, I promise you, intend to keep are only strategies to get you off his back. If he had any intention of improving and pulling his own weight around the house, he'd be apologetic and helpful, not resentful and sulky.

Also, he feels a paying job is beneath him, but sitting around letting other people pay his bills and take care of the housework isn't? As so many people have told you, you are not this person's parent, he is not your responsibility, and not only are you within your rights to get rid of him, you'd be doing yourself -- and possibly even him, if it gets him to stat taking some responsibility for himself -- a favor.
posted by Gelatin at 10:16 AM on February 14 [5 favorites]


A great thing about being "roommates" as a adult is the ability to decide if you like the situation, and adjust accordingly. Very different than when you are a child living with parents, or a romantically coupled person, maybe with kids.

You don't have to judge whether this guy is doing annoying things to you, or not. He just is. You are expressing that annoyance and anger very clearly, but also seem to feel obligated to figure out if you *should* be feeling that way. The thing is, you do!

Sometimes people don't click as roommates, and this guy seems to be pushing the buttons you don't like. I'd say you should try a different living situation.
posted by RajahKing at 10:32 AM on February 14 [1 favorite]


Listen, I can see the value of a quiet flatmate and a known quantity, and maybe you could train him. If you really don't want to just ask him to leave, set specific goals within a specific time frame. If he can start reliably doing these clearly stated things by this clearly stated time, then he can stay.

But that still leaves you doing all the work of training and monitoring him. Only you know if it's worth it to you to put in all the effort of teaching him to be a passably considerate flatmate - maybe it would be. But it really doesn't sound like he's keen to learn. I suspect even if you manage to get him doing the things, you're probably always going to be managing him. You seem to be already putting in a hell of a lot of emotional labour - and money- and I wouldn't bet on that changing. He is a free loader, yep, that is what he is.

Honestly, if you can just kick him out now, I would. That's going to get much harder to do, logistically and emotionally, the longer you wait to do it.
posted by BlueNorther at 12:20 PM on February 14


And just to be clear - it doesn't matter if he's neuro atypical. Look, I'm autistic and ADHD as hell, and physically disabled - I literally cannot pull my weight in terms of housework. Can't do it. But I know that, and I care about that, and I try really hard to do whatever I can do and make up for it in other ways. And I don't steal people's nice beer and sigh at them. Disability doesn't absolve you of responsibility, it means you acknowledge and address your limitations. It doesn't sound like he's doing that at all.
posted by BlueNorther at 12:21 PM on February 14 [5 favorites]


How to not explode at my housemate

Please explode at your housemate. Ideally explode him to the curb.
posted by Zudz at 2:20 PM on February 14 [2 favorites]


late to the thread, but your update reminded me of this iconic scene from Wet Hot American Summer. it also reminded me of my ex-husband. this manchild isn’t even your boyfriend! DTMFA.
posted by changeling at 3:18 PM on February 14 [1 favorite]


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