Opposite-Sex Roomates 101

You finally found a room you’re interested in renting. It’s in the perfect location. The price is right. Even the utilities are included! The catch is your new roommie is of the opposite sex. Living with members of the opposite sex has become more popular in our generation, but can it be done amicably?

Before I bought my condo, I made the jump. Bills were high and my debt was impossible to manage. I needed to move, and fast! None of my girlfriends were available, but I had a friend of the opposite sex willing to take me in. I had never lived with a guy other than a boyfriend before. Now I was about to live with three. I thought to myself: “what’s the worst that could happen?” Did I ever eat those words… My ruling is yes. You can live with someone of the opposite sex, as long as you follow a few guidelines.

1. Relationship Status: Don’t move in with someone you’re attracted to.

If you are already hoping to get a peek of their accidental, post shower, towel slip—you’re probably best to high-tail it outta there. Only roommates on TV fall in love and live happily ever after, so avoid romantic relationships. Does your roommate already have a significant other? If yes, it is natural for them to be a little defensive towards your living arrangement. Get on the partners good side and inconspicuously calm any doubts they may have towards you. Last thing you want to do is create tension in the house. Also question how often said-significant other will be visiting. Will that significant other be mooching off your internet and thieving all your hot water? Live-in girlfriends/boyfriends are never what the other roommate has signed on for. Be honest about each other’s expectations.

2. House Rules: Discuss all your roommate deal breakers.

I really should have set some ground rules when I first moved in, like no masturbating in the shower! There was a new definition to scum in that washroom. I-don’t-want-to-get-pregnant-while-taking-a-bath kind of scum. Sharing one washroom with three boys was a new category of nightmare. “Just help yourself to my conditioner!” Talk about sound levels, bathroom usage (especially if you’re sharing one), and bill paying. Have the toilette seat up vs down conversation. Here are a few key things to go over:

Guest policy:
Awkward overnight guests are inevitable. I came face to face with a hooker one night; and not the Julia Roberts kind. My roommates also had an extremely narcissistic friend—who I strongly disliked—that overstayed his couchsurfing privileges. I may have blown a gasket and systematically kicked him down the stairs. Come to an agreeable arrangement. Can you tolerate a bunch of dudes occupying your living room for Sunday football? Can you suffer through an all-in-one ladies night full of nail polish, gossip, and chick flicks?

Cleanliness:
Game over if they find a long strand of hair in the shower. “There’s beard hair all over the sink, pubes on the toilette, scum in the tub; but you’re freaking out over a single strand of hair? Really?” Go over everything from groceries to dishes. How to separate the fridge and cabinet space? When is garbage day? Should you have a cleaning schedule? Anyone living with a roommate is entitled to a clean living space. Speak up about your pet peeves before they become a habit. Don’t keep quiet about those week old left-overs in the fridge, or that jumbo size box of tampons in plain view.

Sleeping Habits & Personal Space:
It’s a dick move to throw a party when your roommate has to work the next morning—so many sleepless nights. Respect each other’s schedule. Are you students, or do you work a 9 to 5 job? Are you an early riser or insomniac? Figure out what you’re doing and minimize the volume. Also respect your roommate’s personal space. Knock before entering a bedroom or bathroom. You don’t want to unintentionally walk in on your half-naked roommate.

3. Be Flexible: Don’t be a prude, and roll with the punches.

It’s no fun to follow strict rules all the time. Men and women communicate differently and you’re bound to have disagreements. Through it all—the hookers, the ‘scum’, the narcissist couchsurfer, and conditioner thieving—we did have some pretty good times. Find your common ground and mutually respect one another. Learn to laugh at yourself and with others. This will take the sting out of most misunderstandings.

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