3 Ways To Cope When Your Roommate & Boyfriend Or Girlfriend Don't Get Along
If I can brag for a sec, I like to think that I can get along with most anyone. I enjoy meeting friends of friends, I always compliment my barista's neon purple manicures, and I'm a decent first date. But when it comes to my own living space, I'm less friendly. I live in New York, where the cost of rent is equivalent to buying a Macbook ever month, so I'm not super keen on extra people hanging around my apartment. However, as an adult, I do understand that if you're in a relationship, your roommate and boyfriend or girlfriend are inevitably going to spend time together.
Here's the thing: it's always a little bit annoying when a person who isn't paying for your tiny-but-expensive living space is in it. Especially if they are in it a lot — and using your kitchen, leaving the toilet seat up, not washing dishes, and so on. But on the other hand, if you're in a relationship and live with a roommate (and need less alone time than me) of course you want your partner to come over to the apartment that you also pay for.
I think my point is this: living spaces and roommate arrangements are always complicated, even when you get married to your roommate one day, so remember what being on the other side of the situation feels like. If your partner and roommate don't get along, there are some steps you can take to attempt to remedy the situation. I spoke to two therapists who specialize in relationships about some tangible ways to cope when your partner and roommate do not get along, because let's face it — leases are hard to break.
1. Acknowledge The Problem Exists
It may sound incredibly obvious, but if your partner and your roommate aren't getting along, you need to bring it up with both of them, especially the person you live with. As the person who knows both of the other parties best, you can be the one to initiate the conversation. "The very first thing to do is to start a conversation by acknowledging that a problem apparently exists," Dr. Gary Brown, a prominent relationship expert in Los Angeles who works with dating singles and couples. "It's very helpful to find out precisely what the issues are."
It's true — your partner and your roommate could not be getting along due to normal, almost-living-together annoyances that occur, or there could be a larger, more specific problem between them. You're not going to find out what's going on unless you start the conversation.
Confrontation is scary, I know: "the best way to start the conversation is to focus on what you are observing, thinking, and feeling without judgment or blame," says Dr. Brown. "You want to set a nice tone to begin with to help make it safe for both."
2. Come Up With A Concrete Solution
After you identify what's going on between your roommate and your partner, "get into problem-solving mode," says noted psychotherapist Dr. LeslieBeth Wish, author of "Smart Relationships" and founder of Love Victory. "If you work as a team to resolve the issue for the future, you will find solutions much quicker." So, for example, if your roommate is just a roommate, not a friend, make sure you aren't shirking your responsibilities in your home for your relationship, explains Dr. Wish. If it's your turn to do the dishes, do them, even if your partner is over.
Additionally, "you and your roommates might also need to revise the rules about partners spending the night," says Dr. Wish. While it is absolutely your right to have your partner over to your home, having a third person in the bathroom every weekday morning simply isn't fair to your roommate.
And it's a particular topic of conversation such as politics that pits your roommate and partner against each other? "Declare that topic off-limits," says Dr. Wish.
"One thing you can do is to spend more time in your bedroom with your partner with the door closed," adds Dr. Brown. It seems simple, and it is, but it's a great fix. If you and your partner aren't in the common space as frequently, there will be less occasion to bother your roommate.
3. Be Empathetic To Everyone Involved
Sometimes, the differences between a partner and a roommate seem irreconcilable. If your roommate is also a friend of yours, this can be difficult. Remember that your roommate could just miss your company, and wish you were around more. Plan a special "roomie date night" with your friend! The effort will be appreciated.
It's hard to balance a relationship and a roommate, whether you are close with your roommate or not. The key to resolving any issues that come up are to have an open conversation, make a plan and stick to it, and keep things kind and open-minded. You've got this!