Ask Pawan: My roommate's boyfriend is staying over almost every night

Hey Pawan,

I just got a new roommate and she seems great, but there’s one issue: her boyfriend stays over almost every night, and he’s been staying here every night for the last week that she’s been back in town. He’s really nice and I don’t mind having him around a couple of nights a week, but I don’t enjoy sharing a space with someone I don’t know well when I don’t even know my roommate very well yet. I feel bad asking for him to leave or stay over less because I just learned his place isn’t that great, but I signed a lease with one person and I don’t think my landlords would be cool with him essentially living here rent-free when they rented to just the two of us. My parents even think it could be a legal issue if our landlords found out, so I want to address it quickly. How do I bring it up without ruining the vibe of our apartment?

In terms of city-livin’ student strife, roomie troubles are basically Herculean tasks. You’ve got to make sure that your voice is heard, while also accounting for the fact that the other person (hopefully) pays their way and deserves just as much leeway. Trying to get your comfort and living preferences into someone else’s head is rough, especially when you’re still in the early stages of getting to know each other and trying to figure out a way of coexisting that doesn’t involve someone washing their dishes at 1 a.m.

It seems like your problem can be tackled with two of the oldest tricks in the book: communication and time.

Regarding the former, you have to open up with your roommate to get any kind of positive traction on this. She may or may not have noticed any outward displays of discomfort you’ve expressed about having the boyfriend around all the time, but it’s up to you to express just how much it affects you. The unfortunate news is that this will likely lead to a conversation involving the three of you and the living arrangement — the good news is that by speaking to your parents and sending in the question, you’ve already got a good handle on what you dislike now and have a vision for the future. I encourage you to stick to a solution that solely involves the three of you, at least initially, as invoking any authority — be it landlord or legal — could end up with everyone worse off in a bunch of different ways. If your roommate has been having him over a lot, she should be able to see from your perspective that living with a new person is strange enough, but throwing a second one in there makes it exponentially harder.

I also encourage you to talk to them about future concessions — rather than the current six nights per week, slowing down to just one or two a week and seeing how comfortable everyone feels after a while. Try not to allow the conversation to take on a “me or him” tone because that’s not fair to anyone and could possibly end up with you scavenging for another roomie.

Normally, I’d end with the fact that as a last resort, moving into a single bedroom is a viable option, but last I saw, someone dropped a milk crate on Dunbar and now it’s listed at $1300 plus utilities.

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