After spending the last six years living with roommates, I’ve learned a thing or two about cohabitation. Living with other people can be tough, especially when you’re living with members of the opposite sex. Having guys as roommates opens up a whole new can of worms, but it’s not all bad.
1. If You Want Something Done, Do it Yourself
“Chores” are a foreign concept. They will not be done, and if they are it won’t be the way you want it done, or even when you want it done. You will eventually break down and do most of the chores yourself, because holding out means living in ever-growing filth. But don’t you dare accuse them of not cleaning up after themselves—because it can get much, much worse.
2. You’ll Have Different Schedules
Be prepared to have all your bathroom habits questioned, even though they take twice as long to shower as you. It’s not your fault they can throw on pants and a hat and look presentable, while you need a carefully planned outfit, styled hair, and makeup to feel prepared to go out in public.
And even though you think that just this once you can rush and forgo the makeup, you will instantly regret this decision when you see someone you know and you barely resemble a person. Their time isn’t that precious. They can wait on you to get ready and feel good about yourself. And if they can’t, they should learn to give you more than two minutes’ notice if they want to do things with you.
3. Don’t Share
A rule of thumb I’ve learned: If you can avoid it, don’t share a bathroom with boys. Your ideas of cleanliness and appropriate places to leave the hand towel differ from theirs. I’m not just saying this because I grew up with a little brother. It goes for grown men as well.
4. It’s Every Man for Himself
You may think that buying and sharing groceries as a household is a given. Maybe you and your female roommate had a system that worked great. Forget that system. Forget your naïve ideas of equality. It’s an every-man-for-himself kind of world you live in now, and just because you bought the milk last time doesn’t mean you won’t be buying it this time. Your period ice cream isn’t as off-limits as you think it is, and you shouldn’t be surprised if your freezer is filled with frozen pizzas and the fridge with all kinds of beer and soda and barely any room leftover for food. One of my roommates this year survived off of pizza, beer, seltzer, pierogis, and not much else.
While we’re talking about division of the purchasing duties, you’d better rethink your schedule for buying household supplies. Think that switching off who buys the toilet paper once a month will cover you? Think again. That might work if the person in charge of buying the supplies actually remembers to do so, and if they buy enough for the whole house and not just for themselves. In my experience, boys will go as long as possible without having to buy more paper towels or toilet rolls. They find ways. Questionable ways.
5. The Bra Will Come Off
After a while, you stop caring so much how you look at home. At first you may keep your bra on when you get home and wear cute pajamas to bed. That will quickly slide into a hoodie with no bra and slightly less cute pjs, which will end up at whatever feels comfortable, regardless of how it looks or who’s around. You can only care what people you see every day think of you for so long, and eventually any friends you or they have over will get used to it. It is your house, after all.
6. Compromise (But Not Too Much)
More than likely, your guy roommate plays video games. Maybe he isn’t that into them and only dabbles on his laptop in his room, or maybe he’s a full-blown gamer and has a gaming system set up in the living room. If you’re into video games too, that could be a way for you to bond and spend some chill time together.
If, like me, you’re not good at anything requiring a game controller, the constant roar of monsters and machine guns in your living room can at first be obnoxious. A good compromise I’ve found for this is that when they want to play video games, I read or work on a slightly dull task, like grading or sending emails. This way I’m not distracted from my work or book by a video game I don’t care about, the game is actually enough out of my interest zone to keep me focused on even the dullest of tasks, and I’m not resentful that I’m not watching one of my TV shows because he’s playing games. Everybody wins.
7. Strangers Will Invade Your Space (and You Kinda Have to Let Them)
If your roommate and you have a lot of mutual friends, count yourself lucky. It can be super awkward when you’re having a bad day and just want to lay on the couch watching Pride and Prejudice with your heating pad and all the food, but then your roommate walks in with his friend you barely know and announces that they’re going to hang out at your place tonight. Obviously, if you can communicate with your roommates about who is coming over when and who gets the living room that night, this nightmare can be avoided. But that’s a big “if.”
8. Dating is Awkward
It’s even more awkward when you have guy roommates. Hopefully your roommates are kind enough to warn you before they bring over potential mates, but they’ll forget sometimes (or a lot of the time). It’s especially awkward when your guy roommate has a date over that you didn’t know about and she walks in on you in the bathroom.
9. Nagging is Necessary and Inevitable
Everyone has a different system for getting the rent and utilities paid. In all of my shared living experiences, one person has taken on the responsibility of paying these things and everyone else pays them for it in advance each month. That works as long as either one of two things is true: a) everyone is responsible and pays on time or b) the person in charge of collecting is fine with being the hated tax collector who has to nag people for money every month, sometimes even after the rent has been paid.
I don’t have a better solution for this problem other than to just live with people you can trust. Which is hard when you’re forced to room with people you don’t actually know that well, and especially hard when you live with guys who perpetuate the stereotypical men-would-lose-their-heads-if-they-weren’t-attached trope. It isn’t fun having to feel like your roommates’ mother.
10. The Pros Usually Negate the Cons
Lastly, despite any negativity you encounter, you can become friends with your guy roommates, and it can be just as fun (if not more so) than living with your girlfriends. Guys bring a different perspective to the table. They can help you interpret other guys’ actions, whether it be a boyfriend, date, or a co-worker. They can open bottles and kill spiders — and if you do all of that stuff yourself, they’re still good for checking the breaker when the lights go out, or airing up your tires, or even helping you move around the furniture in your bedroom just for kicks.
You can be their girl-whisperer and movie buddy and outfit checker and sometimes that’s enough to get you through all the frustrating times. My current roommates and I like to go on night drives, not to talk or go anywhere in particular, but just to be. Just to remind us that we’re alive. Those nights are what I remember when I’m mad about unwashed dishes or late rent payments, or when for whatever reason I just can’t stand to be around them.
All roommates have high and low points, and with guys this is no different. It’s the type of highs and lows that change, and if the highs are enough to outweigh the lows, then you know you’ve found yourself a good group. And if they aren’t, well, don’t forget that girls aren’t always easy to live with either.