It’s funny to watch the train wreck that is Broad City’s Abbi and her (perpetually absent) roommate’s live-in boyfriend, Bevers, on TV. Not so much when you’re watching it happen in real life. When you have your own personal Bevers slothing around your apartment — wrecking your toilet or working his booty-shaped imprint into your couch while your roommate is out of town — it’s hard to see the humor.
So what do you do when your roommate’s new significant other becomes your unofficial extra roomie? If the new boyfriend makes himself right at home without ever feeling the need to contribute to rent or utilities, or the new girlfriend hijacks your morning shower schedule on the daily, you might be feeling as if your head is actually going to explode. Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to improve the situation that won’t torpedo your roommate relationship.
Here’s how to negotiate your shared space after it shrinks to a fraction of its promised size, enforce the boundaries you agreed upon when you signed the lease and reclaim your sanity before you go H.A.A.M. on the happy couple.
1) Real talk your roommate (and make sure you’re respectful and rational when you do).
Your roommate also pays rent, which gives him or her a right to use your common space and have guests over. What your roommate doesn’t have a right to do is be disrespectful of your space. So if you keep catching the boyfriend devouring your food, or if the girlfriend continues to primp in your bathroom well into what should be your morning commute, find a chill way to express your dissatisfaction with the arrangement.
Ask your roommate to monitor the snacking, and work out a bathroom schedule that gets everyone to work on time. Remind your roommate — in a way that is calm, cool, and collected — that you share the apartment, and while you’re happy to host anyone who makes him or her so happy, you’d appreciate it if you could all stick to the ground rules.
2) Talk to their significant other like you’re both reasonable humans — because both of you probably are, and you probably know where the significant other is coming from.
The S.O. probably didn’t even realize s/he was being a pain in your ass because the S.O. is probably oblivious, wrapped up in the the feeling of being all in love and comfortable in your roommate’s space. I bet you’ve been there. Bae is probably operating on that what’s-yours-is-mine attitude that reigns in most relationships, i.e., on the assumption that the chips in the pantry are part of the deal.
It’s okay to remind your roommate’s boo that those beers belong to you, or that you were the one who, just last week, gave your left arm and leg for the luxuriant shampoo that’s now mysteriously down to the last few squirts. It’s okay to ask that everyone stick to his or her own stuff.
Keep your reminders gentle and your tone non-alienating, and the S.O. will most likely listen, because the S.O. would most likely hate it if some stranger waltzed into their home and started eating from the ice cream cartons and hummus containers with abandon and the same spoon. The S.O. is probably just blind to the reality of your situation (and maybe to you) because of the love haze. It happens.
3) Ask if you can switch things up.
Meaning nights. Because wouldn’t it be nice if you could squeeze in some couch time without having to squeeze in between the lovebirds? Yes, it would. And doesn’t having your own apartment mean being able to flop around in your underwear, and the freedom to use your common space without feeling like you are third wheeling on date night? Yes and yes.
So maybe, in one of those rare moments when the S.O. is off doing whatever the S.O. does that isn’t your roommate, casually bring up the S.O.’s apartment. Ask where it is, if it’s nice. Choose your words carefully and phrase them delicately when you ask if they might consider spending a few nights there.
Say something like, “It seems like things are going really well with you and this new bae! It’s great to see, and I’m glad you’re so happy. And I have zero problems with him/her spending time here, because s/he is a champ. Sometimes I do feel the need to stay in my room when you guys are hanging out in the living room, though. Because I don’t want to intrude. I know you don’t care if I chill with you, but I want to give you your space. That said, would you guys be willing to alternate nights between our place and hers/his? That way we all get some apartment alone time.”
4) Consider the shower caddy.
In a perfect world, your words land perfectly in each of the above scenarios and both your roommate and the S.O. listen to your eminently reasonable requests with ears wide open. They resolve to be on their best behavior. If only we lived in a perfect world, in which old habits didn’t die so hard. If the best behavior slips into past behavior, you might try storing some personal reserves out of S.O.’s reach — in your room. Come bathroom time, you can ferry your grooming products back and forth in a nifty, protective tote — a throwback to freshman year.
Stash your choicest snacks in your room, or if you, like me, lack the self control to not eat the whole carton of Goldfish in one five-minute go, find yourself a Sharpie. Boldly label the food items to which the S.O. has taken an obvious shine, and start brainstorming ways to spend the extra $5 you’ll be saving each day, now that you don’t have to replace the Pirate’s Booty that mysteriously vanishes after S.O.’s pre-bed bowl.
5) And, if all else fails: Fight fire with fire.
Be your most sprawling, obnoxious, omnipresent self. Never leave the common area. Stock your shelves exclusively with food products that everyone but you hates. Enjoy your treats while lounging unshowered on the couch for whole days and marathoning that obscure show no one ever wants to watch with you — a little Antiques Roadshow, perhaps?
No time like the present to dust off your DVD boxset of CNN classic The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer, if that’s what you’re into, you weirdo, you. Whatever poison you pick, do not shy away from voicing your stream-of-consciousness commentary — loudly. Be the Bevers you never want to see in your apartment again. Drive them out of your place and over to the S.O.’s; take back your throne, and be king of your own goddamn castle.
By: Claire Lampen
Claire Lampen is a writer and editor living in Brooklyn. A native of St. Louis, she came to New York by way of Maine and then Berlin, where she spent a year as a Fulbright fellow post-graduation. If you feed her a few drinks, she’ll probably want to slur German at you. Or French. Or possibly even Russian, although her conversational abilities there extend only far enough to introduce herself as Boris, the cosmonaut who loves speaking in his mother tongue. Claire works in publishing, but spends her free time flopping around Bushwick and writing essays that can be read on her Medium page. Claire has a BA from Bates College that’s unlikely ever to become relevant in her after-grad life, and a Twitter account with an approximate two followers, which she encourages you to follow in the case that she ever remembers to use it.
This post originally appeared on ThisIsQuarterlife.com.