I encountered a strange situation with my roommate and I'm not sure if I'm the problem and need to change, or if he is just being unreasonable.

The context is this:

We are living in a house which has 6 people and 3 dogs living in it. There is an upstairs and downstairs which are not connected, with 3 people (all guys in their 20s) living upstairs, and 3 people (all guys, one older man, the rest in their 20s) living downstairs. We have two bathrooms, one with a shower, and one with a tub. The one with a tub get's clogged, especially due to my hair, so I use the shower. All my toiletries are in the bathroom with the shower.

But most importantly, the room with the shower is adjoining with the room he sleeps in. It is connected via a door on both sides, and it is a lot easier for him to walk through the shower room to leave his room, then to get around and use another door. (As a sidenote, he doesn't claim ownership over this shower room, we actually have more rooms than people, and so a few months ago he started sleeping in the extra room, leaving a lot of his stuff in his previous room, and said that it was just temporary and we could of course still use the bathroom adjoining his second room whenever we wanted).

The situation is this:

Today I went on a run at around 7pm, and when I came back I went to the shower room to try to have a shower. But, the door was locked. So I knocked on the door to see if he was in there, but I didn't get a response.

I figured he must be sleeping with ear plugs in, amd I was soaked with sweat from my run and really wanted to shower, so I figured it would be no big deal to knock loud enough to wake him up.

I realize this wasn't a super nice thing, but I figured he wouldn't be too bothered, as it was 7pm, it was a shared shower, and he did really mess up by accidentally locking his roommates out of the shared shower room.

After a few minutes without him waking up I realized the lock was actually one of those that you can open by just using a coin (it didn't have a key, it was just to prevent accidentally walking in on someone in the bathroom), so I unlocked it and had my shower.

Sometime later my roommate confronted me and said it was completely unacceptable for me to wake him up when he was sleeping, just because I wanted to have a shower. I was fairly baffled, as although I know it is annoying to be woken up, I figured he would have instead apologized for locking me out and making it basically impossible for me to shower.

I was also confused as to how my roommate could wake up, and then just ignore me when I was knocking on the door. He said he ignored me because he didn't want me to "get my way" when I was being so rude. Which further confused me as I wasn't trying to be rude, I figured it wouldn't be that big of a deal to wake him up, especially at 7pm. I didn't know if he was asleep for the night, which would mean I would have to just have to go to sleep sweaty, without showering.

My roommate went on and said he thought I was just waking him up to be mean, because of something I said earlier that day. To explain that I have to get into the second situation.

Second situation:

The 3 roommates living downstairs (which is not connected) have been smoking both cigarettes and weed downstairs, which is completely against the rental agreement. We can smell it strongly through the vents throughout the house, and previous had to block all the vents with cardboard to lessen the smell.

We have been complaining heavily about it to the landlord, and he has been calling the tenants downstairs and telling them to stop. Which resulted in the tenants downstairs finding all sorts of reasons to complain about us. The landlord is trying to resolve the problem by organizing a meeting with all the tenants, mostly to see if we (the tenants upstairs) can find a way to stay in the living situation as opposed to leaving.

The landlord wants to organize this meeting ASAP, so he sent us an email on Saturday asking us what times on Monday or Tuesday we would be available for. I responded with the times I would be available for, and made sure to send a message on the upstairs tenant's discord channel about replying to our landlord with the times we would be available.

About an hour later I was in the common area and saw my roommate was on his laptop, but still hadn't replied. So I asked him if he saw the email, and he said he did, and then I asked him what if he was free either day. He simply said he had work, so I said "yeah, but you're free evenings?", and his response was just a really long "uh.........." .

I didn't really expect it to be that difficult of a question, I haven't once known him to have anything scheduled after work, and I thought it was fairly rude of him to not take the meeting seriously. It wasn't a social invitation, our landlord needed to know people's schedules right way, especially because the tenants downstairs worked a variety of hours, so they might have to take time off work.

My response was to just tell him "well, email the landlord with the times you are free".

And apparently he thought my response was so condescending that he figured I was just looking for ways to annoy him, which he felt included waking him up to use the shower, instead of showering the next day.

The question:

How can I respond to prevent my roommate from locking me out of other shared resources?

  • Both situations here refer to the same problem person, right? – Erik Jul 15 '18 at 6:30
  • 1
    If it doesn't have a key, what would waking him up have accomplished anyway? – さりげない告白 Jul 15 '18 at 12:03
  • Yep, both refer to the same person. – Mitchell Raynard Jul 15 '18 at 20:38
  • The bathroom is connected to his room in a way that he can't be locked out of the bathroom, but he can lock everyone else out of the bathroom. It is sort of like an extra part of his room. – Mitchell Raynard Jul 15 '18 at 20:39

There are always two sides of a coin. The hard facts are:

  • Your roommate locked the door to the shower
  • You knocked
  • You unlocked the door and took a shower

In your mind, none of your actions were malicious or intentionally rude. In his head, he interpreted things differently. Maybe he had a hard day, was grumpy and took everything personal and in the worst possible way.

The way to go is to have an honest conversation about the rules you want to adhere to while living together. I know from experience that a shower next door can be extremely loud if the water pipes run through the wall between the bathroom and my room.

First of all, you should tell him unambiguously that it was not your intention to annoy him or be rude. You only wanted to take a shower at a very reasonably time.

Then explain to him that he cannot annex the bathroom. Give him your reasons. It's not about your personal taste, but because the other bathroom gets clogged.

Work together on a solution. Maybe he agrees with changing rooms again. If not, ask him why he likes this room so much, although he is bothered by people using the adjacent bathroom. Offer compromises and ask him for his oppinion instead of just deciding what is OK and what is not.

The same applies to the situation with the mail. In your head, this mail is important and he should treat it as equally important. In his head, it's just a mail that you have already answered and you are still annoying him with it.

He cannot read your mind, and neither can you read his. He uttered just one non-word... You read his expressions, gestures and tone and interpreted it in your way.

The way to go is to exchange your thoughts, and that is only possible by voicing them. Explain your reasons to bother him with this mail. Explain why you think he should answer as soon as possible instead of ignoring it.

  • To add a bit more context after my landlord sent the group email asking for times everyone was free he sent me a direct email asking me to get the times my roommates were free for. My roommate didn't actually know that though, so the rest makes sense. – Mitchell Raynard Jul 15 '18 at 20:37
  • 1
    I think this answer is forgetting there is a 2nd toilet, and I bet that is why the guy is annoyed he was woken up. It is also not entirely smart or kosher to lock pick closed doors, I think.. – Rui F Ribeiro Jul 15 '18 at 21:25
  • OR, now that you know how to unlock the door without his assistance, simply apologize for waking him up and inform him that you'll just let yourself in next time without disturbing him. – A C Jul 17 '18 at 0:35
  • @RuiFRibeiro That kind of door, anyone can lock it from the outside with a coin and walk away, and then it stays closed until someone else unlocks the door with a coin. But also consider that if I knock on a locked bathroom door with no sound (shower) from inside and get no answer, I'd fear that someone inside is in trouble, passed out or worse. – gnasher729 Jul 18 '18 at 20:55

Well, it's not us you need to live with, is it? You've made your case but apparently the details tie together in a different manner for your flatmate. Your living arrangements clearly don't lend themselves for staying out of each others' hairs so one needs to make arrangements. Your current understanding appears to be that you use the shower joined to your flatmate's room for reasons of your own decision making whenever you feel like it and you get to decide whether or not that is convenient to him, reserving the right to wake him up if necessary.

That's a rather one-sided agreement (did you ask whether he is fine with that?) and it seems strange that the decision when it has to be convenient for him or not is to be your discretion without him having a say in it.

It would appear that you at least should have a backup plan by putting enough of your stuff in the actual bathroom to be able to use that as well and get a drain sieve in order not to clog up its pipes with hair when you do.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.