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I recently moved into a new apartment with 2 other roommates. Both of them are around 4-5 years elder to me, if not more. They do treat me as a younger colleague. I would have expected that this treatment would be kind – instead, it seems to be the very opposite.

Ever since I moved in, many of my actions are closely scrutinized by them. (Let's call my roommates A and B.) For instance, the first time I took a shower in the apartment, a bit of water spilt out of the bathing area as I hadn't pulled up the shower curtain well (my old apartment didn't have one, so I wasn't used to using it). A posed a generic message on our chat group, asking to take care not to spill water, and to mop it if it does spill. I apologised on the group when I saw the message and said I would mop up the water, and I did. Now it so happens that every time after B takes a shower, I find the bathroom floor extremely wet. Yet, A never seems to say anything about it. I have also not expressed my disapproval because it doesn't bother me.

Another instance is that I once cooked some eggs and the smell occupied the whole kitchen (it's very small and the ventilator doesn't work). I was very sick and so didn't have the energy to do something about the smell. B entered the kitchen with some of his friends later and began complaining very loudly about the stench. He firmly told me to take care of this in the future. The funny thing is, for the whole of the past week B had stunk up the kitchen to high heaven by leaving his dishes in the sink for a long time. I didn't complain because I knew he was busy with some work and thought he would appreciate me being thoughtful.

Apart from this, B plays very loud music almost throughout the day, leaves the toilet without flushing properly, has his friends over who create a ruckus, and A also has his friends coming over creating a huge commotion. I, on the other hand, have nobody over, take care to be silent throughout the day, leave the bathroom clean, and the kitchen too (except in the above occasion as I was sick).

It seems to me that while I am the one quietly putting up with them, they seem to be the ones looking for every opportunity to complain to me about the smallest of things. I'm beginning to feel like a pushover, and I want to tell them that I'm also adjusting with a lot of things I don't like. I am not a confrontational person, and I do have to stay with them for a long time – so I want to do this in a calm, respectful but firm manner. Any ideas how I can do so?

EDIT: A and B had stayed together for sometime (at least 7 months) before I moved in. They do seem to be friends, and I believe they're from the same city, which also seems to create a bond between them. So it is indeed possibly A lets B get away with things.

Secondly, I didn't complaim about these things to them because I was new (this is my third week) and I didn't want to seem too picky. Also, my previous 2 roommates were very adjusting folks and we had mutually realised that each of us put up with certain quirks of the other persons. So I had sort of become conditioned to this mutual adjustment and thought my new roommates would be similar. I thought they would appreciate me putting up with their actions, like my previous roommates did. In hindsight, I realise that this is because my previous roommates were probably extraordinary and I shouldn't expect this from everyone.

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No one will look out for you except yourself.

Especially in a situation where you're living together, if you don't speak up, everyone is going to assume everything is fine. Your roommates probably have no idea that the situation feels unfair to you or that you dislike how things are being played out.

Is it crappy to play loud music and have annoying friends over? Absolutely. But did you ever confront them about it and make it clear that you want the apartment to be peaceful and quiet during certain times of the week? Did you tell your roommates that you've found the toilet not being flushed properly sometimes? Did you get them together and have a talk about dishes in the sink?

It sounds like the answer is no to most of the above questions. This is a simple fact of life. If you don't speak up, no one will know something's wrong. If you don't stand up for yourself, no one will.

Approaching the roommates

Just from what you've said, it doesn't sound like they mean to be treating you badly, they simply don't realize the way they're coming off. Especially if they've been living together for a time before you joined, they're probably used to their ways of life and see nothing wrong except your new additions to their life style.

Since both sides clearly have very different views of the situation, I'd strongly suggest keeping things simple and having a straightforward talk.

When you talk to them about the problems you have, make sure you do it in a way that you have their full attention. I'd get them together for a quick 15 minute talk and let them know that, while you like them and enjoy living with them, there are a couple things that you'd like them to change. I'd suggest you focus on giving your delivery by following some constructive criticism techniques.

Afterwards, I'd send a text to confirm what you talked about. This will make sure that everyone understands the outcome of the talk and will also give you a "paper trail" in case they try to pretend not to remember your talk.


TL;DR: if you want things to change, you're going to have to let them know that there's a problem. As in most cases with misunderstandings where you don't believe both parties see eye-to-eye, I'd strongly suggest being straightforward and sitting them down to have a talk about what you'd like to change.

Best of luck!

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I've had this issue on two separate occasions with 3 roommates. Granted, the second time around it wasn't as bad.

  • Be up front.
  • Be kind and try your best to be understanding.
  • Don't nit-pick at them personally. I've learned that the most effective way of confronting people when you're not confrontational is to outline the conversation with "I feel..when you do (or don't do)..."
  • If they try to pick at you then say "Okay, I apologize that when I do...you feel..." (don't try to or accidentally be sarcastic or condescending when you say this, it makes things worse): it's a bit of humility on your part which goes along way in a conversation with someone, but you aren't saying "I'm sorry" for your behavior or what "you did" - also say you'll work on it
  • When all is said and done end with 1 or 2 things you all can work on, this gives you leverage the next time you bring it up if it doesn't get worked on

I would also preface by saying "I know y'all have been in a groove with each other before I got here and I don't want to disturb the peace but...(the reference point 3)

If anything, this is better than the one roommate I had who cried because I had alcohol (wine) in our apartment and wouldn't throw it out (she also cried because she needed the apartment 2 degrees cooler in the winter) and the other one who shunned me after I had picked up her drunk-ass and stood outside while she threw up at 3 in the morning in 20 degree weather :)

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Sounds to me like it's time to move. All those nit-picky double standards aren't the issue. The issue is that you don't like their lifestyle and they don't like yours. The reason that they're acting the way they are about it is that they have the idea that that's your fault. It's nobody's fault. Don't try to fix it. Just take what you've learned about what you want your roommates to be like, and start looking for it. These guys ain't it, and you aren't going to turn them into it, either.

I spent over 20 years going from one roommate situation to another, starting when I was 20. At first, it worked out sometimes, and didn't sometimes. I learned that you can like someone and enjoy his or her company, and yet can't stand to live with them. Once I got into my 30's, I began interviewing roommates and expecting them to do the same, and wound up having some great experiences and making some lifelong friends. Meanwhile, I'd see younger people move in with their best friends from high school or whatever and be at each others' throats in a matter of months.

Before you decide to live with someone, you need to have a very frank, candid and personal conversation about living habits. Nothing is off the table, because it certainly won't be once you move in. Smoking, music, bringing girlfriends/boyfriends in to stay the night, partying, drinking, drugs, bathroom habits, washing dishes, cats, dogs, snakes, parakeets, allergies, cooking, food management, etc. etc.

I would keep a list of all the things that you learned that you didn't want to live with, and ask your next potential roommates about them. If after this interview, you don't think you and they would get along, just say so. If they get mad at being turned down, you know you made the right call.

I once dropped by a woman's house who was looking for a housemate. She had a neat-as-a-pin place, with all of her decor very carefully color-coordinated, and so on. Already a red flag for meI had a piano (an electric one), and she told me that it could go in my room, and oh by the way, she didn't want to hear me playing it. Ok, sounds like I would drive you up a wall, and for my part I'd be afraid to sit down in the living room. Thanks for your time, shook hands and I left. Funny thing was, I got a call from a guy three doors down from her, who was also looking for a housemate. She had called him and said he and I might hit it off. I dropped by, we talked for three hours or so, I decided to move in, and we wound up living together for five years until he got married and I moved out of town.

The point of this story is that people usually don't mind when you tell them you don't think it would be a good idea to live together. (If they do, they're going to find ways to mind living with you, too, once you move in.) They don't want a bad experience either, and it isn't like either side is to blame for having different living habits.

So, look for a new situation, don't be afraid to ask personal questions when you interview them, and don't be afraid to walk away.

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