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I live in a 2bed 2ba with my roommate. I cook more often than my roommate - once every day vs once a week. My roommate keeps eating my food (although not much) but never reciprocates. When he does cook it's only for himself.

We buy our own groceries - I never take what he buys but he grabs an egg or an avocado or something like that almost every day.

Question

I'd love if we just did everything together and split bills, but that does not resolve the reciprocation issue. How do I best bring up this subject? Please provide some examples of how to initiate the conversation and examples of how to handle the conversation if the other person seems offended.

What I have tried

So far I've explicitly once said:

In my previous roommate experience in grad school we've split everything and shopped together. I'd prefer if we do that as well.

That did not have any effect.

Notes and clarifications

  • We are both 28 year old guys with full-time jobs and have had prior roommate experiences.
  • I do want and intend to confront this topic again, but I'd like to figure out a good way to go about it since my past "subtle" attempts did not work (leaving me with a sense of being taken advantage of).

  • When I confront I'd like to not look very angry which is how I feel when I think of this issue.

  • I'm really only afraid of the potential awkwardness of calling someone out on their wrong (in my perspective).

Good Outcome(s) Wished for

  • Agreement on a plan on working out a schedule where both roommates shop together and split the bills.
  • Agreement on a plan to not share or share with equal reciprocation.

Possible bad Outcome(s)

I feel if the situation is not brought up correctly

  • Cold-shoulder roommate experience for the rest of 10 months of the unbreakable lease

  • Constant rehash of the same issue even after any agreement

  • 3
    What, if anything, have you tried? – AGirlHasNoName Mar 11 at 2:43
  • 4
    Welcome to IPS! What are you afraid will happen if you just ask to split the bills? And what are you afraid will happen if you, straightforward, complain about the lack of reciprocity? – Ælis Mar 11 at 10:22
  • So far I've explicitly once said "In my previous roommate experience in grad school we've split everything and shopped together. I'd prefer if we do that as well". That did not have any effect. Thanks both for replying - yes I do want and intend to confont this topic again, but I'd like to figure out a good way to go about it since my past "subtle" attempts did not work (leaving me with a sense of being taken advantage of). And when I confont I'd like to not look very angry which is how I feel when I think of this issue – Arvind Haran Mar 11 at 13:13
  • I'm really only afraid of the potential awkwardness of calling someone out on their wrong (in my perspective). So any tips to make it not so awkward will help ! There is always plan B where I can just s it up and tell in any way I choose to. But I'd like to learn more from the community on how they'd handle this or what they think should be done – Arvind Haran Mar 11 at 13:21
5

The best way to have someone react as a responsible grown up is to treat them as such. People take their cues from you, so the way to make it as less awkward as possible is to not be awkward about this.

Pick a time when you're both home and calm (meaning, not right after they ate something of yours and you're mad). Don't be nervous, don't apologize, don't sound frustrated. Be warm, kind, and matter of fact. Also, don't accuse them of anything. Present this as a problem that you're both having as new roommates, that you're having issues with it and you want to fix this with their help. Don't lecture at them, but have a discussion where they themselves (hopefully) contribute to a solution.

I'd like to talk about an issue I have with our living arrangement. I don't mind sharing food with a roommate, but I get resentful if it's one sided. I've said before I prefer to shop together and split the bill with my roommate. If that's not your thing I understand, but then we need another system because things right now aren't working for me. What's your take ?

Your calm behavior will influence the tone of the conversation, and asking them their opinion will make it less likely for them to feel attacked/judged and go on the defensive. You can also ask them how things were done with their previous roommates and see if you can learn something from that. By asking them questions and making them part of the solution, you'll have more chances to have a productive conversation, with an agreement at the end, and a higher chance of following through on their part.

You didn't list any other reasons, but it might help to add some practical ones (more difficult to refute), like :

  • it's not in your budget to buy food for more than one person
  • if you shop alone, you only buy food that you will eat, so if they eat part of it you're missing a meal you had planned on
  • the fact that you have a different diet so it's more difficult for you is food you were counting on is missing

At the end of the conversation it's important that you do have a deal in place, not a vague sense of what's going to happen from now on. So that next time something happens, you can quickly and cheerfully remind them of your agreement. No matter what your agreement is, they'll probably go back to bad habits once or twice (even with good intentions), it's important to gently remind them of what your deal is so you're not stuck in the same situation 2 weeks later.

This will work if your roommate is just a bit inconsiderate or has no issue low key taking advantage of someone. If your roommate is a jerk (they don't respond well to the talk you want to have, don't agree to anything, or don't respect your agreement it repeatedly with no remorse), than you can either have a more serious talk with them (which will be way less pleasant) or decide you prefer keeping the peace and try to find a solution on your side (like a mini fridge in your room).

  • Thanks ! I will give this a try today or tomorrow and will post back here :) – Arvind Haran Mar 11 at 15:59

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