Background Information:

Basically, I don't have enough time. It's an annoying problem that I guess most people share, but it still bothers me. I have so many things I want to do (books to read, stories to write, pictures to draw, games to play, software to develope, languages to learn, tv shows to watch, stuff to read up on, etc.) that I never have time to do them all. A lot of these things I also have to schedule with my friends so that complicates matters even more.

I have games I want to play sooo much but I can't find the time because there are other things I want to do even more. I've been wanting to learn Korean for quite some time now but while I can write and read it, I never had time for it to go beyond that (meaning I don't know what the things I'm writing or reading mean).

Just hanging out talking about stuff seems like such a huge waste of time and I keep thinking about all the things I'd rather do, no matter how much I try not to. I can tolerate it in short bursts (half an hour maximum), but that's about my limit without being bored out of my mind.

The same goes for going out to drink. People always seem confused about that part but going drinking just bores the hell out of me. And then it also wastes a big part of the next day, which makes it even worse. There are just so many better things to do...

I still do it sometimes... I mean... I do give in at some point when people keep asking again and again. When a friend really 'needs' a drink, I won't let him drink alone either. I don't actually have a problem with drinking and I know I also feel good while I'm drunk, so I get why others like it so much, but for me personally, there are just better things to do with my time.

Now so far, I've lived a pretty happy life (and plan on continuing to do so).

I've had a roommate with whom I shared no interests whatsoever. I still liked him and we were on good terms but we never really hung out. Basically: The world was good.

The Situation:

Now we got a new, additional roommate, with her boyfriend.

And they... I don't know... they just seem bored.

They basically only have one hobby, which is great but they can't do it all the time (would be too expensive) and I don't have any interest in that hobby and won't ever even try it because the money it would cost and the time I would have to invest before even being able to try it just don't seem reasonable (they like to drive around on motorcycles and I would have to at the very least get a license to even try that).

So they hang out in our kitchen and my other roommates room a lot. Both of which is fine, I don't even mind the times they are loud. I'm really good at tuning out background noises.

However, they keep trying to rope me into spending time with them. When they hang out with my other roommate, they want me to join them. When they are in the kitchen (which is right next to my room), they keep knocking and asking me questions (really polite and even nice questions, but I'd still prefer them not interrupting me). They cook too much food and invite me to join them (alright, alright, this one isn't actually that much of a problem ;)). They ask me to go shopping with them. And so on.

It's generally all extremely nice of them, but the problem is that spending time with them is boring to me. I really like them. I think they're great people. But I just don't have much in common with them and I keep feeling like I'm just wasting time when I hang out with them.

Although I should mention: We do all like to play board games and we already had a couple of fun evenings with it. I would not want to make that a daily - or even weekly - thing though, especially because unlike me, they really like to drink a lot during those evenings.

They don't share any of my other interests and seem to be completely baffled that I enjoy them so much. They are extremely unlikely to understand that sitting alone in my room reading a book is more appealing to me than - for example - going for a drink with them and I feel like saying it like that will come across very, very wrong.

I do talk to them a couple of times a day (and that part doesn't have to change as far as I'm concerned), always friendly and nice, genuinely interested in what they're saying (I really am) and even when I'm annoyed by them interrupting me or asking me to spend time with them I always remain as polite as possible. I've also never been in a bad mood or just brushing them aside or anything like that when interacting with them.

I know that they already know I'm trying to keep my distance from them, and I also know that it bothers them. I don't know if they think I don't like them or that I'm just being rude or maybe they think I'm too... idk... scared...? to ask to hang out with them but in my heart of hearts really want to...?

Either way, I'd like to sit down with them and try to explain the situation but no matter how I try to phrase it in my mind, it just keeps sounding incredibly rude and unfriendly and I can't imagine them really understanding it, even if I do explain. I would very much like to stay on good terms with them (as I said: I DO like them and I'm still gonna have to live with them after all).

My Question:

What would be a good way to explain this to them without offending them?

10 Answers 10


I think an easy approach is to just communicate your goals and intentions clearly, and stick to them.

Them: How are you, what's up?

You: I'm great, I'm going to read three chapters of this book this morning, then try to get past level 7 in Starblaster Maximus this afternoon.

15 minutes of chit chat

You: Alright, book time! Catch you guys a bit later.

30 minutes later

Them, entering your room: Hey do you remember the name of that actor in Stupid Comedy?

You, holding up book and not making eye contact: Sorry, I'm in my book cave, ask me later.


You don't need to have any big confrontation. Just announce that you'll be doing a certain thing later on, and do the thing you said you were going to do. Clearly, no one's feelings get hurt, and your boundaries get respected.


Is there any way you could decline their invitation by saying:

"Sorry, I'm currently busy doing whatever thing..."

... Seems like a polite way to make them understand that you need your time on your own without making them have the impression that you snub them.

I live with 5 women and they love throwing parties while I don't like partying that regularly. In the beginning they invited me to join all the time and if I assisted couple of times, I didn't want to make this a regular thing, so when I wanted to refuse, I thanked them and answered that I was busy doing something else. They invited me a few times after that, but as I was always answering this they understood and it was fine. Now it's true that we have other kind of meetings together but this is something we all enjoy doing. In your case, it could be sharing a meal together, maybe?


Try to convey the feeling your hobbies invoke in you as detailed as you can

Tell them that you regularly need time for your hobbies because those hobbies are very important for you. You love spending time with them, but you also love spending time on your own. And then proceed to tell why sitting alone in your room to read a book is important to you.

For example I absolutely regularly need time to read a good fantasy book because I love the feeling of diving into a different world like Alice jumping into the rabbit hole only to find herself in a world of magic where everything seems to be possible and nothing is certain. Tomorrow I might go to my regular job, do my regular work and talk with other people about everyday things - but at the moment I'm reading a book I am somewhere else. And I love to see things from a different perspective. Learning how the author envisioned a scene by trying to get into the head of the character. I regularly re-read a page just to understand every detail of a scene, pausing it in my head and dissassembling, trying to understand what the author wanted me to feel, why he did something and what is missing in my opinion, only to continue with my personal improved scene in mind to find out what magic awaits me on the next page.

This was one personal example. And I've found that many people were in fact baffled after I told them something like this. For them a book means staring at pages for hours and it reminds them of boring homework from their time in school - for me it's a way to learn more about people and to jump into worlds full of magic. After they learn this they can better understand why I like what I'm doing. They may think I'm weird, but they will think that anyway. It's better to give them an interesting story and an interesting perspective that they will remember.

The great thing about this approach is that you spent maybe 5 minutes talking about something you really, truly like. It won't feel like a waste of time. Maybe you will even convince someone to give one of your hobbies a try. But that doesn't really matter. They will understand how important it is for you just because you were talking passionately about it. And they will understand passion when they hear it.

This also means that you can really talk about anything you want. Books, languages, computer games, ... It doesn't really matter. Choose one that you are currently doing and that you feel passionately about. And ask yourself: why do you like doing that? Your text here already shows a good start for this. Be sure that it is not your place 2 or 3 in your personal ranking of preferences. You have to be really passionate about this.

After that you can talk about hobbies that both parties have. Like the boardgames you mentioned. Talk about why that is a great way to spend your time and that you love doing it. From time to time. Your priorities are different than their priorities and that may seem a bit weird to them - but that is life. Everyone is different. Everyone like different things. And that's why we can share stories like that and learn new perspectives, which is a great thing to do from time to time.

You may continue regularly telling them for example about your progress with your language research. Funny bugs in a videogame or something fascinating you noticed about your latest book. Regularly remind them about why you like your hobbies and they will surely understand that this is important.

All in all your post indicates that there won't be big problems. Be nice. Be yourself. Tell them why you love what you love. And talk about plans together with your mutual hobby. Everything will be fine.

  • This is a good answer. Mostly because people are often put off by someone gushing about a love they don't share. Gushing about your hobbies is not rude per say, but it makes you a bit boring, which may be sufficient to be left in peace.
    – user8282
    Commented Jan 27, 2018 at 12:15

Have you tried doing what you like doing in front of them? Not WITH them, but just in front of them. Being in your room all day and not coming down while occasionally answering to a few of their questions in a polite tone doesn't really scream "leave me alone".

There are two ways to go here.

The silent way:

Next time you want to read a book, do it in a common area. If you guys have a balcony/porch, that would be the perfect spot. But if not, maybe in the living room. The trick to being able to achieve this is, you need to occupy the common area BEFORE anyone is around you. No one should see you enter the common area with your book.

Just walk in with your book. To add some strength to this move, put on your headphones. You don't need to be listening to anything if that bothers you, just put em on.

They are definitely going to still talk to you. Just look up from your book, answer their question, and look right back down in your book. Act exactly like you would when behind the room door, just in person. If they ask a funny question or a question that involves a long answer, give it to them. But when done, look right back down. This will give them a very strong vibe that they are interrupting you. You've still been as nice as you can. You're still in the common area, hence making it obvious you don't hate them. But you are clearly telling them, "Now shhh...".

This will work very powerfully if you have a porch. If you are in the living room, this is going to be VERY distracting to YOU. We don't need that now. So, occupy living room and do your thing. When they come into the room you're in, don't immediately leave. That is a slap in their face. Hang around for maybe a few minutes. Answer a few questions, have a conversation. Maybe even ask them a few questions. When there is a long pause in the conversation (You need to try and recognize the right time. If you think someone is going to say something in accordance to what was already being spoken about before the pause, it is NOT the right time), just get up and tell them, "Well, I am going to go catch up on my reading now. You guys have fun! :)" Say it with a smile. Say it with a happy face. And just walk back in your room. This should give you your calm and peace for a few hours before they need a refill of you again.

The loud way:

By loud, I don't mean yell at them. Just speak it. If showing them signs does not work, you need to verbally tell them something that makes them realize that you are not down to hang out with them right now. Just right now, not always. "Oh yeah (s)he had stuff to do today, so (s)he could not hang out with us" should be their reaction.

How do you go about saying this to them without hurting them:

If you are sure about not wanting to hurt them, there is only one way to do it. You give them what they want for half an hour and then say you're done. You always give them a little something to be happy about before giving them something that upsets them.

When you hear the roommates talking outside your room, walk out of the room. Don't just sit in there and hope they don't knock on your door. Just walk out, talk to them. Engage in their conversation. Maybe for 15 minutes. If you think they won't let you go that quickly, walk out of your room with a reason. Walk out to the kitchen to get yourself a cup of water. Talk to them while you get your water. Talk to them for two minutes as you are standing outside your room after getting the water. Then tell them, "Alright I have something I need to do, I will catch with you guys later" and walk right back in your room.

If they ask you to come to a bar for a drink or what-not, have you ever tried telling them "I am not much of a bar-going person"? I hate going to clubs. I have always told people who invite me how much I hate going to clubs. A calm peaceful bar, I can always enjoy. Not clubs. But I always tell them that! Tell them directly you don't like bars. They need to know inviting you is useless.

What if they ask you to drink with them at home? Honestly, drink with them for an hour. Whatever you have waiting for you in your room is still going to be there in an hour.

My uncle always says this to me:

We all have only one thing in common. Every single human in this world has only one thing in common. You know what that is? We all have only 24 hours every day.

Everyone has a lot they want to do. I want to develop games, get my computer cleaned up, reorganize my closet, arrange the spices in the kitchen, watch a LOT of the TV shows I've been desperately wanting to watch... When I go home, I change the baby's diaper and wash the dishes and spend time with my wife. Don't get me wrong, I'm a very happy person. I enjoy doing all this. But some times, you are just going to have to think for others and not yourself. And I don't mean that in an offensive way. I don't mean you are being selfish, I mean you can afford to be a bit selfless every now and then.

You can always have a drink with them and spend half hour to an hour every day and then continue on with what you need to do.

I hope this helps.


Another option is simply to tell them that you are the type of person that needs quite a bit of time on your own to be happy.

If they don't have this same need, it is very possible that they think you are simply shy or uncomfortable about spending time with them, and that is why you are turning down their invitations . The continued appeals via asking you questions, etc. might be a their attempt to make you feel comfortable with joining them (since they are misunderstanding your reasons for turning them down).

Next time they ask you to join them, if you say"I really appreciate the invitation, but I have found it is important for me that I spend some time alone everyday, and that is what I am planning for right now. But please enjoy yourselves, and don't worry about bothering me at all."

In the future, you can just use the words, "thanks, but I need some alone time right now" and that should be enough.

This works best if you do accept their invitations periodically, and even YOU suggest activities that you can all do together sometimes. This makes it clear that you enjoy doing things with them, just not all the time.


Some people live to socialize. To them, working, eating, and sleeping is just something they HAVE to do in order to earn their precious socializing time. If someone like this HAS the opportunity to hang out, then that's what they'll do -- only stopping when real life gets in the way. And there's nothing wrong with that. (Have you ever heard them say Thank God It's Friday?)

But some people, such as yourself, are goal-driven. Socializing is fine as long as it doesn't get in the way of what you are trying to do.

You'll never convince these roommates you don't want to socialize whenever you can. Just say no and go back to what you were doing. (A milder form of this would be to say maybe later, or make an appointment for next week.)

No, they won't understand. They never will.


Explain to them that you don't really appreciate aimless time spending.

Look, guys, I really like you, but I really want to make the most of my time and be purposeful about it. I have all these projects and I really care about them. Getting interrupted too often really breaks my flow.

You can be a bit self-deprecating, like, "I'm a nerd and enjoy being a nerd."

Bottom line is, I'd really appreciate it if, when I study, you interrupt only when you really have an issue that can't be solved by googling.

And then make a colorful poster and hang it on the outside of your door, sort of a "Do Not Disturb" sign, but put humorously, like "I'm engrossed in some deep s**t. If you have a question, please google it first. When in doubt, google twice."

  • 4
    I find the googling comment a bit condescending, so it may go against the 'without offending them' part of the request.
    – user4788
    Commented Jan 29, 2018 at 3:49

I know stereotyping is dangerous, but for all I know you may find this helpful (from here):

A comic book page presenting "Dr. Carmella's guide to understanding the introverted

I see at least one possible way you can play board games with them and not get annoyed by them getting drunk. Simply tell them that you would love playing board games with them (specify whatever frequency you like) but that you would feel comfortable when they are not drunk. That way, you and they both get to enjoy a nice time together.


As a fellow introvert, I can relate. However, I am nowhere near that goal driven and wanting to self-develop as you. I just enjoy my quiet time away from the noise. But I find that instead of trying to be courteous and declining them, from their point of view, it really does feel like you are avoiding them or maybe you don't like them. A person who is extroverted doesn't really understand why someone would choose to be in solitude over the company of others.

I find that in this situation, it is best to be upfront with them. Maybe the next time you catch them all in the kitchen just let them know you wanted to talk to them a moment and explain how you really appreciate their kindness. But tell them that right now you are focused on bettering yourself and studying. Let them know you still like them but that you would rather hang out maybe once a month or once every couple weeks so that you can better focus on your tasks.

In most of my experiences with roommates, I found this to generally work. Especially if they are being nice to you and not being rude. From their point of view, they don't want you to be alone and are probably worried about you. So just assure them that you aren't depressed or that you aren't blowing them off and that you are okay and it should help to get them to slow down too.


I think you are overthinking this quite a lot. If you close your door, normally people can figure that you don't want to be social. If these new roommates don't realize that's what the signal means, simply tell them you're busy when they ask you to come out and they will figure things out eventually. Please do not be passive aggressive in the above answer suggests:

"You, holding up book and not making eye contact: Sorry, I'm in my book cave, ask me later."

Just be nice and pleasant and say:

oh sorry, I really want to try and get through this book.

No one in their right mind is going to keep asking you to hang out if every time they ask you, you tell them you are busy. They will eventually get the hint, get some new friends, etc... You are totally within your rights to not be best friends with your roommates, some people want that, some people don't. Whenever I move to a new place, I always try to ask how often the housemates hang out. It's important to know whether the house is more business-like or more of a family.

If this stays a persistent problem, there's nothing wrong with just telling them outright that you really appreciate them inviting you to do things, but you get a little annoyed by how often they interrupt you when you're in your room or something along those lines, then continue on as if nothing happened.

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