The Spinster's Guide To Not Being a Terrible Roommate

Nearly five years ago, I got my first apartment by myself. It's actually been only marginally more expensive, and for a cantankerous spinster like myself, it's been worth every penny. Though I haven't had a roommate in quite some time, over the past few weeks, several friends of mine here in Atlanta have voiced certain concerns about their home lives, and I thought this would make a perfect blog post. Spinsters often have roommates for any number of reasons, as they don't have a romantic partner to take up that space.

So, let's talk about a few simple guidelines to not being the worst roommate ever, shall we?

- Facial tissue is not toilet paper:
          This extends to any paper product in the home, really. I can't tell you the amount of times I woke up on a Saturday morning to find a naked cardboard roll on the dispenser and a box of tissues in the window sill. This will not do. If you use the last of the toilet paper/paper towels/what-have-you, you must replace them immediately. I do not care what time of day or night it is There are 24-hour stores.
          My first Semester at FIT, I had a three-roommate situation, and this got so bad that I started just bringing my own roll of toilet paper to the bathroom and then bringing it back to my room when done. That way, I always had toilet paper, and everyone else had to just deal with their lack of planning.

- Your roommate did not sign up to live with your boyfriend.
          No matter how much you like your boyfriend and want to cohabit, your roommate did not sign up for this additional apartment-dweller. Even if your boyfriend is nice and offers to pay rent, there still needs to be a discussion. Your roommate only chose to live with you, not your significant other. You'r putting him or her in a really tough spot.

- Ask - don't notify - when you want to have guests.
          Sure, the living space is as much yours as it is your roommate's. However, that clearly goes both ways. If you think you'd like to have guests, ask if it's ok. Don't just notify your roommate that they're coming. And, when you ask, make sure you give your roommate ample time to make plans to be out of the apartment when your guests are there if he or she so desires - like several weeks if we're talking overnight guests. This makes consenting to have guests much easier. Truth be told, if you must have guests all the time, perhaps you should live alone. Generally shared living spaces don't have extra room for more people to be there all the time.

- Don't let your guests use your roommate's toiletries.
          It has been a major complaint of several friends of mine that they suspect that their roommate's boyfriend or other guests have been using their shampoo. Just don't, guys. Make it clear to your guests which toiletries are yours and which ones they're allowed to use. Your roommate might have very special, very expensive shampoo, and it's just for them.

- Give your roommate some time alone.
          Remember that your home is your sanctuary, and it's also your roommate's. This is the place where you are both allowed to relax and be exactly the way you want to be. So, don't always be there in the common room just hanging out. Your roommate may need time to reset after being around people at work all day. He or she may not want to see anyone.

- Be conscious of your volume.
          During the day, anything goes. However, early in the morning and late at night, be respectful of your roommate. If you can't see them, and you're not having a conversation, they may be trying to sleep.

- Don't hog the common areas.
          This included the TV, the kitchen, the backyard, the living room, etc. Any space or appliance that is shared should be treated as just that - shared. You may think, "oh, well you're welcome to watch TV with me any time you like," but ask yourself - who is holding the remote control?

- Keep your mess in your room.
          I have to admit that I have been guilty of this one before - especially in the kitchen. One of the reasons I live alone, though, is that I know I'm not a good roommate. In any case, don't leave your stuff everywhere, even if it is clean laundry. It's weird, and it's gross.

- Dont' assume your roommate's food is also for you.
          You may think, "oh, well, they can eat anything of mine if they want it," but your roommate may not actually like the kind of food you eat, making this "sharing" situation a little one-sided. So, unless otherwise discussed, don't be eating your roommate's food.

I'm sure there are many other ways to  not be the worst roommate ever, but these are the ones I've recently discussed with space-sharers. If you find you're guilty of these, perhaps it's time to have a house meeting. Or, if you're like me, perhaps it's time to enter spinsterly bliss by living alone.

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