When you’re sharing a rental with a roommate, the subject of frequent visitors — particularly those of the romantic variety — can be fraught with tense emotions. Perhaps you and a friend co-signed a lease when the two of you were still single, but they’ve recently been bringing their new boyfriend or girlfriend over several nights a week. Maybe you’ve even been the one suddenly spending a lot time with someone new, and you’re just wondering what’s appropriate in terms of visits and overnight stays.
Dating is an area of life that people tend to be rather defensive about, as feelings of love can cloud judgment among even the most rational of us, so it certainly makes sense that you’d feel hesitant to approach the topic with a potential, or even current, roommate. Everyone’s situation is a little bit different, but if you want to maintain a good relationship with the other person and their new partner, you need to have this conversation sooner rather than later.
Let’s go over some strategies for handling your roommate’s significant other without losing your cool.
Say you’re in the midst of the moving process and have already made the decision to share an apartment with someone else (maybe even a complete stranger). That person might even be living in the unit for some time before you and used to having things their way. But as long as you’re going to be paying your share of the rent and utilities, you have a right to find out what you’re getting yourself into.
Try tactfully asking your potential roommate if they often have other people over, doing your best not to come off as rude or intrusive. Most people will readily tell you if there’s a “special someone” in the picture, and that, in turn, can open up a conversation as to how they’d feel about you bringing over a visitor.
It could be that your potential roommate is a best friend or even a sibling. That can make it much easier to have this little chat with them prior to moving in anywhere together. Just remember to gauge the other person’s thoughts before establishing any “ground rules” on anyone getting involved with someone else during the course of your lease.
Though you may think you know a person pretty well, you could very well discover that you aren’t on the same page in this regard. Your bestie might bristle at the mere suggestion that either of you would “forsake” the friendship by allowing someone new into your lives. For that reason, the goal should be to have a productive, honest discussion well ahead of time, where feelings can be expressed without fear of judgment. At the very least, it’s a good litmus test for determining if you’re about to move in with someone who has insecurity issues or is overly attached.
Let’s suppose that you and your roommate have openly communicated from the get-go about having other people over. If the visits are to occur with any degree of regularity, you’ll want to make sure that you’re respecting each other’s boundaries. To do this, you’ll have to go over things like privacy, as well as any preferred “schedule” of visits that you can mutually agree upon. And speaking of privacy, it goes without saying that both you and your roommate should understand the need for discretion and keeping noise levels down. Courtesy counts!
Regarding times when the boyfriend or girlfriend is allowed to come over, you should be able to hammer out a schedule with your roommate that you’ll both be happy with pretty quickly. For instance, you might allow them over three evenings a week, during which time you can agree to make yourself scarce and respect their time together (and vice versa).
Then there’s the question of overnight stays. Are they acceptable, and if so, how many nights a week? If they’re going to be over that often, maybe the significant other can start helping out with the cost of monthly utilities, cable, or other expenses.
The use of common areas like bathrooms and kitchens can be another source of contention, but it doesn’t have to be. Avoid being passive-aggressive with your roommate, and let them know in advance if you don’t feel comfortable with their significant other leaving their things behind or helping themselves to what doesn’t belong to them. That way, they know not to leave their razor on the bathroom vanity or help themselves to your Greek yogurt.
If the relationship seems serious, you might want to take the time to get to know your roommate’s significant other. With any luck, you’ll get along with them pretty well and feel totally safe having them in the apartment or condo. Still, you might get the creeps or an inexplicable feeling that something just isn’t right. Most states and jurisdictions have online criminal databases that are accessible to the public, so doing a judiciary case search can uncover past convictions, if any exist. Your roommate may not even be aware that they’re dating someone with a sketchy past, and letting them know about it can help them dodge a bullet.
On the subject of safety, giving out keys to a serious boyfriend or girlfriend should also be discussed with your roommate, as well as any limitations surrounding when they can use that key to get in. If you’re going to give someone else unfettered access to the apartment, you and your roommate both need to be able to trust that person wholeheartedly. Though you might think certain things only happen in the movies, keys can easily be passed around to other people for purposes you never intended, and the last thing you’d want is for your apartment to be used for an illicit activity while you and your roommate aren’t home.
Lastly, if the relationship appears to be well-established, it’s quite logical that your roommate would want to either move out to be with their partner or amend your current lease agreement so that they can move in.
Maybe management will allow a third roommate to join your lease but you’d prefer to wait until the current lease ends before deciding if you’re okay with that arrangement. Always remember that both your wishes and those of your roommate should be respected. You shouldn’t be left holding the bag and being forced to pay their share of the rent because they moved out prematurely, nor should you have to suddenly look for a new place to live. Sit down and talk it over, and then approach the landlord with your plan.
The bottom line: foreseeing any issues that could arise down the road and bringing them up early on with your roommate is crucial. In doing so, you can indeed come to a good compromise regarding romantic partners and greatly minimize the possibility of future conflicts.