Rotten Roomate: Communicating your resentment

by epi on August 29, 2011

Q: My boyfriend and I work together and  have been living together along  with one of our colleagues for the past six months. Unfortunately, we have talked to him several times about his cleanliness and tidiness. I have gotten to the point where I no longer want to live with him. My boyfriend however is willing to put up with whatever since he says that I am the cleanest in the house.  Is there anything I can do to remedy the situation or how shall I call it quits?

A: This is of course a touchy situation, but if you don’t really want to make any changes right now in the base of your relationship, then you might keep reminding him of his responsibility to everyone else in terms of upkeep. You could even ask him if he has a problem with your requests that he do his share and hear what he has to say. He may say it doesn’t matter to him, or he doesn’t notice, or he thinks you are too finicky. . or he may pledge to try to improve. If his tidiness is leaving things around the apartment, you can suggest that you will, to keep from nagging, simply put his things in a box, in his room, so he can deal with them when he feels like it. This still has you picking up after him, but may give you greater freedom to have things the way you want them without having to literally nag.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Gertrude August 30, 2011 at 9:04 am


It is frustrating that your boyfriend thinks it is your responsibility to keep the place clean simply because you are unwilling to live in filth. That is one whole problem by itself. If something is important to you, your boyfriend should be supportive of your wishes, and your happiness. This warrants a major discussion with your boyfriend, to ensure that it will not be you doing all of the cleaning in the future. This is an unfortunate stereotype that many women are forced into, and one that should be curbed before it continues.

With your roommate, I would suggest that you:
1) Take the stuff that he leaves out, and place it in his room, on his bed. In this way, you are not putting his stuff away, you are just getting it out of your way. Do not be forced into being the maid of the house. It will send the message that you are sick of his laziness. You can then clean stuff like dirt and grime, and not be preoccupied with his clutter. Tell him that he needs to be cleaner, or move out.

2) Talk to him yourself, and tell him to move out. Explain that “I do not find our living habits to be mutually conducive. I have asked you to please be cleaner and you are not doing that. I think that the only way to preserve our friendship would be for you to move out. I will be looking for a new roommate, and I need you to move out by _______(date)____.” Then find a new roommate. This is what I ended up doing. I found a roommate who works the night shift, and it is such a perfect arrangement. He cleans up after himself, and he is pretty much never around. This allows me to have the illusion that I am living alone with my husband, but I don’t have to pay the rent of living alone.

Again, I am sorry that your boyfriend is not supportive in this situation, and you should talk to him about this, but you can’t continue to live in a hostile environment. I strongly urge you to tell him to move out.


Jerry August 30, 2011 at 9:21 pm

You should follow Gertruide’s advice w/r/t telling messy roommate to move out if, and only if, you have complete control of the apartment. That is, if your name is the only name on the lease or deed. If messy roommate’s name is on either, you have no right to make the request. (And if I were messy roommate, I would tell you to jump in the lake if you told me to move because you didn’t think I was clean enough.)

Moreover, to the extent anyone has to move, it should be the persons upset by the current conditions, not the one who is fine with the status quo. (This is not, of course to say clean roommate’s feelings are invalid.)

Finally, this woman should consider the fallout from pushing the issue. The fact that your boyfriend isn’t wholly supporting you means (i) he disagrees with you, or (ii) he doesn’t see you as “the one” and values messy roommate at least as much as you.


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