How Not To Be A Dick To Your Roommates

I’ve bunked with self proclaimed sex addicts, shared a dorm room with a hoarder, and put up with all manners of bull-shiggity in the name of cheap rent in the big city.
Publish date:
May 20, 2013
roommates, how not to be a dick


You are mature and gainfully employed. 25+, knows how to clean up after themselves, won’t eat up my food, isn’t a hoarder in training, or a junkie, and won’t try to move their boyfriend in on the sly. Please know how to flush the toilet without being prompted, be willing to turn the gas stove off after you’re done, and know and understand the importance of a locked door.

That isn’t a real ad, but i might very well be when I am on the roommate prowl again. Since fleeing Cleveland for San Francisco at 18, I’ve had all types of roommates and living situations. I’ve lived with friends, strangers, and in two housing collectives. The first was a queer student co-op in Berkeley, while the second was an arts and activist collective in Bushwick Brooklyn.

I’ve bunked with self-proclaimed sex addicts, shared a dorm room with a hoarder, and put up with all manners of bull-shiggity in the name of cheap rent in the big city. When I was younger, I could deal with a lot more, partially because I didn’t care and partially because I didn’t know any better.

But since graduating from college, and turning 26, I spend a lot more time at mi casa, and my residence has gone from being a crash pad where I store my belongings, to my refuge from the outside world. I can’t lie and say that I haven’t committed some of these shared living faux pas’ myself, but now that I am older (and a tad wiser) I’ve whipped up this list of 10 commandments every roomie should strive to live by.

10. Don't eat up all my food.

Truth be told, I don’t really like sharing food.This isn’t some hippie commune. What’s mine is mine, and what’s yours is yours. All ingredients and brands aren’t created equal and I’d rather keep mine for myself.

If you must use something of mine, I beg of you, don’t use the last. If you do, certainly don’t put the empty container back on the shelf like nothing happened. There is nothing worst than preparing to make your favorite dish, only to learn that your roommate has scarfed down a key ingredient. Wheretheydothatat? Rude and inconsiderate moves like that are the easiest way to bring out my inner ghetto girl.

9. Do not have loud and inconsiderate sex with no regard for others.

No one wants to hear ass smacking, dirty talk and moaning, unless they are involved. Please keep the expressions of exhilaration to a minimum. Or at the very least throw on a slow jam.

8. Do not push up on my boo thang.

Just because we share ketchup and spices, doesn’t mean I’m trying to share my man too. I know the break-up between you and whatshisname has been tough, but ease up off my man. If you try to take it there, it’s going to get ugly, and someone might end up hurt, or at the very least homeless. I know you don’t want that, so put on some clothes -- walking around half naked in front of someone else’s man is a shared living no-no.

7. Do not turn the house into your own personal hostel.

I’ve had more accidental roommates than I care to remember. While having visitors is fine and par for the course, gone are the days where I wake up to my roommate's overdosing friend in the bathroom. Please refrain from hosting extended visitors. This includes but is not limited to: boyfriends/girlfriends, cousins, classmates, travelers, homieloverfriends, your friend with benefits, your band members, the runaway who is down on their luck, and anyone else whose name is not on the lease.

6. Have some respect for the people you live with.

One time, I came home to broken glass everywhere. After attending to my bleeding foot, I learned the culprit was a bottle of olive oil that had been dropped. Allegedly some cleaning was done but not well enough, cause your girl stepped on glass not once, not twice, but seven times over the course of the next week. Not cool at all. If you break it, clean it up so the next person won’t have to deal with the ramifications of your accident.

5. Remember that your mama don’t live here.

Look, I know it’s your first time on your own and mistakes will happen, but I just don’t have the time in my schedule to teach you how to balance a checkbook. As much as I’d love to lend you some grocery money, my rent is due on the first as well, and the economy isn’t doing anyone favors. Perhaps if you had no money, or savings, you should have tried a bit harder to not get fired from your job? Either way, there is a food pantry two blocks over, and you can now apply for food stamps online. The library has free computers, I’d get to looking up locations if I were you.

4. Do not make major household decisions that affect everyone else without prior consultation.

I think it is great that you are an internationally recognized artist and get to tour the world based on your artistic merit. But getting a subletter for your room without letting anyone know is not going to fly. I promise you I am not trying to be mean, it’s sad or whatever that your grant money hasn’t come through, but what does that have to do with Niesha Sharay? We’re the one’s who have to live with her, not you.

3. Be sane and of sound mind.

Plainly put, please don’t be crazy. Now I know I have wrestled with mental health issues myself. But I’m better now, and when I wasn’t, I tried my hardest to get better and to keep my mess to myself. Please do the same, because the hoarding is getting out of control and the house is starting to smell. Maybe it’s time to go home, see your family, recharge, and check out some therapists?

2. Have regard for the safety of others.

When you leave the house, please remember to LOCK THE GODDAMN DOORS (and window too)!

1. Do not conduct criminal activity on the premises.

Our apartment should not be the headquarters for your weed delivery business. Nor should your room double as your incall space for your new escorting business. Please make sure all side hustles are legal and legit, and won’t negatively impact the safety and serenity of our living space.