Ah, roommates. Living with friends or just cohabiting with other people can be an amazing experience, as long as everyone follows the ground rules. You might be living with roommates while things with your bae are starting to get more serious, or perhaps your roommate is in the midst of their own budding romance. Is it OK for either of you to have your significant other stay over all the time? Here’s how to set rules with your roommates about partners sleeping over, according to real life relationship experts.
It’s possible that you and your roomies aren’t on the exact same page when it comes to having your boos stay the night. But if everyone’s paying rent on time and and being respectful when they’re around, what’s the big deal if boyfriends or girlfriends sleep over throughout the week?
Dr. Paulette Sherman, a psychologist and author of the upcoming book Facebook Dating: From 1st Date to Soulmate, helped me break down the importance of setting ground rules. The rules you set will be formed by "your relationship with your roommate and what they find acceptable. They are paying half the rent, so they should have some say in how often guests can stay over," she explains.
Depending on your living situation, you most likely share a kitchen, living room, and probably even a bathroom with your roommate. For many people, home is their sanctuary, and when someone feels like their space or privacy is invaded, they may begin to resent their roommates for it.
So, with one or two extra people sleeping over a few days a week, don’t assume you’re just one big happy family until the people paying rent have discussed boundaries. Just because your roomie was cool with your SO staying over one or two nights a week, it doesn’t mean that they’ll be as chill if it happens more often. "It’s best to discuss it and to figure out a fair compromise," says Dr. Sherman.
The best time to chat with your roomies about setting rules for partners sleeping over would ideally be before you move in. However, the topic might not come up until one of you starts dating someone. Either way, Dr. Sherman recommends finding a time to talk when "when you can both be relaxed and listen to one another."
If you each have a different idea about how often it’s acceptable to have a sleepover with your boo, "see if you can agree on something reasonable and continue to discuss how that goes for both of you over time so that no resentment builds and your relationship remains strong," she says. Resenting your roommates can create a pretty toxic living environment, but it can probably be avoided by having some honest conversations.
The whole idea behind setting rules with your roommates about partners sleeping over is to be as fair as possible to everyone on the lease. "If there was no agreement that you’d have another person there multiple times a week and they are paying half the rent, they may have a reason to feel upset," explains Dr. Sherman. Sounds simple enough, right?
So, you’ve got a super chill roommate who never complains about anything. Should you assume they’re OK with guests staying over? Nope. You still need to talk about it first. According to online dating coach Andi Forness, "the best way to talk with your roommate about your partner sleeping over is before it becomes a problem." You might get a free pass the first or second time it happens, but after that, you’ve gotta have the talk. When discussing sleepover rules, Forness recommends getting very specific. Be sure to cover everyone’s comfort levels when it comes to "frequency, hanging out, sharing food, clean up, and chores." Your roommate might be totally fine with your bae staying over until he or she begins using their shampoo and eating all the food they just bought, so be sure to cover that too.
If one roomie’s SO stays over every night of the week, and the other roomies really like having them around, but feel that the rent breakdown is a bit unfair, it’s going to be a problem. Dr. Sherman suggests that maybe they "can pay a portion of the rent too."
Also, if an additional person is spending tons of time at your apartment, you’ll want to make sure they’re aware of the existing rules and expectations. Maybe one roommate gets up super early and needs things quiet after 10 p.m. Maybe you have a set cleaning schedule in place or specific bathroom etiquette you follow. Be sure all overnight guests are aware of these rules.
Keep in mind that none of this stuff will work itself out on its own. The only way to know where everyone’s head is at when it comes to partner sleepovers is to talk about it. And even if you have an initial conversation about what you’re comfortable with, feelings can change, so all roommates should feel like they can bring up the topic at any time.
Don’t worry — your relationship doesn’t need to suffer just because you have roommates. With communication and a little compromise, you’ll get plenty of overnight canoodling in with your main squeeze.
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