roommate boyfriend etiquette

Roommate Etiquette with Boyfriends and Girlfriends

There are a bunch of fairly obvious facets to being a thoughtful roommate that a lot of people manage to screw up. For example, people should really know better than to leave food-encrusted dishes in the sink for weeks, have rowdy parties on Monday nights, tell offensive jokes or hunker down in front of the TV at 6 p.m. each day. But they tend to do it anyway! Of all the potential snafus, however, probably the most sensitive situations have to do with your roommate’s boyfriend or girlfriend etiquette.

There are certain rules that should be followed to ensure that three doesn’t become a crowd. After all, you probably moved in together because you like each other, so you want to keep it that way, right?

third wheel

Common mishaps with roommate boyfriend or girlfriend etiquette

Although it feels like the world is out to get you when you and your roommate begin having cohabitation issues, this is actually a common problem. All it takes is a frank, but friendly discussion about a few simple etiquette rules to get things back under control — as long as everyone remains calm, doesn’t get offended and keeps an open mind. When figuring out the relationship “rules” of the apartment, keep these common roommate issues in mind:

  • A significant other who stays in the apartment too often
  • A significant other and a roommate who don’t get along
  • A significant other who uses common spaces, like the living room, kitchen and bathroom too often, or to the detriment of roommates’ schedules
  • A significant other who incurs utility expenses (i.e. takes too many hot showers or leaves lights on) that he or she never chips in to cover
  • A significant other who eats your food without asking or replacing it
  • A significant other who makes you feel uncomfortable, whether through insensitive or inappropriate comments or actions
  • A significant other who makes messes and fails to clean them up

Some of these might seem trivial, or even stuff you’re willing to overlook from time to time, but when they happen frequently? Well, the gloves tend to come off. Quickly.

Be open and honest

It’s awkward to broach uncomfortable topics, but it could literally keep your friendship with your roommate healthy and happy. Be open about your relationship status and behavior expectations, and ask your roommate to do the same before getting into any long-term leases.

If at some point your roommate’s girlfriend or boyfriend does start to cause problems or make you uncomfortable, sit down and have a polite chat with them. This is a good time to discuss expected roommate boyfriend/girlfriend etiquette if you haven’t already.

roommates with guest

How often should a roommate have a guest?

Even if you and your roomie are both currently single, there’s always a chance that a relationship will develop, so it’s good to lay down some reasonable ground rules before an issue is even on the horizon.

After you’ve set the stage for discussion, brainstorm a list of rules. A roommate agreement, if you will. If your roomie thinks this sounds absurd, assure them that it’s for the best. After all, your roommate could end up in a similar situation when you find your next main squeeze!

Sample rules could include the following:

  • A limit on the number of nights per week that a significant other can come over or sleep over. There’s no set standard for how often a roommate should have a guest, so this could mean no weeknight sleepovers or a weekly cap, whatever you’re both comfortable with.
  • Noise level expectations, especially after certain hours. You won’t turn your TV on full blast in the middle of the night if they don’t.
  • Amenity use expectations. No one likes it when another person invades their space and takes over control of the couch. And you certainly don’t want to put off doing your own laundry because someone who doesn’t even live there needs clean underpants.
  • Utility fee reimbursement if the guest exceeds a set number of days/nights on the property
  • A “heads up” text or call if a boyfriend or girlfriend is coming over. That way, you can make sure to be wearing a bra or hide in your room if you so choose.

Consider all possible arguments and have a plan in place in case they arise. Remember that this is a fluid situation that could require tweaking the longer you all live together, so it’s OK to make edits!

Don’t forget about the positives

It’s important to remember that your roommate having a partner is a good thing, as long as they’re friendly, respectful and considerate of the roommate boyfriend/girlfriend etiquette rules you’ve established. Who knows, your friends’ significant others could wind up becoming one of your own lifelong friends!

With some reasonable boundaries and a good attitude, you can turn a potentially volatile situation into an opportunity for happiness and friendship for everyone involved.


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