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A lesson in housemate etiquette

WORDS BY CHLOE SPOONER

ILLUSTRATION BY TWYLAMAE

Cheers to another day of outward smiles and inward rage.

Much like travelling, sometimes the idea of living with friends is a lot better than the reality. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m no Mother Teresa when it comes to housemate etiquette and I’m not here to preach unrealistic standards and expectations. We’re all human after all.

Having said that, there’s a difference between living with people and living with farm animals, and it’s important to be self-aware. Wherever you fall on the personality spectrum, here are five must-follow rules for those wishing to keep the peace.

Rule #1: Passive aggressive Post-it notes are not acceptable

If something is bothering you, leaving a passive-aggressive Post-it note will immediately make your housemates want to spit in your food. If you have an issue with something, address it before it becomes an ugly, festering monster on your shoulder. There’s nothing worse than being the friend who constantly talks about how shitty your housemates are, so get over it and have a conversation. Always vocalise issues up front.

Rule #2: Dishes are like boyfriends – your housemate shouldn’t be doing yours

Doing the dishes is one of those chores that your parents threatened you with when you were young. There’s nothing glamorous about it. This is a prime example of many hands make light work, kids. Taking two minutes to wash your plate now, will save your housemate hours later and ensure a daily game of Jenga next to the kitchen sink is avoided.

Rule #3: Food in the fridge is NOT food in the hand

This may sound obvious, but I’m amazed at how often this discussion comes up. That all too common group text that goes out starting with “has anybody seen my…*insert food of choice here*”. For me, this question is usually in relation to chocolate so, when I’m looking for it, it’s likely I’m at least half an hour into a serious craving for it. And there’s nothing worse than having a craving but not being able to fulfil it. It’s a cruel injustice that no one should have to face and yet it happens time and time again. Generally speaking, housemates who are convicted of such offences are nominating themselves for eviction. Let this be a lesson to all.

Rule #4: Guests are like milk. They go off after a while

If you’re planning on having a guest stay, let your housemates know well in advance. Another obvious one did I hear you say? Yes, I thought so too. But when your flat turns into a halfway house, don’t come crying to me. Have you ever tripped over a pile of limbs on your living room floor at 3am? Or gone to take a shower only to find your towel is wet because the guest wasn’t offered their own and secretly used yours? Or worse still, walked in on someone using your bathroom when you thought you were the only one home? If so, you’ll know that feeling of all-encompassing inner rage while you try to grit your teeth and maintain the ‘chill housemate’ appearance. The best way to avoid these situations is to ask permission before having friends to stay and yes, anything longer than a week is too long.

Rules #5: Compromise is life

Living in a house with others is, without a doubt, going to bring with it some not so niceties. Sometimes these pills can be quite hard to swallow (which brings me back to selecting your housemates carefully). Like finding the bathroom covered in leftover pubes from your housemate’s bi-annual ‘man-scaping session’ or finding your favourite cooking pot still has last week’s tuna pasta stuck to the bottom. I don’t care if you think it ‘adds to the flavour’. What I’ve come to realise though, is that some things just aren’t worth the argument. There will always be things you don’t like about another person’s living habits but pick your battles and know when just to suck it up.

Communication is key. Mum’s no longer around to clean up after you so do it yourself. Bringing 30 of your closest friends back for kick-ons is never a good idea. Leaving the lights or the heating on all day will likely result in stoning. And no, it’s not OK to walk around naked anymore. As Aretha Franklin says so eloquently, a little R.E.S.P.E.C.T can go a long way.

NB: Based on real events (love you Jono, Tom and Oliver 😉

Illustration by Twylamae.

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