General Question

dododododo's avatar

Should I feel bad hanging out in the common area if my roommates boyfriend is over?

Asked by dododododo (20 points ) January 17th, 2011

My roommates boyfriend probably comes over 1–3 evenings a week. It’s not like he’s hanging around the house all the time or staying the night for days at a time without contributing, and he’s a perfectly nice guy so I don’t necessarily have a problem with his presence or think that his frequent company is inappropriate by any means.

However, I’ll usually come home from work to find them watching a movie together or or having dinner in the common area of our apartment, and I usually try to get out of their way as quickly as possible. They have never blatantly requested privacy, I just assume they’d like it since I would be sort of annoyed if I had a friend/significant other over and would have to tailor our conversations/time spent together to the fact that a roommate is present (only because I’m not super close with my roommates and act a different way around them). So I usually just take my dinner and glass of wine into my bedroom and eat at my desk, which is sort of cramped and depressing.

I guess my question is, would it be appropriate to just join them if I want to watch TV or have a beer in the common area? I have two other roommates, and I have never seen them intrude on this roommate+boyfriend either, so I’m just trying to follow suit here. The obvious answer is is, of course I can use the freaking common area, I’m paying just as much for the place as she is and have a right to (and if they truly needed privacy, she has a bedroom). But I also want to be polite and give them a reasonable amount of space to converse or be cuddly without feeling like I’m “hovering”.

Would you be bothered by your roommate using the common area while you and a boyfriend/girlfriend is? What would you do in my shoes? Would you say anything to ease awkwardness? Or should I just keep doing what I’ve been doing to stay out of their way, and hope that they do the same when I have a friend/SO over?

TLDR: Roommate is nice, but we’re not close, I feel awkward when boyfriend is over and they’re in the common area so I don’t use it because I want to be polite; what would you do?

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21 Answers

lillycoyote's avatar

Well, you pay rent the boyfriend doesn’t. You are more entitled to hang out in the common areas of your apartment than he is and if they want privacy they should go to a private part of the apartment, your roommate’s bedroom. She can’t ask or expect you to hole up in your bedroom whenever the boyfriend is there. But that being said, talk to her about it, calmly and clearly about what the rules and expectations for “visitors” should be, just so that it all stays peaceful. You live there.

WestRiverrat's avatar

Talk to your roommate. Tell her you don’t want to be impolite, but you would like to know what is expected when the boyfriend is over. Tell her what your expectations are also.

dododododo's avatar

@lillycoyote I should note it’s already very peaceful and everyone gets along just fine – I’m concerned about making things more dramatic than they should be. I’m sure if I asked if it was okay if I used the common area while she was, she’d absolutely say it’s fine but only because she doesn’t want to seem rude. I’d do the same – I would never EVER tell one of my roommates “listen, if someones over can you please not be in here okay thanks I really appreciate it.”

The problem is it’s not like they’re blatantly making out in the living room or anything, but they’re obviously engaged in whatever conversation a couple might be having (mutual friends, their relationship, etc) and I just hate intruding. I’ve also seen them cuddling on the couch, but when I walk in they immediately “straighten up” as if to prevent me from feeling uncomfortable.

lillycoyote's avatar

@dododododo I didn’t really mean a confrontation but you shouldn’t have to ask permission to hang out in your own living room, that’s all. Maybe you don’t need to have a conversation just go into the living if you want and don’t worry about it. If they want privacy they can go into her bedroom.

BBSDTfamily's avatar

Keep on about your evening routine like they aren’t even there. Watch tv in the common area if you want. Cook dinner in the kitchen if you want. If she feels like she needs more privacy, she can put a tv in her room, etc. It sounds like she is the one making you feel uncomfortable, so why are you so worried about making her maybe feel uncomfortable? If you have several roommates, it’s not fair for them to take up the living area several nights a week! You just act like normal- do not tailor ANYTHING you do for them. If so, she may come to expect it and take advantage. Don’t become the sucker.

gailcalled's avatar

You have only three choices.

Either you cower in your room and feel resentful.

Or you leave and go hang out in the library, cafe or pub.

Or, since you pay part of the rent, you act like an adult and enjoy “your” living room when you feel like it.

It is your roommate who needs to think about what is appropriate behavior, and not you.

stardust's avatar

I agree with the above comments. You pay rent so do your own thing. There’s no need for you to be feeling awkward about sitting in your own living room. If they want more privacy, they can go to her bedroom or his house.

rooeytoo's avatar

@gailcalled – ahhh, it takes an oldie to be so succinct! That is the way I see it too, you pay rent, he doesn’t, if they don’t like it, they can hang at the pub.

Seelix's avatar

Do what you want. Like you said, if they want privacy, she has a bedroom. If they’re uncomfortable with you hanging out in your own place, they should spend their time together elsewhere.

What would you expect if it were you and your boyfriend in their places?

deni's avatar

No you shouldn’t feel bad. You live there. They can go into the bedroom or to his house, ya know? It might not be the most convenient thing but its a sacrifice you make living with roommates. It’s not the biggest deal in the world either.

WestRiverrat's avatar

I don’t think you have to avoid the common areas when they are there. I could see you being asked to avoid the common areas if they were planning something special. But it should be a rare occurance, and you should have plenty of notice.

shadling21's avatar

Go take your place in the living room! Let them know that they can always request privacy, but you want to use the space too. Who knows, maybe you’ll enjoy hanging out with them?

There are sly ways to work your way into the common space. Feign interest in their TV show, claim that your room makes your claustrophobic, make food and offer them some. I’m sure you can all share the space comfortably.

shadling21's avatar

@dododododo You asked how we react in these situations, and I’d like to respond to that, too. Generally, the common area is considered just that – the common area. If I’m chilling with my boyfriend and his brother joins us, we enjoy his company until we decide we want privacy (at which point we go to a private place). When I’m home and my brother has friends over, I feel entitled to join them in the living room. It’s my home.

Kardamom's avatar

I think it’s totally fine for you to spend time with them in the common areas. They might be much more used to being in a “dorm” style situation and it probably doesn’t bother them that you are there. They probably realize that it’s your house too. If they wanted privacy, they’d go into her room. You could just ask the friend, discreetly, at one of those times if she wants a little privacy. That would be a nice polite thing to do, but she and the boyfriend probably don’t expect you to do that. A lot of younger couples are used to spending time with groups, so they probably don’t mind and even enjoy your company. Sounds nice.

lillycoyote's avatar

And maybe it’s just a big misunderstanding. Maybe the reason your roommate and her boyfriend have taken over the common areas, are so comfortable in doing so, is because they may have gotten the impression that you’d rather be in your room if that’s where you always are.

SavoirFaire's avatar

@gailcalled I’m not sure why you think the couple’s behavior is inappropriate. They’re hanging out in the common area of a place where one of them lives and pays rent. If paying rent is the justification for @dododododo to be able to hang out there, surely the other rent-paying roommates have the same right. Since we have no indication that the couples is trying to keep others out, then, they seem to be doing nothing more than what everyone is encouraging @dododododo to do.

Indeed, if it were the roommate on this site asking if she had the right to hang out in the common room with her boyfriend, we’d all be saying basically the same things we’ve said already.

YARNLADY's avatar

You can feel any way you want to. If you want to feel bad, go right ahead. If you want to change the situation, stand up for your own rights to the room you share.

When I had a roommate in college, they had to rent a motel room for their private encounters, and in our shared room, they were expected to act as in public.

meiosis's avatar

Given that the roommate and boyfriend are hanging out in the communal area, it seems pretty obvious to me that they’re not looking for privacy and might even want some company. Who knows, maybe your roommate is thinking “Why is @dododododo avoiding my boyfriend? She never hangs around when he’s over”

gailcalled's avatar

@SavoirFaire: Good point about the roommate. I should have said that they all have an equal share in the public turf, so that no one should feel uncomfortable hanging out there.

Marchofthefox's avatar

“The obvious answer is is, of course I can use the freaking common area, I’m paying just as much for the place as she is and have a right to (and if they truly needed privacy, she has a bedroom).” I loved how you used the word freaking. (: I would say you’re more than welcome to hang out there to once in awhile, you don’t have to be all locked up in your room all the time for other people. That’s not fair.

Aster's avatar

I agree with @gailcalled but I wish you could get a tv for your room. lol

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