For a long time, I lived with a partner and assumed I’d never live with roommates again. The shower politics, the labeling of leftovers, the unspoken tracking of who cleaned the bathroom last — I was thrilled to leave it all behind. But when I decided to move to New York on my own and knew I’d have to re-enter the roommate realm, I found myself inexplicably excited. The group grocery trips, the family hangovers, the what-should-we-do-tomorrow mentality. I kind of missed it!
But when searching for a shared apartment on Craigslist — something I documented in detail — the roommate qualm turned out to be one of the hardest. Because while we all care a lot about who we live with (and have horror stories to prove just how much), the customs around picking city roommates are frighteningly blasé. A quick email, a lie-riddled questionnaire (“clean? fairly!”), an open house meet-n-greet wherein everyone pretends they aren’t in competition with each other. It’s bizarre.
Ultimately, I lucked out. My three roommates and I already feel like family. Not a day goes by that I don’t appreciate how non-psychopathic they are considering how hastily we all decided to share our lives. We’re not without our complex dynamics, though. Maybe that’s what makes it kind of fun. The risks, the challenges, the forced intimacy. It can feel like for every positive roommate trait, there is a potential equal and opposite downside. Let’s review the classics.
The one who is friendly, a real angel, but never leaves you the fuck alone.
This roommate is a joy to be around, truly. It’s so nice to have someone who seems genuinely interested in how your day went. But when they linger in your doorway asking you 21 questions when you’re clearly tired and not interested in chit chat, you fantasize about pressing a button that drops them through a small (harmless!) trap door.
The one who’s chill and easygoing but tbh never gets off the freaking couch, always steals your food.
This roommate is so cool. There is no one better to marathon the entire Game of Thrones series with, and they always know where to get the best take out. The only problem is their body is permanently imprinted on the couch and your tortilla chips keep mysteriously disappearing.
The one who is a blast and throws a great party but wakes you up at 2 a.m. at least twice a week.
Love this roommate! When you get home around 10 p.m. a little tipsy from dinner and have the sudden urge to dance, they are always down to make a sudden, last-minute night of it. They’ll turn on some music and start fixing cocktails for all the roommates immediately. They’re so fun. Except for the whole “weeknight” thing, when 10 p.m. feels a little more like bed time. And now you’re listening to them make a sudden, last-minute night of it with someone else.
The one who is quirky and always showing you interesting stuff but never does a single chore.
This roommate is always out doing (and inviting you to) really interesting stuff around town. It’s awesome. And when they’re home, they’re always working on a cool project or cooking up a weird recipe they saw in the New York Times. The problem is, remnants of their projects are always strewn about the common spaces and their dishes sit in the sink for days because they’re out doing interesting stuff around town.
The one who takes care of everyone and is always cleaning up but leaves passive-aggressive notes.
What a great roommate — so helpful and always chipping in. They’re definitely doing more than their fair share! It’s especially sweet when they bake for all the roommates. Less great is the note on the container that says, “Help yourself! And maybe don’t leave your shit scattered everywhere 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 ”
The one who is quiet and tidy but always mysteriously shut in their room.
Such an easy roommate! No annoying lingering, no couch potatoing, no loud partying, no dishes in the sink, no rude notes, no….anything. Wait a minute, what are they doing in there? Is this person a serial killer???? This roommate’s quiet presence is almost worse than the outright flaws.
Please identify yourself in the comments and/or do the important work of creating more archetypes! There is room for plenty more in this mischief.*
*The name for a group of mice. V cute/apropos.