Dear Alice – Housemate Hell0
I’m having problems with my new housemate. We placed an ad online and he moved in a few weeks ago. The household works office hours and the new guy works at a bar on the weekend. He has complained to me a few times about noise, music, the pets and being woken up. I have tried to smooth things over by moving the coffee machine and refraining from using the blender, but now I am missing out on my morning smoothie. Even though I’ve been trying hard to keep the peace, he has become more passive-aggressive and doesn’t speak to anyone. Instead, he leaves notes scolding us. I don’t know what else I can do?
Gosh! That does not sound like a desirable living situation. Tension in share housing is a pretty common issue, but that doesn’t mean that you have to tolerate it long term. Something needs to give. The first part that I am questioning is in regards to the differing work hours. In my opinion, if someone has moved into an existing share house, it is up to the incoming individual to ensure that they are compatible with the existing dynamic. It does not seem fair that a night shift worker can be upset that office workers are awake, and making noise, during the day. I would propose that being tolerant of noise is a fundamental part of living with other people. I would like to commend you on trying to keep the peace, harmony in a share house is extremely important. The only issue with placating one person is that it is having measurable impact upon the other housemate’s lives. You are putting someone else’s happiness before your own which is a slippery slope into anger, resentment and self-loathing. It doesn’t sound fair to me. Ideally, you want to find a middle ground where every party is happy, or simply change your expectations; or buy some ear plugs. I find it interesting that communication has broken down, and that the only form of discourse is a monologue through the form of a note. Sure, people are busy and want to get their point across; but what you are saying when you leave a note is that you are making a statement or demand that is non-negotiable. Leaving notes seems like an under-confident act. Perhaps you could ask that any issues be addressed in-person? I would encourage you to be proactive and organize a meeting or a dinner where everyone can come together and discuss their issues in an open forum. There needs to be consensus or a majority rule, can I suggest voting on issues? Hopefully, once everything is on the table and things are decided, the tension will reduce. At the end of the day, easy come easy go; if it doesn’t work out then maybe it’s time to stick that ad back out there and try to find someone with similar expectations. Good luck!