The Housemate Question

You have just moved into your new share house with a couple of friends.   While the living room has amassed five couches, all of which have seen better days, the kitchen still lacks the bare essentials.

n particular, there is only one fry pan.  It is your fry pan.  Your fry pan gets a fair amount of use due to the fact that the student diet consists solely of chicken and bean stir-fry and bean and chicken stir-fry.

Now, you are a generous person.  You are more than happy to share your fry pan with your housemates.  However, it does start to niggle at you that your housemates never clean your fry pan after they use it (note: placing the fry pan in the sink does not count as cleaning).

After the first week, the niggle turns into an annoyance. After another couple of weeks, the annoyance turns into a frustration.  After another month you are blinded by rage.

One of your housemates has a new girlfriend.  You are happy for him since she seems like a lovely person.  The new girlfriend starts to stay over.

Before you know it, she has become the fourth housemate in your three-bedroom house.  You do not have a problem with it except the new girlfriend drinks your  semi-skimmedmilk.  Without replacing it.

She also watches Mel and Kochie in the mornings when you insist upon getting your news from ABC24.  Finally, you have noticed a 22% increase in the water bill that you suspect is due to her preference for long hot showers.  You are not mean spirited.  You just want the girlfriend to contribute her due.

At what point is it okay to raise an issue with your housemates, and at what point do you just bite your tongue?

It is a question that plagues many share-households.  After all, each one of us has our peculiarities, such as religiously placing the cutlery downwards in the dishwasher for a better clean, that make us feel at home.  But the fear of breaking that fine balance of personalities in a share house causes most of us to stay quiet.

The answer lies along a fine line, one that constantly tests our emotional intelligence.  It requires us to ask ourselves whether the issue (downwards facing knives) will fester, placing at risk that sacred feeling of homeliness, or if it is a compromise one can make for the peace of the share-household.

If you do decide to mention the issue, a few tips: start by repeating what you  wantdone (turning the knives downwards).  If your housemates are obtuse, then you can always crack a joke.

If all else fails, you can speak to your housemates, but start with a light remark before jumping into the heavy duty.   If in doubt, remember that you too pay the rent, and so you also have a right for that sacred feeling of homeliness.