Offbeat Academia: Roommate choices affect home harmony

It’s easy living with a bunch of friends when all you have to fight about is whose turn it is to do the dishes. Living with a significant other is a whole different ballgame.

Where are you going to live? With whom?

I mean, it’s already March. The deadline for Temple housing is approaching quickly. Maybe you should be worried about ending up on the streets next semester. You could live in the TV lounge of the Student Center. Just shove your stuff in a corner, and cover it with a blanket so no one notices. Not a bad idea, right? It’s got proximity.

Just kidding. Don’t do that. You’ll probably get kicked out if you try. But some people might prefer that option to moving in with a boyfriend or girlfriend.

Well, OK, maybe you were delighted when you moved in with him, but now it seems like he won’t go away, right? He’s always right there – snoring next to you, eating next to you, brushing his teeth while you’re on the toilet – and you’ve become fearful that you’ll never again have the luxury of sleeping alone.

Suddenly, you’re defensive. You start blowing up over little things. She’s trying to suffocate you, she never apologizes, and she hated your black bean rice soup. You’ve become a self-destructive, ticking time bomb, waiting for the right moment to stomp out and never come back.

That happens a lot, I’m sure. But it hasn’t happened to me, yet. I’m crossing my fingers.

Before living in this house, I lived with three boys with whom I had strictly platonic relationships, so it didn’t happen there either. Although, I pretty much became the mother of the house – cooking dinner, cleaning, taking care of a dying cat, adding and dividing bills – I enjoyed it for the most part. Like any good nuclear mother would say: it gave me a wonderful sense of purpose.

Now, I’m living with…him. With the boys, I didn’t have to see them all the time. They had girlfriends, shows and other friends to tend to. I mostly hung out with my dying cat, which wasn’t a very happening scene, and that’s probably why I took her back home. But him – he’s more like the dying cat.

I blow up over little things. I haven’t stomped out yet, but I threaten to often enough that it’s hard to believe anymore.

Before we moved in together this semester, I remember my mom asking me if I was worried about anything concerning the living arrangement. He and I spent most of our time together anyway, so I really wasn’t. Of course, there are those things you don’t experience until you’re living in the same house, but I didn’t think they would be a big deal.

And they’re not a big deal. Like I said, I blow up over little things. His guitar, for example: I’ve watched him play for the five years I’ve known him. Now, I get to hear it every day – while I’m sleeping, while I’m doing homework and while I’m cooking dinner. (Yes, I’m still cooking dinner).

Domestic duties have become the molten lava of our arguments, but it probably isn’t what you think. I’m the lazy one now. I don’t mind waiting until tomorrow to do the dishes, leaving my clothes on the floor or accumulating drinking glasses on my nightstand. He calls me lazy as he pulls out the vacuum and scrubs the bathroom floor on his knees. I cook the dinners. But that’s all I really have. I don’t know when this shift happened, but it did.

Living with one person, especially a significant other, is very different from living with multiple people. You rely on each other for something to do on the weekend and for food in the fridge. One of you has to be neat, one has to know how to cook, and one needs to remember trash day or the deadline for the electric bill.

Mind you, I only sound cynical for the sake of this column. He isn’t really so much like a dying cat.

Sarah Sanders can be reached at

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