How to Survive with Messy Housemates

How to Survive with Messy Housemates

Sarah Rainwater
May 6, 2010

Whether you got your first roommate at age 2 or 22, chances are that sharing your space, even with someone you love, has caused more than a few disputes. There's nothing that derails spring cleaning faster than a housemate who refuses to help (or worse, increases the disaster level), but there is one simple effective solution for dealing with many conflicts — though it's not one that many will want to hear.

I'm the kind of person who will spend hours sorting the linen closet, separating fitted sheets from flat in neat little piles while my husband happily folds the laundry, but believes that "organizational systems" are a form of flesh-eating bacteria that must be wiped out by stuffing as many things in a mish-mash on a shelf as possible. At times I'm tempted to throw my hands up in despair and avoid spring cleaning altogether, but there is a way to get past our disagreement, it's just not always easy.

In three words: let it go.

The sooner I realize my husband will NEVER, EVER replace the toilet paper roll, the sooner I can stop blowing my lid every time I see it sitting by the sink instead of in its holder and take a mere thirty seconds to replace it myself. If it doesn't bother someone that their clothes are next to the laundry basket instead of inside it, or that their dirty dishes are piled in the sink — infractions I myself am guilty of — it's difficult to convince them that there's a problem. In fact, it's really only a problem to the person who is bothered by it.

I'd never argue that one person should bear an unfair amount of household chores or avoid dealing with underlying relationship issues, but when it comes to the little things that drive you crazy (rationally or no), whether you seethe quietly or scream and yell, chances are your blood pressure will be a lot higher than if you just clean up someone else's mess and let it go.

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Living with Roommates: Lessons from 5 Communal Homes
10 Passive Aggressive Notes We Wish We Wrote
Chore Charts and the Equitable Household

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