How To Deal With A Roommate From Hell

Got a flatmate who's ruining your life? Don't fret, you're not the only one! Cosmo spoke to experts, and got you solutions to deal with different kinds of horrors!




Picture this: you're finally moving out of your parents' home to start a life of your own and superexcited about it. If you're rich enough, you may move into your own place, but most of us have the (dubious) pleasure of having to share our space with another person. This sounds great on paper (the support, back-up, etc), but you never know when that person turns out to be your worse nightmare! What's more, they come in varying degrees of evil! We spoke to a few Cosmo girls (and a boy) and categorised these Satan's mistresses.

The unhygienic one

"When I was going to move to Delhi, a friend suggested I shack up with her cousin. She knew of all the coolest places and had a huge social circle. I thought it would be a great combo since I could chill with her when I wanted to and withdraw when I felt the need for some space. What I didn't realise was that Little Miss Social Butterfly was sooo busy hanging out with her friends after work, she had absolutely no time at all to care about small things like doing the laundry, or even making her bed in the morning! We had (a rather large) room that we shared, which was distinctly divided into her side and mine- both of which were polar opposites! Her's looked like a tornado had hit- clothes strewn all over, trash can always overflowing! The room smelt like a colony of rats had committed suicide! There were days when I couldn't take it anymore and just cleaned up after her-bad move! She started taking me for granted and would actually taunt me if, God forbid, I took my trash out and didn't take hers! When I tried to talk to her, she said she couldn't be bothered with it and even confessed to buying disposable underwear as well as new clothes every time she ran out of clean ones. I'm surprised I didn't catch any fatal diseases in the six months I spent with her," sighs 26-year-old stylist, Aanchal Khanna.

How to deal

"Keep your side of the room neat at all times, so your flatmate gets the message", explains Dr Sanjay Chugh, senior consultant psychiatrist. "You need to vocalise to your roommate that responsibilities like these need to be shared and that you can't always be doing it yourself, or living in a mess. If it totally gets to you, you'll need to clean up so you don't get sick", adds Dr Samir Parikh, consultant psychiatrist, and co-ordinator of the Department of Mental Health and Behavioural Sciences at Max Healthcare, New Delhi.

The horny one

This is the kind who needs a lot of action and brings home random men! Also includes the loving soul who's boyfriend is permanently at your place. At night you hear not only the crickets and frogs croaking outside your window, but also moans, groans, and the creaking of the bed, which keep you up!

"I was staying at this digs in Bombay and I had these really lovely landlords. I had no curfew hour by when I needed to get back to my place, or any other conditions, except not bringing boys home, which I thought was fair enough. And it was all good till I moved in with this girl who worked in my office. A week after she shifted in with me, she started bringing home random boys she had met at clubs to sleep with. Not only was it appalling because she could get us both thrown out of a perfectly nice place, but it was also very unsafe. We fought a lot about it, to a point where I preferred to stay late at office rather than come to her banging random men. After a few months, she started seeing this guy steadily, who was sleeping at our place practically every night. I used to lie awake wondering when I'd be thrown out, while she moaned in pleasure 10 feet away", shudders 28-year-old software engineer Meena Vyas.

How to deal

"Such kind of behaviour is not only disgusting, but utterly unsafe too. Living under the fear of having any random person come into your house is definitely a big no-no! Having some watertight fixed rules is essential as it can allay a lot of unwanted stress and tension. If your roommate is getting her boyfriend, it's allright, as long as it doesn't intrude your privacy, or disrupt your living. But men who might appear odd or peculiar need to be shown the door before they are allowed to enter. Let your roommate know that this is intolerable. If the situation turns ugly, inform the landlord, so it can be tackled," counsels Dr Chugh. "I was such a nervous wreck because of this whole situation that I finally decided to confide in my landlord and his wife. They were totally outraged by her behaviour and confronted her. They gave her a month's notice to find another place and settled money matters as well. This was two years ago, and I've decided never to live with a roommate ever again", adds Vyas.

The Kleptomanic

Kleptomania is an OCD where a person cannot control the urge to steal-even though they can afford the objects in question and the stealing is not for any monetary benefit.

"When I was in college in Bombay, I was living with this girl I vaguely knew from Kolkata, who seemed nice; but, boy, was I wrong! Not only did she steal my clothes and trinkets, she wore them in front of me! When she started flicking money from my wallet, I confronted her, but she threatened to hit me for accusing her wrongly! I called up her dad, who apologised profusely. I happened to be around when he called to reprimand her and she threw this crazy fit. She kept screaming, throwing things around, breaking them, and even cut her wrist! The next morning, I started house hunting, because I couldn't live with a psychotic freak anymore! And even though I was paying double the rent, at least I knew I was going to stay alive with all my belongings intact", shudders 25-year-old copywriter Oindrilla Chatterjee.

How to deal

"Obviously, once you discover that your flatmate has kleptomaniac tendencies, the first thing to do is to put all your things under lock and key-not only the valuable stuff, but even the smallest of things you think she may flick. If that doesn't help either and you find stuff missing, consider moving out of your current accommodation and find another place. There is no need for you to be apologetic or polite about it to your roommate, since things will be messy anyway", says Dr Chugh. Dr Parikh adds, "While locking up all of your things is one option and highly recommended in this case, you should also have a talk with your roommate and suggest she get help before she gets into a serious mess".

The over familiar one

It's great to move in with someone you know-but not so much when familiarity breeds contempt! "I moved in with this friend of mine from college, who I thought I knew pretty well! Little did I dream that she would want to claim every minute of my free time.

She'd book tickets for movies for me without even asking me if I had any prior plans. I know that doesn't sound so bad, but it was pretty annoying when she would scream at me claiming she was responsible for my behaviour, and would tell me who I should or should not be friends with. As a friend, I welcomed her advice, but I didn't give her the power to rule my life", rues 25-year-old journo Devyani Mehra.

How to deal

"How a person behaves with you, also depends a lot on the kind of cues you give them. If you've led them to believe they can tell you what to do, it's human nature to continue to do so", says Dr Parikh. "You need to draw boundaries from the first day you move in and make it very obvious that you strongly discourage the other person invading your space. If you haven't had that conversation at the beginning, then you need to have a chat with your roommate saying that even as friends, the limits of your relationship needs to be demarcated and made obvious. Don't pick a fight; be polite and assertive to make the other person realise that your time and space are yours and any unsolicited treading will not be appreciated," adds Dr Chugh.

The creepy one

Now, there are many times when we don't get to choose our roommates, and have to learn to live with people who we may not necessarily be fond of. It is okay to be an introvert…everyone is different and some people take time to open up. But if your flatmate keeps a lot to herself and gets home people that your gut feeling tells you aren't right, its time to hit the panic button! "I moved from Guwahati to Kolkata for my under grad, and managed to get into a prestigious girl's hostel. I was sharing my room with this chick who was into metal music, wore Goth make-up, and was never seen without a cigarette in her hand. I made attempts to talk to her, but she would snub me off. One night I saw her inject some substance into herself, which instantly freaked me out. I spoke to a few friends back home who suggested I call the cops-something I didn't do since I was alone in the city, and I didn't doubt her magnitude of evil. One night, when I was staying at my local gaurdian's place, she had called a bunch of her friends, who were all smoking up in our room. The matron caught them, and called the cops. When I was questioned, I broke down and confessed how scared I had been of her, but was too freaked out to talk about it," exclaims 27-year-old management trainee Srimoyi Das.

How to deal

"Move out or contact the concerned authorities. Having such a person around can make your life miserable and as erratic as she might be. It can complicate a lot of things for you and take a toll on your mental/emotional health and well being. Let your focus be your safety and peace of mind and ensuring that you are in a safe environment", warns Dr Chugh. "Don't get confrontational with a person like this. You will never know how they will react, keep your guard up at all times, and inform the concerned authorities as soon as possible," adds Dr Parikh.

The Monica

It's great to have a roommate who'll take care of you-as good as living with the family. But then again, the whole fun of living away from home is to be able to do your own thing. "I had moved to Delhi, and my parents were paranoid because let's face it, the city is not kind to women. They trusted the daughter of one of our family friends who had a lovely apartment in south Delhi and I moved in with her. She was five years older to me, but we got along well! Over a period of time, I realised the little things she did-like constantly call to check where I was, wait up for me to come home, why I was dressed the way I was etc., really annoyed me. I tried to talk to my mother about it who reprimanded me saying I was being ungrateful. She was like the more anal version of Monica from F.R.I.E.N.D.S-which is saying a lot-and I felt like I was living in a jail! Luckily for me, she got engaged soon, so I got to rent my own place", says 27-year-old Harleen Singh.

How to deal

"To have a controlling roommate is like having a parent away from home. Let the mommy know that you are not a kid. You will need to nip the problem at the very start before she spreads her wings and begins to dominate you completely. Stand up for yourself, state what is okay, and what isn't. Remember that the place is as much yours as it is anyone else's and that when there are two people living together, there are bound to be differences but that in no way suggests that you are wrong," explains Dr Chugh.