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Roommate thinks I’m useless

I recently moved in with my best friend and it’s not going well.

It’s time you stood up for yourself, says our elder. Try to agree some ground rules and you can salvage your friendship.

Dear EWC

I have been living in a house with my best friend for a couple of weeks now. The first week went so well and I still love living with her; however, there are a few problems that are really getting to me lately. The first one is responsibilities around the house. I washed the dishes the other day and when she came downstairs she shouted at me because she claimed I didn’t do them right and she had to do them again. I thought no big deal and apologised. but now if I don’t do a job to her standard it feels like she belittles me. She came from a background where she has had to support and live by herself whereas I haven’t — I’ve always lived with my parents. However, I do know how to wash dishes, cook, set a washer away and do things for myself.

An issue I am having also is that she insists on doing everything for me: cleaning up after me, putting my washing in, cooking for me, sorting out my lunches for work. I appreciate it but I’ve tried explaining to her that I moved out of my parents’ house to become more independent and not have everything done for me. She won’t accept this and I keep gently reminding her, but it is as if she thinks I am not capable. I have told her I can look after myself. I am sick of arguing all the time.

Last time she upset me I took myself upstairs and rang my dad as I needed to speak to him anyway. I didn’t tell him what was going on but when I went downstairs she said, “I guess you haven’t grasped the concept of moving out yet — every little argument we have, you go in a strop and either ring your parents or storm off upstairs.” I felt like arguing back but at this point I really couldn’t be bothered to argue with her. I do love living with her but I’m getting sick of it.

Here4U replies

It is often said that one does not really know a person until they live with them. I believe that it is important for people who live together to understand that there is more than one way to do something correctly. It is not a certainty that one person’s way is always the correct way. I believe that roommates need to be open-minded as to how their roommates accomplish tasks as they may learn something.

We all grow up in different families and we usually learn from our family members how to clean, cook, do laundry, etc. As adults we may change or alter how we have learned to do this. Many years ago I learned from a boyfriend’s mother that we were staying with an easier method to washing dishes when there were only a few. This was completely different from how my mom washed dishes, yet to this day when there are only a few dirty dishes I will always wash them the way that this woman showed me.

I believe that I was receptive as I appreciated the way that she approached it. There were only a few cups and plates in the sink as we had just finished having coffee and dessert and I was about to clean them. She asked if it would be alright if she showed me a shortcut in doing the few dishes that were there. I wanted to show her respect, but as it turned out it was a helpful tip that I appreciated learning. I was open to it, as she did not present it in a demeaning way nor did she try to make me feel as if I had been doing it wrong. I believe that your roommate could use help in her delivery.

In my opinion, one does not have to live on their own to know how to take care of their living surroundings. I have to wonder if your roommate is purposely cleaning up after you so that she can do it her way. I feel that this is unfair on her part and she is not doing it out of kindness. I believe that it is her way of saying that she would rather take on all of the responsibilities of the house because she believes that she does it the right way and you do not.

I believe that it is time that you stood up for yourself. Some arguments need to happen so that the ones involved can straighten out the problems that they are having. In my opinion, your roommate is insulting to you and she is overstepping the boundaries of a roommate. In addition to her cleaning up after you, she also believes that she needs to redo every household chore after you have done it. She uses the excuse that you do not know how to do it correctly as you have never lived on your own. However, you do know how, so you really should not allow her to continue to use that excuse.

I also believe that it is not her business what you chose to discuss with your dad. She seems to put a lot of emphasis on having lived on her own and that you did not. She almost glorifies this about herself and uses that you did not to put you down. Everyone has to start somewhere. There was a time that she had never lived on her own. I have to wonder if she had a roommate and if that roommate constantly belittled her for it being her first time on her own. That would explain a lot.

You have said that you two started out as being best friends, however it seems that this living arrangement is on its way to destroying that friendship. Before it is able to do so, I would suggest that you have a long and honest talk with her. Explain to her how her constant critiques of your household chores makes you feel. Explain to her that you are confident in your abilities and you are tired of hearing otherwise from her. It is affecting how you feel about living with her, however before one of you moves out, you would like to work together on trying to improve your roommate relationship.

If she is willing to work on it I would suggest that together you write down what is acceptable to each of you regarding your living arrangement and what is not. As in any living arrangement you both will have to make compromises. Once you both have established what you can and cannot accept I would suggest that you place this agreement some place out in the open where you both will see it and be reminded by it.

I believe that if you both are able to stick to the agreed upon arrangements, you will be able to work on living together and hopefully enjoy doing so. If you both remember that you were best friends before you became roommates I think that will help. In my opinion, trying to avoid an argument is not always helpful or healthy. You do not want to always hold things in as your roommate is not a mind reader and the longer one holds things in, the angrier they usually become.

I wish you a healthy and happy roommate situation.

Letter #: 455536
Category: Friendship

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