My roommate’s boyfriend is over all the time.

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My roommate’s boyfriend is over a lot. A lot, a lot. What’s appropriate protocol? Do I hang out with them like I do when it’s just her, or do I let them have their alone time? If they’re just hanging out in the living room, is it okay if I join? I’m just not sure how I’m supposed to act with them as a couple as compared to just her.

First of all, I need to say that I love how I don’t read a hint of frustration in your question.  I know from experience how frustrating it can be when it feels like you have a 3rd roommate (ie- your roomie’s boyfriend).  This often strains a roommate situation and friendship, so I’m glad that (it seems) you aren’t feeling that way.  For those of you that are frustrated by this (or will be at some point this year), don’t be discouraged.  This all boils down to open communication with your roomie.

A few thoughts…

1. If they are hanging out in the living room and you want to be in the living room with them, you are allowed to that.

This is your living space too.  If your roommate is dying for alone time with her boyfriend, it doesn’t need to be in your shared living space.

2. Now, having just said that, it is her home too.

So, if she wants to have a date night at home (maybe they cook dinner and want to watch a movie just the two of them), she needs to communicate that with you ahead of time.  And she’s allowed to do that.  It doesn’t mean she can banish you from your apartment, but it does mean she can ask kindly that you don’t hang around them for that evening.

3. You need to have a conversation with her about this.

Don’t panic, it doesn’t have to be formal or serious.  Plan a lunch date with her and at some point, bring up the topic.  I would start out by saying, “So, I would love to hear your thoughts on something.  I love hanging out with you, I love hanging out with you and your BF, but I’m curious what your expectations are.  Am I hanging around y’all too much when he is over?  How do you think it’s been going?”  (Obviously you need to be honest here.  So don’t say you love hanging out with her or both of them, if you don’t.  Or perhaps you’re leaving them alone more than you are hanging out with them, so instead, you’d admit, “I feel like I end up avoiding y’all when he’s over because I’m not sure if it’s okay for me to hang out.  What do you think?”  Ask really open ended questions and see how she responds.

4. During the conversation, I think it’s important to talk through specifics.

“So, when I come home and find y’all hanging out in the living room, is it fair to assume I can join you if I want to?”  And setting up expectations, “If I come home and y’all are having a serious conversation, just say ‘Mind giving us a minute?’ and I’ll know that means y’all need to be alone until I hear otherwise.”  (or maybe you set up a “code word” or you agree she will text you in advance if possible.)  The bottom line is, think through times where you wondered if it was okay to join them and talk through those so you will know in the future what her expectations are.

5.  All of the above is assuming your roommate has realistic expectations and is going to be respectful of you.

For those of you who may have a situation where your roommate doesn’t, this is where you really need to be open and honest about how her actions make you feel.  Both of you need to consider what it would feel like to be in the other person’s shoes.  Sometimes, we get roommates who simply don’t care how her behavior affects you, and you are going to have to work hard to communicate honestly (but kindly), set firm boundaries, and be the bigger person.  Sadly, in those difficult roommate situations, only you can control you.  If that is your situation, send me your question/specifics and I’ll gladly write more. 

As my mentor has told me countless times, THESE are the times we get to practice giving grace and undeserved love to people.  It’s not circumstances in life that refine us as much– its RELATIONSHIPS.  Learning to communicate openly and love others well (being gracious, kind, setting firm boundaries) will only behoove you in the long run.  God will also use it to mold you to look much more like his Son.

So tell me: what other roommate issues are you having?  Or have you addressed this particular issue with your own roommate and have advice for this #collegegirl?  Send me your questions!

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