Falling for your roommate happens. Here’s how to deal

If reality television has anything to say about it, hook-ups between people who share a house always end in a horrific mess. But in my last year of college, I did what I always vowed never to do: Not only did I hook up with my housemate, but we are now in a serious, grown-up relationship. And things are actually pretty great!

It happens. Sometimes it’s not meant to me, sure. But sometimes  real friendships develop into real relationships, and that’s OK. The internet is full of tortuous threads fretting about whether it’s ever a good idea to get involved with your housemate. But sometimes it’s too late for that kind of hand wringing: If you’ve both developed mutual feelings for each other, what else is there to do but give it a shot?  Rather than worrying about the implications of a budding romance with your housemate, sometimes it’s best to embrace things and see where they go. Just don’t go in blind. Here’s what I’ve learned about dating your roommate

Take it slow, even though you already live together

It can be confusing when you are in such close proximity to someone to know whether you are simply attracted to them because they are always there or because you both really do have a deep, genuine connection. Plus if you do say something or act impulsively you are stuck with that person for however long your lease is and that can get really awkward if things don’t all go well. So it’s smart to just take things one day at a time, even though that love interest happens to split dirty dish duty with you

Be honest with each other, and with your other housemates

Dating a roommate doesn’t just alter the relationship you have with them, it also alters the dynamic of the house. Once you are really in it, you should let your other housemates know. (Though they probably know already tbh.) When you’re seeing someone you happen to live with, you have to be really clear about personal space and about being respectful to your other roomies.

The nice part? You already know each other pretty well

You might have some nerves about starting to date, but you don’t need to worry about that person seeing you in your laundry day clothes. Living together means that you’ve had already seen each other at your best and worst: ill, angry, homesick, depressed, exhausted, stressed, silly…everything! That sort of intimacy is unavoidable when you are friends who also happen to be housemates.

Establishing boundaries is so important

Let’s be realistic, sometimes you can see so much of your housemates that all you want to do is curl up in your own bed in your own room, on YOUR OWN. And that’s tough when you now share that bed with one of them. That’s why it’s important to establish your own time and space. Make sure you both reach an agreement early on that you’ll respect each other’s space, and won’t just walk in unannounced or use each other’s rooms as a convenient wardrobe extension. 

You never end up leaving things on the other side of town after a sleep over

It’s pretty nice to not split your closet between two places across town. Your straightener or your favorite shirt? It’s definitely in the house somewhere.

Remember your chores, however love giddy you get

However your house/flat/apartment have agreed to split house chores, make sure you don’t become the sole cleaning rep for your relationship, or slack off on the chore wheel because you’re preoccupied. After all, even though you’re something more than friends now, you’re still sharing a kitchen and maybe a bathroom: Make sure you pull your weight.

And most of all, enjoy it

Stop worrying about whether it’s the sensible thing to do. You’ve got years ahead to do that. Enjoy having the person you love so near, and cherish the moments you share together without getting too bogged down in the heavy stuff. You might end up living together for the rest of your lives (in which case this is great practice!) or you might not. Right now that doesn’t matter. So have fun and everything else will sort itself out.

Tangwen Roberts is a graduate of Cardiff’s graduate journalism school and recently completed an MA in Women’s Studies. When she’s not writing feminist commentary on life and the world, she’s petting her guinea pigs and bingeing on Jaffa Cakes.

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