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  • Salient Mag

Aunty Vic

Q: What to do about my messy and invasive flatmate's girlfriend wanting to move in?

Having your flatmate's partner constantly around is a situation nobody can prepare you for. However, it’s a reality that nearly every student faces. Sometimes a flatmate's partner can become an unexpected best friend, your favourite person to bump into on a night out, or someone who helps lug the rubbish out late on a Tuesday evening. Other times, they’re like a cyst—unwanted, painful, and ugly. 

The ideal starting point is a conversation. However, it's important to understand what is reasonable to bring up, and what isn’t. One thing that never goes down well is telling your flatmate how often their partner is allowed to come over. The truth is, you live in a shared space, and if your flatmate wants their partner over they should be allowed to do so. Remember, it is their home too. 

When their presence becomes greater than just a Saturday-sleepover, so should the expectation that they pull their weight and uphold the same standards as other flatmates. It’s basic manners to expect a frequent visitor to clean up after themselves, respect the boundaries of those who live there, and—heaven forbid—if they’re exploiting your $119 Kmart coffee machine each morning, at least run to the FourSquare and grab a new bag of beans?! 

If they aren’t already doing this, they probably lack self-awareness and aren’t familiar with the flat expectations. To establish this, try leading by example, keep the bench clean and throw in a passing comment such as “Hey Sarah, next time you’re round do you mind grabbing a bottle of milk on your way?”. It’s as simple as that. You’re not asking them to pay the power bill, just a little courtesy contribution. 

If the frequent visitor can’t pick up on these hints, it might be time to have a gentle conversation with your flatmate. Confrontation can be hard, but remember you have every right to discuss how you want to feel in your home. As much as you might feel mean, it is better to discuss these things because nobody wants to be that flatmate.

When it comes to moving in, only someone completely socially inept would ignore their flatmates and allow their partner to move in without prior discussion. If you sense a shift in dynamics, take proactive steps by arranging a flat meeting with your flatmate, excluding their partner. Make this initial conversation just that—a conversation, not a decision. Find out how your flatmate is feeling. They might surprise you and reveal that they aren't keen on their partner moving in either. You never know. Then, when it's your turn to share your thoughts, be honest and kind. Once everyone has aired their views, give everyone some space to reflect on their thoughts and schedule another chat, say, in three days' time. 

In this second meeting, set your expectations, give your non-negotiables and spitball ideas. By the sounds of it, you’d be super justified in giving the love-bird a straight no. But again, try to stay open minded—it could lower rent? I mean that sounds like the only upside, but you know, at least try. 

Friendships, flatmates, and relationships are a clusterfuck of emotions, financial stress, and people not unloading the dishwasher. So, don’t forget your basics. It's your home, you’re entitled to live how you want, but it’s also their home, and your flatmates are equally entitled to live as they want. If you’re not sure how to approach something, kindness, honesty, and open conversation almost never fail.


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