Nobody wants a crazy roommate situation. Not when you’re in your 20s or 30s, and certainly not when you’re in college. You’ve got way too many things going on. The last thing you need is a hostile living environment. So to avoid any conflicts—not to mention any potentially life-threatening scenarios, a la The Roommate—here are seven rules to live by. With any luck, your roommate will live by them, too. In fact, go ahead and forward this article to him.
1. Be clean. Cleanliness is godliness. It’s also being-a-good-roommate-ness. Because nothing will create drama between roommates faster than one roommate always cleaning up after himself and the other one acting like Oscar from The Odd Couple. You might think a few whiskers in the sink isn’t a big deal, but trust us, little deals can become big deals over time. So: always keep your side of the room/apartment clean. Always wash your dishes after using them. And in general, encourage a dirt-free living space by always cleaning up after yourself.
2. Do not eat his food. So let’s say your roommate’s parents came to town and they took him out for a huge dinner and he has a nice big steak wrapped up in the fridge. As much as you might like to grab that baby, heat it up and devour it when he’s not around, you absolutely cannot. We don’t care how hungry you are. That’s because one of the most uncool things you can do to a roommate is to eat his food. Basically the only thing more uncool than that would be to have sex with his girlfriend. And depending on the quality of his girlfriend, eating his food might actually be worse.
3. Do not bring home drunk friends. Look, you and your roommate are going to be on different schedules. Some nights he’ll be partying and you’ll be studying, and other nights it’ll be the other way around. So if he’s studying in the room/apartment, don’t come back home with a bunch of loud, drunk friends. It’s just kind of a dick move if he’s cramming for a final or something. The only exception is if you bring back a cute, mildly intoxicated girl who you think might want to hook up with your roommate. Then by all means, bring back the party. Everyone could use a study break.
4. Ask before bringing a girl back to the room. Speaking of cute girls, if you’re planning to bring one back to your room to have some fun—and possibly some loud, physical fun—the best thing you can do is give your roommate a heads-up and ask him if he can make himself scarce for an hour or so. That’s right—ask him if it’s okay if you could have the room for a while and apologize for putting him out. Do not tell him to sleep elsewhere—that’s a total dick move, and it’ll lead to resentment. In other words, he’ll hate you for it. And he might try to punch you in the nuts.
5. Keep it down. This might seem obvious, but don’t blast loud music when your roommate is around unless he wants to hear it too. If he’s reading a book or watching TV or typing up a paper on his computer, chances are he doesn’t want to hear it too. The better move would be to blast the music through your headphones—or ask your roommate if he would mind if you played the music on speakers at a reasonable level. The same goes for having long, loud phone or Skype conversations while your roommate is studying. In short: be respectful, man!
6. Don’t touch his stuff. Unless your roommate has said, “Hey man, my Xbox is your Xbox, play it whenever you want,” don’t touch it when he’s not there. Again, if you want to play his Xbox or his music—or borrow his shoes or his tie or his harmonica or whatever—the best thing to do would be to ask first. Because think about it, you wouldn’t want him going through your stuff when you’re not there, would you? No, you wouldn’t. (Note: the one exception to this rule is if you’re about to have sex and you need a condom. Then it’s totally OK to grab a condom from his secret stash.)
7. Pay the bills on time. Let’s say you two have to pay a few bills together, and he’s the one in charge of paying them. Don’t wait until the last damn day to pay your half of the bill. As soon as he tells you how much you owe—or as soon as you see the bill yourself—pay up. Seriously, don’t procrastinate with this stuff. Pay your half right away and get it over with. If you don’t, your roommate could end up getting really frustrated with you. Which could lead to a bloody brawl between the two of you. Or worse, having your electricity cut off. So just pay up right away, and then you can go back to doing whatever it is you were doing. Like watching The Roommate, which probably sucks, but hey, it’s got Minka Kelly.