Monday, 31 October 2011

When Flatshares Turn Bad.

Frosty looks at breakfast, hostile notes, slamming doors and sitting for weeks in the same room without saying a word (friendly or otherwise). Arguments with flatmates are as bad, if not worse than those with your own family, except with no formal ties, there is little reason to try and sort things out. The options are mediation and reconciliation, or just get the hell out, and then the only question is, who will go and who will stay.

There are several ways that people fall out. There is creeping coldness that ruins any warmth. It happened to me once when one girl stopped talking to all her flatmates: seems she had decided she simply didn’t like us much. An extreme case of this was the two blokes who just stopped talking, and didn’t exchange a word for about eighteen months, which is surprisingly common.

Then there is the full on blazing row: hugely cathartic and entertaining for eavesdroppers, but usually as destructive as hand grenades. I’ve been there too, when a flatmate moved in her vile, snide and parasitic boyfriend. We all tried to be tolerant, but eventually, when we realised he’d been cheating on her by bringing women back to our house the shouting started. It ended with them both moving out.

Then there is unacceptable flatmate behaviour. This can be as harmless but vexing as the flatmate who always lost her key and banged ferociously on the door to be let in (“…but I was in the bath!” “Sooooooorry”) to the friend who’s flatmate’s boyfriend stole money before disappearing, although mercifully, that’s an extreme.

It hard when any relationship ends; people grow apart, and for example, someone who waits isolated, bitter and forlorn at home while you are out with friends, or one brings back random strangers who use the ‘romantic’ encounter to do a recce and return to rob your house, or steals your food are quite simply bastards. Sorry: I slipped there. All of those have happened to me, and talking doesn’t help. People find it hard to change, and usually, just don’t want to.

But what if you like your house or flat? And what if you want to stay, or have good reason to remain, such as work or family just round the corner? Deposits must be salvaged and moving is tricky. Or what if you have other people who’d like to move in, and want to negotiate a truce so that weapons (snide looks and hateful, passive-aggressive post-notes) can be abandoned, and truth, reconciliation and your tin opener can be shared.

If you move into a house, and guards are dropped, and all that civilised turning the other cheek, smiling sweetly, trying to make the best of it passes, and violence breaks out (I’ve heard of actually fisticuffs which is no laughing matter) then here’s an idea: what about Relate? They’ve embraced the modern world, helping gay and unmarried couples. Now someone needs to help out when flatmates row, as it’s really hard to find a new home.


space cadet said...

It all sounds so familiar. If you want to lose a friend, try living with them.

Joking aside though, the way we live, our lifestyle choices - it's all so personal isn't it. Do you want to watch TV all the time, play computer games till early hours of the morning, play a musical instrument or practice yoga and meditation in a quiet space. We do very well to live together at all, i think. Especially as we get older. And here we are, forced to houseshare, and live in packs.

Anonymous said...

The best one I ever had was a new flatmate who exhibited the most disgusting and bizarre behaviour that we ended up searching his room for clues to his past.

When we found remand papers for a prison in another county, we all moved out very fast!!

Never, ever again...

RenterGirl said...

That's extreme, but what do you do? Seriously, since we tenants under 35 are being forced to share, this will become more common.