Room-Mating Guide For Men

If you're a would-be lothario splitting the rent with a few roomies, listen up! Below, we've got some crucial guidelines that should help you woo the ladies without stepping on the other guys' toes.

By Phineas Mollod and Jason Tesauro

"Where the kisses are hers and hers and his
Three's company, too!"
- Three's Company theme song

Seventeen years before Friends, the ultimate roommates' sitcom was Three's Company. Certainly, not every home-share situation involves comedy (or a blonde named Somers or Aniston), but even if the line-up is different, the equation is the same when it comes to dating: consideration + networking x discretion = domestic
Your mother taught you the basics of being a good housemate.
tranquility. Your mother taught you the basics of being a good housemate, and college likely honed your skills for cohabitating within limited square footage. As for navigating romance, we'll show you how to heed the mating call when roommates are just down the hall.

In a perfect world, after crossing the threshold with a sweetheart, a communal apartment would transform into your own love pad replete with surround sound, shag carpeting, and absolute privacy. These days, we're charged with a more delicate homecoming situation thanks to the fluctuating economy. Disclosure goes a long way to avoid scaring a date with an overdose of dudes in boxers playing Xbox, so give a fair warning: "I have a couple of roommates…who knows what we'll find when we get back to my place!" Every modern lady understands that shared living requires metropolitan sacrifices, and if this fragile romance can't survive a frank little slice of guydom, then it's time to stop dating uppity gals outside of your own tax bracket.

First, the good news: living with others expands your little black book. When multiple social circles overlap, they form a Venn diagram of potential love interests. Akin to a house fund that's used to pay shared expenses, conjoining contacts fuel matchmaking prospects. Got some single friends? Know someone who's a catch, but not your type? Make some introductions! These romantic hand-me-downs are perks that help offset the inconveniences of shared washrooms, and the more you do it, the more returns you can expect on your investment. Plus, like a tough condo board, roommates can vet new interests for one another before things get too serious. And if things go awry, roomies can run interference, deflecting would-be stalkers and telling exes to "buzz off" when you haven't got the bravado to do it yourself.

Sticky (living) situations
The bad news is, dating is already fraught with unknowns (i.e., her past, his credit score), yet throw some additional wild cards (slovenly roommates, couch-surfing visitors) and things get scary real quick. And are we talking about a pack of intimate friends sharing an apartment or small house here, or are you just renting someone's back room on the cheap? Wooing in the common space among friends is one thing; however, when you're under a near-strangers' roof, it's all business — right down to the security lock on your bedroom door and hand-written memos on the fridge and pantry that read, "food not marked with your name will be eaten." In either case, you'll likely encounter some of these moments...

Issue #1: Hogging the TV
After a long day at the office, all you want to do is eat some Chinese takeout while chilling in front of the tube… but your roomie's girlfriend has a death grip on the remote. And of course, it's Dancing with the Stars (again), not the game you were looking forward to watching.
Easy fix: In the age of the ubiquitous DVR, don't make a fuss (and if the two of them are cuddled under a Snuggie together, make yourself scarce). Next time you're canoodling on the sofa with a sweetie yourself, your roommate will (or at least should) recall your considerate behavior and reciprocate in kind.

Issue #2: Privacy mishaps
You're comfortably ensconced in your boudoir with your date when the door flies open and you hear, "Oops, wanted to borrow your needle-nose pliers — didn't know you were naked with
Rented apartments and condos often have notoriously thin walls.
Easy fix: These intrusions are virtually eliminated by enforcing a firm "closed door policy" across the board, meaning that if the door in question is shut, others should assume the occupant doesn't want to be disturbed due to sleeping, working, or being "in sexual congress" with another. Emergencies aside, send a text and wait for a response before knocking and entering.

Issue #3: "Shared" food/drink disappearing
In the heat of seduction, a roommate's bottle of wine or bag of chips sometimes gets sacrificed in the name of casual sex.
Easy fix: Keeping a stock of bubbly and nibbles around for nocturnal guests is the best policy, but if you've filched treats for love's sake, a little apology note and a promise to replace the salsa should be accepted without a hassle (provided you keep your word).

Issue #4: Special occasions
Sometimes you want to orchestrate a gourmet meal (and more) at home for a long-term girlfriend or budding romance. But what about those two big galoots that are living there and sharing your kitchen space with you?
Easy fix: While it's probably not a weekly possibility, a simple, "Hey, could you guys make yourselves scarce on Thursday night?" shouldn't be an imposition. Wait until your roommates are gone for the weekend to indulge in your empty apartment fantasies with a main squeeze: a lingerie-clad breakfast, drawing a bath for two surrounded with candles, racy films on the big screen, and uninhibited necking in the living room (or on the kitchen counter).

Issue #5: Extended guest stays
Your roomie's girlfriend Amelia hates her current living situation and is essentially camped out in your abode Thursday through Sunday. Or worse, Jack's gal Susie just broke her lease and needs to crash there for the entire month. While a girlfriend with the flu should convalesce at her place, a new temporary resident who pulls her weight financially and with chores can actually be a huge benefit for an apartment sagging under its own testosterone overload.
Easy fix: Whether she happens to be yours or someone else's, a conscientious girlfriend offsets long stays by performing minor mitzvahs (i.e., providing pizza on her dime, replenishing the beverages, impromptu dusting, etc.) and inviting over eligible friends to socialize instead of depleting the communal coffee supply and causing morning headaches by monopolizing the loo before work.

Issue #6: Nooky noise
Rented apartments and condos often have notoriously thin walls, and after a few months of cohabitation, everyone knows which bed needs a dose of WD-40. Whether or not it's in the lease, the law of the land states that reasonable, spirited sexual play behind closed bedroom doors is wholly permitted — but problems arise when it's a nightly, two-hour session replete with banshee wails, blasted electronica and foundation-rattling thumps.
Easy fix: Cohabitation means living with a few telltale sounds of passion, but when it goes from comical to irritating, it's time for a group chat to hash things out. If a switch to the soundproof basement is out of the question, noisy Casanovas and Craigslist trawlers should be trained to schedule their trysts during business hours when no one is around.

Phineas Mollod traded his J.D. for the editorial life and is often found riding the congested E train with his wife and daughter in New York. Jason Tesauro pushes pen and ink by day and leads the lifestyle seminar series by night, ne'er far from his sweetheart and a Brady Bunch houseful 'o tots in Virginia. Together they are the authors of The Modern Gentleman: A Guide to Essential Manners, Savvy and Vice and The Modern Lover: A Playbook for Suitors, Spouses, and Ringless Carousers.

For the other side of this story, read Ladies: How To Date When You Have Roommates.

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