3 Simple Rules for Visits from BF/GF When You Have a Roommate.

There are three issues that can turn a roommate relationship ugly:  splitting expenses, housekeeping chores and roommate’s BF/GB overstaying their welcome.  I have already covered how to handle splitting expenses and housekeeping,  it’s now time to tackle the biggie that has brought an end to many a beautiful roommate relationship -how to hang out with the BF/GF without breaking up with your roommate.


Image from Ambro / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Okay, we’ve all been there. You’re at the end of a date (or a raging party) and you’d like to say “Wanna come up?” Or you’ve gone over to your boyfriend’s house so many time this past week they’re gonna start charging you rent. But before you invite your significant other over (potentially for hours and days) you just have to check with the roommate first.

And how long is too long to have them over? Like, can you watch the entire first season of Breaking Bad? Or do you have to keep it to one episode of New Girl? Does that candlelit home-cooked dinner for two have to be at 4:30p.m, so as to not disturb your fellow apartment dweller.

Here are three simple rules to maintain a healthy relationship on both ends:

1. Plan Plan Plan. If you want your boyfriend to come over on Saturday so you two can be super cute and cook dinner and then watch Julie & Julia, be polite and ask your roommate a week in advance. Yep, a week. Sorry, there’s no real spontaneity when you share a house. (Really the amount of notice you give your roommate depends on what you talked about when you made a roommate agreement. You did make one of those, didn’t you?)

2. It’s okay to say no. Let me repeat that: It’s okay to say NO. When your ladyfriend assumes that she can lounge on your couch and watch reruns of The Bachelor while painting her toenails, you can gently let her know that’s not cool with your roommate. This is great because you have someone to blame it on and you can just shrug your shoulder and give her sad eyes and then she will just have to forgive you. And um, while she’s at it, can she just get all her hair removal devices out of the bathroom? Just remember, it is NOT okay for your SO to take over your space. Unless he or she is paying rent, you must constantly remind yourself, she doesn’t live there. Therefore, she may not, ever, use the space as her own.

3. Use your head. I know you’ve got one, so use it. Put yourself in your roommate’s position before asking him or her something silly, like “Can my boyfriend and his friends do their annual PONG tournament here next Saturday?” That’s just silly. Come on people, have a little decency. Plus your roommate probably does not want hang out with your boyfriend. So don’t invite him on all your outings. That’s weird. I can’t repeat this enough: RESPECT YOUR ROOMMATE. If you don’t, you can bet your ass when they get a boyfriend or girlfriend, they won’t respect your privacy either.

Anybody have any stories of roommate/significant other screws ups? Please share!

Photo credit:Ambro / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Author My First Apartment

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Katherine currently resides in sunny LA where she is trying to reconcile the constant onslaught of those warm golden rays with the pale-as-the-grave complexion she inherited from the Scotts. She and her roommate are mimicking married life by hosting dinner parties in their new apartment and spending Saturday nights watching the entire 3rd season of "The Shield" while learning what it means to have the Martha Stewart of landlords. Also, the not-so-secret pleasure she gets from a Home Depot visit terrifies her.

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Comments (17)

  1. Dani

    Yikes! I just had an ah-ha moment. I was actually looking to see if there was a appropriate way to ask for a key when your SO has a roomie and realized I was the girlfriend that roommates are annoyed by! I’m there a lot, and while we don’t share a bathroom and rarely go into the living room, I am still in another persons space. I don’t invite myself over, but I’m wondering if my boyfriend has bothered to ask his roommate (who is also his sibling) if the frequency of my visits is ok. While I still want a key for emergencies, I think I will probably limit my visiting to weekends and when his roommate is out if town.

  2. JP

    This past summer one of my high school friends came back to my state from being stationed basically on the other side of the country. Upon returning is wife promptly said she wanted to parts ways with him and he was left homeless as he really had no family left in the area and was previously staying with his inlaws. So being the nice guy I am, agreed to let him TEMPORARILY stay with me for a couple months while he looked for a place of his own. I should also mention at this point he had a job that he brought home double what I make. Now the space I currently have is a one bedroom apartment. To access the bathroom, one would have to go through the only bedroom. I currently am setting up camp in the ‘living room’ space. No door or any way to have my own privacy. Honestly, It was totally do able for a couple months. About a month in he had his 3yo daughter stay over 2-3 nights a week because his now exwife and boyfriend “work” on a third shift schedule (they deliver papers…. THATS ALL THEY DO!) So the child would be dropped off at 9pm and if I was lucky she would be picked up at 4am ( anyone else think thats a bit much for such a young child?) And she would always say that she didnt have anything to feed her at home so we would have to give her something. (that’s neglect, right?) Now on the days that she would “fall asleep” and not pick her up I would be left with figuring out what to do with the child so I could go to work on time because my “roommate” went into work for 6am. Now, that isnt even the breaking point for me. I like to be alone…. A LOT! The days he doesnt have his daughter, he has the girl of the week over. This probably wouldnt be a problem if I didn’t have to travel through the room to use the bathroom. Let’s just say I’ve gotten some side eye that made me want to drag the bitch out the house by her hair!( oh and side note he’s straight and I am VERY not.) A larger apartment opened up next door and I got the go ahead for moving into it as soon as it is vacant. I discussed with him about the rent moving up a little and he would have to pay half of everything. All he is “capable” of paying is 75/wk. So now I’m afraid of being stuck paying 65% of the rent and only being able to use MAYBE 25% of the space. As of right now I am the only one that cleans, does dished, and now have been making sure my laundry is separated from his. I am really at my breaking point with the situation and don’t know how to bring it up without making it into an argument with him. HELP!

    P.S. His ex is bipolar and sadly doesn’t take her medication any more because “she’s not bipolar anymore” Yet she has showed up at 3am numerous times screaming while her boyfriend blares his music in the car. My landlord who live above me has complained several times about her.

    • Admin

      Dear JP,
      There are so many serious issues in your post, including the obvious neglect of a young child, that we here at MFA are totally out of our depth to give you any meaningful advice. You may even need to contact your local social services about the child.
      As far as moving into a bigger apartment and more permanent arrangement with your deadbeat friend, why would you do it? He has a job so he should be able to find a place for himself by now. It sounds like he is just using and abusing your kindness.
      Hope you find your way out of this bad situation. Good luck from The MFA Blogger Team.

  3. Summar


    I’ve been living with roommates since my college days through my mid 20s to cut down on the costs of living. I’ve found that it’s always important to lay out the ground rules from the beginning to maintain a healthy and respectful relationship with the roommates I’ve had. When my most recent roommate moved in, we laid the ground rules. Unfortunately, little by little she hasn’t been keeping her end of the bargain. I’ve addressed issues right away, she complies for about a month and slowly disrespects the ground rules.

    She’s been dating a guy now for about a month or so. During his first, unannounced visit here, I addressed this ground rule and asked her to be respectful. Shortly afterward, I was out of town for about 3 weeks. My hunch is that during that time, she brought him over more regularly. Now that I’m back, it’s as though he is completely comfortable spending time at the apartment. I came home this past Friday to find him here with her. All she said to me when I walked in the door was, oh by the way my boyfriend his here for the weekend and in that moment, I had no choice to but say “that’s cool”. I was caught off guard. On Saturday, she arranged a get together with friends. When they arrived, I found out that they were all his friends and had been just meeting her for the first time. He even announced in a conversation that he’d been spending another night here. Information that I hadn’t known.

    I’m frustrated because I don’t want to be the bad guy having to address yet another ground rule that was already talked about months ago. She’s not the easiest person to approach either and gets offended fast. I’ve got about 6 more months until our lease ends and am searching for advice on how to manage. I am also fustrated by the lack of consideration on her end for just simply notifying me in advance. It’s not that hard to do. It came to her easily at first and now it’s like she could care less.

    Anything you can share would be greatly appreciated.

    Thank you,


    • Admin

      Hi Summar,
      Unfortunately your situation is not unique, sometimes roommates “forget” all kinds of things that were agreed to at the beginning of the relationship. They skip their cleaning turn, eat your food, are late with bills, entertain friends at all hours, etc., etc. Audra is actually working on a MailBag post to address several recent emails we have received around this issue, so keep on checking back towards the end of next week.

      Meanwhile, your first step has to be to another talk about ground rules you had agreed to. Inviting a new boyfriend for a weekend without letting you know in advance is not cool, and inviting that new boyfriend’s buddies to hang out in your shared apartment without asking you is even less cool. Have that talk ASAP. Good luck from the MFA team!

  4. Audra Audra

    Hi Hannah,

    Thanks for reaching out. After reading your comment, I can see how this situation would be frustrating. Sure, her guest is a family member, but that doesn’t make it any less okay that he’s constantly invading your space and that, as I gather, she never asked you if you were okay with having an extra guest in the apartment. I believe that you’ve done the right thing by talking to her. But, obviously, what you’ve said so far isn’t getting through. I would make it more clear that you feel that your space is being invaded. However, as I always say when giving advice on these matters, don’t complain — be solutions oriented instead. Maybe suggest working out a schedule where they go do things together outside of the apartment on certain weekends and leave you some time to yourself. Or, maybe suggest that you all sit down together (the brother included) to discuss ground rules for what’s not okay to do in the apartment, such as leaving on lights. From here, the next step is to talk to her again. Here’s some past blogs that deal with significant others that stay over too often, but their tips can also be applied to your situation. Check them out:



    http://www.myfirstapartment.com/2009/05/how-to-tell-your-roommate-his-girlfriend-is-a-problem/ (the comment section is full of similar situations and advice!)

    Best of luck!

    Audra & The My First Apartment Team:

  5. Hannah

    For the past 3 months my room mate has had her brother’s over 3-4 nights at a time almost every weekend. This month one of her brother’s has come over and stayed every weekend for 4 nights at a time. I spoke to her about this politely and she mentioned that she won’t be seeing him until summer because he is very busy (but lives an hour away). I suggested that she go see him and alternate and she said that wouldn’t be a problem if he didn’t have guy room mates. I spoke to her about this on Saturday, and now it is Monday and her brother is still here. He came on Friday night. I am beyond aggravated because I work 40 hours a week and the only time I have to myself is weekends. We don’t have a living room and the only other space besides our rooms is the dining area which is very small. He is here even when she isn’t, cooking, leaving the lights on, etc etc. There are 3 of us living here. Today I spoke to her about it again and she didn’t seem to understand why I was upset. She said he is family and she wouldn’t mind if I always had my family over. I don’t mind, just not 3-4 nights at a time 4 weekends out of a month. What is a reasonable amount and how should I go about this?

  6. Elle

    I really need help with this. My one roommate has her boyfriend at our apartment 3 weekends of the month for maybe 3-4 nights at a time. Sometimes it’s 2 weekends of the month. I think that this is quite frequent. There are three people living in our apartment and I talked to my other roommate about it and we both agreed that he was here way too often. I mean, I want to feel comfortable around my apartment and walk to my room in a towel from the bathroom instead of having to get dressed in the bathroom for instance, but with a guy around, I can’t. So I talked to that roommate about it and told her how I felt and she said that she can’t do anything about it. She says that she has to make prior housing arrangements when she goes to see him, and if he comes down he can just stay with us. I explained to her that we all live here and have to be willing to compromise, but she still refuses to hear me and my other roommate out. Also, her boyfriend practically thinks that he lives with us. He will walk around without a shirt on and I don’t feel comfortable about that. Also my one roommate can hear them having sex, which is definitely not okay!! Also he’ll try to make rules for us, like how roommates will make rules for the apartment. For example, he didn’t like that I put my feet up on the coffee table, but my roommates and I didn’t care, but now that’s a rule in our apartment. Also my one roommate forgot to lock the door once when she left and he stopped her and then lectured her on why she has to lock the door, then he even asked her where she was and what she was doing….no one but my parents asked me that, and only when I was a teenager. What should I do?

    • Audra Audra

      Hi Elle,

      Thanks so much for reaching out. As you’ve probably noticed from the many comments we’ve gotten on this blog, the problem you have is common when living with roommates. That said, from what you’ve shared, it seems to me that you have every right to feel uncomfortable with your roommate and her boyfriend and their behavior. In fact, I it’s incredibly in your favor the other roommate feels that same way that you do because it helps makes it clear that you aren’t just the only one who have a problem with this situation. It’s great to hear that you’ve already talked to the roommate in the past, but it seems to me that you and your roommate need to have another go at it. This time, provide solutions in addition to explaining your feelings. For example, maybe compromise that he stay over only a certain amount of days per month, etc. I’m sure you and your roommates can come up with some ideas that will make the living situation better for everyone.

      There are tons of ways to tackle this, many of which we’ve detailed in past comments below. I recommend checking those out, having a chat with your other unhappy roommate, and then setting up a time to sit down and talk with the other roommate and her boyfriend as a group.

      Also, we just happen to have a blog post dedicated to this coming up next week — so keep your eyes peeled for that. I think it will also be great for helping you resolve this sticky situation!

      Best of luck!
      Audra & The My First Apartment Team

  7. Theresa

    The first part of the year, my cousin (14 years younger than I) moved in with me because she & her boyfriend broke up (He was cheating on her). I thought it would be for a couple of months while she got back on her feet and found a roommate. She is a full-time student and works full-time (or at least until next week because she put in her two weeks because she doesn’t need to work full-time because her expenses are so low). My house is small, and because she is rarely here, I felt $250/mo was a fair rent. She has a full bedroom (the smallest in the house), her own bathroom (which I just remodeled) and has also expanded out to the hall closet & has taken over half of my sons bedroom & closet (he’s away to college). There are the normal annoyances, like chores/cleaning up, noise, lack of consideration (she went on a 4 day trip to NYC – didn’t tell me when she was leaving, or returning…yet I was supposed to “know” to feed her dog. Thankfully her mom had told me or it might have been a few days before I realized her dog wasn’t been fed!) and has been late on her rent every month, except for the first month she moved in. While all of these things are grating on my nerves, the biggest issue I have is her overnight visitor – who happens to be the ex-boyfriend.

    She started inviting him in to the house about 3 months after they broke up, but it was a week before she went away for 6 weeks for basic, so I didn’t address it at the time. She has since had him over more and more, and started overnight visits the past 3 months. What bothers me even more, is that she has been telling her mom that “he just won’t stop calling/texting”, blah, blah, blah. And I feel caught in the middle. I know its her personal life, but 1) I am not comfortable w/any guys staying at the house, let alone the guy who is the whole reason she is at my house to begin with. 2) I am no longer going to pretend/ignore/not bring up that she IS leading him on/still in a relationship. I shouldn’t have to pretend I don’t know anything about him to help cover her lies, such as when she tells her mom she is on a “date” with some guy names XXXXX, but its actually HIM, I will no longer be silent.

    My question is….how should I tactfully handle this? I don’t want to cause a rift with family, but I really don’t care if she lives here or not. I don’t feel I should have to be uncomfortable in my own home, especially when I am trying to help her out. With the increase in utilities, I am only coming ahead 50-100/mo, so the money is not a factor. If she was paying 1/2, than I would feel she more of an equal partnership in this living arrangement.

    Advice how I should handle?

    • Audra Jones Audra Jones

      Hi Theresa,

      Based on what you’ve shared, it’s VERY apparent that your cousin is taking advantage of you and your generosity. It sounds like you have your head on straight about the fact that you need to tackle this situation head on and stop putting up with her complete lack of respect of you, your home, and the lending hand you’ve offered her. Due to the way you’ve described your cousin, it seems to me that she not going to handle your comments with grace no matter how you approach this situation, but what I would do is sit her down and explain what’s going to change, tell her that you will not lie to her mother for her, and make it clear that if she doesn’t get it together (start paying on time, not having her ex over, etc.) and realize how generous you’ve been to let her live with you for next to nothing that it’s time for her to leave. Of course, this doesn’t have be approached with drama and anger. I would explain that I’m speaking to her like the adult she is and that she is beginning to overstay her welcome, especially since she clearly no longer has a problem with her ex. If her mother gets involved, I would explain it in the very same manner — that you were being taken advantage of and disrespected in your own home. I think once the mother finds out about the lies her daughter has been telling that nobody in the family will find fault with you. But, if they do, keep in mind that you are in the right to feel the way you do… no matter how the family responds. Anger from them is definitely no reason to keep an ungrateful, disrespectful family member in your home.

      Basically, what I’m boiling this down to is that I think you have the right of it and that, based on what you’ve shared, I think you can easily handle this with tact. It’s your home and you aren’t being unreasonable, so I say do whatever you need to do to remedy this situation, even if that means telling her it’s time to go.

      I hope this helps!

      Audra & The MFA Team

  8. Laura

    I do not have a steady SO but i do occasionally like to have people spend the night. I don’t have a revolving door or anything but someone does stay with me for a night once a month. My roommate say she is not comfortable with this but her long-term bf practically lives in our apartment. I don’t understand how to show her that my monthly visitor is nothing compared to her bf who is hover 4-5 times a week.

    • Admin

      Hi Laura,
      You need to have the talk that you should have had when you moved in together with your roommate. Discuss candidly how you feel about her BF staying over so often and you need to hear in turn why your overnight guests bother your roommate. Having someone spend the night once a month is not excessive, but there is a difference between having a long-term BF staying over vs. someone your roommate knows nothing about. That difference is safety. Maybe she does not totally trust your judgment about these visitors. Maybe she is afraid that the silverware or the toaster will leave with your guest in the morning. Maybe she is afraid that her personal safety is at risk. These would be legitimate concerns. But you don’t know what it is until your have that talk.

  9. Veronica

    Hi Amber,
    I am in a very similar position. When I first moved into my apartment, I made it very explicit that I had a long term boyfriend who lived 2 hours away and who would visit on weekends. It has been a couple years of him visiting every other weekend, and then all of a sudden my apartmentmate says they are not comfortable with this frequency.

    I am left dejected and perplexed, and understand your frustration. Having discussed this with friends and reviewing forums, every other weekend is definitely on the lower end of the tolerance spectrum, so I think your frustration is fair and grounded in reasonable expectation (I think few people would consider every other weekend as a live-in SO):

    But I do think Alex has a point. Over-night-guest is different from a standing commitment over-night-guest. Given that, I would speak with your apartmentmate about the situation, and perhaps come up with a roommate agreement with more explicit wording, with quantitative values(days/hours) instead of qualitative values(over-night-guest and live-in-SO are such vague terms which can mean a lot of things to different people depending on their tolerance levels).


  10. Amber

    So,I have found myself in a bit of a predicament. I moved almost 4 hours away from my hometown to go to university. While searching for a place to stay, I had given my future dwelling place a few prerequistites, one of which would be the agreement of overnight out of town guests.

    My boyfriend and I have been together for over 5 months and of course he wants to see me as often as phsically possible. However, being almost a 4 hour drive away, that isn’t exactly practical. So my bf & I agreed on him driving up (cause I no longer have my car) every second weekend, where I feel he should be able to stay a few nights.

    My roommate claims not to be comfortable with this situation, and makes me feel like I’m being very inconsiderate of her feelings. However, countless nights (during the week no less) she’s hardly home & it’s not like I share a room with her. Am I justified in saying I should be able to do what I want? I am, after all, paying for half..

    I don’t know if I should start looking for another place or not.

    • Alex Alex

      Hi Amber,

      Thanks for writing. Me and my colleagues at My First Apartment feel like it’s a far different thing to tell a potential roommate to expect some overnight out-of-town guests than to have a standing commitment with a regular overnight guest who’s also (for the time he’s there) a live-in Significant Other. So, unless you specifically said the latter, I sympathize with your roommate — you’re in a tough position, but your roommate has a right to be angry. I would try to talk it out, or explore other options, including you paying more, or one of you moving.

  11. Danica

    This is fantastic! My roommate’s boyfriend has become our unofficial fourth roommate, so Friday night romantic dinners have become routine (thus awkwardness and displacement have become routine for us single roommates). I finally realized we need a house agreement when my roommate began letting her friends and family crash without any or much notice. You’re right. When you have roommates planning and communication is key.