Is Dating Your Roommate Ever A Good Idea?

So here’s the thing: people write us with all sorts of scenarios, often involving their roommates, their roommates’ significant others, and general relationships-when-you’re-living-in-an-apartment type questions. It’s a hot-button issue for us. Seriously. If you don’t believe me, check out the comments on our article about a roommate’s girlfriend.

FlowersRelationships can cause problems. It’s par for the course – issues always surface, whether they’re disastrous or minor. There’s also other relationship-related apartment considerations. For example, when is it time to move in with your significant other? Or, what to do when you break up with your significant other before your lease ends?

So yes, relationships and apartments intersect, though there’s one thing that we’ve not discussed, that we get some queries about: What happens when you fall for one of your roommates? It does happen, if rarely.

My advice is – and you’re not going to like this – don’t do it. Much like if someone were absent-mindedly walking into the path of an on-rushing bus, if I found out a friend were considering dating a roommate, I would sprint, dive and pull him or her out of harm’s way. It’s just such a bad idea. Here’s why:

What If The Roommate Doesn’t Feel The Same Way?

Sometimes it’s clear you’re both on the same page. Other times, not so much. Normally, were this person not your roommate, I’d say, go ahead, put yourself out there. But if this person’s your roommate? Um … hmmm, if he or she’s not interested (and if you really can’t tell, that’s probably the case), then that’s a pretty big matzo ball you’ve got hanging out there. And it’s not like you can avoid your roommate. So look forward to awkwardness and feeling uncomfortable in your own home until your lease expires.

From Dating No One, to Living with Your Significant Other

If you’d gone on a first or second date with someone (even someone you’d known previously), would you then want to live with him or her? … like, right away share a home, after your first date? Probably not. Yet, if you date your roommate, that’s exactly what will happen. After a date, you may want to call your friend and gab about how it went … except that’d be hard when your date’s one room over, and you might accidently bump into him or her later that night in the kitchen.

Relationships Change Everything

Not to overstate the obvious here, but if you start dating someone, you’re going to start acting differently … and so will the person you’re dating. Which means that you and the roommate won’t have the same roommate-roommate relationship you once had – and the new dating relationship might not be at all like you expect. After all, living with someone who’s not your Significant Other is far different than living with your Significant Other – even if they’re the same person.

What About The Other Roommates?

Do you think they’ll appreciate the two of you adjusting to dating life? Do you think they want to be unwilling party to your fights? Do you think they really signed up to live with a couple? … If you choose to date your roommate, it will cause strain on your relationship with all your other roommates. It’s inevitable, and it will make it harder for you to get some space and adjust to your new romantic relationship.

How Long Will It Really Last?

Not to get too parental here, but how realistic is it that the relationship will last more than a few weeks? This is important since, ideally, you’ll want to be dating until the lease is up – perhaps the only thing worse than dating a roommate is breaking up with a roommate. I don’t have any statistics to back this up, but from my experience, even when people think dating will turn into a full-fledged relationship, it can end fairly abruptly … after all, most dates don’t turn into long-term relationships.

Summing Up

Dating your roommate is a bad idea – don’t do it. Maybe you think it’ll work in your situation, or maybe I’m way off-base, but my advice is just stay away – after all, I don’t want to have to tell you I told you so.

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Author My First Apartment

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Alex has rented in Minneapolis, Queens, Brooklyn, and now Chicago. He can kill rodents and roaches when required, and loves picture-hanging projects. If you're ever in town, give him a shout.

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Comments (5)

  1. Avatar Jana

    I have to oppose this. My boyfriend and I were roommates when we started dating, and we still are.
    I wouldn’t advice you to risk dating your flatmate if you’re unsure about them. Only do it if you feel a real connection.
    While at the start it’s a bit challenging to work out how you’re going to deal with the situation of living together and being a fresh couple at the same time (or not yet officially a couple), trust me it has it’s pros too.
    You get to know the person very fast and you will grow very close. People can act differently outside, trying to show only their best side. At home nobody can keep that up for long, so you know quite fast if you and the other person are compatible or not, because there are no annoying habits that can show up immediately when you move in after a year or two: you know all their flaws from the start so if you still love them. That’s a pretty solid base to build your relationship on. You also don’t have to make time to meet the person and end up not seeing each other enough: at the end of the day you both return to the same house. And it’s very nice to have the person you love very close.

    So I can say, despite the bit awkward starting period (which will be over in a few weeks) being in a relationship with your flatmate can be a very good thing, as long as both partners are commited and serious.

  2. Avatar Apex squid

    i dont know why its such a big deal about dating your roommate its not that bad i just say stick to your gut and date your roommate if u wish well i mean f##k im dating mine and its not bad and we haven’t faught yet so just date your roommate its good for u

    • MFA Editors MFA Editors

      Hi Apex,
      We actually have a post in the works that looks at the roommate dating situation from both angles. Check back in about a week.

  3. Avatar Jacob

    Just to offer an alternative perspective — my current girlfriend and I started out as, and are currently still roommates and it’s the best relationship either of us have ever been in. It was risky, sure, but if you feel there’s a genuine connection (more than just sex), I think it’s worth taking the chance. Also, we were in a month-to-month apartment when we first got together, which made it a lot easier to go all-in and say **** the consequences if it doesn’t work out. If you have a lease that is ending soon or only a short term commitment it is totally worth going for it. Taking the plunge was the decision I ever made, I will likely marry this woman someday.