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Miss Manners: Communication key when it comes to roommates

Miss Manners: Communication key when it comes to roommates

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Apartment Therapy recently asked several therapists for some advice on mindful cohabitation.

Dear Miss Manners: College dorms can be difficult terrain to handle, and I have had a hard time dealing with a very passive roommate.

I live in a suite, so there’s a living room and a bedroom. My roommate plays guitar openly in the living space all the time, but gets annoyed when I sing or hum at all, which feels unfair.

My real problem is I have a friend who comes over around twice a week. We just hang out, usually, we don’t make a lot of noise or mess. The desks are in the bedroom, but my roommate will often study in the living space instead. My friend and I will ask her if it is OK to watch something on the TV, and she always says yes, but then gets pretty when we do. If we’re just hanging out in the room, she’ll be annoyed by our presence.

She never verbally opposes his coming over. Does it make me a bad roommate to have my friend over and want to be doing stuff while she’s around?

Gentle Reader: Is it too obvious an answer to ask her that question? Everyone here is being outwardly polite, so from that angle, Miss Manners has little to add.

However, you are sensing annoyance, real or perceived, so better to discuss this so that it does not escalate.

Your roommate knows that it is reasonable to have guests. But, it is also fair for her to want to use her entire dorm suite, rather than feel that she has to hide in the bedroom when your friend is over.

As it seems to be a regular occurrence, perhaps you can make a schedule, and abide by it. Or include her when it comes to the choice of television program or topic of conversation. Talking about this openly and reasonably should smooth over any ruffled feelings.

Dear Miss Manners: My wife and I are in disagreement about the proper etiquette for extending an invitation.

I feel that either the husband or wife can extend invitations as long as there is good communication between them. She is of the opinion that it is more proper for the wife to make the invitation if it’s in the home.

We have agreed to allow you to be the final word.

Gentle Reader: The final word in issuing invitations goes to the person to whom the most responsibility falls: either the chef, the primary housekeeper or some combination of the two.

This is a matter of practicality, not gender, but as it was at one time presumed to be the wife’s domain, Miss Manners assumes that this is the reasoning of yours. If that is your domestic situation, then she is correct. If it is not, or if it is a shared responsibility, then your good communication should go toward trading off who issues the invitations accordingly.

There is, of course, another possibility, which is that your wife would like the final say in your choice of guests. If that is the case, then Miss Manners defers to her.

Send your questions to Miss Manners at her website,; to her email,; or to Miss Manners, Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.



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