Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

KIM: Navigate Being The Third Roommate


The jury’s out — there’s no trickier situationship out there than being the third roommate. It’s the ultimate “are-we-aren’t-we?” scenario. But before we get ahead of ourselves, congratulations on making it to third (roommate) base! It’s a coveted title that few can brag about, and requires a true friendship with both existing tenants. Or at least enthusiastic endorsement from one and begrudging acceptance from the other. Wherever your particular situation falls on that spectrum, the fact of the matter is that your name’s not on the lease. As with all situationships, the ambiguity of this undefined circumstance can make for some truly gnarly scenarios. For the sake of third roommates everywhere, let’s go over some advice for navigating this quintessential college relationship. 

What if I’m really only friends with one of the roommates?: It’s fun to reminisce on how I was rescued from one of the worst dorms in America by my wonderful Copley-residing best friend back in my first year. Like a puppy in a Petsmart, I charmed my way into a warm and loving home — but it took a bit of legwork on my part to convince my best friend’s roommate that I was a) potty-trained and b) a considerate houseguest. A few tips: Do some of the chores. Understand early on what overstaying your welcome means to the roommates; open a line of communication with the other roommate — even if you’re not good friends, you want to be able to check in with them. Finally, never, ever take it as a given that you’re always a welcome guest. It’s the fastest way to become an imposition on someone’s living situation. The nice thing about being a third roommate is that at the end of the day, you have your own room to go back to if you need a little break from certain friends. Being gracious enough to host a third roommate means giving that up to an extent, so be thoughtful towards your friends and their boundaries.

I feel like one/both of the roommates have been in a bad mood when I’m in the room, and I can’t tell if it’s me or if they’ve just had a hard day: This is where that open line of communication — the lifeline of a healthy third roommate relationship — kicks in. In the best-case scenario, you’re good friends with both your friend and their roommate and can be candid with each other about what it means to share a space. In any case, if you sense that one or both of the roommates are testy or cold, the safest bet is to clear out gracefully and give the room some space. Reassess and take a temperature check from a distance. By the way, it’s totally reasonable to check in with the non-annoyed roommate for any necessary status reports before a confrontation! Sometimes the reason really is totally impersonal to you, but always be ready to hear that they’re annoyed with you specifically. 

How do I end things with a third roommate?: Okay, how were you supposed to know that your friend is kind of really bad at picking up your signals that it’s time for them to leave? Or that they turn sleepovers into sleepless nights for your early-bird roommate? Whatever the reason, some things just aren’t meant to last forever. First, decide who’s talking to the soon-to-be ex-third. Then, consider how you want to move forward. This conversation about their demotion from third roommate will likely trigger a bigger conversation about your friendship overall. You want to be prepared for this beforehand, and think about whether their incompatibility as a third roommate is a reflection of their incompatibility with you. Finally, the talk: You know how best to confront your friend. Come prepared with what you’re going to say, and try to be compassionate and open minded to how your friend takes it. It’s a hard thing to hear regardless of how you cut the cake, but, with any luck, your friendship will come out the other side stronger. 

What if I’m in love with one of the roommates?: I think some condolences are in order. To be frank, all other concerns may pale in comparison to this situation. Weigh the pros and cons of taking your friendship (roommateship?) further, and make your moves accordingly. Or just throw it all to the wind in a Hail Mary to realize your one true love. In cases like this, I don’t actually think advice is all that helpful. Like that therapist in “Fleabag” says — you already know what you’re going to do. 

Anyways, if you have any questions, concerns or messy stories you want to get off your chest, you know I’d love to hear them. My inbox is always open — email [email protected] or keep your eye on @theHoya on Instagram for the next questionnaire. Bye, you lovelies.



Diane Kim is a sophomore in the College of Arts & Sciences. This is the second installment of her advice column “Asking for a Friend.”

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