“Oh, No, My BF’s Work Voice Is Horrifying”: How Not to Hate the People You Now Spend 24/7 With

Jessica Goodman
Photo credit: Katie Buckleitner

From Cosmopolitan

As the coronavirus pandemic continues to spread throughout the United States, many offices and college campuses have implemented remote working and learning, and lots of people are practicing “social distancing,” which means...So. Much. Time. With. Your. Roommates.

Love ’em or hate ’em, you’re going to have to spend basically every waking moment with them. And you’re probably gonna fight with each other. A lot. Especially if you realize weird things like how your live-in boyfriend sounds like a jargon-obsessed robot when he’s on conference calls or that your roommate loves to touch things like door handles and then not wash her hands. Here’s how to get through the next little while with your relationships intact.

My roommate watches TV all day while she works and it’s driving me crazy because I need quiet. How can I address this without seeming like a control freak?

Okay, yes, we all want to relive the glory of Love Is Blind, but not during work hours. The easy fix is to ask your roomie to use headphones. If she’s not a monster, she’ll be like, “Whoops, duh, sorry!” But if that’s not an option, try this move: “Agree on hours of the day when you should be able to work in quiet,” says psychologist and friendship expert Irene S. Levine, PhD. Everyone’s going to have to compromise a bit during this whole self-distancing thing, and this is an easy one where you can find common ground.

I’m going so stir-crazy only hanging out with my roommate, who I barely even like. How do I avoid hanging out with her every morning/day/night when we can’t really leave our tiny two-bedroom apartment?

Ah, yes. The classic “I didn’t think I would have to spend time with this person but now they’re the only human I see” dilemma. “Tell her it’s not personal but you enjoy more privacy than most people, so you’ll be spending some time in your room reading or whatever,” says Levine. “Or find some good movies that you can watch together where you don’t feel compelled to make conversation.” If you get really fed up, then just say you’re starting to seriously freak out about getting sick and you don’t want to be around her. Can’t argue with that.

My partner is in virtual meetings for hours. We live in a one-bedroom apartment, which means it’s really hard for me to get on my own calls or video chats. What do I do?

Even if you live in the tiniest apartment known to mankind, you have to create two separate work spaces, says Holland Haiis, productivity expert at How Life Unfolds. Maybe that means you order a screen divider to be delivered ASAP or build a tiny desk in the bedroom. It’s not ideal, obv, but putting some distance between you will at least block out some of the noise and make the whole thing more bearable.

My roomie isn’t taking the pandemic seriously and hasn’t bought water or canned goods or anything like that. She’s being careless, too, which is making things tense. Should I address this?

“Absolutely!” says Levine. “If she isn’t taking the spread of the virus seriously, I’d worry that she may also be neglecting basic precautionary measures like washing her hands.”

It may be kind of awk, especially since you guys are going to be together foreeeverrr, but Shasta Nelson, author of The Business of Friendship: Making the Most of Our Relationships Where We Spend Most of Our Time, says to “initiate a conversation that acknowledges you two are a team. Which you are. Keep the conversation on what you can both do together to feel safe. You’ll probably need to rely on each other in new ways, which can be stressful but also bonding if you can keep reminding yourselves that you’re in this together.”

My live-in boyfriend sounds like a doofus on work calls and it’s making me less attracted to him. Halp!!!

Look, no one’s perfect, and maybe you’re dating the dude who just so happens to say, “Let’s put a pin in this and circle back when we all have the bandwidth.” So, “stop listening to his work calls,” says licensed clinical social worker Darcy Sterling, the star of Famously Single. “Plug in and listen to music while he works. You’ll probably be more productive that way anyway.” But if that’s not an immediate option, try to remember that who your S.O. is at work may not be who they are during their off time—and, uh, invest in some noise-canceling headphones.

I’m really worried my partner and I are going to get sick of each other and the strain of not being able to see anyone else will ruin our relationship. How can I prevent that from happening?

Valid. Super valid. “The biggest problem with working from home is that the normal daily indicators that tell us to transition from one activity to another aren’t there anymore,” says Sterling. “So you have to artificially impose them, which I recommend doing through structure and calendar alerts.” But to keep things ~fresh~ with bae, set aside specific hours that are just for fun couple stuff so they don’t get muddled with things like work.

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