However there are some skeptics who see a male-female roommate relationship as nothing but trouble. There’s a famous line from the hit film When Harry Met Sally that proclaims, “I'm saying…that men and women can't be friends because the sex part always gets in the way.” If this statement were true, roommates of the opposite sex could never be friends and would certainly have a difficult time sharing a living space together. But contrary to the popular belief that When Harry Met Sally points out, the male-female roommate relationship works really well for most people who attempt it, especially those who set up some ground rules before they move in together. But there are always a few encounters that inadvertently lead to more-than-friendly feelings on the part of one of the roommates. This can be potentially disastrous, though also thrilling. And there are the few success stories of roommates who have actually fallen in love with each other, even if only accidentally.
And on that note, let me introduce you to Chris. Chris is a great guy who lives in New York City in a nice two-bedroom apartment in Greenwich Village with his dog, Walter. He’s twenty-seven years old and works in the financial industry down on Wall Street. Chris makes good money but wants to get a roommate to share the exorbitant rent for his current home. This is where Maggie comes in. Maggie met Chris for the first time when she answered his online Roommate Wanted ad requesting a “non-smoking professional with good references and no pet allergies.” Chris interviewed a number of men and women applicants, but Maggie’s credit check and references were the best of the bunch. She moved into the apartment a couple of weeks after the interview and things were great for the first few months.
Chris loved the new living arrangement. He was able to save so much more money which he started to put away in hopes of buying a home one day. And he didn’t have a problem sharing his living room, kitchen and bathroom with Maggie because she was so clean and organized. She cooked a nice meal once a week and they’d eat together and talk about their jobs and their lives outside of the apartment. Chris even liked Maggie’s boyfriend, and he let Maggie set him up with some of her friends. But then one day everything started to change, and Chris noticed that he was hanging out at home more on the weekends, hoping to spend time with Maggie alone. And when he was at the Virgin Megastore looking at CDs, he was constantly thinking to himself, “This CD would be great to listen to with Maggie when she cooks dinner this week.” It took some time, but Chris finally realized what was happening to him. He was falling in love with his roommate.
The warning signs come on slowly, and at first it’s not exactly a very comfortable realization to know you have strong romantic feelings for the person living in the bedroom next to yours. Chris knew he was in trouble when thoughts of running into Maggie as she was just getting out of the shower both excited and embarrassed him. All of a sudden he found himself going out of his way to avoid seeing Maggie in the morning before she left for work, going so far as to make himself late for his own job. Likewise, he chose to stay out later than normal most nights, hoping to appear like a fun-loving person with an active social life. These common situations are usually failed attempts to make one’s roommate jealous because you’re spending time away from home. But, like many before him, Chris was over-thinking his every move during this initial “Oh My God, I Can’t Be In Love With My Roommate” stage.
Naturally, any roommate will notice if you’ve been avoiding them, so don’t be surprised if they call you out on your recent absence from the apartment, as Maggie did with Chris. She even went so far as to ask if he had a secret lover with whom he was spending all his extra time. Since Chris was really in love with his roommate, he switched into a completely different gear and immediately overcompensated by spending a lot of time at home chilling out on the couch watching re-runs of Oprah after work. His attempt to appear more available, and even a little more sensitive, also went mostly unnoticed by Maggie.
So what can you do when you find yourself, like Chris, falling in love with your roommate?
You need to make a few choices, and the sooner you make up your mind and know what you really want, the faster you’ll be able to deal with the situation. And ideally, you need to deal with the situation or you could end up being miserable in your own home. You’ll end up constantly hiding your feelings if you don’t have the courage to say something. But before you talk to your roommate, you need to think about how you really feel and why you feel that way. You may be confusing lust or even deep feelings of friendship and companionship for romantic love. If this is the case and you try to date your roommate, things will not last very long and then one or both of you will be looking for a new place to live. To test this theory, go on a few dates with different people to see if the feelings for your roommate dissipate. It may be that you were just lonely and looking for love and attention.
However, if you find out that your feelings are genuine, then you really do need to say something to your roommate, even if he or she has a lover outside of the apartment. You don’t have to proclaim your love or propose marriage or anything crazy and serious like that, but you do need to say that you have developed some feelings for him or her and you’re wondering if they are reciprocated. If they are not reciprocated, which may be the case, then at least you and your roommate can start an open dialogue about whether or not these feelings will make living together too complicated. It’s totally possible that you will be fine, and you’ll just stay good friends even after this very difficult conversation about your feelings.
There is a second possible ending for this “I Think I Love You” conversation, as well. Let’s return to Chris and Maggie. After talking to a few friends about his situation, Chris ended up going on a few dates with some coworkers. He had some fun, but didn’t really click with any of the women like he did with Maggie. He found it harder and harder to be around Maggie in the apartment and was constantly thinking of her during the day. Chris realized he couldn’t go on living this way and decided to say something to Maggie. He just had to know whether or not there was a possibility for them to try dating, and even if her answer was “no” than at least he tried. During their next dinner at the apartment, and with the help of a few glasses of wine, Chris finally brought up his feelings. He said he found Maggie to be the most beautiful women in the world, and he enjoyed spending time with her and would like to pursue a true romantic relationship with her. He said he respected any decision Maggie had about this conversation, particularly in light of the fact that she was in a relationship.
Maggie took some time to think about what Chris said, but she agreed to go on a “date” with him to dinner and the movies later that week. They had such a great time, and it wasn’t long before Maggie and Chris were a full-fledged couple. Chris knew he was taking a risk by announcing his feelings for Maggie, and it was odd at first since they were living together in addition to dating each other. But Chris’s risk paid off, and he and Maggie are very happy together.
Falling in love with your roommate is not something you can really control, and it can be a very dangerous situation in which to find yourself. But if you approach your roommate respectfully and maturely, no matter how they feel about you, your living situation will be so much better than if you hide your feelings away from the world.
Krista Jansen graduated from New York University with a B.F.A. in Cinema Studies and a B.A. in Psychology. She pursues her passions for film and pop culture by writing movie reviews and short stories about her experiences living and working in New York City.