Behold, 6 Truly Cringe-Worthy Roommate Horror Stories From the Pandemic
When the world shut down due to COVID-19—a moment that somehow feels like yesterday, and also a lifetime ago—many of us were confined to the four walls of our homes. We baked banana bread. We watched celebrities’ (oftentimes messy) Instagram Lives. And even for the luckiest among us, the last year of quarantining likely had an impact on our mental and physical health, our employment status, and our financial sitch. Oh, and add to the pile that whole (extremely distressing) presidential election that would determine the future of our country, the pandemic, and the world.
All of that stress, understandably, can lead to the inevitable: roommate drama.
No matter who you live with—your new boo, fave sibling, or high school bestie—tensions tend to arise if you’re forced to spend most of your waking hours in the same damn space, day after freaking day.
So I’d like to personally extend my congrats to the two people on this planet who will emerge from the pandemic with zero roommate horror stories, but these, dear reader, are not those people. Ahead, Cosmopolitan spoke to six people to hear their tales of the dirty dishes and illegal parties that resulted in epic roommate breakups. Names have been omitted to protect the innocent—but not their, um, evil roommates. Hopefully, your household is faring far better?!
I started dating my roommate—and soon learned that the rest of the people we lived with were homophobic.
“I met my roommates on Instagram because I needed a new place to live but didn’t have the funds to pay rent by myself. I endured a lot of socks on the door and slept over at other friends’ places. It’s what I get for living with virtual strangers, I suppose. Anyway, me and one of my roommates really hit it off and her and I started spending a lot of time together. Eventually, we started dating. The problem was when the rest of our roommates started catching on to the new dynamic, they bitched about it HARD. For some reason, the idea of her and I being together wasn’t appealing to them, so suddenly, everything shifted, and it felt like the house was scheming for us to split ways. Chores started piling up at rates I couldn’t handle and people REFUSED to help. Suddenly, roommates started missing rent, month after month. I started being left out of brunches and the worst part was that my girlfriend refused to defend me. And she lived there! Only later on did I learn that my ex-roommates were homophobic but willing to let it slide for their ‘bestie’—her. Awful.
“I knew it was time to break up when I couldn’t walk in my home anymore without feeling ashamed or nervous somehow. It was really daunting, feeling like the one place you should turn to for escape isn’t viable.
“I ended up moving out because I felt like the living situation got too tense to handle. I lived with my parents for a while until I obtained the means to move out of state.”
—Anonymous, 23, Harrisburg, PA
I discovered my live-in boyfriend was secretly on dating apps. Even though we couldn’t go anywhere!
“My then-boyfriend and I had just signed a lease when the pandemic hit. We were a bit nervous but said ‘fuck it’ and moved in anyway. The first few weeks were fine. We were both WFH, and it felt sort of like a vacation. But that ended pretty quickly. We felt like we were on top of each other all the time, and all of our fights seemed to be 10 times worse because we couldn’t go anywhere.
“We broke up right before the election because I found out that he had been on dating apps (and for what? It’s not like we could meet up with anyone) for a few weeks and had been planning on breaking up with me once our lease ended…which wouldn’t have been for a couple more months. So I kicked him out and took over the lease by myself. It sucked, but in hindsight, I dodged a bullet.” —Anonymous, 30, Columbia, MO
They started throwing parties and breaking COVID-19 rules.
“TBH, I didn’t have a roommate issue until we both got laid off in September. Our house was big enough that we never really saw each other when we were working. But we were both let go within the same week and they had a much harder time with it than I did. I’m a graphic designer and was able to take on freelance work to get by, but they were working in hospitality marketing, so there obviously wasn’t a lot of opportunity there during the pandemic.
“They started drinking a lot and it got to the point where they would be blackout drunk at random hours of the weekday. I was obviously worried about their health, but I was also trying to manage my own mental health and just couldn’t be the person to help them through their issues. I know that sounds bad, but it’s the truth. We got a complaint from our neighbors because they started throwing parties and breaking COVID-19 rules. I didn’t want to get in trouble with the city and it was just starting to be a toxic living space. I was also having a lot of anxiety about catching the virus and having to pay all the rent and bills by myself since they weren’t working.
“I finally told my parents what was going on and they helped me break the lease and I moved out. I haven’t really spoken to them since I knew me leaving seemed pretty abrupt, but I hope they’re doing better. It’s just hard when it feels like everyone is drowning and there’s not enough life vests to go around.” —Anonymous, 24, Los Angeles, CA
My sister/roommate bought a condo before she even told me she was looking.
“I was living with my sister during the pandemic and our issues included: household chores not being done, not being accepting of my boyfriend when he visited, not being cognizant of my declining mental health due to the pandemic, and gossiping with other family members about me. We broke up our living agreement when she bought a condo without letting me know that she was even looking. I had to move out and started living with my boyfriend, which was a disaster. It was too soon to make that jump. My relationship with my sister is very strained and we haven’t spoken much since we moved out last September.
“Now I live by myself, which I enjoy. However, being isolated in the middle of the pandemic makes it very lonely. I would be very weary of living with roommates in the future—especially family—as I believe it has long-term consequences and strains the relationship greatly.” —Anonymous, 32, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Clichéd as it sounds, we had a really big blowout over dishes.
“I had met my roommate through a mutual friend a few years ago and it was one of those instant friendships. When my lease at my old apartment was up last February, it seemed like a natural fit to move in together. But then the pandemic hit and we were seeing way more of each other than we planned. Issues started building up because neither of us are good at resolving conflict, so we were both really passive-aggressive about chores and what we shouldn’t do during quarantine.
“We had a really big blowout over dishes in September, and in hindsight, it wouldn’t have been a big deal if we had just communicated. But it was already too late, so she moved back in with her family and subleased her room to another friend. It was a hard few weeks. We’ve talked since and made up, but it still feels tense. Moral of the story: know how to address problems, especially if you’re going to spend 24/7 with them for months on end.”
—Anonymous, 26, Oklahoma City, OK
She told me she wanted to move out and not renew our lease two weeks before the lease ended.
“During the pandemic, I was living with my ex’s sister’s best friend, who had become my friend. The breakup was weird because when we had been quarantining together, there were no problems. We were just learning how to cope with staying home 24/7. But then she wanted to go home and visit family before another stay-at-home order was mandated. Once she got home, she decided she wanted to move out and not renew our lease—two weeks before the lease ended!” —Anonymous 28, Westlake Village, CA
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