Monday, 26 September 2011

Living with a couple is like doing a skydive... that, on paper, it’s a really, really, really bad idea.

Much like flinging yourself from a plane, entering into a houseshare with two love birds could and should end in disaster, especially if you’re a bit scared of heights (or in this case, relationships), and have read the stories about related catastrophic failures in the past.

Because even though someone else has just done it before you and survived – nay, enjoyed the experience immensely – how do you know it will be the same for you?

The fact is, you don’t. Until you put on that sexy neon jumpsuit, attach yourself to a bleach blond adrenaline junky, get into a rickety old plane and leap out of the proverbial door at 13,000 feet… well, let's be honest. It could go either way.

Fortunately, the statistics are heaped in your favour.

To dump the metaphor for a moment, these two people were your friends way before they got hitched at the hip. And in the years since, nothing’s really changed. Your friends are their friends, your collective memories of university and beyond are mostly shared: and you usually end up crashing on their sofa after a night out anyway. All that’s really changing is your sofa (now a bed upstairs), and the selection of spare clothes for the next day.

There are, admittedly, the requisite cuddles and kisses to contend with; the single girl’s nemesis.

But after four years of togetherness, your housemates' urge to jump each other in the hallway has given way to an everyday acceptance of the other’s presence. Walking in on a couple casually curled up on the sofa is nothing compared to witnessing your single housemate's independent fun streak turn to puppy-like dependence on another; her party filled weekends now spent holed up in a bedroom, romping away the giddy months of sparkling, brand new, exciting love. Get a room. And no, not this one. 

That’s not to say that everyone’s experience will be the same. I, personally, wouldn’t have inflicted my past relationships on anyone. Likewise, there’s no way I’d live with two lovers plucked randomly from the Gumtree.

As with most life experiences: to have a good time you’ve got to choose your company wisely, go with the one who has a fail safe reputation for being better than just ok.

But no jump into the unknown is without that slightly scary moment when the adrenaline stops, the parachute is deployed, and you’re floating to the ground feeling a bit sick. Or, in my case, when your new housemates are away on holiday and several jointly addressed envelopes start appearing on the doormat in their absence.

“Oh no.” you think, having assessed both the postage marks, date stamps, size, weight and dimensions and concluded that these are indeed greetings cards, and the sort which fill any single girl with a growing, slightly sicky dread.

“What about me?" thinks selfish you, "If they’re engaged, where will I go? They’ll get married, move to the country and I’ll be thrown into the HouseHunt dot com bog once again. What’s more, I’ll be forced to listen to discussions about venues, table arrangements and – gulp – holy shitting matrimony. This will not do.”

Days later, they walk through the door and you eye the finger of doom. Minutes later, your suspicions are confirmed. He done the deed. She said yes.

“But, y’know in a couple of years. Oof, not yet. I mean, there’s still so much I want to do before all that”, are the words from Girl Housemate that make the sickness recede, replaced with relief, and you throw your arms around her and start being genuinely happy for what lies ahead. You know, way ahead. You've got enough time to find a respectable plus one, at least.

And so, you find yourself adding to the list of Things You Never Thought You’d Do:
  1. Jump out of a plane at 13,000 feet
  2. Travel round the world
  3.  Move in with a boy, then out again after three weeks
  4. Find myself living, seven months later, with a newly engaged couple.
And most crucial of them all:

   5. Survive: brain, capacity to be happy for others, body (see also: heart) - all intact.


nuttycow said...

Well done for keeping it all intact. It's always difficult when you're living with a couple (another reason I live on my own!) to stop all the bile and cynicism from spilling over (oh, sorry, is this just me?!)

So when's the skydive?

Please Don't Eat With Your Mouth Open said...

In 2002 :D

thants said...

You're right! I never thought I'd live with a couple, but took a chance on a houseshare I found on Spare Room. I lived there for 18 months, during which time they got engaged and married and it never became weird. I moved out a year ago and I'm popping round to see them and their new daughter tomorrow :)

I know I got lucky, but I'm pleased I took a chance, because they are now some of my closest friends. It goes to show that trying something outside of your comfort zone can be worth it :D

Please Don't Eat With Your Mouth Open said...

thants - Correcto. It was something I would have (and indeed, did) scoff at many times when perusing flat share websites. Who'd live with a couple, all slobbering over each other while you're trying to watch the Great British Bake Off? Err, turns out... me.

cee said...

I just read your post and the past three years living with my mate and his girlfriend who has waited ever so patiently for a way in flashed through my brain.

I agree with you how painful it can be, especially if they are not aware of the single girl in the room. Bleh.

Just moved out, feels amazing to be out of their little orbit.


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