Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Housemate hunting - highs, lows, and finding The One.

You may notice that I haven't been posting much recently. I've been preoccupied with several things, one of which has been looking for a housemate. It's a difficult process, and one that bears an odd similarity to the dating game. You're searching for a potential long-term companion, and then jump into a committed relationship that sometimes goes sour but is not always easy to extricate oneself from. In other ways, it's completely different - having a housemate makes financial sense, while being a romantic relationship definitely does not, although it does have some associated fringe benefits that a housemate usually doesn't.

In the end, I think I may just have found The One. But more on that later.

My ex - well, the previous guy who lived in my house, anyway - was just a disaster, but the humanist in me held out some deluded hope that I could maybe change him. My view of human nature is clearly far too optimistic. You can only change someone if they want to change, and this guy had no interest in it. So battered and bruised, I had to admit defeat, and once that whole messy affair was over and I got him the f*ck out of my house, it was time to find someone new.

Advertising on flatmate-locating websites is hit and miss. I stuck my profile out there, to show the world what I had to offer, while trying to get the attention of certain other searchers who seem really appealing. Most of the time they just ignored me. I did get some attention and inquiries, but it was all for naught. They weren't really serious, and just led me on; or alternatively, they wanted something I just couldn't offer.

The first serious candidate arrived in the form of a pretty Mauritian girl who seemed a little ditzy, but was basically friendly and genuine. She liked my place, we got along, and it seemed all good. One of the first questions she asked was "Is it okay if my boyfriend stays over?" and I said of course, it would be fine. Then a couple of days later, still undecided, she asked if the boyfriend could come check it out also. No problem, I said. Her boyfriend was Indian, and the last Indian guy who came to check out my place was really cool and chilled out (he ended up moving in with his sister instead), so my mental image was of "the friendly nice Indian guy". However when they turned up, over an hour after they were meant to come, it was clear that I should have factored in the all-too-real possibility that he would be "the controlling, surly, patriarchal meat-head Indian guy". The contrast between the bubbly friendly girl and the boyfriend-doing-his-best-Terminator-impression was stark. (Nice girl dates jerk; it's a timeless combination. When Joe Jackson sang the lyric "Pretty women out walking with gorillas down my street", he neatly summed up the incredulous frustration of nice blokes everywhere.)

My hunch was that what seemed like a promising arrangement was now dead in the water, and this hunch was confirmed later that night when she messaged me. It was just as I had suspected: she thought the place perfect, but her boyfriend vetoed it. "He's very possessive", she texted, in what I could only assume was embarrassed resignation. I had thought that when I mentioned earlier that I already had a girlfriend who stayed with me part of the time, that would allay his fears that I would somehow seduce his woman. But the fact that my girlfriend is Indian probably just made it worse - he probably figured I was one of those guys who has a thing for brown girls. Which, to be fair, is not a million miles off.

I was going to give her a bit of relationship advice - working as I do in the domestic violence sector I deal with controlling asshole guys all the time - but after some wise counsel from my girlfriend I decided against it. I believe her words were "I like you better without your face punched in", which is hard to argue with really.

Anyway, it was probably a blessing for a number of reasons. Firstly, had she moved in I would have had to deal with Controlling Boyfriend's attitude on a regular basis, and I can think of better ways to spend my time. Secondly, as much as I don't like to admit it, perhaps he was kinda on to something. Perhaps it wasn't such a good idea to have a good-looking girl move in. It's not like I'm going to be messing around - I'm in a very committed relationship and am pretty confident I can control myself - but it's probably not wise to tempt fate either. With that in mind, I've developed a Litmus Test For Potential Housemates. I ask myself "If I was single and she was interested, would I bone her?" and if the answer is yes, she can't stay.

And the other reason it was a blessing is... that I've found someone. It happened a few days later. I was feeling a bit down, in large part because I'd already started planning how I was going to spend the rental income I almost had. And then suddenly he appeared. A mysterious stranger who entered my life with a flatmate inquiry containing the words "Awesome! Still available?" Dude, you had me at "Awesome". I checked out his profile... vegetarian! Loves cats! Into gardening! Plays music! Non-smoker!

Be still, my beating heart. I relayed these details to my girlfriend, who happened to be on Skype with me at the time, and she laughed at how totally gay I had become within the space of 45 seconds. But screw it. I replied to him confirming the room was still available, and wanted to add that we had a lot of stuff in common and was looking forward to meeting him. But I had to restrain myself. Can't seem too desperate, you know... it's a turn-off.

Well to cut to the chase, it turns out he's moving in within the week. Seems like a really nice dude too. And he passes my Litmus Test For Potential Housemates in that I felt no great urge to bone him (and probably won't in the future either). So things are looking up, particularly for my bank balance. And let's be realistic, there's still the possibility that he could somehow turn out to be an utter c**t, or be in a cult, or have some weird habit like shitting on the floor or torturing puppies. He'd still be a step up from my previous housemate though.


  1. Sounds great. I have a google alert for housemate and such like things because I wrote a book called "Sharing Housing, A Guidebook for Finding and Keeping Good Housemates." Even if you have your housemate you might find some help in it to make sure you set up the relationship well. Also have a blog http://www.sharinghousing.com. Check it out?

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