Tuesday 27 September 2016

Ask Majella: Majella O'Donnell solves your problems

My untidy flatmate is turning me into a clean freak

Published 12/04/2015 | 02:30

Majella O'Donnell
Majella O'Donnell

Last year I moved into a rental apartment with a friend. We get on brilliantly and I love living with her. Except for one thing - she is really untidy. She drops her stuff everywhere when she's finished using it, which creates a lot of clutter in a small apartment. I'm not a clean freak by any means, but it's beyond me that anyone could think that the dining table is an appropriate place to keep their hair straightener.

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She leaves her dirty dishes in the sink, or piled beside the dishwasher, and there's a host of empty glasses in her room. I try to resist putting them away and hope that she'll notice, but all that happens is that I get angry and eventually cave in and clean up. I don't mind doing the general dusting and hoovering, but she hasn't filled the dishwasher or emptied the bin in a year. It's like living with a teenager. How can I fix this without ruining our friendship?

Ann, Dublin

Majella replies...

Dear Ann

I think it's time to take the bull by the horns and sort this flatmate of yours out! Usually this situation arises when one person takes on the role of being the 'house parent' and it seems that person is you. The other person then falls into the 'teenager' role because they know that the place will be sorted without them lifting a finger. Obviously it's not a fair way to share a home with someone, especially if you are both working full-time. She may not realise that her behaviour bothers you because you always end up cleaning the flat and if she thinks that you are not bothered about doing the cleaning she is probably very happy with the status quo. What you need to do is sit down with your flatmate and tell her that, since you have moved into the flat together you have really enjoyed living with her but that the upkeep of the place is beginning to get on top of you. Explain that, in the past you have been happy to do the housekeeping but that now you could really do with some help.

Tell her that, when the place is untidy you feel uncomfortable and it makes you a bit anxious. I know that isn't really how it is but it deals with the problem without causing any conflict and as long as you achieve your end goal, which is to get her to do some housekeeping, then it doesn't matter how you got there!

You could then suggest doing a rota together where you can divide the chores around the apartment equally and stick it on the fridge or some place visible to you both. Make it sound like she will be really helping you out by doing this. I think she will feel that her involvement is important and you will get her to help out without sounding like you are accusing her of being lazy.

I'm sure your friendship will survive and your apartment will be a lot more tidy.

Did my neighbour steal my sunglasses?

Dear Majella

I treated myself to a lovely pair of very expensive designer sunglasses for my birthday recently. They are very unusual and a distinctive design, but they went missing a few weeks ago.

I am pretty sure I dropped them getting out of my car on our street one evening. Then last weekend I saw my neighbour pulling into her drive and she seemed to be wearing a pair of sunglasses exactly like my missing ones. They were the same shade and I could see the designer logo. She is not the sort of person to wear designer clothes, and she hurried into her house when she saw me, barely saying hello.

She probably thought 'finders keepers' but I really want to call in and ask her if she knows anything about them.

My daughter is saying I should drop it. What do you think?

Via email

Majella replies...

Dear Reader

I am inclined to agree with your daughter on this one! It would be very difficult to approach your neighbour about your missing glasses without sounding like you are accusing her.

You have no proof at all and are only assuming that she is wearing your glasses. At the end of that day, you did, as you say, drop them in the street getting out of the car so anybody could have picked them up.

It may well be your neighbour and they may well be your glasses that you saw her wearing but unless you want to cause bad feelings between you, I think you should let it go and put it down to bad luck. If you feel you really need to confront her then you could explain to her that you lost your glasses outside the house and wonder if she has seen them at all.

If she says 'no' then you should accept that. I definitely wouldn't mention that you saw her wearing the same glasses. But if you can, let it go. It's not worth the hassle.

Irish Independent

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