Moving In With Dirty Guys

Dear Annie: Next month, I will be moving into my boyfriend’s apartment, which he shares with two other guys. They’ve been living together for about two years, and everyone gets along without issue. They all have their own space and work different hours, so depending on the time, it’s kind of like living alone for each one. Though I am friends with both roommates, I do have one worry: the cleanliness of the apartment. I understand that my benchmark for a clean place is higher than all three men’s. For example, I’ve been over to their place a few times when a giant stack of dirty, smelly plates has been in the sink. I don’t mind dishes soaking for a few hours or even for a day, but two-plus days leaves a nasty stench. As a visitor, I wouldn’t say anything. But as a roommate, I would have an issue with things smelling up our apartment.

I don’t expect any of them to change dramatically, and I respect that I will be the new addition to this bachelor pad. However, I would like to set up a conversation before I move in to set up expectations and hear concerns. I don’t want to turn into a nag or seem overbearing, but I also don’t want to start things off pretending not to care about something I do care about. Any advice would be appreciated. — New Girl

Dear New Girl: First, regardless of how you decide to handle the situation, you’re already on the right track just by being conscientious.

You can and should have a conversation about household expectations — division of chores, what food is to be shared, when the quiet hours are, etc. However, if they’ve been living for two years in a state of relative messiness, it’s doubtful that they’ll suddenly change, no matter how many well-intentioned conversations are had. For some people, dish mountains are just a part of the landscape.

A more realistic option might be to hire a cleaning service. Seeing as it would be split four ways, it wouldn’t cost anyone too dearly, and it would save you a lot of strife. Propose the idea to your roommates-to-be. If they refuse to do their dishes and also refuse to hire a housekeeping service, you might want to reconsider whether this is the best living arrangement for you, as you’d end up feeling like a maid who’s not getting paid.

Dear Annie: This is in response to “Kitty Conundrum.” I quite agree that a cat’s urinating outside the box often indicates an underlying illness, but it can also be the result of stress or anxiety related to travel, a move and/or a new roommate — human or feline. When a cat is stressed, it can register displeasure by urinating outside the box.

A Feliway diffuser can help reduce feline anxiety. It diffuses “happy messages” for cats via pheromones that do not have a detectable smell to humans.

It’s also a good idea to introduce a new housemate gradually by keeping them separated initially so the resident cat first gets used to the smell of the new member of the household. Cats will play with new members of the household by extending exploratory paws under a closed door.

If a new cat is being introduced, wait a few days to expand the cat’s “territory” — for example, putting the cat in the bathroom first and then the bathroom and bedroom and then the bathroom, bedroom and hall. Supervise the first few introductory visits between the established resident and the new member of the household.

Smells related to urine are best treated promptly with a bio-enzymatic formula. — Feline Fan

Dear Feline Fan: These are all fantastic and vet-vetted tips. Thank you for taking the time to write on behalf of our furry friends.

“Ask Me Anything: A Year of Advice From Dear Annie” is out now! Annie Lane’s debut book — featuring favorite columns on love, friendship, family and etiquette — is available as a paperback and e-book. Visit http://www.creatorspublishing.com for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to dearannie@creators.com.

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