This article originally appeared on VICE UK
Someone's finally done the lord's work and tried to uncover the science behind cliches about students. A recent survey of 1,244 students in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Portugal, and the UK found, shockingly, that if you're keen to piss off the people you live with, you should always: leave the front door unlocked, be unsociable, steal food, and never clean up. Given all the usual tropes of booze and newfound freedom, the survey also uncovered a few bits about sex.
About 85 percent of the students polled, by what looks like a budget Airbnb for student accommodation, considered sleeping with a roommate to be a bad move. But of the six nationalities surveyed, Brits were the most likely to take advantage of the convenience, with almost one in five—18 percent—saying they'd started a relationship with a housemate. I spoke to some people who've gone down this potentially treacherous path to breakup hell to hear what it was like.
Product Design Student
VICE: You told me that you once got with one of your housemates. What was the story?
Tom Paton: I moved into a house in first year, with three girls and four other boys, and just before Christmas in the first term I started shagging one of them named Georgia. We agreed that we weren't gonna tell anyone and then the next morning she told another girl in the house. Anyway, it went on for about a year.
How did it affect the house dynamic?
Interestingly, when we first moved in one of the other guys in the house really fancied Georgia. I got the vibe that she wanted me but I didn't do anything because it would have pissed him off. Then me and him had a falling out so I just thought, Fuck it, I'm gonna do it. He never really spoke to me after that.
Did you care about that at the time?
Nah. I mean, I lost him as a friend but he wasn't that great of a guy to be honest. But in terms of how it worked in the house, everyone knew in the end but no one brought it up—the only difficult thing was that if I wanted to bring a bird back, obviously she was in the house.
Do you think she would have cared about that?
I didn't want to hurt her feelings, even if she turned around and said she didn't care. It made me lazy, though. I stopped searching, and I stopped looking after myself as well. You know when you get comfortable around someone and you just stop showering and shaving as much? I relaxed too much around her, with the intention of never staying with her. I was in a state of living where sometimes I felt like I was in a relationship but in reality I wasn't.
What did you learn from the whole thing?
I'd found it harder wanting to move in with girls again, because I tend to not be great friends with them unless we're gonna have sex. Plus some girls can actually be really messy, which is fine, but I found it quite hard to ask her to do her [house chores] since we were also fucking.
Geography and Geology Student
VICE: Tell me about that first time you and Tom got together.
Georgia Farman: We were all watching a film in his room—I think there were four of the other housemates in there. Gradually people left to go to bed until it was just me and Tom. Then it was like, 'Alright, night Tom', and… I didn't go to bed. And it just happened.
How did hooking up with Tom affect the house dynamic?
There wasn't that much of an effect. No one expected it—and I didn't either—so I told my housemate the next day like, 'Oh my gosh, this happened last night what the fuck?!' And then slowly everyone else found out, and it was just kind of jokey, with everyone taking the piss a bit. But no one really took the piss out of Tom that much because he was kind of like the group leader of the boys—his opinion was the one everyone went with.
How much PDA did you guys indulge in?
We'd get together in front of everyone a bit when we went out, but not around the house—strictly in the club or on the dancefloor or something. It was good to know that at the end of the night we were going to have sex. And it was good because I made friends with his mates through it as well.
Tom was saying that it had an effect on him because on a night out he wasn't looking to get with someone. How was that for you?
It sounds gross now, but when you're drunk that kind of thing really doesn't matter. Obviously we lived together so I was always quite comfortable—it wasn't like I felt the need to wear makeup all the time or whatever. It's not like I stopped washing and stuff, though I can't say for definite if he stopped putting much effort in. As I said, we would have been too drunk to care.
In general, do you think it was a positive thing?
Yeah, I didn't get any negatives, I think both of us were on completely the same wavelength, which I don't think happens often. I didn't ever feel worried about what he was doing, and it wasn't like, 'I hope he doesn't get with anyone else.' It didn't go that way.
How did you feel about verbal intimacy in that type of relationship?
Me and Tom would sort of open up to each other more after we'd been drinking, but I wouldn't say that if I'd have a bad day I'd go to him about it. We'd have a couple of deep and meaningful chats, but only when we were really pissed.
VICE: So how did it all start?
Simon Purdy: I knew this girl throughout the last year of uni—let's call her Alice. I met her through another friend, and we started seeing more of each other as our two smaller friend groups started to merge. We got on pretty well, but at first nothing happened. She was more like a guy-friend than any other girls I've known.
How did that change?
When we finished uni and found out we were both going to be working in London it made sense to move in together, which was actually really exciting. So we got this two-bedroom place, started our jobs, and got on with things. We both didn't really know anyone and it was slow making new friends, which I think made us grow closer and start looking for more companionship. The tension grew until one night we got a bit drunk over a takeaway and a couple of bottles, then ended up having sex.
Did it ever feel like a full relationship?
I guess it did sometimes, yeah. We became more cuddly and all of that, but we never spoke about it. For my part, I think I felt that talking about it would ruin it. She never seemed to want to label it, and since it was just us sharing a flat it wasn't like we were under any pressure to explain anything to anyone or even to ourselves.
How long did it go on for, and when did things go wrong?
The sexual side must have gone on for about seven months. I reckon things went wrong when we started making our own friends from work and stuff. I weirdly started getting quite jealous when she talked about her guy friends, especially when we would both go for drinks after work separately. But I never said anything because again it wasn't official. So after a while the sex just stopped, and we reverted back to two individuals who shared a kitchen and bathroom and that was about it. Not that long after, she awkwardly hinted that she was going out on a 'date,' with someone from work. And that was it, really.
How did you feel about it?
I had a level head, because I knew I didn't have much right to be jealous. But I guess it was just a bit lonely for a while after that. She would stay over this other guy's house every so often, but she never brought him back. I think that was intentional.
What's the situation now?
Well she and that guy ended on pretty bad terms, though I'm not sure how, but I ended up sort of picking up the pieces. Funnily enough, about that time I met someone through a work mate, and I'm now properly with her. I still live with Alice, and in some ways we've become stronger friends, but I'm not sure we will be renewing our lease together. I don't think I'd do any of it again. It caused me more confusion and trouble than it was worth, and I don't think you can stay completely emotionally uninvolved.
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