Rental Raters Blog

19th June 2014

8 survival tips for living with couples

Written by
Dale Shaw
Dale Shaw
Follow author @MontyBodkin

Dale Shaw is an author, television and radio writer, journalist, performer and musician. As well as having a number of scripts in development, he has most recently written for several series of Russell Howard’s Good News, Channel 4’s Anna & Katy, The Impressions Show, Mitchell and Webb and School of Comedy series 1 & 2, as well as features and articles for The Guardian, Huffington Post, The Quietus and Sabotage Times. He is currently writing a series for BBC Radio 4, What the Future, to be broadcast in late 2014. His first book, Letters of Not, will be published by the Friday Project/Harper Collins in the UK and the US in October 2014.

8 survival tips for living with couples

Remember that old adage? ‘Two’s company, three’s a consistent elbow in the delicate parts?’ I’m certain the ancient adage writer (probably Aesop, it was usually him) was living with a couple at the time. It does sound nice, doesn’t it? Three of you in a two bedroom place, meaning the rent is slashed by a percentage I can’t actually work out because I was sick on the day when we did percentages at school, but a significant percentage nonetheless. But living with a couple can be an emotional minefield (and, in some extreme cases, a physical one). Here are some of the least pleasant things I encountered when living with various couples, so you know exactly what you’ll be facing when you take the leap.


I once had some friends over (yes, it does happen) and we were sitting happily in the living room when the male end of the couple I lived with entered. ‘Does anyone need the bathroom?’ he asked. ‘Because me and Loretta are planning to take a shower together.’ It was the middle of the day! We were eating sandwiches! Why would anyone say anything of that nature to a room full of lightly gagging strangers? Living with a couple will involve frenzied bouts of intimate noises, or else high-volume arguments about the lack of the same. And can I just say that I’ve had sex and I know how long sex lasts. Sex shouldn’t last that long. It’s unhealthy.


The friction can travel in both directions. Often couples will consider you, their housemate, as the large fleshy obstacle to their happiness. They would love to gambol down the hallway tickling each other romantically and flicking their young hair about. But they can’t because you’re there, physically destroying their fun and consequent relationship. ‘Oh were you thinking of eating today?’ They’ll ask. ‘We were planning on performing some couples cooking later on. Can’t you just stay in your room or, even better, leave completely?’ Expect a lot of that.


You will be dragged into their fights and you will be used as a pawn in their logic, just like a child caught between divorcing parents. ‘Simon thinks you’re messy on the hob, don’t you Simon? Just like your mother.’ If there’s ever a light tap on your door, fear it. It will be one of them attempting to curry favour and use you as some sort of human shield or sabre. In these situations, best to fake a heart attack or run.


For some reason, the two-person contingent of your home is more human than you. As they are greater in number, they are more valuable. So any thoughts you have in the way of personalising communal areas or having your own effects visible should be dynamited. You’ll probably hear a muffled argument along the lines of, ‘What the hell is this Loretta, why is this coaster here?’ ‘It’s not mine, I don’t like coasters.’ ‘Who the hell would leave a coaster, here, on the coffee table? Like an animal.’ Just keep it all safely locked in your room.


Assume you will be outvoted and unsuccessful in any decisions connected to your abode. There is a block vote in place and it can never be broken, no matter how ridiculous the proposal put forward. ‘But llamas are clean, easy to maintain and they pay for themselves in six years.’ ‘Yes, I’m all for it darling.’ If the block vote does disintegrate for any reason, move out temporarily. The consequences of that are very bad indeed.


Should you notice any cracks forming in your co-habiting pairing, start immediately looking for alternative accommodation or claim to need a sudden kidney transplant and escape through the bathroom window. Because if one member of the couple leaves, the consequences will be long and harrowing. You’ll certainly be left alone with the partner you feel less comfortable with and you will have to hear their many tales of regret and pass them many tissues. And then nothing will happen. Literally nothing. They will lie on the sofa watching old episodes of ‘As Times Goes By’ allowing Kinder Egg wrappers to prosper around their inert body. And likewise, you can do nothing to fix it.


If you yourself meet someone in a romantic fashion and decide to occasionally have them over, prepare to make awkwardness your constant companion. You will hear heavily handled crockery, door slams and the catching of the odd angry utterance featuring words such as ‘HER…CHEEK…FLOOZIE HOTEL’ and the like. Either the couple you live with will act as thought you’re cheating on them with your new playmate, or else your partner will be seen as some kind of ‘new spouse’, provoking bitter glances and snarky comments about the quality of their knitwear.


If you are spectacularly single and living with a happy pairing, prepare to have your pain and misery rubbed in your face every time you cross the threshold. It’s a bit like having a beloved puppy suddenly expire, but you also happen to live next to a puppy factory. Every moment of every day, their happiness will be on display. Tinkling laughter, sighs of joy, the ambience created when making a complicated risotto together. You will have none of that. Your pathetic life will be soundtracked by lonely coughing, sobs and the sound of cellophane being peeled back from a ready meal for one that hasn’t cooked properly and is still frozen in the middle. And those will be the good times.