in , ,

College Student At A Loss After Roommate Refuses To Help Clean Apartment Due To Her OCD

Moyo Studio/Getty Images

You know what they say: having a roommate comes with all kinds of milestones, like new independence, shared experiences, arguments about whose turn it is to take out the trash…

Sharing a space definitely has its difficulties, admitted the “Am I the A**hole?” (AITA) subReddit.

Redditor 1Queenofthenerds was fed up with her roommate, who said she didn’t help keep the apartment clean because of her mental health.

But when she repeatedly saw inconsistencies with this, the Original Poster (OP) decided to call her roommate out.

She asked the sub:

“AITA for asking my roommate to clean the bathroom, even though she has OCD (Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder)?”

The OP did her best to accommodate her roommate’s needs.

“We are both college girls with pretty full schedules and hard classes, so everything is used pretty equally.”

“My roommate has told me she has pretty bad OCD and it’s the reason she doesn’t keep stuff like her toothbrush and towel in the bathroom.”

“I totally respect that, and I’m a clean person, so I ensured her that it’d be easy to respect that and keep the shared areas clean.”

But the OP started to get fed up after a semester of their arrangement.

“Fast-forward to the end of the semester, and she still has not once cleaned the bathroom or shared living spaces.”

“I’ve asked her multiple times to help me out or if we could do it together, but her excuse is that she’s scared and it triggers her OCD.”

“Let me give you an exact scenario where I don’t think her OCD counts.”

“I’m blonde, and she has black hair. There’s been a giant pile of black hair on the drain for about two weeks now, and I refuse to pick it up.”

“Her s**t stains are in the toilet at least once a day, and she won’t clean it.”

“The trash can is full of sanitary products, and she won’t take it out.”

The roommate didn’t want to listen to the OP’s concerns, either.

“I told her that just because she has OCD doesn’t mean that she can leave a shared space dirty, and she got p**sed.”

“I feel bad about critiquing a mental illness that I don’t know much about, but it feels like more of a laziness issue rather than an anxiety one.”

“AITA?”

Fellow Redditors weighed in: 

  • NTA: Not the A**hole
  • YTA: You’re the A**hole
  • ESH: Everybody Sucks Here
  • NAH: No A**holes Here

Some said the OP’s roommate needed to learn how to take care of herself.

“NTA. She needs to figure out how to function as an adult. Part of that functioning is dealing with stuff like cleaning a bathroom.” – PolesRunningCoach

“It seems like she has always had someone do it for her in the past and assumes that it will be done by someone else in the future. Right now that assumption seems to be OP.” – Diamond-TTP

“If her medical condition is so bad that she cannot function as an adult, then maybe she needs to ask her doctor to assign her a caretaker.” – NinjaSupplyCompany

“I have serious anxiety around cleaning. Not cleaning up as I go (which I simply don’t remember to do, probably because of my ADD), but going back to a mess and cleaning it.”

“It is very real and can be very, very bad. Like crying in the middle of the floor if the mess is bad enough.”

“So I will vouch for the difference between laziness and anxiety. Everybody thinks I’m f**king lazy just because the issues I have are things that aren’t issues for them.”

“However.”

“That not your f**king problem. And it shouldn’t become your problem.”

“Real-life exists and sometimes you have to do s**t that is hard. Sometimes that s**t is really hard.”

“Sometimes it’s a h**l of a lot harder than respecting a shared living space. What the h**l is she going to do then?”

“It’s her responsibility, and it’s her problem, and hopefully, someday she’ll find strategies to make it easier.”

“NTA. You shouldn’t have to suffer the consequences of her in/actions.” – GrouchyCounty

Others agreed and wondered if the roommate was ready to live with a roommate.

“She may not be well enough to live in a communal situation.” – smelly-roommate

“She needs to move out. Or hire someone to do the chores she cannot do for herself. But she cannot just assume that OP will do the chores for her.” – RedditDK2

“If she is not well enough to live in communal housing that is unfortunate. However, it is entirely irrelevant to OP that she is incapable of living there.”

“Her responsibility as a person with agency is to leave, provide a substitute, or work out another alternative.”

“Again it’s unfortunate, but it’s not on the OP to fix.” – Iagi

“NTA.”

“I get that having OCD may cause some issues that are not stereotypical (such as not being a neat freak and also getting triggered by cleaning) but I don’t think that’s going to be an excuse to not help. Mental illness is never an excuse to get out of responsibilities.”

“If she has a problem doing it herself (which is completely valid), she can pay for a cleaning service. Or pay you even, if you’re okay with it.”

“Nevertheless, it’s not okay to not contribute at all just because it triggers you. Everyone’s mental illness is their personal responsibility, and it kills me to say this because I too struggle with some issues.”

“It took me losing way too many friends to realize having it rough, doesn’t make you entitled to make other people’s life rough too. You don’t owe her just because she has OCD.” – Ok_Negotiation_8145

Some agreed with the OP’s concern that it might be due to laziness, too.

“NTA.”

“I thought you’re going to be the biggest a**hole ever – as in, she tells you she can’t clean because it triggers her, and she spends 5 hours trying to make sure the mirror has no spots whatsoever on it. That is OCD behavior.”

“S**t stains in the toilet and hair in the drain aren’t, that’s just lazy and frankly, disgusting.” – neetraa

“Clearly NTA, she can’t use OCD to be lazy. You aren’t her girlfriend or a relative who can cater to her behavior.”

“She needs to pull her weight or just live alone.” – Alert_Sorbet4016

“Is she being treated for OCD? Her filthy habits in a shared space suggest she may not be OCD.”

“People suffering from that are often over the top about cleaning. She seems to be entitled and lazy but has an excuse she thinks works.” – 2ndcupofcoffee

“NTA – You aren’t critiquing her mental illness, you just aren’t about to take on all the chores because of it.”

“It doesn’t matter why she doesn’t pull her weight (illness or laziness), it just matters that it isn’t your job to pick up her slack.”

“Sadly, some people will use a legitimate illness they have to cover a broad spectrum of poor behaviors.” – ljt88

Though her roommate was furious with her, the subReddit was glad the OP spoke up for herself.

Whether or not her roommate struggled with mental illness wouldn’t change the fact they needed to share in the responsibilities of their shared home.

If the roommate really felt like she couldn’t help clean, she could use another option, like hiring a cleaning service or even paying a friend or relative to do it.

Written by McKenzie Lynn Tozan

McKenzie Lynn Tozan lives in North Chicago, where she works as a poet, freelance writer, and editor. She received her MFA in Creative Writing from Western Michigan University, and her BA in English from Indiana University South Bend. Her poems have appeared in Rogue Agent, Whale Road Review, the James Franco Review, Thank You for Swallowing, and elsewhere; and her essays and book reviews have appeared with Memoir Mixtapes, The Rumpus, BookPage, and Motherly, among others. When she's not reading and writing, she's in her garden or spending time with her family. For more, visit www.mckenzielynntozan.com.