Sometimes it can be easy to forget how alcohol may be affecting our relationships. I think as a University student, our alcohol use is most likely to affect our relationships with flatmates. We live with them for the whole academic year, and they are the people who have to deal with all the drunken singing, noise and mess left behind from pre-drinking.
I think it’s important to value and respect our relationships with flatmates, especially since we’re stuck with them (and they are stuck with us!) for a whole year.
I personally experienced frustration many times with drunk flatmates. Mainly, due to them returning from a night out drunk and making lots of noise whilst I was sleeping. There were many nights where I had lectures early the next day, work or even exams. But as my flatmates had been drinking, they would come back and starting shouting, singing, playing loud music in the corridor outside of my bedroom.
This would make it impossible to sleep and give me a headache, leaving me quite frustrated- especially if I had something important going on the next day like an exam. It felt like my flatmates didn’t care about how I was feeling, and how their actions affected me.
I also did many of these things before when I would go out and get drunk- so I understand both sides. I’ve definitely learnt from both experiences- I hated annoying my flatmates or doing anything to make them feel uncomfortable. I always felt so guilty and realised that our relationship and respecting them was a lot more important than getting drunk. I also understand how frustrating it is being the flatmate who has to deal with people who are drunk, and I realised I would never want to put anyone in that position myself.
We’re all sharing a living space together, so need to be considerate of everyone. I understand that it can be difficult to stay quiet once you are drunk, which is why it may be worth considering swapping that vodka lemonade for a tasty mocktail when you’re out!
Sometimes my flatmates would bring new friends they made at the club back to our flat. I had experiences where these people would try and enter my room, break my stuff or I would find them sleeping in our kitchen. This made me feel unsafe and on edge. My flat is a space where I want to feel most safe and comfortable, but that is hardly possible when you have strangers trying to enter your room or sleeping in your kitchen.
Safety is a big thing. After a night of heavy drinking, it’s so easy to accidentally put your flatmates at risk. I experienced exactly that. My flatmate returned from a night out very drunk and decided that she was hungry. So, she put on a pot of pasta to cook and returned to her room. But, as she was in her room, she laid down in bed, closed her eyes and fell asleep, completely forgetting about the pasta.
When I woke up in the morning the whole kitchen was completely filled with smoke. This could’ve ended badly if any of us woke up just a few hours later, especially as our fire alarm had broken.
Consider this when getting drunk- you don’t want to accidentally put anyone at risk, including yourself. So, maybe have a few non-alcoholic drinks when you are out, and remain more in control of your actions.
People can also make spontaneous decisions when drunk that they regret the next morning. I heard many stories of people getting into arguments with their flatmates when drunk, kissing them, and saying things they don’t mean. This can result in a very awkward situation the next morning and continue to be awkward for the rest of the year as you continue living with them. So, it may just not be worth jeopardising your relationships and peace with people you live with, for just one night being drunk.
You may also have flatmates who don’t drink at all for many reasons including personal choice, religion, previous struggles with alcohol, and so on. I think it’s important to consider your drinking, and respect your flatmates who don’t drink. Especially since you may not know what their reason is for not drinking, and you wouldn’t want to unintentionally hurt them.