Putting the "mate" in "roommate"

How a couple went from sharing an apartment to sharing a life.

Before they became a couple, Adrienne almost set Shane up with someone else.

She had just moved into an apartment that her friend shared with Shane, with the plan to take over the room a few months later when her friend moved out.

Early on, the two women decided they should set him up with one of their friends. But when the weekend barbeque rolled around, Shane hardly paid any attention to the prospective date: he only had eyes for Adrienne.

Pretty soon, Adrienne was spending more time in Shane’s room than the one she had signed up to live in, and when her friend moved out they were living like a couple.

Ten years later, the roommates are married.

Here’s their story. 

Shane and Adrienne

How’d you two meet? 

Shane: We both lived in Ottawa, but we didn’t know each other. I had been living with my roommate for a couple of years, and one day she asks me “I have this friend who needs a place to live for next semester. We’ll share a bedroom for the first semester, and then I’m going to move away and she wants to take over that bedroom.” 

So this girl moves in, and her name was Adrienne. 

What were your first impressions of each other? 

Adrienne: I already had a bit of background on him from my friend who was living with him. She said he was nice and clean and keeps to himself. But when I met him he just seemed really nice. I had actually just gotten broken up with so I wasn’t even looking for anything, especially not with a roommate. But yeah, he was super sweet. Super nice. We got along really well. 

Shane: The first time I saw her I was like Oh, she’s cute. Obviously I didn’t say anything. I played it cool. She was very bubbly. She was very interested in what I was studying and doing for work. I feel like the roommate I had before, we got along, but we didn’t spend much time together. As soon as Adrienne came around we hung out as a group a lot. We seemed to get along very well and became friends really quickly. 

When did you realize you had chemistry? 

Shane: It’s always pretty tricky since, you know, you’re living together. But I just kind of went with my instincts. It’s like Oh, I really get along with this girl. I don’t think I’ve had a connection like this with other people

We were putting in time hanging out, going to a concert or two, watching movies together. We got closer and closer. It was just a sort of gradual drawing together. Maybe it started with a little cuddle, and next thing you know there’s a kiss exchanged or something like that. 

To be honest, it didn’t take too long! I’d say after about a month or so it’s kind of like Okay, we both seem to be pretty interested in each other. She took me out for coffee and said we needed to chat about this. We both agreed that we seemed to really like each other, so let’s see where it goes. 

Did your other roommate know about you two? 

Adrienne: I was sharing a room with her, so it was kind of hard to keep things a secret. After a couple of nights of not sleeping in my own room, some questions are going to be asked! I think it was pretty quickly obvious. Even though it was gradual, I still feel like it was obvious from the start. I think we grew into it really quickly. 

What did you do for your first date? 

Shane: I took her to dinner. I’m in the restaurant industry, and I was studying at the time to be a sommelier. So I brought her to a nice spot that I knew had a nice wine list so we could have dinner and maybe show off my wine skills a little bit. 

How’d things grow from there? 

Adrienne: I guess Shane had een calling me his girlfriend without me realizing for a while. Maybe a month or two later around his birthday in December, his friend came up to me being like “Do you know that Shane is calling you his girlfriend to everybody?” And I was like “Oh, that’s news to me!” 

So I went up to him and was like “Hey, am I your girlfriend?” And he said “Yeah, sure, absolutely.” And I’m like “Okay, great.” And I feel like it was pretty straightforward afterwards, because our roommate moved out and it was just the two of us living together for the next four months. It got serious pretty quick. 

Was it different living together as a couple versus as roommates? 

Shane: I think it made it easier. There was less of a transition as to when you first move in with someone that you’re a couple with. We already knew our day to day routines and were already comfortable. We already knew how we were in the kitchen and how we liked to clean. In my eyes it felt pretty natural. 

Any advice for dating a roommate? 

Shane: First of all, I’d note that even though it worked out extremely well for us, it’s definitely not always the case. It’s certainly still a risk because you’re setting yourself up for a potentially very awkward situation. But looking back what I appreciated was Adrienne confronting it head on and being like “Hey, we need to have a conversation about this” and communicating right off the bat. I think having that initial conversation was really important to be on the same page. 

Adrienne: You have to be really bold and address the elephant in the room pretty quickly. I would say communicate. Be open. Don’t be afraid to take it on headfirst and address it as quickly as possible before it gets more complicated than it needs to be. 

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📊Last Week We Asked…

  • Would you date a coworker?

    • 36% said “Yes! I’d love to be with my partner all day every day”

    • 64% said “No! I need my own space”

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Interviewed and transcribed by Nicolas Vega. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.