I’ve been living with three boys for over three months now and there are a few things I’ve learned during my initiation period that I’d like to share. Though I’ve lived in mixed sex student flats before, there’s something different about being the only rose among thorns. Not only am I outnumbered by boys, I’m outnumbered by Sunderland boys – and the past few months of protein shakes, video games and awkward kitchen encounters have taught me that Sunderland lads are a special breed. Is there something in the water in the North East?
Just call me Alice in Sunderland, because I’m the only girl in a house full of Mackem males. Here are the funny, gross and downright frustrating things about living with men as a woman, and how I feel about it all.
Living with boys: the good, the bad and the ugly
I managed to schedule my move-in weekend to coincide with Derby Day: a momentous day for North Eastern football fans and a rude awakening to life in Sunderland. Pulled from my morning shower by a knock on the bathroom door and handed an open bottle of wine, I was told to drink up because we had to get to the pub to get a decent spot – at half eight in the morning. I tried my best to polish off a bottle of white and a bottle of red, to prove to the lads that I was now ‘Sunlin’ ’till I die’.
Sunderland city center resembled a scene from Shaun of the Dead, and I quickly learned what it’s like to be a Sunderland Ranger and live a life of danger, as the chant I heard 367 million times that day goes.
So, what does life look like at home with the Mackems?
My boys exist on pasta, chicken and sarcasm. Their idea of a varied diet is alternating protein powder flavours between Chocolate Orange and Strawberries & Cream. Their food interests include meal prep, Tupperware, and not eating anywhere that has a menu that they haven’t already mastered ordering from. That pretty much rules out everywhere except Nandos.
Boys have a few unique habits that you’ll learn about when you’re coexisting in their natural habitat. No, it’s not just the endless yards of cable attached to their assorted consoles that will drive you crazy. Being the only woman in a house full of men is a rather unique experience.
Things you get used to when you live with boys
Pennies. Everywhere. Seriously, why do males have such a strong aversion to carrying loose change? You’ll find pennies on the windowsill, under the couch and in kitchen cupboards. Maybe it’s something to do with trying to look like a baller, but lads would rather throw their pocket change in the bin than carry it around. Maybe I’ll start hoarding their rejected coppers in a secret jar and eventually flaunt my combined riches of £4.48 all up in their badly shaven faces.
Sometimes they forget you’re there and start talking about their willies. Other times, they deliberately go out of their way to make you uncomfortable, and it usually involves sh*t talk.
One good thing about living with self-confessed macho men is that they’ll never let you leave the house looking below standard. Any amount of confidence stemming from the notion that your outfit is on point can be shattered with a simple, “Is tonight fancy dress?” A well-meaning but perplexed, “What’s wrong with your eyebrows?” will have you self-consciously surveying your visage in your iPhone reflection for the rest of the day, and God help you if you get it into your head that white pleather trousers are a good idea.
In addition to serving as your personal stylists, boys can also be a functional accessory – especially if they fit the Mackem mould of gym addicted henchman. When you all go out together you can wear a fur coat, position yourself in the centre of the group and enjoy pretending that you’re Kim K and they’re your bodyguards.
You’ll also quickly become one of the lads, and dealing with their conquests is your new weekend job.
The fateful morning when you’re trotting down the stairs after a night out, fresh-to-death in your Sunday Best, only to meet a bedraggled girl in a body con lingering in the hallway while she waits for a lift home from whichever one of the boys bought her a French Martini and called her gorgeous the night before, is a day that the tables truly do turn. You could judge, but we’ve all been there. Ring her a taxi, give her the number of the clinic and send her on her way. You’ll never see her again.
People may think living in a Fifa den is trying for a self professed girly gal, but what you may not realise is that hours to lie in the bath, shop for crap online and call your mum is a gift from the gods – even if it is sometimes interrupted by hollers of “AKINFENWAAA”.
Then there’s the minefield that is lad banter. When they aren’t exchanging monosyllabic grunts about dream teams or Top Gear, they engage in a form of highly intellectual bullying. Except it’s not bullying, because it’s only banter – and no failure or flaw is off limits. The only way you can lose if if you take the bait and let it get to you. I now have to tread cautiously when I’m in female company in case I accidentally launch in to a tirade of the abuse that I’ve become fluent in to hold my own against the boys.
Another thing you’ll learn when you’re privy to the masculine mindset is that they harbour just as strong same-sex crushes as you do. Listening to straight males talking about their #fitspiration at the gym can seriously confuse your gaydar.
After three months with my smelly boys, I’ve come to the realisation that male housemates can be cleaner, just as fun, and definitely less hassle than living with females. Have you ever had to navigate a flat full of PMSing students who have synced to the Alpha M*nge in the house?
It’s not pleasant.
One thing you do miss about living with girls is reliable internet. Yep, beware the night time wank. Your 10pm instagram stalk will be rudely interrupted as the house Wi-Fi is overloaded with porn when they all try to give themselves a bedtime treat at the same time.
Should you brave moving in to a house full of boys?
The neighbours will be dying to know what your group dynamic is and your female friends will question you about how the hell you’re coping. But really, living with boys is something every girl should try out once in their lives – just don’t start ironing their shirts.