You’ve taken the plunge…you’ve decided to room with someone. Be it friend, lover or spouse, you are now officially roommates. At first everything is new and exciting, you’re snuggled up watching Moulin Rouge and planning out furniture for what you’ve deemed shall be the chicest living room around! You may as well have “Happy Together” playing on repeat. But then you start to notice some troubling habits…
You guys are so comfortable that your roommate has decided to walk around sans clothing, maybe even opens the door and gets a show during your late night romp, or worse, leaves used sex paraphernalia lying around in your shared bathroom!
You’re long removed from college, so why does your life still feel like a dorm room saga? Love them or hate them, they’re here to stay. Living situations are always tricky – think about it, two independent human beings with their own likes and dislikes thrown together – 24/7! You may not be able to control the actions and words of your roommate, but you can control how you react and how you let them make you feel. Here’s how:
The gift of gab
When you live with someone (especially someone with different values), inevitably something uncomfortable is bound to arise. What about those late nights when you’ve had a few glasses of wine and you decide to bring home tall, dark and handsome that you were flirting with all night? Instead of gritting your teeth and cursing your roommate under your breath, talk to them.
Establish ground rules from the get-go. This is especially true for co-ed roommate situations – always better to get the “ick-factor” out of the way before you do something rude or that makes the other person feel uncomfortable. Know the things that bother you. For example, no noise after 10pm (but if you’re in the throes of passion maybe turn the radio up a little), give a “heads up” if you’re going to have someone spend the night, dishes get a day grace period, garbage belongs in the trash bin and not scattered across the common area – and let them know! Knowledge is power and so long as you clearly define the boundaries of what is acceptable and what is inconsiderate, they’ll more than likely be happy to oblige!
Sometimes one person is more dominant than the other, and Alpha Male plus passive aggressive Female equals trouble. Let’s say their religious persuasion is on the strict side and they openly forbid you from keeping alcohol stocked or sharing company with the opposite sex. Well guess what? You both pay the bills – rent, utilities, cable – so both of you deserve to have a say in the goings on of your abode! If you have only one parking spot, unless you have some agreement that one of you pays more for it, you are both entitled to it. That’s not to say that it’s your way or the highway, compromise is key. But bottom line, even if one roommate pays a little more than the other, they are not Mommy or Daddy and need to respect your feelings and opinions.
Happy hunting ground
Cohabitating brings back fond (or horrible) memories of sharing a room with your brother or sister. You remember fighting over the remote, sneaking out of chore duties, “borrowing” things – unfortunately adults don’t change much. Sharing is usually the best and easiest solution, but that doesn’t mean that you want to. Whether you have your own room, bathroom or corner for desk space, find your special space that can be your “you-zone.” Having personal space will help you clear your head – consider it home base where you can re-charge, reflect and reevaluate. A few minutes in your private sanctuary could be just what you need to prevent unnecessary conflict and tension – or saying something you will regret.
If it all goes south…
One thing you learn really quick is that people at home are not the same as they are in public. Your roommate may turn out to be someone you didn’t anticipate. Whether they are rude or condescending to you or your friends, unhygienic in all the wrong areas or maybe just a bit too clingy, you cannot let it get you down. They are by no means the judge of your individual worth and while the stress of living together can make best friends become enemies, or couples to split up, you have to remember that you dictate what you let hurt you. Pick your battles, and don’t get bogged down by tiny irritations. Worse comes to worse, you break your lease or sell your house and move on. Daunting yes, but it’s no excuse to let a toxic relationship make you feel bad about you.
Living with another person is challenging no matter what your relationship. So long as you are open and considerate of the other person and take the necessary time to yourself, you can make it work. Otherwise, just move. Hassle yes, but worth it.
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