Living with people is not always like that West Coast Cooler ad where they all dance to Haim in their sweatpants. There are many ways to annoy or offend your roommates and I will not pretend to know them all. But here are some of the lessons that I’ve learned through living with different people for the last two years.
This is so, so important. If you have a problem with someone’s behaviour or their mannerisms, tell them. There are many ways to do it without being rude. It really is possible. It is fucking tough, I’m not going to lie. I still haven’t mastered it when it comes to little things. But letting little things slide only creates resentment. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not encouraging you to pick at your roommates every time they piss you off. But if you have a problem with someone’s habits, it’s better to tell them at the beginning rather than getting mad down the line when it’s an established behaviour.
Clean up after yourself. Or if you don’t do that, keep your mess in your room (provided you’re not sharing). The biggest cause of arguments amongst roommates is mess. Nobody enjoys mess and it’s not a nice atmosphere to be around. I’m not the cleanest of people. But if I have dinner and don’t feel like washing up, or have a cup of tea and don’t feel like rinsing my mug, I’ll bring the dishes into my room and leave them on my desk to clean at a later date. You may be wrinkling your nose in disgust at me right now, but it’s better than leaving it in the communal area.
This year I’m living with my friends and we luckily all recognise the importance of boundaries. This means that if I’m in my room for the day blaring music, they don’t disturb me unless it’s absolutely necessary. We’ll mostly hang out in the communal areas, where we can leave whenever we want and you’ll only find us in one another’s rooms in certain infrequent circumstances. Boundaries and alone time are so important for a healthy roommate relationship.
There’s really no point in resenting someone that you’re going to have to deal with every day. After you’ve had it out with your roommate, forgive them for their behaviour. There’s nothing to say that you have to forget what they did or that you can’t keep an eye out for any future infractions (I’m sounding more and more like an unreasonable asshole), but staying mad at the person who’s under the same roof as you is just toxic for yourself.
Watch your mood.
I have a tendency to have quite intense feelings and moods at times. I know. Shocker! I’ll only hang out with my roommates when I’m in the mood to. I would die if I ever thought that I was taking out my personal issues on the people I live with. As a teen, I did it to my parents for long enough. It’s so okay to not be in a good mood. What’s not okay is subjecting people to that mood when you can deal with it on your own.
We are all shitty people at times. That’s just a fact of life. There are going to be times when you do stuff to piss your roommates 0ff. Just apologise for it and mean it. I’m not asking you to beg for their forgiveness or anything. But you should really be self-aware about any of your flaws and own up to the people you live with when you know you’ve done something wrong. Otherwise you’re a supreme asshole.
Take a step back.
Living with people is intense. When you find yourself getting bogged down by the struggles that they’re facing, something has to be done. It may seem cruel to step back slightly from someone who needs your support, but it’s crucial for your own mental health. It will be better for both of you in the long run.
Don’t be that person who constantly bitches about their roommates. Don’t be the one who can’t have a conversation without bringing up how annoying their roommates are. If you have a problem with a roommate, get over yourself and sort it out. Nothing will ever be helped by you bitching behind a person’s back.
Living with people really is an amazing way to get to know someone, and that can be a good or a bad thing. But through standing up for yourself, making your own space and respecting the right of your roommates to do the same, you can all live a life that’s sometimes like the West Coast Cooler ad.