It is comical how long I once remained ignorant of the immense stress that arose from having a poor relationship with my roommates. Whether you feel indifferent to the people you live with, horrified by the idea of sharing air with them or filled with joy imagining the greatness you get to come home to, there is usually still room for some improvement with your roommates.
I should have realized when I signed up to live with three virtual strangers that I was putting myself in a risky situation. After all, one of the greatest milestones that can make or break even the closest relationships headed towards the most sacred bond, marriage, is whether or not a couple can live together. That said, I intended to experience an effortless sense of calm in my apartment, but didn’t anticipate that living with other people requires hard work and sensitivity to their needs regardless of whether you want to share a lasting bond with them. An almost unconscious hostility can grow between roommates creating a sense of distance which breeds the worst kind of discomfort since an apartment is a space to recharge. We all deserve, though, to emerge from and come home to a peaceful environment, so maintaining a positive relationship with roommates can be crucial to our well-being!
Here are four tricks to keeping the room-mance alive:
1. Recognize that we all bring different things to the table! We all come with our own habits so that while you might find it obnoxious that your roommate keeps the television on top volume all day long, your roommate might think of their behavior as harmless but despise the fact that you are a slob in the kitchen. Furthermore, whereas you might struggle to remember to clean the dishes, your roommate might take personal offense that something so effortless to them gets disrespected by you. Identifying and staying mindful and respectful of different values is an important aspect of living together.
2. Literally, recognize that we all bring different things to the table! Your roommate might have hideous junk that you do not want to be staring at 24/7, or forbid for that cutie from across the hall to ever mistake as yours, but embracing each other’s differences by focusing on the joy that their stuff brings them as well as the joy you get from your own stuff is a way of overcoming the initial horrors that may be invoked by your roommates poor taste in useless crap!
3 Get rid of unwanted baggage! Literally, get rid of excess stuff that doesn’t really matter to you because chances are it might bother your roommate. Better to be safe than sorry and leave as clear of a trail as possible with regards to whatever space you share.
4. Get rid of the emotional baggage, too! In a more abstract sense, we all have different ways of expressing ourselves, so that you might come to realize you are ignorant to the many ways you have already unintentionally bothered your roommate, but make sure you make amends! Some will release their anger through passive aggressive smirks, others through screaming tantrums, and still others through silent disapproval. Figure out how your roommate operates and make it known to them how you operate, then be forgiving of different communication styles and try to talk to each other, even if it just through a dry erase board and sticky notes.
It can be extraordinarily difficult to live with other people, but try to remain centered and acknowledge the genuine desire for good that exists within us all before we are stretched beyond our limits.