The Dos and Dont’s of Roommate Etiquette

Living with people isn’t easy. It’s easy in the sense that you split the cable and utility bills, but not so much in the whole sharing your personal space and life together. Have you ever lived with someone who stays up late playing loud music, has a different guy over every weekend, and leaves dirty dishes piled up in the sink for weeks? Are you this person?

Conversely you could also be a closeted germaphobe who is in bed by 10 p.m. every night and who never goes out on the weekends. Wherever you sit on the spectrum of low-key to crazy, there is a roommate out there for you! Just follow these tips to live in harmony with whomever you choose.

1) Never live with your best friend.
You may think living with your best friend will be like a sleepover every night. However, unless you and your best friend both live your lives exactly the same way, it’s going to be pretty impossible to keep your friendship resentment free. It’s almost easier to live with an acquaintance because it’s much easier to tell them to unclog their hair from the shower drain than it is to drop the hint for the 50th time to your bestie. Since they don’t know you really well they are also less likely to leave a mess or be rude or inconsiderate. Think about what could happen if it turns out you and your BFF can’t live together and consider your friendship wisely.

2) Pick someone with the same lifestyle as yourself.
Whether it’s a friend or boyfriend, you need to carefully think about if you can actually mesh your life into their’s by asking yourself some questions: When do you both like to sleep? How much do you both of you like to clean and to what level? How do you spend your weekends? When do you like to get stuff done? Are you both good about talking about your feelings or do you prefer not to? Do you both want to spend extra time together hanging out every week? Do you like to be left alone when you get home? Do you like the same TV shows (or at least watch them at different times)?

Try to live with someone who honestly answers almost all these questions the same as yourself or be prepared to compromise.

3) Set boundaries, share as little as possible.
You may think things will just naturally fall into place but it’s better to set boundaries about how much you’ll share with your roomie in advance. You need is a comfortable place to live not a relationship that turns toxic because someone stole someone else’s hair straightener repeatedly. Or ate all their food. Or stays up all night drinking with friends loudly in the living room before you have to get up and go to work in the morning.

Share as little as possible so you don’t have a fight if someone forgets to bring home milk. There are of course a few things it makes sense to share (like pots or pans, cable, etc.). I know it sounds selfish but it will be better than fighting over something silly later on. Which brings me to point number 4…

4) Let the small stuff go.
Remember that most of the things you are mad about really don’t matter at the end of the day (even though they really seem like they do.)

I used to get mad at my roommate when she would fill up the garbage with her takeout containers, causing the bag to overflow and not fit down our garbage shoot. In protest, I would ignore the garbage until she took it out, quietly letting my rage boil for days.

I think the garbage was beginning to mutate one night when I was particularly upset with my roommate’s inability to mystically read my mind and take out the damn trash. Then she had an incredibly long day and night at her unpaid internship and came home to an incredibly sad phone call with bad news. Did I mention she was feeling really sick on top of it all?

I took out the garbage that night and MADE it fit down the garbage shoot.

5) Communicate.
If something is bothering you, say something right away! Keep it simple and don’t beat around the bush or let your anger simmer for days (or months). Also, never leave notes or emails to confront you roommate about an issue. It’s very passive aggressive and they always seem nastier than you mean them to be. Talk it out!

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Tags: apartment, friendship, house, living with someone else, moving in together, relationship advice, roomies, roommate

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