At some point in our lives, almost all of us will live with someone else. Whether this is an assigned college roommate or your significant other or best friend, you want to maintain a positive relationship. Here are some little things you can do to better your living situation:
Listen – People drop hints about who they are and what they want and need all the time, even when they don’t mean to. Hear what your roommate is telling you and act accordingly. It also helps to remember things about them – when their birthday is, if they have any allergies, how February makes them feel – so that you can behave knowingly and empathetically.
Learn Habits – You take morning showers. So does your roommate. Coordinating will save both of you a lot of grief. If you know you have to be at work half an hour earlier than her, plan to get up earlier so you can shower first and get out without stress. Similarly, observe the other person’s habits around cleanliness, eating, anywhere you might differ, and try to accommodate them while servicing your own needs. For example, I have a roommate who is very clean so I make an extra effort to maintain an acceptable level of cleanliness in shared areas. He knows I’m less meticulous and makes allowances for that.
Give Space – No one ever complains they see their roommate too little. Well, rarely. If you’re not in each other’s face all the time, it’ll be easier to enjoy your time together. If you’re starting to feel annoyed with your roommate, it might make sense just to spend some time away. Make yourself busy without being rude. If you’re on a lease, it makes good sense to find ways to coexist peacefully so you can stay in it for the long haul.
Communicate – Don’t guess at what your roommate will and won’t be OK with, and don’t make them guess your boundaries either. If you ask first before doing something potentially controversial and make clear your own preferences, generally there will be fewer transgressions. No one wants a hostile living environment.
Go Out Of Your Way Sometimes – Going the extra mile every now and then to show you appreciate your roommate will go a long way in building up good graces. Buying a little extra chocolate to share or cleaning the bathroom is a little thing but will make you appear caring. Plus, doing something for someone else feels good!
Speak Positively – This is important. Talking about your living situation in a positive light and emphasizing good things about it will make you feel more positive. This really applies to all situations. Getting into a spiral of negativity can hurt your interpersonal relationships and make you less happy.
All of these things go both ways, and hopefully by acting respectfully you will be treated respectfully as well. Notably, all of these things can apply to any relationship, but sharing a home with someone is an especially sensitive situation. Remember, it’s their home too and working together you can make it a wonderful place to live.