Blogger | Teacher
At least once in our lives, most of us will experience the joys and trials of living with others. There are many pros and cons to both living alone and living with another person – while one means you have more alone time to decompress and relax, the other can offer the comfort of knowing someone else is always around. Everyone has their preferences in how they want to live, but it’s important to consider all of the possibilities when deciding on what kind of home you want.
Personally, while I enjoyed living alone, I found myself feeling incredibly lonely more often than not. I’ve lived with friends, family, romantic partners, and on my own at different points in my life, and I feel confident in my understanding of the positives and negatives of all of these living situations. Based on my experiences, here are some things I think are important to remember when you are considering living with another person.
Sharing a space means you’re never alone
One thing I appreciate about living with others is that I rarely feel lonely anymore. During the two years I lived on my own, it was easy for me to feel lonely and isolated despite going out with my friends regularly. Despite thinking I was an introvert for most of my life, I find that I need the comfort of another voice and body in my home to feel content and secure.
It’s nice to have someone to come home and watch a movie with, and I enjoy being able to cook dinner with another person because it means I am more likely to make something healthy and delicious (and not just a quick microwave meal). Living with others can be especially nice when it comes to emergencies. If you fall and hurt yourself or get sick and need someone to get some medicine for you, you won’t have to worry so much about your well-being because there’s someone else there to help you.
Cleanliness expectations need to be established early
Despite being a nice way to avoid feeling lonely, living with others also comes with its own struggles. One thing I’ve recognized as being difficult (especially when changing from living on my own to living with another person) is balancing different cleanliness habits. For example: I can be a pretty anxious cleaner. Dishes in the sink or messes all over the place make me feel antsy and uncomfortable, and I need common areas to be cleaned and straightened regularly so that I can feel relaxed.
On the other hand, I have had roommates before who weren’t as bothered by messes. They would leave dishes in the sink for a few days without thinking twice and they didn’t mind if things were out of place. This was – and still is – difficult for me to handle, and required not only a little bit of flexibility on my part but also multiple conversations detailing the expectations for the apartment’s cleanliness. Establishing these expectations early can save you a series of headaches down the road, so make sure to sit down with the people you are thinking of living with and have these important conversations.
Boundaries are important
Living with others is just like any relationship you have – it requires talking about things that bother you and being clear about personal boundaries. The person you live with sees you more than probably any other human being (other than maybe your colleagues at work), so there are going to be times when they do things that make you uncomfortable or aggravate you. Setting boundaries isn’t just healthy – it’s a necessity.
However, as someone who has a hard time sticking up for myself, I understand how hard it can be to create boundaries and stand by them. Oftentimes, a one-time aggravation is easy to overlook and only becomes a problem when it’s repeated. If something makes you uncomfortable or the person you live with does something you don’t like, it’s perfectly okay to sit them down and explain why they can’t or shouldn’t do that. Helping them to understand why it bothers you will improve your relationship and living situation in the long run.
Communication is a must
Much like any relationship, living with others requires efficient communication. If cleanliness expectations are not being met, if boundaries are ignored, if the electricity bill goes up a ridiculous amount because one of you is home more – these things all need to be discussed as quickly as possible. There will be times when the person you live with annoys you or pushes your buttons, and you need to feel like you can talk openly with them about these things.
Never hesitate to communicate your thoughts, feelings, and needs with the people you live with. Living with others is a vulnerable position to put yourself in – you are effectively always allowing someone access to your home as it is also their home. Communicate when you need to and make sure that everyone is being heard and their needs are being met.
Confrontation styles might be different
One thing I learned while a friend and I were talking about living together was that confrontation styles differ from person to person, and some are more compatible than others. Having different confrontation styles can make living with others either easier or harder than it may have seemed originally, so it’s important to keep this in mind when talking about who will be your next roommate.
If you’re someone who needs time to process a problem before you can talk about it and the person you might live with is someone who needs to deal with an issue immediately, these conflicting confrontation styles might cause you to butt heads. However, if you like to talk things out and your roommate is someone who is good at listening and responding, then these styles might be more compatible. Comparing confrontation styles is a good way to find out if the person you think you might live with is someone you can efficiently communicate and resolve problems with in the future.
You have to compromise for everyone’s comfort
The biggest thing I’ve come to recognize about living with others is that compromise is inevitable. Regardless of whether you are living with family, friends, or romantic partners, you have to understand that not only are you not living alone, but you’re needs are not the only ones that matter. Understanding why the person you live with does something that irritates you and being able to listen when they tell you about their own frustrations is necessary for creating a welcoming living situation for everyone.
When you start living with others, it’s important to create a set of rules and guidelines for how each person wants the home to run. You will have to compromise on things that were available to you when you lived alone and share the space you are both paying for, so it’s important to make sure everyone has the opportunity to talk about their needs. Then, try to make time regularly to check back in and see if any of those rules or guidelines need to be changed or adjusted in order to match your current feelings.
Can you think of more things we should remember when living with others? Tell us in the comments!
About Draven Jackson
Draven is an avid writer and reader who enjoys sharing her opinions on movies, books, and music with the rest of the world. She will soon be working as a teacher in Japan and hopes to use her experience to connect with other teachers and students around the globe. Draven spends most of her time at home with her family, her dogs, and her ferret.
To see more, view all posts by Draven Jackson here.