We’re taught to share, get along and play nice from the moment we’re born, so you’d think we’d have the concepts down as adults. The truth is, these simple rules can be challenging when we share our space with another.
Courtney and her favorite roommate Kristin
Roommates can provide the best of times and the worst of times. In order to avoid those worst of times, the following five tips can be a real relationship saver:
- Sharing. Ignore what you’ve been taught since childhood: Don’t share. I know it sounds crazy, but it could save your roommate relationship. As adults we’ve spent years setting our ways, and sharing can shatter what we’ve become (for better or worse). Set this as rule number one: No sharing. That means clothes, jewelry or even food. Although it may be more economically sound to share food, at the end of the day it can create resentment. For example, what if you share coffee and you drink one cup a day but your roommate drinks six? You’ll resent buying another bag the next time it’s your turn. Little resentments like that can build and build, so just do yourself a favor and don’t share.
- Cleanliness. You know the saying, cleanliness is next to godliness? It’s true that a clean space frees the mind of clutter just as much as it does the home. Set simple rules such as never leaving dirty dishes in the sink, removing shoes at the door and wiping down counters after eating. For the harder cleaning it becomes…well, harder. Not everyone has the same concept of clean. Some folks like toilets cleaned every other day while others live without touching a toilet brush for a half a year. A compromise could be hiring a cleaning service. Come to agreement as to how often you want a service in your place (twice a month, for example) and split the cost evenly. This way you avoid the argument of who cleans toilets better and how often it should be done.
- Me Time. Even if you’re lucky enough to be best friends with your roommate, don’t be the creep who is constantly on the couch waiting to pounce on your roommate the second they come home. Make adequate time to spend on your own, like reading in your room or going out without your roommate and leaving them to the place from time to time. The time apart makes the time together that much better.
- Create a Calendar. Create a shared calendar and hang it somewhere noticeable like on the fridge. Fill out every important date you share (rent due date, electric bill due date, internet/cable bill due dates, etc.). You may also want to add in personal dates like birthdays, vacations or business trips. The calendar serves as an unbiased third party so you and your roommate can never say, I didn’t know that bill was due then!
- Honesty. This one is easier said than done, but if there’s one thing that can save your relationship with a roommate it’s honesty. In a way, having a roommate is a lot like a marriage so a lot of the same rules apply. If you’re not honest with your roommate then expect the tension to build until a blow-up occurs. Instead of letting a volcano brew inside of you, tell your roommate right away that the teabags left on the coffee table are annoying you. Just be prepared to get a little criticism back in return and take it with a grain of salt. They may hate that you always hum to yourself, but wouldn’t you rather know now than have your roommate hold hatred inside for it, festering until it blows? Trust me, just fess up early and ask roommates to do the same.
This is a guest post from Courtney Lochner. Courtney writes for Glamour Magazine, Société Perrier, Europe From a Backpack Travel Guides, The Budget Fashionista and much more. Based out of Chicago she is is also frequently found in Paris, Krakow or Rio and almost always, with a glass of wine in hand. Follow her @courtneylochner.