Your Roommate Doesn’t Have to Be Your Best Friend.

If you cannot afford an apartment alone, you must share this precious space with your roommate or roommates . Sometimes it works great and you become best friends with these strangers from Craigslist, but more often than not, it’s just polite home relationships with people you hardly know (or at least not very close). But even though most people dream of living with their best friend, that’s okay! You don’t need to be perfect friends with your roommates to lead a happy family.

After spending most of my post-college adult life in San Francisco and New York, I often found myself looking for a bedroom on Craigslist in an apartment with people I had never met before. This is a stressful situation. You have to market yourself as a “normal” and reliable person, while at the same time evaluating the people with whom you are potentially going to live. It’s like a ridiculous platonic date when all you need is a roof over your head. This is especially true for young professionals like me, who can focus more on their careers than on nesting. And as much as I value the good people with whom I lived, I just didn’t always have the time or interest to invest in our friendship when I spend all my energy on something else. I’m not unfriendly, just busy!

With that in mind, here’s what I learned about living with strangers in America’s most stressful urban housing markets.

Trust your gut when meeting potential roommates

First of all, deciding whether to join a group of people in an apartment or bring someone into yours requires serious judgment from you based on short interactions. Of course, the details of their situation matter – whether they are working, why they had to leave their previous place, what their schedule is – but the broader judgment of whether you will be happy living with them is pretty much an instinctive feeling. based on chemistry. You are not trying to make friends. You are trying to find out if you trust them and you will be comfortable living with them, and this is not always quantifiable.

Personally, I believe that if we have even a little common sense of humor, then I know that we can communicate well. (But that’s because I never got past the unnatural communication skills of a sarcastic teenager.)

I also try to give people the opportunity to doubt if they just seem socially awkward. Someone who seems shy may mind their own business and be rare in your apartment, but I also suspect they may be more reliable than the outgoing troubadour who brings half a dozen friends home at 2am. This, of course, depends on what kind of family you want (I am obviously leaning towards the quiet nest, not the activity lair). Ultimately, you can and should ask a lot of questions about their responsibility and personality, but your decision will likely be based simply on how comfortable you are with the person and how much you trust them.

Be as respectful as you can, but don’t miss your chance.

I get along great with my current roommate and we know almost nothing about each other other than the basics. We don’t avoid each other or really hang out, and this is a rewarding event for two professionals living in a stupidly expensive city. How did we deal with this? Communicating directly and honestly and giving each other an edge in doubts if we do something stupid, such as forgetting to pay a bill or leaving a mess in the kitchen.

I try to optimistically believe that most people are decent people and that their weaknesses are usually harmless troubles. Maybe the sink may be filled with dishes for a few days longer than you’d like, or they play their music too late at night, but it’s rarely worth puffing up for something so inconsequential. If you’re not particularly close with your roommate, you probably don’t know what challenges they are facing in their life right now. They might have had a reason to postpone work; everyone solves their own problems in their lives, and you shouldn’t take dirty dishes as a personal insult. Give priority to doubt as much as possible.

Repetitive problems are more frustrating , in which case you need to speak directly and directly. I had mediocre roommates with some annoying habits and tried to talk to them directly, without confrontation. You don’t want to upset them, but you want them to understand what is wrong and why it is affecting you. If your schedules don’t really overlap and you rarely see this person, you may end up texting them. And that’s okay! But don’t bother them like an annoying parent, and don’t be passive-aggressive about it. Speak to the point .

Again, this is rarely a deliberate personal insult unless someone takes the trash out and you shouldn’t treat them like that.

Try drinking beer together from time to time

While I’m not really trying to be best friend with my roommate, I still try to catch up with her sometimes. Not talking to someone for a long time can make them feel like you are avoiding them, which can make the roommate reciprocate by avoiding you as well, as if to put off an awkward, forced conversation.

They don’t know what’s going on in your life, and if they never see you, your roommate might think that you are going through some kind of drama or just a strange phase. When my relationship with my roommate seems tense or strange, I stop and ask myself, “Am I to blame for this? Am I a weirdo in this situation? “Because yes, if I disappear into my bedroom for 72 hours to watch the entire Dragon Ball show, it’s only reasonable that my roommate might think I’m a little upset.

So it’s good to take a second to just say hello from time to time, as if just to demonstrate it, hey, I’m okay, you’re okay, we’re okay. Just touch the base to make sure everything is in order.

When you live with someone, there will always be moments of tension, old friends or not; being together in a small apartment can make even the most harmless quirks into egregious character flaws. You just have to communicate clearly and treat your neighbors with the same respect you want them to.

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