When I moved in with my first roommate, i didn’t overthink it. In fact, i barely thought about it at all.
We were both from the same country, but different provinces, had come from the same city, located in the capital of the country. We weren’t particularly good acquaints, nor we had any adequate info bout each other but in this new place we were hanging out most days and shared the same group of friends and from the result of being robbed, my wallet and passport were gone but thank God i had some hundreds of dollars to help me pay my expenses. so financially and socially it made sense to combine forces and move in together. I actually had no knowledge of being tricked by the charlatans into paying the entire room rent by myself. Sighs…
In amongst the stress of trying to find a house in this new place on a low budget, there wasn’t much time to wax lyrical about whether or not this was the right decision for me or whether i needed to talk about what the expectations of each other were once we moved in together.
I’m now a firm believer that living in a share house is, as a rule, easier than living with someone in a single room.
Sure, it’s kind of like a game of social Russian roulette – will you get a hilarious, clean, cool person who not helps you in the daily chores but also shares thoughts, stories and walks with you a mile on sundays? Or will you get someone resembling the stiff from GridironGang ; a lazy, messy, loudmouthed slob who constantly annoys you? You don’t know! And that is terrifying.
But the benefit of living in a house full of strangers is that you still have that barrier of politeness and awkwardness that stops you from acting too much like yourself in public areas.
You’re not going to leave your underwear hanging around or forget to wash your dishes for three days or blast rap songs in the shower at inappropriate hours. And if your roommate does something to annoy you, you can complain to your fellow housemates and feel confident in confronting them about it (or sending a passive aggressive text, at the very least).
The reality of living with a not well known acquaint are a bit harder. Maybe you’re those who are not so close you need to read each other like a book and never annoy each other. But also the reality for most people is that their relationship with new acquaints works so well because they don’t go home to each other at the end of the day, they’re not in each other’s face in their down time and they can have elongated breaks from each other.
When you live with an aquaint it’s an intensified version of your relationship, and it’s actually really hard to tell them to pick up after themselves, or to do the washing up, or to stop leaving the heater on because you’re already going to get a huge gas bill. It’s awkward to tell them off, or to remind them to do things or to have them rely on you for food or money or cleaning.
When I moved in with this roommate, I soon noticed that he didn’t share my penchant for cleaning dishes and putting them away as soon as he’d finished eating. He liked to soak them overnight, which sometimes turned into two nights if he had night shifts at work or was out and about.
Sure, the logical thing to do would be to talk to him about it, ask him if he could stop smoking inside the room and start washing up every night and then laugh about it and move on. But it’s a weird conversation to have with someone who you usually don’t talk too much with about work and studies, movies and music. So, I just started doing his dishes, along with mine, every night, not saying anything and festering away with resentment.
After months of feeling hard done by I boiled over and we had a huge fight. To my horror, he was also angry at me for not pulling my weight – he had been doing the lion’s share of the room cleaning and I hadn’t noticed.
These things sounded stupid and trivial but when you’re seeing each other day in, day out they start eating away at you and taking on deeper meanings.
Doing things differently Now, with hindsight, I wish that we had just sat down, before going house hunting, and said “Okay, what are the things you want in a roommate?”. We could have got everything – the stupid and petty to the extremely important – out on the table, and then we would have known where we stood moving in. We would have saved so many awkward moments or frustrated silences or quiet annoyances where we didn’t want to teach each other so we stayed silent.
This is to say I regret living with an acquaint– I din’t liked nearly every minute of it and we’re still aren’t good now – we don’t live together anymore, but that because of reckless behaviors, mine as well (don’t want to put all blames on one person).
I do, however, wish we had taken the time before we moved in to sit down and lay down some ground rules.
I do wish I’d told him before we moved in that I hated him borrowing my clothes and eating my dark chocolate, smoking inside the room, talking on the phone late night hours and not doing the washing up every night.
And I wish I’d known that he hated it when I used his expensive shampoo and played my music in the morning and didn’t do my share of the room cleaning.
I don’t think there’s any sort of personality test you can do to decide whether you and your new acquaint will make good roommate material, but if you’re willing to sit down and lay all your weird quirks, annoyances and nuances bare – you’re onto a good thing. There are different approaches and measures for that we need to pledge all our conideration and specifications with.