Roommate Rules: They Drive Us Crazy
Some difficulty can be expected when two adults from different backgrounds cohabitate. This is as true for a platonic "roomie" as for a lover. My days of "roomies" are over, but I have some advice for those thinking of taking on a roommate or with one that currently exists.
Rules For Roommates
1. Familiarity breeds contempt. Don't hang around with each other 24/7. Issues will arise faster and differences of opinion will become major blowups. Try to spend a couple of nights a week apart. If you each have your own lives, you'll be far happier when you're together. Plus, it gives you something to talk about besides who left the kitchen light on or who looks better in a bathing suit.
2. Respect each other's personal space. If he/she has their own shelf in the fridge, don't touch their food. If they have a bra hung over their doorknob, knock before you waltz in, and ladies... don't share each other's cosmetics, jewelry, deodorant, or feminine products. Get your own. Don't loan the other person your car, cell phone, debit/credit card, or any money whatsoever. It is better, when possible, to let the other person know beforehand when you'll be having company, and never allow a guest to stay more than a night or two at a time.
3. Communicate. If you have beef with the other person let it out in as calm and rational manner as you can, as soon as possible. This prevents the built up volcanos that can erupt otherwise.
4. Share the load. Yes, a chore chart is a fine idea in any co-living situation. If you have a new one each month, you can initial something when it actually gets done, providing handy visual emphasis/ammunition that no one can argue with. (Works great for mothers too.)
5. Don't get personal. Avoid "you" comments. Try things like "I feel like..." Disagreements happen between the best of friends. This is a good tool to stop them from turning into arguments.
6. Have a joint budget. Get together and decide which things (i.e. toilet paper, paper towels, cleaning supplies, condiments you both use, utilities, and laundry/dishwasher soap) you are both going to use. Plan for that financially. Those things add up.
7. Be the initial signer of the lease/homeowner if possible. Then, you have the ultimate power and, if things go south, you won't be homeless. If you are on the other side of the coin, have a backup plan where you can stay if necessary.
8. Keep it light. Attack things with a sense of humor whenever possible, especially if your "roomie" is of the opposite sex. Things the opposite sex do are incomprehensible upon occasion, but it makes sense to them.
9. Stay out of each other's relationships. Don't go to "roomie's" parents' place for thanksgiving dinner. Don't advise them in their love relationships other than consoling or rejoicing along with their mood. Definitely, don't set them up with your cousin/coworker/buddy. Then you are in the middle, not a comfortable place to be.
10. Lastly, don't be a pig. Nobody wants to room with the untidy or the clutter-lover. Do that in your own room and never in the common areas!
That doesn't sound too difficult, does it? Believe me, it is. However, it is absolutely worth it. I've had roommate issues in every single one of those areas. Be sure you are absolutely onboard with these, and your "roomie" is too, before you move in together. Both of you need to be committed to making the living arrangements work, or it won't work.