How to Live Peacefully with Someone in an Apartment
Frustrated because you're the only person doing any chores? Angry that your live-in significant other is inconsiderate towards your feelings? Sick of being kept awake because of obnoxious partying?
Room mates can become best of friends, but more often than not it's more of a nightmare. How can you resolve your differences without killing one another until the lease is up?
Don't have this conversation while you're emotional. Being angry or upset won't do anything to help. Your room mate is less likely to hear anything you're yelling at them. Forgive your roomie, even if they were being complete jerks, and even if they offer up no apology. If you keep arguing, nobody will ever get any peace. Wave your white flag.
Whoops- I already yelled at them.
Apologize and start fresh. Explain that you want to work out a solution that will benefit everyone.
Talk it out
Have a conversation about what can be done.
Compromise. If your room mate is terrible at doing dishes, ask if there's another chore they'd be willing to contribute to more often if you take care of all the dishes. Or, if you take care of all the housework, you don't have to pay any electric bills.
The idea is to compromise so that both people are happy.
Listen. Don't put down any ideas that your room mate has, even if you don't like them. Brainstorm without starting a fight and at the end of your brainstorming session, pull the conversation towards one of the solutions you liked best. Don't insult them, act irritated or threaten them. Keep it non confrontational.
If your room mate denies that they're doing whatever it is that's bothering you...
Try to discern whether they're in denial and could be pulled out of it, or whether they're purposely lying.
If you believe that your room mate could be shown what they're doing, find a way to show them (gently). Get an audio of them loudly snoring on your phone, for example, or turn the stereo up and bring them into your room to show them how much of their music goes through the wall.
If you think your room mate is lying to you, it's likely that they are trying to backtrack. They could also be embarrassed and not want to admit there's a problem. You could coax it out of them, but chances are just talking won't work.
If your room mate agrees to do something and then doesn't do it...
You might feel like a nagging parent, and maybe that's pretty much what you've become. There are several ways to combat this.
Sometimes gentle reminders work, but only at the right time. Wait until right before your room mate makes a decision. If she's about to call her friends over at 9:30 pm and you agreed the cut off point was at 10 pm, ask if maybe she could agree to meet them elsewhere. Stop her as she's picking up the phone.
If things get bad, stop nagging. Stop doing your room mates chores for them. Allow the natural consequences of their actions to hurt them. If they never take out the trash it will soon take over the living room, and they won't like it any more than you will. If they forget to pay the electric bill, neither of you will have electricity. Don't say anything about it except "hmm, guess we don't have electricity today." This isn't fun but it will get the message across to them. You aren't going to save them from their irresponsible actions any more.
If talking didn't go so well, you need to take matter into your own hands. This may require you to be sneaky and creative. Try to think of something that won't harm your room mate, but will allow you to be happy.
If your room mate constantly barges in for example, talk to your landlord and ask if you can change the door handle to one that will lock. This will force your room mate to knock.
If you can't agree to leave each other's food alone, then buy a mini fridge and keep it in an old lockable TV cabinet. Keep your goodies in there.
These are just a few examples. Think outside the box.
Try not to make these common mistakes...
- Blaming everything on the other person. From your roomies POV it's all your fault too.
- Using vindictive methods. Try to "give them a taste of their own medicine." This is detrimental to the relationship, and will only make everyone angrier. It could also have legal ramifications.
- Giving up too soon. Sometimes people just need a few days to calm down before they're willing to be reasonable.
- Being passive aggressive. There's a difference between doggedly trying to get your way and honestly trying to see things from your roommate's point of view.
Next time you're looking for a room mate...
- Choose someone with similar habits as you. If you're messy, don't ask an orderly person to live with you. If you work early in the morning, don't live with a person who works the night shift.
- Remember that some differences in personality can be compatible. If you hate to cook, but find mowing satisfying, and your potential roommate loves to cook but hates yard work, a deal can be made.
- Agree to things before moving in or shortly after. Talk about how bills, chores and noise issues will be handled. Come to an agreement before things go wrong and consider signing a document and hanging it on the fridge.
- Don't move in with someone you work with, just started dating or are friends with. If you're afraid you'll mess the relationship up, you might have trouble having honest, productive conversations. Although this works out for some people, it can be disastrous for others.