Living With A Friend
When I was first considering living with one of my very close friends, all kinds of advice was pushed in my direction. Most people seem to have the opinion that living with a friend can have negative consequences, like the sacrifice of your friendship, for instance. The idea that rooming with my close friend was a "bad idea," was repeatedly enforced, however, not one person could articulate exactly why he believed this. Most of the people supporting this idea however, never actually lived with a friend and were afraid that they might dislike the living habits of their friend. While this concern isn’t negligible, it’s important to point out that before you choose live with a friend the success of the situation is contingent upon you deciding to accept their habits and flaws beforehand.
Keeping this idea in mind, we have listed some "Dos" and "Don'ts" below that may just help you keep your roommate as your friend.
Do discuss expectations.When you are sharing a dorm or off-campus apartment with another student you typically discuss concerns and expectations when you are first introduced—living with friend is no different. If you both make your expectations clear in the beginning, the chance of conflict in the future is significantly reduced. Shared spaces can be managed much like a business. How are you going to manage your shared space? The answer to this question will set a precedent that will help you create the atmosphere that you are both comfortable living in. For example, if you are both neat freaks, neither of you would be comfortable leaving your shoes on inside or abandoning piles of dishes in the sink. Decide how you will manage your living space beforehand so that your management later doesn’t decide your friendship for you.
Do find ways to be helpful.If you are living with a close friend, you probably care about her a great deal. Being as helpful and considerate as you have been in the past is absolutely critical. If she’s late to class, help her find the book she’s looking for, set out her car keys, or remind her not to forget about that cup of coffee she just poured. Gestures like this will strengthen your friendship, create a positive atmosphere, and prompt your friend to help you in much the same way.
Do discuss problems openly.When an issue arises, discuss it with your friend. If you both agree that your friendship is important, discussing a negative or bothersome habit will be perceived as an act of preservation. To preserve your friendship, it is critical that you not allow issues to fester for fear of confronting your friend. Don’t criticize your friend’s behavior, but show enough regard for your friendship to bring the problem to her attention constructively. Avoid relying on indirect methods of communication like e-mail or hand-written notes because your friend will likely be offended that you didn’t tell her about the problem in person.
Do put your friendship first.Go to the movies, shopping, or out to dinner with your friend on a fairly regular basis. When you live with a friend it’s much easier to take her company for granted. Make spending time outside of the dorm together a priority so that you don’t forget that your roommate is also actually your friend.
Don’t let the little things slip.If your friend forgets to wash her dishes and it’s bothering the heck out of you, tell her! Before bringing up insignificant infractions like this, however, make sure that you consider the reason why your friend’s actions were remiss. Was she studying for an exam? Did she work late? Take the time to consider the cause before reprimanding your roommate for the action.
Don’t assume that because your roommate is a friend that she won’t find any of your habits annoying.Yes, your friend likes you. No, she won’t like all of your habits. This is a fact that you are best off acknowledging right from the start. If you are aware of some of these habits, don’t allow them to continue simply because you think that your friend won’t care. You’ve both agreed to accept each others habits for the most part, but make a sincere effort to make the living arrangement as pleasant as possible for your friend and she will do the same for you.
Don’t stay if the living arrangements with your friend aren’t working.If living with your friend is not working, leave. This will give your friendship a chance to remain in tact if you are truly incompatible as roommates. Make sure your friend knows that you are leaving to preserve the friendship, not because you dislike her.
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