Living with another person has its ups and downs, but the downs are particularly biting when your roommate is also your best friend. While this might be one of the most exciting times of your lives together, navigating the pitfalls of sharing a space can put a strain on your relationship.
There’s the old adage that you should never live with your best friend if you want to maintain a strong relationship. However, there are some simple ways to keep the peace and actually have fun in the process. Here are some of the best ways you can make living with your best friend a great experience.
Set ground rules early
You might think that your best friend can read you like a book. After all, you’re best friends, you can practically speak to each other telepathically. However, living together is a little different from hanging out everyday and then going to your own homes.
Think about your daily habits that you need in order to function. Do you need to do the dishes as soon as you make a mess, or do you let them sit for a few hours? Do you like to have alone time in the evening or watch a movie with friends? How do you feel about your best friend’s boyfriend or girlfriend? Are you comfortable with sharing food?
While you don’t need to outline your entire life, highlighting the important things about your daily routine can help mitigate future issues. For example, if you hate seeing hair in the shower drain, talking to your best friend about this early will prevent a clogged drain later on.
Splitting rent between two people means that you can be honest with your friend when their significant other is over too often. As best friends, you should be able to work out compromises to ensure a healthy, happy time as you live together.
Manage your expectations
If you thought every night would be like a fun sleepover, you’ve got another thing coming. Working 40 hours a week (or more) is tough and managing bills, relationships, and other obligations may result in sour moods and tense nights.
This isn’t your fault, but you may become the scapegoat for your friend’s anger or frustration. You might also feel neglected at certain times when your friend relies on other friends to cope with some of these issues. Know that you matter, but you both have separate lives even if you live together.
You might also be surprised when your best friend showcases some less-than-satisfactory quirks or behaviors. They might leave streaks of toothpaste in the sink or need to run the dishwasher every night. Although this is annoying to you, these little quirks aren’t even on your friend’s radar. You shouldn’t nag your friend about every unseemly quality, but opening the lines of communication early can help avoid intense conflicts later on.
Communication goes both ways and it’s going to take a lot of work from both of you to become effective communicators. This includes taking criticism, avoiding passive aggressive behaviors, and bringing up problems when they happen. These factors will stop resentment from growing and allow you to communicate without fear of hurt feelings.
You should try to bring up any and all issues with your roommate in person. Too many conversations get blown out of proportion because of a misinterpreted tone or a stray typo. Just like you would talk over important events like your free rental application together, you should talk about any other issues in person, too.
Taking criticism is perhaps one of the most difficult aspects of becoming an effective communicator. The best tip for taking criticism with grace is to realize that it isn’t a personal attack on you. It might feel aggressive at the time, but your habits and flaws don’t define you. Leaving those toothpaste streaks in the sink sucks for your roommate, but finding a compromise that works for both of you will ensure no ill feelings are present.