So…you’re looking for a roommate.

Some of you may be reaching that point in your life where you are about to head off to college! Or maybe you’re just a single girl or guy who needs a cut in your expenses. So… you’re looking for a roommate.

There are lot of things to learn from having roommates. A lot of things can happen while living with someone else. To name a few:

You can luck up and turn into best friends with your roomie!

You can think you lucked up and turned into best friends with your roomie, only to find out later that you are WRONG. They actually hate you.

You can have a social life because of your roommate… Yay!

You can save money because of your roommate.

You can blow money because of your roommate.

You can have more fun because of your roommate!

You can be miserable because of your roommate.

You can even be abused by your roommate–emotionally and physically.

As a preface to the things I am about to say, I acknowledge that not everything I am communicating in this message is from my own experience, but these are things that come from my insight of a combination of my own and others’ experiences.

 

You’ve all probably heard, “Don’t live with your best friend,” or other things along that line, and that can often be true. But the real truth behind that is not that your best friend is lying to you…it’s that your best friend CAN be lying to you about who they are. A truer statement is, “You never know what someone is like until you live with them.”

Sometimes people have underlying issues in their lives that they hide very easily in public and even from their very best friends, but can’t cover up so well behind closed doors. These issues could be insecurities, buried feelings from the past, character flaws, physical or mental illnesses, or even just plain selfishness.

Unfortunately, people don’t really like to tell you about their problems (their REAL problems) at all, and especially before living with you if they’re really wanting a roommate. So things like… being “Type A”/narcissistic, having clinical depression, having regular hallucinations that aliens are abducting them and stealing their organs, exerting schizophrenic behavior, whispering to their grandma… who is dead, having bipolar disorder, having bouts of hysteria, etc.–these are the kinds of things people probably don’t even want to admit to/face for themselves, much less tell you about. So, if you wind up living with someone who has serious issues, you won’t know it until you see it and have to deal with it directly, possibly while traumatized.

So, you could end up rooming with someone who regularly makes you paranoid that they have slashed their wrists and are soaking to death in the bathtub while cursing at the aliens. But ideally, your roommate will be a stable person like you and only carry minor annoyances, like not washing the dishes as often as you or forgetting to carry out the trash. Perhaps it could help to get to know people who are friends with that person before living with them to get an idea of what others know about them, but all you can really do is just pray for the best situation.

You may be in college or in your early career stage. You might be learning a lot about chemistry, physics, computers, and writing papers. You might be learning the ropes of business management, social networking, developing a regular routine again, handling new bills. You might also learn some things about growing up, being an adult, entering the “real world.” Along with that kind of learning, you might gain some supplemental insight that everyone doesn’t traverse that path the same way and at the same time, or even with anyone at all. Everyone is different, everyone grows up differently, everyone doesn’t grow up at the same time. Sometimes, people don’t grow up at all. Sometimes, you are faster at it than others. Sometimes they are faster than you. You just have to figure out how to deal with those who “just ain’t got it” yet.

Above all, in your journey through young adulthood, you should be learning a lot about yourself. Even in times of crises, you can discover some of the most important things about yourself… how much time you need to study for that stupid biology test, HOW to even study for that stupid biology test, what to wear on a rainy day in Auburn, Alabama, what keeps you awake (legally) for more than 24 hours, what keeps you going when you’re having a bad day, what kinds of friends you want, what kinds of behavior you will tolerate people dishing at you.

You are now in charge of yourself, which can be an achievement or an obstacle in your path of growing up, depending on your background and maturity level. Having a roommate is just another contribution to your pile of experiences (lessons) to learn from.

Now, I’m no married woman, but I’m pretty sure that being married and being someone’s roommate are TOTALLY different things (thank goodness). It seems that probably the main difference between living with someone and living with someone you are married to is that when you are married to someone, you share the same life–you are still two different people, but you live together in a more complete sense. A roommate is someone you share a dwelling place with–someone you may or may not have a personal connection to. They have their life, and you have yours. They have their schedules, and you have yours. They have their friends, and you have yours. They have their food, and you have yours. They have their clothes, and you have yours. They have their money, and you have yours. They have their methods of doing things around the house, and you have yours. They have their….okay, you get it. But a lot of people don’t get that. (Those are the people who shouldn’t live with anyone… But they usually do.)

So, what I’m trying to say is, I hope your roommate experiences have been/are/will be great, even if they are not particularly pleasant. If you end up with the most miserable person–someone who legitimately loathes your existence, someone who insists on being angry about everything they can conjure up to be angry about, someone who wants to manipulate you for any reason, someone who refuses to work out problems unless it allows them to scream at you or feel superior to you, someone who pretends to be your friend and then stonewalls you at the first sign of a disagreement, etc.–don’t despair (easier said than done). Ride out things as much as you can, but learn yourself. Know your boundaries, and respect them. Others–the people who truly care about you and respect you–will follow suit. If your roommate is not one of those people who can respect you and your boundaries, get out if and when you can. Get out of that living situation, and get out of whatever relationship you have with that person because it is simply destructive and unhealthy. Even if you feel like a jerk initially, you won’t regret making that decision.

In a nutshell, those are my tips on establishing relationships in general, but it is especially useful for determining what you want/need in a living situation because living with someone can have a huge impact on your emotional and physical well-being, perhaps even more so than your closest friendships.

Extra Important Tip: If you are concerned about a situation to the point that you worry a person may physically harm you, and if you are taking physical precautions around that person (whether it is a male or female) you need to sever that relationship immediately. A person is not your friend if he or she gives you a reason to feel unsafe around them, emotionally or physically. Get out. And maybe even get help.

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