It goes without saying that living with others can be difficult. Most of us learn this growing up in our parent’s household or a college dorm or some other living arrangement that allows us to experience the range of personalities, quirks, peeves, behaviors and emotions of another.
Here are some personal unconventional tips to help maintain and respect boundaries and adaptability when living with others. These adaptations have enriched our lives allowing us to enjoy and exploit the benefits of communal living. It can enhance quality of life, access to resources, improve growth and development, social approach, balance behavior, decrease workload (chores) and curb deficiencies. As you will see, the concepts are really supported by a philosophy.
- Respect should be your highest value in all aspects of the living situation. All manners of respectable living come from respectable behaviors, respectful habits, and respecting others verbally and for their differences while appreciating their contributions.
- Always clean up after yourself. If you made a mess, you are responsible for it. Of course to maintain respect, you must keep up the environment clean for others that will access the area and guests that may be invited into the area at short notice. You don’t want to always be having to “excuse your messy place” or have to “clean up before someone comes over.” The whole idea is that when you disrespect the household, you are disrespecting your guests because you don’t care enough to make an effort to ensure they’re comfortable when they come to visit you. Think, what if (insert favorite celebrity here) walked through the door… Would you have confidence or pride in what they would see? Don’t disrespect your guests (or each other) by trashing your hard-earned household. Take pride in your clean and tidy surroundings as well as décor choice and placement. Consider “life-editing” and “minimalism” to help with bad habits that would otherwise turn you into a hoarding troll. Keeping some sort of organization system going will help with the chaos of everyday life and may help you focus or avoid distraction. Community rooms (ex. Living room, kitchen, etc.) are to be kept to different standards than bedrooms/personal spaces.
- No dishes, ever. If dishes can’t be washed off immediately or stored in the dishwasher after use, (disposable) throwaway paper and plastic cups, bowls, and utensils will suffice to substitute. Keep dishes hidden deep in cabinets and hard to reach for (reserved for desperation) to deter their use and stock the cabinets with disposables. This will cause more trash and possibly cost more money but it will save more time and effort in the long run. Figure out what works best for you but I have tried both. No matter what, the disposable solution has been the only one that works to keep dishes out of the sink.
- Respect privacy so much that when they are in their room, don’t bother them for any reason. Text or call them on their phone if you need to ask or tell them something, but don’t go knocking on their door, interrupting their leisure time to bother them with your requests. Don’t go in their room unless invited and don’t comment on their rooms upkeep. If they want to keep their space a certain way, it is not yours to dictate otherwise. Encourage good habits but strict rules only apply to the community accessed rooms.
- Decorate together. Community space is shared and accessed by all and should reflect the themes agreed upon by all members. If you buy something and it gets turned down, return it or put it in your room (get creative).
- Minimize clutter. Clutter promotes unhealthy dust buildup and provides excess information for the mind to process. Constrict clutter clusters to contained areas, display units, storage furniture or hidden away out of sight.
- Volume control. Maintain a reasonable volume, and an even lower volume at night to avoid waking up others or disturbing them. If volume is never a complaint, then its not an issue.
- Chores can be hard to keep up with and it can be a good idea to section off and share tasks. Mail, trash, laundry, dishes, dog walks, mopping, deep cleaning, vacuuming, it all sucks. Partition your day to prioritize chores as if they were a midterm exam.
- Dispute Resolution can be complicated, therefore it is always best practice to always keep in mind the most important thing: Respect. Talk things out diplomatically, without emotion and LISTEN to all sides. Be careful in your wording and make each other comfortable so that there is no fear of coming to each other about issues.
- Friendship & Bonding – This is an important aspect to communal living as it forms the foundation for desire to stay in the living arrangement. Some ideas that come to mind are movie/gaming nights, movie theater invites, cooking out together, taking care of a pet together, activity or event invites, and just offering emotional support. It can be good to promote a little bit “family” atmosphere, and of course without the dysfunction and drama as many of us have grown up with.
Always consider the benefits of communal living and if they outweigh the benefits of other arrangements (or opposed to none at all). Living by yourself can be lonely, and all the maintenance and responsibility lies on you alone. This can be unhealthy for most people. Living with others can offer companionship, more perspectives (psychologically enhancing), shared workload, increased quality of life, amongst many other benefits if the symbiotic relationship is cultivated and boundaries are well established.