Having roommates lessens the cost of living, and residing in a house with other professionals has to be better than living with your college roommate in a closet-sized room, right?
I’m here to tell you it has its ups and downs. The biggest downside is you sacrifice a lot of “alone” time, which can be tough on an introvert. Thankfully you do have your own room—your introvert’s lair from which you can plan to take over the world.
First, you have to deal with your roommates. Here are four ways to do that.
1. Play to your strengths.
Don’t become a House Mother or Father, but if you like crafting and doing nice things for others, do so. Your roommates may leave you a whole pot of fresh coffee in the morning in reciprocation.
Let your roommates get to know your passions and strengths as well as your habits. Don’t behave like you’re a guest in your own house. Many introverts are gifted empaths and form close lifelong bonds. Use that gift to your advantage.
Get to know your roommates and start small with one-on-one time. Everyone has different habits and personalities. Some annoyances will become little jokes, but others may need to be talked about. However, if you learn to accept and respect these differences, eventually even the creaking of the floorboards in the morning will become comforting.
2. Have dinner together at least once a week.
Recall this saying: “A family that eats together, stays together.” There are family members you get along with and others you’d sooner avoid. This saying applies to roommates who share a home, too.
Like family, you’re going to get to know little intimate details about your roommates that you didn’t expect to know—like that one roommate who always has to pee right before dawn. Try spending meaningful time with your roommates, so you get to know them beyond morning grunts. Prepare a meal together, and when that fails, order take out or relax with a movie.
3. Consider implementing house rules.
Though great mediators, introverts tend to dislike being put in the middle of drama. We’re also likely to let the little things build up until a snowball becomes an avalanche. But, letting resentment build up will cause unnecessary stress. So whenever possible, be upfront with your concerns. Don’t assume everyone has the same definition of common courtesy.
Instead of being reactive, focus on being proactive when reaching resolutions with certain roommates who have difficult personalities. Keep in mind that roommates don’t have to be best friends, either. You can live respectfully with someone without being their BFF. For example, my roommate and I once had a month long war over whether to replace our ancient front door. Affordability and function won out in the end, and we both tactfully accepted it.
Some people need a few house rules to stay on track, especially when it comes to keeping the house clean. It’s also important to be on the same page about when partying is okay and how much personal space each roommate needs. Also, no one needs to be a bathroom hog when everyone has a job to go to in the morning. Establishing a set of loose guidelines for mutual respect and household care-taking helps everyone get along better.
4. Find a cozy spot in a coffee shop and become a regular.
Don’t become so much of a regular that your roommates never see you, but it helps to have an outside sacred space that you can retreat to. Plus, what’s more perfect than having rapport with a barista who knows just the way you take your coffee and snark.
Introverts can share a space with roommates–as long as we make an effort to get to know them and set boundaries.
What’s your personality type? We recommend this free personality test from our partner Personality Hacker.