I’m going to be completely honest. I’ve always had a tough time living with other people. Even people I really like. Whether it’s a roommate, a partner, or family, there always comes a point where I’m holed up in my bedroom, desperate for some solitude. Some days, all I want is an empty house and no interruptions.
As an introvert, I don’t think I’m alone in this. Let’s explore why it can be hard for introverts to live with other people, plus I’ll share with you thee things I’ve learned to make it easier for everyone involved.
Why Sharing a Home Can Be Hard for Introverts
Sharing a home can be tough for anyone, introvert or extrovert. We all have our own definition of “clean,” plus our own sleep habits, weekend goals, needs, and preferences. But for introverts, who are naturally private and need plenty of downtime, sharing a home can be even more challenging. Let me explain.
After a long day of work, school, or running multiple errands, introverts need alone time essentially to come back to life. Interactions with coworkers, classmates, and the general public drain our energy and often leave us completely wiped out. Perhaps this is why many of us tend to be extremely territorial — we find house guests intrusive and dislike yielding our intimate spaces to others for more than a few hours at a time.
An introvert’s brain processes every little thing so deeply that it can be utterly exhausting. It’s imperative that we have quiet time to retreat into our inner world and think things through, free of interruptions. This solitude allows us to re-energize and bounce back, giving us the get-up-and-go we need to spend quality time with our friends and family.
Introvert hangover, anyone?
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So it’s not that we’re antisocial. It’s just that most human interactions drain our energy. When we share our home with other people, it means there are times when we physically can’t get away from the noise and stimulation — and that’s a terrifying prospect. For many introverts, the constant company can be completely overwhelming, even if we enjoy having those people in our life.
So what’s an introvert to do?
3 Ways to Make Sharing a Home Easier
1. Create a space of your own
Every introvert needs a refuge, a place to escape to when the noise and pressure of the world become too much. If you live alone, your home is a refuge in and of itself. However, if you live with family, a partner, or roommates, you’ll have to work a little harder to find a secluded spot to call your own.
Your bedroom will be the most obvious choice, but an unused attic or basement will work as well. Your hidey hole/retreat/stronghold should be comfortable. Make sure there’s somewhere cozy to sit, like a bed, couch, or chair. Multiple pillows and blankets are other must-haves. Practice a little hygge, and stock your space with candles, thick socks, and an electric kettle for tea during the cooler months.
You’ll also want your haven to have everything you need to keep your mind happily engaged — things like personal electronics, books, journals, art supplies, or anything you need for your hobbies. Snacks won’t hurt, either. Simply put, your solo-time hideaway should be a self-contained space you can disappear to whenever you most need it.
Of course, if you sleep with your partner, you’ll have to learn how to share a bed and your bedroom in a way that works best for both of you. This will most likely include laying out a few rules and guidelines, and more than a little compromise.
Speaking of communication…
2. Communicate your needs
No matter what your relationship to the other people in your home, you’ll need to communicate why you need time alone — that is, why it’s beneficial for both you and your relationship with them. This is an absolute necessity if you’re in a romantic relationship, as your partner may misconstrue your need for solo time as a sign they’ve done something to upset you.
It’s also important to note that it may bear repeating a few times, especially if your housemates are extroverts. Feel free to share articles and books about introversion with your loved ones so they can get a better handle on who you are and why you excel when you’ve had plenty of time to decompress on your own.
3. Find ways to compromise
Part of maintaining healthy relationships with others is compromising when necessary. Though you may want to come home from work and immediately hole up in your bedroom, your loved ones want to see your beautiful face and spend quality time with you.
You can accommodate each other by splitting the evening (or weekends) into chunks of time spent both together and apart. For example, you can spend 20 minutes relaxing alone after coming home from work and then cook and eat a meal with your partner/family/roommate. Or, you might choose to watch a movie together. If you’re the active type, you could go for a group bike ride. After enjoying a bit of togetherness, you can then retreat to your bedroom and enjoy the rest of the evening alone.
However, you should never compromise in a way that is continually detrimental to your health or happiness. Healthy compromise is when every person involved is willing to experience short-lived discomfort in return for future gain (i.e., a happier relationship).
Ultimately, the best way to share a home with others is to communicate, compromise, and withdraw when need be. Remember, spending time alone is not selfish, it’s self-care — and what’s good for you is good for the people you love.