A Guide for Successful Housemate Relationships
The key to a good relationship is communication. This is apparent when living off-campus. Whether this is the first time living off-campus or the first time with new housemates, it is always important to set clear expectations right from the start. Here are a few suggestions:
- Do you mind lending items to housemates, such as clothes, books, money, class notes, and food?
- What items are all right to share -TV? Microwave? Computer?
- How important is a clean house to you? Is this different from the ideas of your housemates?
- How will responsibilities be assigned? For example, who will clean the bathroom? Vacuum the living room? Take out the trash?
- Who will buy cleaning supplies?
- When do you like to go to sleep?
- Are you a morning or night person?
- How do the previous two questions differ from your housemates?
- How will housemates deal with problems stemming from a guest or guests?
- How will the housemates address the issue of overnight guests of the opposite sex? Same sex?
- How do you feel about gatherings?
- When do you like to study?
- Are you able to study with noise? How much noise? What about your housemates?
- How often do you consume alcohol?
- How often do your housemates consume alcohol?
- How does your response differ from your housemate?
- How do you act when you are upset?
- Do you tend to say things you are thinking, or do you keep it all inside?
- Are you an introvert or extravert?
- Are there times you prefer to be alone?
- How do you know if people are mad?
- What annoys you?
- What are you like when you are under pressure?
- What are some specific things that bother you?
- Will housemates buy goods together? For example, food, dishes, bathroom items, cleaning supplies, etc.
- If a housemate leaves, how will goods and costs be split up?
Rules for a Good Discussion
Problems do arise between housemates. Here are some tips to help you confront problems and deal with issues in your house.
- Focus on the behavior-not your housemate.
- "Own" your feelings-you choose to feel and act a certain way.
- Listen to all perspectives. Let your housemates speak without interruption, and actively listen to their requests.
- Make sure you understand everything that is being said; assume nothing.
- Remember that this is not a win/lose situation. The goal is to find some kind of compromise for all to live with. Be as objective and rational as possible.
- If emotions are running high, take a break and resume discussion later.
- Try to get at the heart of the problem right away. Don't waste time on details of little concern.
- Try to remain calm.