At some point in our lives, we have all lived with someone else whether it be with some mates at uni, a flatshare until you can afford your own place, or a significant other. It starts off great.
At some point in our lives, we have all lived with someone else whether it be with some mates at uni, a flatshare until you can afford your own place, or a significant other. It starts off great. Everyone’s a little bit nervous, trying to make sure that they’re being considerate and trying to make a good impression as ‘The Awesome Housemate’. As time goes on, people begin to get lazy. You know each other’s good and bad points by now, you know each other well enough to talk about poos and pubes and you know not to speak until everyone’s had their coffee fix.
And that’s when things go drastically wrong.
1. The Transition
At university, the ‘done thing’ is to search for a house by January of your first year. You have to choose the people you live with out of a bunch of guys and girls you’ve only known for a couple of months. It often takes a while for everyone to decide on a good number of people, all girls, all guys and, most importantly, what house. It’s a stressful process, and you end up living with people that, in reality, you barely know and the truth is, it can go either way. A person you barely knew could turn out to be your favouritest drinking buddy a few months down the line, and the guy you were dreading living with because he looked dirty might be the cleanest one of all. Unfortunately, it can also turn out for the worst: someone you thought would be your BFF forever might end up rubbing you the wrong way – how were you supposed to know they only shower at two in the morning? The transition from acquaintance to friend is never quicker when you’re forced into the same living space as another person, but remember; the opposite is also true.
2. Clean Freaks and Freaks of Nature
Picture this: You wake up in the morning, go downstairs and, lo and behold, the dishwasher is emptied, the surfaces are clean and there is a fresh bottle of washing up liquid next to the sink. The kitchen fairy? No, it’s that clean housemate of yours, and she expects some appreciation. It’s a lesson to be learned that the person who puts the most effort in to make the house nice for everyone is often taken for granted. Help out once in a while because while there is The Clean Housemate, there is also The Dirty Housemate, and no one wants that label. Clean freaks are one thing, but there are also just plain freaks. Y’know, the guy that smells his plate before he uses it, the girl that has forgotten the meaning of the word ‘vegetable’ and let’s not forget the dude that likes to sit in the dark in the kitchen in the middle of the night when you go to get a drink of water. They may be nuts, but freakish people can be absolute gems, and if they aren’t… Well, your contract runs out soon, doesn’t it?
3. The Good, The Bad and the Dirty
They say that you never know someone until you live with them, which is why you may be in for a few shocks when you say ‘I do’ to moving in with anybody. Living in a group is difficult as there are people that you get on with and people that you don’t for reasons that can be simply put down to a personality clash. The best thing about living in a group is that there is always someone that you can depend on; that person who is always up for chat, will drop everything to split a bottle of wine during times of need, and that will never, ever spill your secrets. Then there is that person who is infallibly fun, the one whose first priority is having a laugh and who always has a smile on their face. However, living in a group means there is always a risk that you’ll end up living with someone that can be dirty, inconsiderate, that steals your butter or worse – someone that watches Stars Dancing With The Voice On Ice Factor. Every. Single. Night. Whatever rubs you up the wrong way, there is a positive for every negative and just as people you love have bad points, the people that grate you have good points and it’s up to you to find them.
4. The Extra Housemate
So you’ve signed your contract, you’re living with three great people and it all seems to be working out. Then it hits you: there’s a fourth one. You don’t know where they came from, but suddenly, they are everywhere. Waking you up to go to the loo at 5am like clockwork. Cooking the smelliest, messiest meals that require the entire kitchen. Sitting in the living room watching Match of the Day. More often than not, The Extra Housemate is a girlfriend or boyfriend of someone that you’re living with, or it could be someone’s best friend from home that happens to adore uni life, or it could even be a good mutual friend that has simply settled in a little too well. It doesn’t matter how nice these people are, it doesn’t matter if they leave a scent of the nicest perfume everywhere they go and it doesn’t matter if they help take out the bins. The point is, you have not signed up to live with them, and it feels unfair that there’s another person around the house that has permanently changed the house dynamic. What you need to remember is, be this person a significant other or friend of your housemate, this extra person is making your housemate happy.
5. Bite Your Tongue
The most important thing in any relationship is communication. Talking about things can really help to sort things out, clear the air and always results in understanding, if not anything else. Not with housemates. Of course, there are certain things that need to be talked about, like if someone’s having a tough time, to sort out the cleaning rota and to gossip about last night’s antics. Issues, problems or dislike of your housemates should never, ever be discussed. To tell someone that you have a problem with their behaviour or simply their personality could never solve anything. Confrontation leads to conflict, and while conflict can be a good thing in almost all other situations, it is different when you live with someone. Screaming and shouting may feel good at the time, but then you have to pass each other on the stairs, see each other at dinner and awkwardly pass each other the remote. Not only is this an extremely uncomfortable situation for you, it makes things tense for all your other housemates and creates a horrible atmosphere in a house where you all have to coexist. So breathe deep, get a drink, slap a smile on your face and try not to snap. What’s the worst that can happen?
As for me, I have things that get on my nerves to the point of excessive drinking, but my housemates are golden and I wouldn’t trade them in for the world. None of us are perfect, and I know for sure that I am not the ideal housemate. I forget to do the washing up just like the next person, I sometimes sing myself to sleep, I’m often irritable, I’ve got a weird thing about toilets, and my boyfriend’s coming over in a minute. We’re making fish for dinner.