View Full Version : On adjusting to life with a roommate

23 Feb 2012, 19:55
For those of you who don't know, I've lived alone for the last three years (after having made a pretty huge mistake of moving in with a boyfriend only to have it end disastrously) and now, I find myself with a roommate for the first time.

We didn't start out the way conventional roommates start out - we met last year and became steadfast friends, and then lovers, and then when I finally met someone who piqued my interest outside of the bedroom, I left all that behind to start a real, proper relationship that wasn't just semi-meaningless sex (something I also haven't had in a while)

I moved 18 hours from the place I grew up to live with my roommate, because we had all these amazing, awesome things planned. We were going to bike to the Charlottes, and drive to the Yukon, and go on hikes, and get up early and do awesome, amazing things. I moved all my things up last November before disappearing to Asia, and now that I'm back in Canada, we've found a house (albeit temporary - I'll get to that), and I'm slowly adjusting to life in a small town (after having been raised in a city).

I love to read, I love outdoor sports, I love quiet towns, and quiet people. Yeah, I love all the city life too, but it's about balance. I've no shortage of hobbies to keep me entertained. But since I've moved up here, I'm bored. And ridiculously lonely. I go to bed at 7 or 8PM sometimes, because I can't be bothered to be awake any longer. I can't sleep - I dream all night and wake up in the early hours so awake that I end up getting up. It's not unusual for me to be up at 5AM lately. My roommate works the same kind of work I do (although I'm unemployed at the moment) ...and when he's home, he stays out with his friends until late, and sleeps until noon. The only person in this entire town I know is my roommate, and we don't do anything fun or cool. I can get up, cook breakfast, shower, clean the house, and go to the gym and back before he's awake sometimes, and then he calls his friends and goes out. Sometimes, we go grocery shopping or something, and once, we went hiking for an afternoon.

I mean, yeah. I get that I'm supposed to entertain myself. But I moved up here so we could be awesome friends together. And he's not here half the time. And not only that, I find that I don't actually like having a roommate. I feel like I spend half my time cleaning and rearranging things in the house (I'm OCD, and he finds it funny to move things on me. I fail to see the humour.)

I've thought about talking to him about how upset and lonely and how depressed I've been, but I can't seem to find the right time to bring it up. And not only that, I don't want to bring it up - it'll just make him feel bad that I dislike it here, and his way of dealing with it is to ignore me for a while. Which is what he's doing right now, come to think of it. We got into a bit of a quiff and he left the house and hasn't been back for hours.

We only have this place for three months, because we found a short-term lease on a house that's in the selling process. It was the only thing on the market at the moment, and we needed something. I thought it was a bad thing at first, because the owners won't let me have my cat (a large reason I'm so lonely, probably - or the fact that I have no family/friends here, or even within a 12 hours drive from here) ...but if I'm still this lonely in three months, I might move back down south. And I don't know how to say that to him, either. How do you tell someone "I hate living with you, and your town makes me miserable?"

I don't know how to have a roommate. Should I care that he gets angry with me frequently? Should he care that I'm so lonely and depressed that I cry myself to sleep at night? Should we share cooking meals for each other, or tell each other about our day, or what? How does this roommate thing work?

And what am I doing wrong?

24 Feb 2012, 00:24
I've shared accommodation since I was in uni. I lived with seven other girls in uni, then two other girls in Japan and finally 4 others (technically more, but I only consider those of us sharing the same kitchen and bathroom as roommates), in Germany. I'm currently living with a girl from work. I've had language barriers, lifestyle differences and even religious and political differences to overcome and yet, I've never had a falling out with a roommate! I've been told I am easy to get along with, but I think most people are (or can be), so I don't think I do anything special. I think I have just been lucky enough to share with nice people.

Your roommate getting angry with you worries me the most and makes me wonder if it is HE who doesn't have the skills to be a good roommate. You are in danger of being overly dependant on this person right now, as you seem otherwise isolated and that worries me too. When I moved to Germany, I was keen not to let myself become dependant on my ex boyfriend (just as well, because without warning, he pissed off home to Füssen for six weeks so I'd have had literally no one). I made contacts online before I even arrived in Augsberg. I arrived on Wednesday, met up with a few German guys the following night and had built a small social circle for myself by the following Monday. I did something similar before moving to Japan because I didn't want to be one of those people who live overseas and only have friends of their own race. I also went alone to a basement disco/rave type thing for students. That was scary because I was the only non-Japanese person to go and the Japanese are usually pretty shy around foreigners. I DID manage to make friends though, despite the language barrier and this is how I first discovered Harajuku fashion (something that is still a part of me, even though I'd be WAY to old for this scene if I still lived in Japan). Pushing myself beyond my comfort zone let me experience a life I'd never have seen, had I just hung out with work colleagues as many others end up doing.

So my advice to you is definitely push yourself to be bold and get out on your own and make friends. It is scary stuff (if you're naturally shy like I am), but having local support that isn't your roommate will really help you. Also, don't forget that there is often a period of loneliness and depression while adapting to life in a new town or even country. I can't remember it but I remember reading that there are indentifiable stages in the settling in process. Your sleeping all the time is possibly just part of this process (I remember sleeping A LOT when I first moved to a new place). Try to build a life for yourself if you can. You might find that this falls into place naturally when you find a job.

Best of luck to you.

24 Feb 2012, 02:54
I think you should just tell him that you don't want to be allways alone, and because of that you maybe want to move back down south.
When I lived with my roommate it was like hell. Really. We lived in a small building and all we did was fighting. I haven't find out either how to be a good roommate. I don't think you're doing something wrong. He just don't understand you and your feelings. If you realy want to talk with him. make sure he understands it. Thats maybe all I can say...

24 Feb 2012, 06:13
Rather than repeat what anyone else has said (which are all good points to consider), I'm going to say that living with someone that isn't happy is frustrating, which often leads to anger. And I'm willing to bet he knows you aren't happy, even if you haven't told him...and even if he hasn't anything about it because he doesn't know what to do with the information. But happiness isn't some automatic state--it takes work.

I think the other things might be easier to deal with if you had something for yourself outside of the household too. Have you gone into town and introduced yourself around (all you have to do is go be seen and say hello---if its a small enough town, people will be curious and take care of the rest)? Have you looked for ways to be useful in the community (always a good way to meet people)--is there a school or an old folks home or an animal shelter or a food bank or a rec center or a library (all places that generally need help and take volunteers)? If there is a lot of wilderness area, is there a park you could volunteer at or a search and rescue group to work with? What about taking distance classes towards whatever it is you would like to do? If he's been going out with his friends, have you tried going out with them too? Or just going out?

The other part of is it is that you have to give a little. It takes compromise to live with someone successfully. If he moves shit because he doesn't *get* that it really bothers you, then don't react to it...and have a matter of fact discussion (not an argument) later about it, when you aren't pissed over it...and if he keeps it up, ignore it (and I promise, if he's actually doing it on purpose, he will stop after a week or two)...but for people without OCD, its generally not something they think about. My husband leaves kitchen stuff (spices, etc) wherever he last uses them and it drives me up the wall...he doesn't do it to piss me off, he does it because placement of kitchen spices isn't even a blip on his radar screen and bitching to him about it every time he does it about as inconsiderate as it would be if he *was* doing it on purpose.

You can't expect someone else that has been living on their own to conform to how you like things overnight--both of you have to adjust. If you need to, make a list of the things that drive you batty and pick three to address with him---and that means HE gets to pick three things that drive him batty and address them with you, and you BOTH need to listen without judgement and then do your best to better accommodate each other on those three things.

Some of this might be travel let-down too--the "official" term for it is post-travel depression, and its pretty common (http://www.ytravelblog.com/dealing-with-reverse-culture-shock/) for people that go abroad or do other travel for a long period of time...in a way, its alot like getting out of the military or getting back from a deployment...

24 Feb 2012, 09:58
I have had roommates over the years,and to be truthful there were a few that my thoughts considered if I could get away with offing them,and hiding their bodies. I now live alone,and I don't think I could abide another person sharing my space.

24 Feb 2012, 10:23
I think living with roommates just isn't for some people. I'm one of those people for sure. I can give you some tips on the short term, but I think that eventually you'll be happier on your own if you're anything like me (when you can afford it). It's just that when you have roommates, the space is never really YOURS. When I lived with family, it was different because it's a shared space in more of a personal, permanent way, but with roommates everything feels sort of temporary and impersonal, even when you're close. I'm very private about my space and I'm very picky about who I let in...I'll invite friends over and stuff but as to who can stay long-term, I'm only comfortable with someone I'm extremely close to (family, boyfriend, etc) having that kind of proximity to me. I've lived with horrible roommates and great roommates, but either way I never really felt comfortable or 'at home' in that situation.

As for how to deal, I think the issue here is that you want to spend a lot of time together, and he isn't available. This can be tough, and I think it's the reason why people who are close friends often don't make great roommates. You kind of do your own thing sometimes, and when you're friends sometimes that can leave the other person feeling left out. I'd say to keep in mind that it's a schedule thing, and sometimes you just need apart time. Enjoy the times you do have together and make a priority to schedule some of that super awesome stuff you want to do!

27 Feb 2012, 08:25
Some of this might be travel let-down too--the "official" term for it is post-travel depression, and its pretty common (http://www.ytravelblog.com/dealing-with-reverse-culture-shock/) for people that go abroad or do other travel for a long period of time...in a way, its alot like getting out of the military or getting back from a deployment...

I haven't responded to this thread right away, because I wanted some time to think over the responses. Thanks, by the way.

Thal, I think a lot of my problems right now are this travelling depression thing: I love many, many things about Canada, and about northern BC (hell, that's why I moved here!) ...but it's not the same. I'm in the same house all the time, and yes, I do go out, daily. I go to the gym (I got a membership) and I've signed up for aquasize, and I frequent the same coffee shop every day and talk to the owners, and I'm about as chatty as I'm capable of being (which sadly, isn't much - a bit socially awkward, I'm afraid) ...and I've gone hiking, and I'm going cross country skiing next week, but...

It's not Asia. It's not traveling. It's not utter freedom, and I feel stifled, and it makes me really sad. Another sore point which has been bothering me is that I'm not allowed to have my cat. And sure, this might make me sound like a crazy cat lady, but I was given Cedric when I was heartbroken from another relationship, I had just moved out from living with said person, and I couldn't walk because of a knee surgery. He's my best bud: he's the little grey thing of fur that cuddles me when I cry, and gives me someone to talk to when there isn't anyone around. And my current landlords won't allow me to have pets. And there's no other rentals in town right now, sadly. So until there are, I haven't got my cat.

As for my roommate, after a particularly bad day, the day I made this thread, I think - I finally broke down and I asked him if I was a bad roommate. He was surprised and said no, that I'm a great roommate, and so I asked him why he never spends any time with me (we aren't just roommates, we're friends too...or we're supposed to be) ...and he said it just didn't occur to him. It probably didn't help that I started to cry as soon as I asked, but hey, I can't control my emotions THAT well.

Anyhow, we ended up having a talk, and I told him how hard I've been trying to make friends, and how lonely I am, and how much I miss my friends and family and cat, and how I feel like he never has time for me, when he is my only friend in town. He said he wasn't aware of any of this, and couldn't tell I'd been unhappy (though I still don't understand how) ...and he's been making an effort to spend more time with me now. I'm still not invited out when he hangs out with his friends, but his friends are all guys, and they just do 'guy' things together (like sitting in a garage and smoking, and I'm allergic to cigarette smoke)

I guess things will slowly get better. I still don't like living with someone, and I wish I was still traveling, but I'm trying.