Valentine’s Day isn’t just for romantic relationships. Community Housing Office (CHO) is going to take this time to address some of those other wonderful relationships in your life- your friends!
Does Best Friend = Best Roommate?
You know your best friend’s heartbreaks and crushes, most embarrassing Isla Vista moments, wild career aspirations, favorite midnight munchies, and wishes of travel. What you may not know is that your best friend occasionally pays rent a few days late, doesn’t know how to use a vacuum cleaner, listens to loud music until 3am, sleeps until 3pm, and can live comfortably in what others could simply call a “pig sty.” Whether you live with your best friend or are considering it for next year, keep reading for some helpful tips from Community Housing Office.
Living together is a much different story than hanging out together a lot. It is easy to get sick of your best friend when the fun little quirks he/she possesses that drew you to them in the first place might drive you crazy after 24/7 together. Also, best friends don’t try as hard to get along since they are already comfortable with each other and may become complacent about things Your friend relationship is about wanting to do stuff together, not having to do stuff together like cleaning, bill paying, and guests.
A best friend roommate may hinder your ability to make new friends because you are always there to hang out with each other! There is less of a necessity to branch out, get to know others, and start new friendships. Sometimes when one best friend branches out and meets others, the other best friend may feel left out or jealous. Living with a stranger (or at least an acquaintance) can be a great lesson in compromise, communication, conflict resolution, and human differences. Living with a best friend means missing out on living with someone you don’t know who can certainly be a great addition to your life. If you live with your best friend and you suck at being roommates, you may lose a best friend. If you live with a stranger and you suck at being roommates, you’ll lose someone you don’t like living with and never had a deep connection with- not a loss!
Besides, whose apartment will you go to visit when your roommate is getting on your last nerve?
All hope is not lost if you have signed a lease with your best friend this year- just know that you will need to put in some effort to set boundaries and ground rules in order to make it a great experience. Here are some ways to have the best of both worlds- friendship AND roommateship (I’ve made up this word) from CHO:
1) Set ground rules and boundaries with each other. Community Housing Office has developed a Roommate Agreement form that is very helpful in creating agreements (regarding bills, cleaning guests, parking, etc.) between roommates (best friends or not) so that there are no surprises or miscommunications later. Discussing and deciding on things ahead of time will create expectations and can help prevent problems later. The Roommate Agreement form is available online in our Rental Survival Guide, as well as in the office.
2) Fight fair. Just because your best friend knows you the best of anyone, he/she may not know that the overflowing trash can is causing an overflow of stress for you. Deal with issues as they arise rather than let them simmer. Just a reminder- giving the silent treatment or arguing through text messages aren’t effective ways to solve an issue. Also, when dealing with issues, do just that- talk about the issues at hand; don’t torture each other with personality attacks.
3) Make time for yourself, each other, and others. Just because you live with your best friend doesn’t mean you don’t need a little time on your own to breathe or give yourself a little personal space. Additionally, as roommates you may not only be lax about talking about the roommate-type things that bother you, but you may also find yourself getting lax about your actual friendship. Take the time to do the things that you used to enjoy doing together before living together to keep the connection alive. Lastly, don’t forget about your other friends or forgo your need to make new friends and dating relationships just because you live with someone whom you are close.
4) Catch yourself before you feel like your roommateship is draining your friendship (or vice versa!). It breaks my heart to see two roommates who have known each other for years allow their friendship to fall apart over who should clean the toilet (okay, slight exaggeration!). Come to CHO for information about our mediation services to help you and your roommate decide what to do next before your friendship is a distant memory.
Community Housing Office (CHO) is located on the 3rd floor of the UCen, above Jamba Juice. We are open M-F, 8-12, 1-5 to help you with all your off-campus housing needs, such as finding housing/roommates in the community, security deposit videotaping service, landlord/tenant law and advising, and mediation/conflict resolution. Our phone number is 805-893-4371, you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or check us out online at www.housing.ucsb.edu.