Living With Other People: What I’ve Learned From Having A Lot Of Roommates

I moved out of my childhood home when I was 18 and ended up living with a ton of different people until the age of 27. I moved so many times that it just seemed like a regular and normal thing to do. I lived with friends, strangers, and boyfriends, and I learned a lot along the way. Eventually, I ended up living by myself and loved it. Then, the last move I ever made was to live with my current husband. Looking back on all my roommates, I can say that my husband is the only person I want to ever live with again. I learned a lot of lessons throughout the years and a lot of moves.

Living With Friends: It Ruined Some Really Good Friendships

male and female roommates in the living room

Living With My ‘Adult’ Best Friend (Not Sure You Could Classify Us Adults)

There are some friends that you make after school, and you can see yourself being with 24 hours a day for the rest of your life. These are the types of friends that you usually end up moving in with.

My best friend and I worked together (that’s where we met), partied together, and lived together for a few years. Everything was great… until it wasn’t.

The thing I didn’t realize at the time is that people change. Some of us grow, form new habits and beliefs, and don’t want to be the old person we were before. When that happens, relationships that seemed to run very smoothly can start to experience turbulence. That’s what happened to my best friend and me.

We bonded at a time in our lives when being immature was fun. Partying, doing stupid things, slacking off at work, being obsessed with guys, and being general nuisances to everyone else was our lives. We built our relationship on both enjoying those things.

But, as the years went on, I no longer wanted to party all night. I wanted to go back to school, find a better job than what we were working, and I was starting to get into some stuff for my personal well-being, like meditation and healthier eating. All of this made me a slightly different person, and my best friend didn’t like it. She wanted to be the same as we had been, and it was frustrating to her that I wanted something different. This frustration became a huge problem in our relationship and being together 24 hours a day started to feel more painful than anything.

She invited friends over and it was obvious they were talking about me when I wasn’t in the room and seemed to stop taking my feelings into consideration.

And, she started to talk to me in a way that she had never talked to me before – with an annoyance and anger that she normally reserved for people she didn’t think were ‘right’.

In short, our friendship was growing apart, we couldn’t repair it because there were so many negative feelings between us, and after I moved out because I couldn’t stand her being a mean bully anymore. We stopped being friends not long after that.

My suggestion: If you are going to move in with a best friend, sit down and talk about what will happen if one of you changes. Go extreme. For instance, talk about if one of you becomes a monk… what will happen. Or, if you both like to party, talk about what will happen when one of you decides that partying is no fun anymore. When you acknowledge that you will both grow and change, and put some ideas into place for when that happens, you will accept it with more patience and understanding when it happens, and you will be able to move through life’s little changes with more grace.

Living With Other Friends

I’ve lived with many other friends. I’m talking about the friends whom you have known for a long time. You have a bond over shared experiences – good and bad – and you managed to stay friends even though you have both changed throughout the years. So, of course, if you both need a roommate, you end up moving in together because you like each other and can’t see a reason not to!

In my experience, this can be an eye-opening venture. You like each other because you don’t live together and spend all your time together, so you don’t see all those little annoying habits and differences that you have. But, once you move in together, all those little annoyances become painfully obvious and you can start to feel like moving in together was a bad, bad idea.

I’ve found that the older you get, the truer this is. This is because we often get set in our ways as we age, and it can be frustrating to have to deal with someone who you don’t totally understand and who doesn’t live life the way you do.

For instance, I moved in with someone I had been friends with since junior high. I quickly realized that she was very serious about her cleaning routine, her groceries, and the noise level in her house. It didn’t take long before she was giving me lists of chores, telling me what I couldn’t touch in the fridge, and being upset with me when I came home late after being at the bar. I was trying to be respectful and quiet, but it wasn’t good enough for her. It started to feel like I was living with my parents rather than a friend, and I quickly moved out – after discussing it with her in detail – before it ruined our friendship completely.

My suggestion: Before you make the move, talk about your habits, preferences, etc. Talk about what you will or will not want in a roommate. Talk about scenarios that can happen, such as having friends over, going on vacation for a few weeks, or wanting alone time. The more you talk, the more you will realize whether or not you truly want to move in with this friend or not.

Living With Strangers

I’ve also moved in with people I didn’t know. Usually, it was the friend of the friend who was looking for a roommate. But, sometimes it was a person who had a shared activity with me, such as school or work. I didn’t know them well, but I knew they needed a roommate and so did I.

This can be the best, in a way, because you don’t know each other, so you don’t worry about hurting feelings. You talk clearly about what you want and you develop a living arrangement and you try to make it work.

But, it can also be the worst, because you have no idea what living with this person will be like. I’ve had roommate situations with strangers that lasted as little as 1 week.

I’ve also moved in with strangers of the opposite sex (strangers that my friends knew very well) and ended up liking them as more than just a friend. This is bad when one person doesn’t like the other person in that way. It brings a whole new level of problems as you struggle with wanting to date them, but having to watch them as they date other people and show you no interest in that way.

My suggestion: Don’t just talk about finances. Talk about living arrangements, spend some time getting to know them, and don’t move in with someone you are attracted to. Also, if you have a nagging feeling that something may go wrong, listen to your intuition and don’t move in with them.

Living With Someone You Are Dating

Living with someone you are dating

I moved in with a lot of boyfriends. Too many. I would get a boyfriend, move in with them, and then something horrible would happen every time.

Looking back, I realize that I didn’t take the time to get to know my boyfriends before I moved in with them. Staying the night at their house, getting to know their little habits, and making sure that we were actually compatible were things that I didn’t take into account. I just thought I wanted to be near them as much as possible, so moving in together felt like a good idea.

I strongly advise anyone who sees an obvious problem upfront not to move in with someone. No matter how sexy they are and how badly you want to go to bed with them each night.

For instance, if you think they may have a drinking or drug problem, investigate that a little first because when you move in together and find out that they do, you are in for some serious mental pain that you don’t deserve.

My suggestion: If you suspect any deal breaker for you, then take your time rather than rushing into things. Deal breakers for me would be:

  • Has cheated in the past and I suspect he might do it again. (You will always be suspicious when his stories don’t line up, and that’s going to cause a lot of fights.)
  • Lives with mother and she takes care of him. (If you don’t want to take care of a child, then don’t move in with this guy until he moves out on his own and can take care of himself.)
  • Has had more than two jobs in the last 6 months. (You may be supporting their ass sooner than you think. I’ve done it and it’s not fun.)
  • Enjoys partying with friends till the late hours of the night. (There is nothing worse than waking up to an empty bed at 3 am and not knowing where your partner is.)
  • Is depressed or dealing with a lot of issues at the moment. (You could end up living with someone who brings you down constantly and affects your life in a seriously negative way.)

These are 5 types of boyfriends that I’ve moved in with, and I can say with certainty that you need to wait until they deal with their issues before you jump in. Chances are they won’t deal with them and you will end up breaking up and thanking yourself for not moving in with them.

Living By Yourself

I suggest living by yourself, getting to know yourself and what you like and don’t like, and then, if you have to,  picking roommates based off those likes and dislikes and as much information as you can.

Living With That Perfect Person

I now live with my husband. We took our time getting to know each other before we even thought of moving in together. Obviously, I had experienced enough turmoil in the roommate department and I had matured enough to take some time to think something over well before making any decisions.

We had a lot of adult talks about our habits and living styles. We also had a lot of sleepovers to experience what living together would be like.  I highly recommend that because the more you do it, the more your boyfriend/girlfriend will show their true self and living style. In the beginning, they will be on their best behavior. But, as they become comfortable with you, they will start engaging in their normal routine and habits. And that’s when you can truly figure out how living together will be.

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