ArbiClaims has spent some time deep-diving into roommate conflicts, from talking about ways to build a harmonious home to developing a roommate contract to hammer out specifics. In this post, we’re taking a look at how to build a strong bond with your roommates to offset the annoyances that can accompany cohabitation.
Let’s take a moment and think of your relationship with your roommate in terms of banking. Each time you and your roommate have a positive conversation or interaction, those moments are deposited in your “bank.” When a conflict occurs, the situation may not become insurmountable because of the totality of your positive interactions. Your roommate will “withdraw” from your account, which is composed of every laugh, piece of advice, shoulder to cry on, or sympathetic word.
If you and your roommate never have positive interactions, there is nothing in your “bank” from which to withdraw when things become tense. The baseline you and your roommate created is not conducive to forgiveness, tolerance, or acceptance. There are no happy memories or moments your roommate can look back on and say, “Well, he broke my television, but he was there for me when I lost my job.”
We talk about relationships in this way to highlight the importance of developing friendships with your roommates. We don’t expect you to become best friends with the individuals who share your living space, but taking some time to strengthen your bonds will undeniably help to prevent and resolve conflicts.
Here are some simple ways you can build a friendship with your roommate:
You both have to eat, so why not cook together? Moving around the kitchen and deciding who does what tasks helps build teamwork. Even if you don’t eat the same meal, working in the kitchen simultaneously allows you to chat about your day, vent about the new guy at work, or talk about the latest episode of Game of Thrones. The proximity increases your ability to feel comfortable around each other.
So How Was Your Day?
The easiest way to build a friendship with your roommate is to communicate. Ask your roommate how her day was and whether she did anything interesting at work or school. Tomorrow you can follow-up by asking how that big project turned out. These conversations build intimacy between you and your roommate and allow you to understand what’s going on in each other’s lives. You may be a little more forgiving if your roommate is short tempered this week (“He does have a final exam after all”). Asking after each other’s well-being illustrates that you and your roommate are more than drones sharing a hive.
Every month, you and your roommate should schedule an activity together. Whether you watch television, go to a bar, or go grocery shopping, it’s important that you have fun together. Building happy roommate memories keeps everyone in a good mood, decreasing the likelihood of someone blowing up over dirty dishes or cluttered hallways. The activities don’t need to be time-consuming or expensive – they just need to allow the two of you to have positive interactions.
When roommates take time away from home and work to relax, play, and enjoy time with each other, it has a positive impact on roommate engagement. If you create a well-defined roommate interaction, you’ll experience the many benefits of fostering a positive relationship.