How to Survive Living With Someone Less Tidy Than You
Roommates can go one of two ways. Ideally, you’ll find the perfect roommate and the two of you’ll agree on absolutely everything. You’ll live in a state of constant zen and sharing a home will be like the most natural dance. Or you find a roommate who kind of works, but the two of you clash on some important lifestyle habits. In that case, you’ll feel like every day is a struggle in your own home, and if you don’t find a solution, you’ll end up resentful of your roommate. This second scenario is a particular issue if you and your roommate have two entirely different approaches to cleanliness and organization.
It’s possible to live with someone who isn’t as clean, organized, or clutter-free as you are. It does take some work, both physically and mentally, but with the proper mindset and communication, you and your roommate can enjoy living together despite your differences. The following tips can make all the difference between a smiling photo of you and your roomie, and an early move-out time.
1. Be Honest Up Front
Before signing a lease and moving in with someone, have an honest conversation about your habits and lifestyle. Discuss how frequently you clean, whether or not you like to keep things tidy, and how often you’re home. The last one is actually very important because someone who’s constantly on the run and messy will leave the home in a constant state of disarray. You can’t clean if you’re not home.
Ask your potential roomie about their cleaning habits so you have an idea of whether or not you two will mesh. Ask how they handle laundry. Do they leave wet clothes in the washer for days? Do they clean the lint catcher? These types of habits seem small now, but they’ll add up over time.
2. Set Some Ground Rules
If you choose to live with someone who isn’t exactly on your level of clean, make sure to set some ground rules ahead of time. You can’t dictate how they handle the mess in their own room and bathroom, but you can make requests for the common areas. Be realistic of course. If your roommate doesn’t think to scrub the counters, don’t try to set a rule that it be cleaned each time someone is finished cooking.
Instead, set rules for how the dishes are done and what’s left out on the counter. Ask them to always put a dirty dish in the dishwasher, unless it’s soaking, and to do their best to keep things tidy. Set rules for how you both handle the living room. For example, discuss things like coasters, drinks left out, dusting, and vacuuming. When you’re discussing ground rules, do your best to figure out a system that works for both of you.
3. Don’t Be Passive Aggressive
It’s easy to become passive aggressive when you live with a less tidy person. However, it doesn’t solve any problems and simply fosters negative feelings neither of you needs to carry around. Talk with your roommate about how you both will handle cleaning issues. It’s best to agree to discuss it in a calm, respectful manner.
If they leave a dish in the sink for three days straight, simply ask them to move it to the dishwasher. Don’t attack them over it. Dishes really aren’t worth a fight. If you become neurotic about the dust in the house, let your roommate know so they can politely ask you to chill out. Like dishes, the dust doesn’t really matter.
4. Don’t Try to Control Everything
Instead of fretting over the soap scum in your roomie’s shower, focus on your own bathroom. You can only control certain messy parts of your home. Focus on those and leave the stuff out of your control alone. Your roommate likes a cluttered, messy bedroom. Let them live.
You can clean the kitchen, living room, your bedroom and bathroom, and the laundry room. If the need to clean strikes, go for it, but don’t moan and groan about it to your roommate. As long as they’re doing their best to keep the mess contained, you do your best to not be unappreciative.
5. Remember What’s Important (And What’s Not)
You might be a neurotic clean freak, but a dust-free home and perfectly organizes pantry are not the most important aspects of your home. The important thing is who you share it with. Your roommate might be messy and unorganized, but if they’re your friend and are considerate then that’s the most important thing. A relationship isn’t worth destroying over some crusty kitchen counters. Just wipe them down and move on with your life.
As long as you accept each other’s differences and treat issues gently, you’ll be able to find a balance between both of your lifestyles and maintain a friendship. Remember that 90% of any situation is attitude. Adjust your attitude and a little mess won’t matter.
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Last modified on January 6th, 2017