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Sharing your life with someone, roommate-style, isn't for everyone. Not every friend can be a roommate, and not every roommate can be a friend. But there's definitely an opportunity to grow closer, if you both are up for it.

Maybe you're like me and overthink the logistics of living in a new place or sharing a bathroom, let along a bedroom. Maybe your roommates include you in their monthly dinner parties with their friends, or maybe they go celebrate Margarita Monday without you (or they invite you but you overthink and feel awkward and flake! Ahh!). Especially when you move into a new place where other people have already staked their ground, it can be tricky to overcome the imposter syndrome in your own home and break down any barriers to friendship. (Feel like this is common sense? Please share your skills!)

For this week, I asked my previous victims — ahem, roommates — to share their experiences of living with a new random roommate. One has lived with six different roommates and the other two, so they have a lot to share! After living with my best friends in college, I hopped around cities and strange apartments thanks to Craigslist and Facebook posts and felt all of the feelings I described. (Pro tip: always Skype to meet the person and see the place if you can't go in person!) In sharing these two responses, I kept the submissions anonymous via Google Form so they could be honest about my own roommate-ness, too.

What can Sown help you with?

What was your prediction or expectation of living with a random roommate?

Person 1 (who has lived with six different people): I anticipated things would most likely go smoothly, and hoped I would actually become friends with the people I was living with.

Person 2 (who has lived with two others): I was not sure how well we would get along. But I was positive to give it a try

What were you afraid of? (Feel free to be TOTALLY honest!)

Person 1: I was afraid my roommate(s) would be extreme opposites of me, either in being super, super Type A about cleaning, bed time, noise, visitors, etc.. A tiny portion of me was worried they would be too "crazy" (I didn't want a roommate who dabbled in drugs or smoked in the apartment, etc.) but I usually had a pretty good sense that that wouldn't be a problem.

Person 2: I am a clean freak so I was worried that we might not be the same way. Nothing else as such I think, I just wanted to be peaceful and communicative. I didn’t want to have unnecessary arguments and issues. I wanted to be able to talk to the person and deal with things like adults.

What ended up happening?/How do you think it went?

Person 1: Of the six times I've lived with strangers, only one (my first) turned out poorly, and I attribute that to my lack of consideration and my roommate's lack of willingness to talk about things that bothered her. And even then, we didn't hate each other, we just weren't really friends. Every other time I've roomed blind, I've gotten along with the people I've lived with or even come out good friends with them.

Person 2: It went AMAZING! Beyond expectations. Found a good friend in both the never-met-before roommates I had. I loved how we connected in such a short time. I miss her loads now. In fact I learnt a lot from her.

What would you recommend to people who may be "rooming blind"? What, if anything, would you have done differently?

Person 1: I would recommend getting a sense of what sorts of roommate-things they care about: Cleaning, fridge/pantry shelf space/using the kitchen in general, noise, visitors, locking the doors, paying the bills, etc. Let them know your preferences as well. Ideally, each person only has a couple of strong preferences that are easy to accommodate. If not, talk about ways for each person to compromise on some of those preferences to accommodate a reasonable amount. Passive aggressiveness is never a good response. If you're the kind of person that has a lot of preferences about the way things are done, try to tone that down for a blind roommate. They likely don't care and won't want to follow every single one, so choose the few that matter most.

Person 2:
So far I didn’t have bad experiences. But what I would say is, you get the vibe in the first meeting. It’s not that you’re being judgmental but you just get this good vibe and feeling that the person would be the right choice for your roommate. For an anti-example, I met someone few days ago as a potential roommate. I was ultra positive about it even before meeting her. But the opposite happened. It was a very cold vibe. She was absolutely not ready to have open happy conversations. I felt that we didn’t have a connection at all. Didn’t get that good vibe. She was being too cold. Yeah so basically, if it’s the right person, you just know, trust me. :)

Go sow: Challenge for the week. 🏠

Go get 'em.

Roommate appreciate. Put aside any passive aggressiveness from FOMO or unwashed dishes and in a text or cookie batch, let your roommate (if you have one!) know how much you appreciate ___ about them.

Baby steps, y'all. Bonus challenge: find an event to invite your roommate to. Next time, they can reciprocate.
Write back and let me know how it goes! And add these to your friendship toolkit:
  • 23 of the best damn tips for living with roommates: "Do not be afraid to sit together and do absolutely nothing" and "Ask questions like, "If I walk in and you're crying, what do I do?"
  • If you're in NYC: The Joy List is a newsletter for people who want to attend events solo but leave with a friend. Plus, the events are all some sort of positive.
  • Cosmo's 17 Things Every Woman Should Know About Friendship Before She's 25, including: "Always make new friends, even if you 'have enough'. New friends help you realize new passions or introduce new experiences – denying yourself new friends is denying yourself growth. Also, judgingly standing in a corner with your crew defeats the entire purpose of going to a party."
  • Not all friendships are meant to last forever: 13 signs you may have a toxic friendship.
  • Atlanta nurses share 50 years of friendship and nursing tales: "I felt like I was on my way to being what I wanted to be, and I was a proud of it."
  • How to bring back hobbies: "Think of it this way – even when you’re having a rough day at work, coming home and learning to play a new song on the ukulele can give you a confidence-boosting sense of progress and a reminder that you’re capable of growth and improvement."
  • Another for the book list: "Shobha Rao's 'Girls Burn Brighter' is about the strength of young female friendship in the face of a patriarchal society."
Programming note: due to some last-minute work travel, I may not be able to send out a newsletter next weekend; but send me any Qatar recs in the meantime, please!

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