I thought I had it all sorted out; I would live with my friends, we would have a blast at university together, and nothing could possibly go wrong. I was wrong. People are not the same when you have to share the same space for extended periods of time.
Living with friends can seem like a really fun idea, probably one that you’ve been planning with them for a long time. However, it’s not always pretty. You never really know the habits of your friends as you have never had to experience what they’re like at home for a long time.
I’ve had multiple experiences with living with friends after I moved out for university. You want to be comfortable with the people you’re living with and the easiest way to do that is to live with someone you know. However, it all changes when you’re in the same space. You start to notice a lot more problems that you wouldn’t have if you weren’t sharing the same space.
In my first year of university, I lived in university halls and had made friends with my flatmates prior to meeting them. They were a great bunch of people, extremely friendly, sociable and accommodating. As I stayed in that space more I started to realise that they were quite messy, loud and quite dramatic. I tried to keep to my own space but they constantly pushed boundaries and invaded that space. I eventually ended up cutting ties with all those people that I initially lived with as I could not get along with them at all. From there I realised something important - we don’t have the same upbringing.
The type of habits and characters that they have in their living space was greatly influenced by the way they were brought up. What would be normal to me would not have necessarily been normal to them, so really I didn’t need to take everything personally. However, it was affecting my mental health and comfort so I need to find people who would respect the boundaries I had and I would do the same for them.
One of the first steps to living with friends is having boundaries and also respecting their own. There may be things that you’ll let slide but remember you’re living together and it is a shared space at the end of the day. Just because they’re your friend doesn’t mean you should feel uncomfortable in your home. If you are upset one day they should either know how to navigate that or respect that you might just want your own space. I am lucky enough to live with people who respect that I have off days and we can communicate that with each other so that we don’t offend one another.
Another tip is to prepare yourself for uncomfortable conversations. These types of difficult conversations and conflicts usually arise in friendship when having to share the same space. You begin to see another side of them that you might not have had a chance to explore when you weren’t living together. It’s okay to have these conversations and you don’t always have to agree. In fact, it makes your friendship stronger because you’re understanding your differences better.
Living with friends always sounds like the better option than living with strangers. In most cases it is. However, the fear of losing a good friendship can hold you back from making that decision in case you can’t live comfortably with them. It’s understandable to have these fears, but always recognise that in most friendships, you’re in there because you value this person and they value you. Therefore differences you may face can be overcome.