You are just beginning a new life experience that can be very rewarding …… and very challenging. Research has shown that there are several natural and predictable stages to a home sharing relationship and in fact all relationships. The following information may be helpful to you and you home sharer.
Most of us are familiar with the honeymoon stage of a marriage. Sharing also has a Honeymoon stage, during which everything goes smoothly and seems ideal. You may not notice the small ways you are different from each other at first, but those discoveries will come as time passes.
Maybe the cooking isn’t all you had hoped it would be, or it’s hard to be able to talk privately on the phone, or you thought you could live with smoking, but it makes you feel sick. It is natural, at that time, to feel annoyed or even angry and a little scared when you realize that you did not know that person quite as well as you thought you did. This is the disillusionment stage. No matter how much preparation and in and investigation you did beforehand, how clear you both made the homesharing agreement, no one ever can really know things will go until you live together under the same roof. These are natural and predictable feelings.
Here are some suggestions that can help:
- Sit alone in a quiet place and think about your feelings. It may help if you write them down on paper. If you can acknowledge what the problems are, you have taken the first step towards solving them. If you are annoyed, angry or scared, acknowledge those feelings.
- Have you had a similar experience in a past relationship? Sometimes we react strongly because a person’s behavior reminds us of a different past experience. Until this connection between the past and the present is made, it may be difficult to know how to deal with the present situation. Try to determine if the problem you are concerned about is really what is happening right now.
- Review the pros and cons of sharing to gain perspective on the situation. Think of all the things you are getting from sharing, as well as the current problem. Remember what you enjoy in your homemate.
- Talk with a friend or family member about what you are feeling. This may help you gain clarity and courage
- Talk with your homemate. State your preferences clearly and calmly. When you share your feelings, try not to use statements that accuse or blame your sharer. In most cases, your sharer did not intend to cause you any inconvenience or distress. Try to remember that there are many “normal” and “common sense” ways to live, that may vary between generations, regions and cultures. You may want to have a friend or family member with you when you talk to your sharer. But be sure that the thoughts and feelings expressed belong to you.
These steps can help you to avoid an angry confrontation or a painful silence, or even a hasty move. Following these steps can help you and your sharer work through problems and difficulties while demonstrating that you respect each other’s feelings and preferences.
If you can work through the difficulties, and it’s not easy at first – you will advance to the acceptance stage. In this stage you both come to know each other better, and have adapted to each other’s preferences and styles. Some things will be done the way one of you prefers, and over times, you will develop things that please you both. Acceptance grows with time, and helps you to work through the small differences that occasionally arise in any close relationship.
Good luck. Homesharing can be fun and enriching. Remember that it is worth the effort to work through these natural, predictable stages of relationships. Your enthusiasm and understanding can help to create a positive living environment. Enjoy each other.