Hi Lifehacker, I’ll soon be moving in with a female friend as a housemate (as friends, and just us two). Neither of us has lived with a member of the opposite sex before. What should we both know about living with someone else? Thanks, Purely Platonic
Housemates picture from Shutterstock
The first point we need to make is this: it’s far more important to worry about being a good housemate overall than being too hung up on the specific issues that occur between men and women. Don’t spend too much time stressing over that detail. Concentrate on being a pleasant human being instead.
To fully answer this question, we tapped into the wisdom of our colleagues at Allure Media. Special thanks to our awesome night editor Elly Hart and Shopstyle Australia country manager Laura Yeomans, both of whom offered lots of detailed advice based on their own hard-won experience.
Even if you’re already friends, you need to set expectations up front. “On the first night, have dinner together and chat through your pet hates,” Laura advises. “No matter how petty they may seem at the time. if the person is aware of what your bugbear is they will hopefully refrain from doing it.”
That approach is worth maintaining over time. “Spend one night a week either eating dinner or on the couch together,” Laura says.
When disputes do arise, don’t take the easy (and passive-aggressive) route for dealing with them. “If something has annoyed you, don’t leave notes or writes emails — try and talk about it and laugh about it,” Laura says. “It’s amazing how a seemingly trivial issue can become a huge elephant in the room if the situation is not spoken about early on and diffused.”
A common area of dispute is over home maintenance. In this area, there’s no substitute for having a well-defined rotor. “Divide up chores and make a schedule you can both stick to,” Elly says. “This is really important to prevent resentment over the state of the home. Decide upfront if it’s OK to leave dishes in the sink or not, and when the dishes will be done and by whom if you do.”
Similarly, make sure there’s a clear schedule for bill payments, and an agreed procedure. “No matter what happens, pay rent on time, every time,” Laura suggests.
You might feel grumpy first thing, but simple courtesy makes for a much pleasanter environment. “A simple ‘good morning’ or ‘have a nice day’ goes a long way,” Laura says.
Respect that you’re living in a shared space. “Do what you want in your own room but be tidy everywhere else,” Laura says. “A cleaner every fortnight can be some of the best money you’ve ever spent.”
In terms of gender-specific issues, there’s one key point: don’t leave the toilet seat up. And the other obvious issue was neatly summed up by Business Insider’s Simon Thomsen: “No matter how drunk you both are and how lonely and how long it’s been, a mutually convenient shag is never a good idea.”
You also need rules for other forms of coupling. “Set rules regarding houseguests so that you don’t wake up one morning to find two half-naked strangers sleeping on your couch,” Elly says.
What rules have readers found useful in similar situations? Tell us in the comments.
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