There’s a good blog post on “When Sharing Hits the Fan” written by Emily Doskow, (author of The Sharing Solution: How to Save Money, Simplify Your Life & Build Community) in which Emily describes the how managing expectations, anticipating obstacles, and agreeing on how to resolve problems are essential for a good sharing relationship. While she is talking about sharing in general and not just for housing, it is worth reading. Read the comments also. The pictures are fabulous.
The key to a successful housemate arrangement is a good match. Expectations must be talked about in the interview. That’s why it’s always important to know what you need. If you have very different expectations, you are going to be unhappy sharing housing. One common one: the person who thinks the housemate will be a “best friend” while the other expects to be independent. This can happen to friends who choose to live together. Other kinds of expectations are around how meals happen or the type of television that is watched.
Anticipating obstacles can be done by simply asking the question, “What could go wrong?” This is a nice way of exploring potential disagreements. The question should also lead into an agreement on how you would communicate if an issue arises.
Once you are living together, if you have an issue – communicate. Look for common ground, put yourself in your housemate’s shoes. Adapt and be flexible. But that doesn’t mean becoming a doormat. You should be willing to find a solution that is agreeable to all parties. Maybe you can use a third person to help mediate an issue – but first try to do it on your own. After all it’s your relationship and your housemate.