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Learn to be easy to live with?

Posted: Sun May 02, 2021 9:04 am
by shelob
This is inspired by the "living with other people" section of the ERE book:

"Perhaps a criteria for moving in with anyone, for instance your spouse or a friend, should be sufficient social skills to be able to tolerate being together in small quarters. Learn to be easy to get along with. Be considerate. I'm sure this is a learned skill."

I'm from something someone has very aptly referred to as a "broken nuclear family" on this forum and I'm trying to collect resources on how to go about this. Starting next week I'll have roommates, and I'd like to get along well with them.

Ideas include:
-skills developed in Scout camp, e.g. being reliable, doing one's duties, not nosing about in other people's business or disrespecting their boundaries. Challenge: lack of social skills needed to reliably notice when the latter is happening, and also maybe to know what is implicitly assumed in the former.
-generally being someone people like to be with, interesting to converse with, funny etc. I'm re-reading Dale Carnegie for this.
-my cousin mentioned something called nonviolent communication, which I'll look into.
-being helpful, but not pushy (?)
-being considerate (def "careful not to inconvenience or harm others", but what is perceived as considerate seems to include an element of anticipating other people's needs/wants, esp if they differ from your own (?))

Further challenges:
-dealing with potential differences in social background and education level
-dealing with differences in temperament (MBTI etc, there are MBTI-specific resources that I'm familiar with)
-not being able to choose who your roommates are
-identifying, then unlearning less-than-ideal internalized patterns

It'd be a very interesting exercise to make a Wheaton table of social skills, but I feel like it wasn't very long ago that I escaped the primordial ooze in that regard. I can't find one with the search function, but maybe someone has drawn up something similar.

What characterizes someone who is a good roommate/easy to live with according to your experience?
What has helped you develop your social skills, consciously or unconsciously?
What are potential mistakes?

Re: Learn to be easy to live with?

Posted: Sun May 02, 2021 10:05 am
by Quadalupe
It might also be interesting to think about what a bad roommate would be like. Then invert that behavior.

One counter intuitive thing is to be clear and firm (but not rude) in communicating your own expectations and boundaries. If you don't tell people what you want or expect, you cannot be surprised when they don't try to accommodate you.

Re: Learn to be easy to live with?

Posted: Sun May 02, 2021 11:02 am
by ertyu
Hm, I'll start with saying I think you need to worry less.

Explanation: You seem like a thoughtful person. This post is evidence of that. Here is you pre-planning a situation and wanting to do the right thing and get it right. You're good people.

You already have the important things down: do your chores. pick up after yourself. respect people. This is it, really.

You seem to think that because of your family history, there is something innately flawed in you that makes you unable to recognize what decent housemate behavior is like. But even people with good family histories still need to learn to live together. Even if your family was perfectly healty, other people's families might still be different and function with different rules. So pretty much anyone, regardless of how functional their family was, even if they "know how to live with people," would need to learn how to live with these people. Learning how to live with roommates who aren't your immediate family is a normal milestone that all people pass through. You aren't as abnormal as you think in needing to learn.

Even if your family background was complete and utter shitshow, keep telling yourself the above. Aim to decrease your own anxiety about this. Being less anxious will make the task of living with others so much easier.

You also seem to assume that everyone else will be normal and functional and that you will be the only person with a "strange" family history. Not so. People are people - many would have had shit happen to them, many would have gone through abuse or addict parents. It isn't as uncommon as you seem to think, and it doesn't make you "other" to the extent you seem to think. Let go of the thought that you're uniquely different based on your family history. It's unlikely that's true. Life is way shittier for way more people than you think, and a lot of the people for whom life was shitty hid it the best they could and you will never know. This is another reason why you should worry less.

Here is what I specifically think you should do.

1. You should ask people what the rules of he house are. How are chores divided? What are people's schedules, are there times after which it's agreed people would be quiet? How are any pets dealt with? Don't be scared to ask directly, but casually. "Hey, how do you guys usually deal with the dirty dishes?" is an example of direct but casual.

2. You should observe what other people do. Do they usually go to their rooms? Do they spend time together in the common areas, and when? When someone can't do their chore one week for one reason or another, how do they handle that? What if there is an irresponsible roommate who never does what they're supposed to, how do others handle this? It's not a guarantee that other people handle these issues in a functional or exemplary manner, but your first step is information. Then you can decide what to do with that information. Do you want to adopt some of these behaviors? Do you want to do some things differently? The key here is being intentional, and I think you have intentional well covered as evidenced by the fact that you have written this post. This post is an example of being intentional - you have considered potential blind spots and you're gathering info. Good work.

3. If someone lets you know that you didn't do something you were supposed to or complains: "Sorry dude, I forgot. Thanks for telling me" -- then get onto it or say, "I need to get to work now, but I'll get it done at X time." Then get it done at X time. If they complain about something you do that you didn't realize you were doing: "Sorry, dude, didn't realize. Thanks for telling me." It's not a big deal if you occasionally make mistakes and other people need to tell you. It's a big deal if you're never mindful of your chores and they need to be telling you all the time.

4. Learn to do the opposite. "Hey, I think it's your turn to do the dishes!" Casual, direct. "Hey, I have an early morning tomorrow, would you mind wearing your headphones after 10 or so?" Etc. You use your words, you ask directly, you don't make a big deal of it.

5. Do favors when people ask you. If someone asks you to feed their cat while they're away for the weekend, for instance, do it. If you do a favor for someone, don't hesitate to ask for a favor back. This is how mutually beneficial relationships develop. Don't hesitate to ask roommates if they have tools you might need to borrow, etc.

6. Be mindful that 5 is reciprocal. If someone asks you for the occasional favor, cool. If someone asks you to do things for them all the time, not cool. Saying no, simply and directly, is a skill for another whole post, but "Sorry dude, won't be able to" should be enough. You might need to repeat it because people who want to get out of doing work and have no conscious will try to persuade you or guilt trip you. Stick to your guns.

7. If you are the person who asks all the time, also not cool. "You're borrowing that a lot!" or some other such casual statement is probably a cue for you to say, "Thanks, I'll look into getting my own"

8. Being helpful, but not pushy means if you see someone is struggling with something or if they look like they can use some help, offer to help. If they say, "Nah, I've got it!" say, "Cool" and leave it there. Depending on your local culture, there might be an extra step of you saying, "You sure?", them saying, "Yeah" and then you saying, "Cool."

9. Being considerate and anticipating others' needs means that you need to first observe people, and then do common sense things. For example, noticing that someone is trying to carry a big piece of something and concluding, "oh maybe they could use someone to hold the other side of that" is being considerate. Noticing that they work night shirt, then concluding that they will probably sleep late and it would be decent to be quiet in the mornings is considerate. If you work a normal schedule and they are loud at night and you can't sleep, they are being inconsiderate. This is what it means to anticipate the needs of others when they're different than your own. If they always wash they work clothes sun night to have them dry for Mon morning and you occupy the washing machine without asking them, that's inconsiderate for example. If you observe people, you will quickly learn their routines. Being considerate means planning around each other's routines.

10. It's very good that you're reading Dale Carnegie. It's a classic for a reason, and will likely be enough in the roommate context. Before you read about nonviolent communication, I advise you to read a book about boundaries: how to tell people no, how to ask for what you want. It's best that this is a book written by someone from your own country because people in other countries often do things differently. Boundaries are an essential communication skill, and it's often a weakness of people who come from dysfunctional backgrounds.

It's awesome that you recognize what you need to learn and you're taking the steps to learn it and be better than where you come from. Stay strong and good luck!

Re: Learn to be easy to live with?

Posted: Sun May 02, 2021 12:57 pm
by Ego
As someone who has lived in close quarters with others all his life, the best advice I can give has nothing to do with how you should act. The fact that you are thinking about it beforehand says you probably will not do things to bother most reasonable people.

It has everything to do with how you should react.

People are different. Those differences often rub up against one another and cause friction. People have differing abilities to cope with that friction. Some stew for weeks, hashing then rehashing their internal arguments about why they are correct and the other person is bad. Others will notice, may say something about it, and move on, never to think about it again.

As a property manager I frequently resolve disputes of this sort and find that the sensitive people manufacture about 80% of the problems. Growing up they had their own bedroom and may have been only children who never had to share. Their parents resolved their conflicts for them and now they demand that "the system" protect them from all imperfections.

Most importantly, they allow their mind to run wild. If they don't have a problem in their life they will look for some tiny infraction and blow it out of proportion to distract themselves from whatever torment their mind would otherwise focus on.

It is a skill to not allow your mind to run wild and become fixated on imperfections. Consider your new roommate situation practice of that skill. Over the course of a lifetime, imagine the value of that skill in the differing amounts of money paid by someone who is able to live happily in whatever living situation they find themselves versus the person who must create the perfect living situation suited to their increasingly particular needs.

So notice how you react and make an effort to mentally reframe challenging situations as opportunities to become stronger.

Re: Learn to be easy to live with?

Posted: Sun May 02, 2021 1:01 pm
by 7Wannabe5
:cry: In addition to being considerate, it is important to be reasonable. For instance, expecting somebody to keep the sink clear of dishes is reasonable, but expecting somebody to keep the bag of coffee continuously trimmed with scissors down to a perfect two inch fold to be sealed with two binder clips is not reasonable. Actually, barely tolerable even in situation where you are damn frugal and your share of rent is $0.

In terms of MBTI, rough rule of thumb would be that Ps are usually messier and more easy-going than Js, but it varies. Obviously, Es are more likely to congregate in common areas and Is are more likely to stay in their own spaces.


I agree with Ego, but it’s also important to not be so agreeable/oblivious that you put up with too much. If you are already so much more agreeable that your share of rent is $0, you have to start making calculation into negative territory. IOW, be frugal, but don’t be cheap.

Re: Learn to be easy to live with?

Posted: Sun May 02, 2021 1:35 pm
by white belt
I think all the comments so far are spot on. As Ego said, the fact that you show this level of awareness tells me you are not likely to be the problem.

Now imagine living with someone completely oblivious. This is quite common among roommates and you will find there are some types of people who either have no concept that their behaviors are inconsiderate, don’t care about being considerate, and/or are just completely wrapped in their own mind during their entire existence. This is where things like clear communication and common rules/agreements come into play. If you have the choice of roommates, over time you will get better at scouting out red flags in prospective roommates, but it is not an exact science and people will always put the best foot forward.

Also, do not ever assume some things are commonsense. I’ll give examples:

-I had a roommate who clogged a toilet in a shared bathroom and refused to unclog it. He was infuriated when I woke him up at 11AM on a Saturday to tell him the toilet is still clogged from him. This went on for 3 days.

-I had another roommate who listened to music extremely loud when he was working out in a spare bedroom in the house. He also did things like go on a run for an hour and leave his music blaring in the house while my other roommate and I were still home. We regularly had conversations about it with him and still it was the same every time, as if we he never remembered the conversation and went back to square 1 everyday. He would also do things like pile trash next to the full kitchen trashcan instead of taking it out.

Re: Learn to be easy to live with?

Posted: Sun May 02, 2021 2:20 pm
by Ego
Certainly, it is possible to go too far. I am thinking of it as a default setting with exceptions.

Not wanting something is as good as having it.

Re: Learn to be easy to live with?

Posted: Sun May 02, 2021 5:14 pm
by aptruncata
I don't have much to add other than...
Know yourself and your limitations, there are just too many variables to think of all the different scenarios in advance when living with another person.
Regardless of how hard you try, accept the fact that some people don't mix or that you wont get along with a particular type of person and that's okay.

Re: Learn to be easy to live with?

Posted: Mon May 03, 2021 7:56 am
by jacob
shelob wrote:
Sun May 02, 2021 9:04 am
It'd be a very interesting exercise to make a Wheaton table of social skills, but I feel like it wasn't very long ago that I escaped the primordial ooze in that regard. I can't find one with the search function, but maybe someone has drawn up something similar.
Someone indeed has: ... 674272315/ ... 674445880/
Or the cliff notes: ... 3f4311b553 ... f057b4517b ... d9f2340f9f

They may or may not be worthwhile to read. I'd definitely put them in the "you'll only appreciate them when you're ready for them" but if so, they might unlock quite a bit especially for someone introspective. These do not have a Wheaton/Overton structure but rather a transcendent structure, that is, Kegan5 is not seen as extreme or crazy by Kegan3, for example, but rather someone who resolves conflict well.

Seems like overkill for a room-mate situation unless you want to write a dissertation about it.
The considerate/inconsiderate model above works well.

The difference is that a considerate person is able to take a second person perspective (Kegan3): "How do my actions and words look to someone else".

Whereas an inconsiderate person is not (Kegan2).

2 and 3 will comprise the vast majority of "young people with room mates". You'll probably find more 2s in a younger crowd than in the general all-age adult population.

Kegan2 are literally blind to how others perceive them and their actions. It's possible they can be walked through the issue but it wouldn't register or be remembered. They're zero-sum transactional. This means every conflict has a winner and a loser. (This works great when brash action is valued and rewarded e.g. selling used cars, business transactions, belonging to a criminal gang, or being the dictator of a small country) The transactional part means they'll only change their behavior if it has negative consequences to them. This [conflict] is generally a mess and beyond Kegan3 (who just want to be nice and good). On the flip-side they're remarkably authentic. You know exactly what you get. They speak their mind. The best strategy is to avoid them, that is, don't be room mates with Kegan2s.

The key take-away is that Kegan2 is not inconsiderate as much as they're aconsiderate---they literally do not consider. Not because they don't care---they care a lot about punishment or losing out---but because they lack the second person perspective to care for other humans in the same way they care about themselves.

Kegan3 is the so-called socialized mind, that is, someone who has the empathy to care for other people in the same way they care for themselves. They care about how they come across to others and have learned to "be nice" to "get along". As such they're not as authentic as the Kegan2s---it's harder to know if they say what they mean and whether they say what they want you to hear. The latter is actually fine to a degree. Families and tribes eventually socialize their members to say and do things in a certain way so as to be seen as a functional member of said social group as well as for that group to work/work together. A risk here is that behavior can become highly scripted. Kegan3s have learned a bunch of scripts that works for their in-group. However, they may well yet not realize that other groups have different scripts. This can be a problem when two differently scripted humans move in together. For example, when it comes to cleaning up, one might let clutter pile up for a while and then clean it all up, while the other will never let it accumulate but never deep clean either. There may also be arguments about whether the toothpaste tube should be squeezed from the middle or the end.

There may be broken scripts for conflict resolution as seen here: ... 005C6E76U/

Insofar you move in together with similar Kegan3s, this should be easy sailing. However, socialization goes down all the way down to the toothpaste tube and so there will be some conflicts. Usually this can be solved with "house rules" and perhaps weekly "meetings" to hash out any issues---some married people even have those(!)

Living or working together with people who were socialized differently is the road to Kegan4. Here one develops a third person perspective for the different quirks and habits of different groups, that is, one group does it this way and another does it that way: How can I navigate/behave and adjust my behavior accordingly. In particular, one develops the ability to see one's own socialization from the outside. Kegan4 room mates should be able to easily fit in with Kegan3s by simply "adapting to the culture". Unlike Kegan3, it's just a role they take for that particular situation. They'll be somewhat more laid back and come in with a "live and let live" mentality. You might find such a situation/people where people with many different backgrounds have come together, e.g. mixed dorms, grad student dorms, international living, ... basically they're built up tolerance as a personal value, whereas Kegan3 may or may not be tolerant of the values of the out-group.

Re: Learn to be easy to live with?

Posted: Mon May 03, 2021 9:23 am
by 7Wannabe5
Is tolerance of intolerance Level 5? I struggle a great deal with to what extent I should or can stretch my value of tolerance in this manner.

Re: Learn to be easy to live with?

Posted: Mon May 03, 2021 10:09 am
by daylen
@7W5 The worldview of K4 is oriented towards equality of opportunity, and K5 balances equality of opportunity (i.e. freedom) with equality of outcome (i.e. equity). Tolerance of intolerance would be both a K4 and a K5 thing as K4 tolerates the freedom of others to be intolerant ... until the intolerance limits freedom .. leading to ... intolerance of intolerance as a value popping up around 4.5 and synthesized with tolerance of intolerance at 5. So, at 5, it depends.

Re: Learn to be easy to live with?

Posted: Mon May 03, 2021 10:45 am
by 7Wannabe5
Gotcha. I used to be the sort of person who said “I am tolerant of everything besides intolerance.” Now I try to be tolerant or empathetic to the causes of intolerance too, but it is difficult. I have read Kegan and I found his take on adolescents having to go through a sort of identity politics phase quite relevant to some teaching situations I have been in. OTOH, dealing with 50 year olds who are still strongly in identity politics phase...

OTOH, I’m not entirely sold on Kegan. I think his model might be a bit too “schooled.”

Re: Learn to be easy to live with?

Posted: Mon May 03, 2021 11:00 am
by daylen
I find that attending to partial truths/insights across several frames is more practical than attending to partial deviations between frames. For instance, within the territory of human development there are at least 10 different frames/systems that attempt to map the territory. None are complete, of course, but by attending to all and negating deviations you can form a more complete map of the territory.

Re: Learn to be easy to live with?

Posted: Mon May 03, 2021 11:35 am
by 7Wannabe5

I agree. I just haven’t figured out how to integrate Kegan’s “professionalism” or Level 4 being roughly “grad school level” with Illich’s notion of “de-schooling.”
Schools are designed on the assumption that there is a secret to everything in life; that the quality of life depends on knowing that secret; that secrets can be known only in orderly successions; and that only teachers can properly reveal these secrets. An individual with a schooled mind conceives of the world as a pyramid of classified packages accessible only to those who carry the proper tags.- “Deschooling Society”

Re: Learn to be easy to live with?

Posted: Mon May 03, 2021 12:11 pm
by daylen
Sounds like regression from 5 to 3. Which is fairly widespread currently and [with great dissonance] aims for deinstituionalization and regression to tribalism. Intolerance of intolerance regressing into just intolerance.

To link up with OP, people are simultaneously more connected and more physically alone than ever before. Being a tolerable roommate is easy so perhaps step the challenge up to being a present and pleasant roommate.

Re: Learn to be easy to live with?

Posted: Mon May 03, 2021 12:51 pm
by 7Wannabe5

You may be right. I was thinking that the internet has accomplished much of what Illich was promoting way back in the 60s with his “city as university” ideal, and what are we reaping?
Being a tolerable roommate is easy so perhaps step the challenge up to being a present and pleasant roommate.
Excellent suggestion. I am waaay better at pleasant than present. That’s part of the fault that is mine in terms of why I sometimes experience unpleasant behavior from others. Like dogs who keep ever more aggressively snouting you until you finally look up from your book and engage. I wonder if anybody has ever exited a roommate situation saying “Because I am bored with living with you all.”

Re: Learn to be easy to live with?

Posted: Mon May 03, 2021 4:14 pm
by shelob
@ertyu - Can you read my mind??? :shock:
In any case, thank you. After I read your post yesterday, I calmed down a lot and managed to prepare the move, finished some stuff etc. You helped me remember that I won't be the only one who's nervous and might not get everything right at their first try. Actually, most of us probably won't have any idea what we're doing :) And that's fine. I'll do what you suggest, in whatever order seems appropriate. Thank you also for the book recommendation, I'll look for one.
(Wrote that in the morning, continued it in the evening after meeting the roommates.)
The others seem nice, and we seem to get along well. We did stuff like agree to share cleaning products that not everyone had brought, help each other with baggage, share a snack etc. We seem to differ in regards to how closely the cleaning schedule should be kept, but I just went ahead and did it for monday and we'll see for the other days. Also, the explanation that being considerate is planning around each other's routines makes sense to me.

@Ego - That explains a lot of things. Wow. I know people who would do very well to practice that skill :? But that's no longer really my problem, and I am going to learn it so I can avoid repeating their mistakes.

@7Wannabe5 - very good point :) I'll take care to figure out what is reasonable by a reasonable standard^^ and do the "live and let live" thing.

@white belt - yes, I assume that is where social skills come in handy. Also thanks for the reminder to this effect in my introduction post, as it has prompted me to think about this in advance and plan.

@jacob - Ops. Someone did, indeed. Thanks for pointing it out. I have actually heard about that a while ago, but while I somewhat understand subject-object relationships (from a CS context) and thesis-antithesis-synthesis, it doesn't really make sense to me in the context of human interaction à la Kegan. I've moved it to the middle of my reading pile for now.
One of my roommates seems a bit like your description of Kegan2, but maybe she is actually Kegan3 and just has a very different script of what is acceptable wrt television etc. She probably is, because she's otherwise considerate.

Thanks to everyone who responded, and sorry I can't reply to everyone rn. I'm very tired, and also won't have Internet access for a while :lol:

Wrt stepping up the game from becoming a tolerable roommate to a pleasant one, it seems like that might unlock a lot of possibilities in the sense of adding value as opposed to extracting it wrt shelter, but I'll think about that later :oops:

Re: Learn to be easy to live with?

Posted: Mon May 03, 2021 5:05 pm
by ertyu
shelob wrote:
Mon May 03, 2021 4:14 pm
@ertyu - Can you read my mind??? :shock:
my family of origin is also a shitshow :lol:

strength brother :muscle: