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Balancing Friends and Roommates

I’m really good friends with my roommate, but sometimes she just gets on my nerves. How can I maintain my distance when I don’t want to “hang out” and not hurt her feelings?

Living with someone else can be tough—whether it’s a lover, a spouse, a parent, a sibling, or a friend. Because of the limited space and opportunity for privacy, a cramped dorm room can be particularly challenging, especially if roommates haven’t shared their personal space with someone else before. So roomies need to be sensitive and somewhat flexible in making accommodations to one another.

Even though your roommate may get on your nerves at times (and vice versa), you can still preserve your close friendship if you are able to communicate tactfully. Hopefully, you’ll feel comfortable enough to discuss your need for boundaries, explaining that this is about you rather than about her, per se. This might include talking about your need to have alone time, to have quiet time, to have privacy, or to expand your circle of friends to include additional people besides her. You’ll also want to hear your roommate’s needs so you can be respectful of her as well.

If you’ve been living together for a while and your friend doesn’t adhere to boundaries that you’ve previously agreed upon, you may need to simply close the door to your room or wear headphones (even if you’re not listening to anything) to signal that you want to be alone. While you wouldn’t would to inadvertently hurt your friend’s feelings, you have no choice but to be honest about your need for “me time.”

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