Three Ways to Make Space for Your Roommates’ Privacy

When you live with roommates, you have to put in a bit of work to maintain your privacy. In apartments with thin walls, shared bathrooms and other common spaces, and frequent guest visits, it can be challenging to carve out a sacred space where you can feel totally, blissfully alone. You can become so focused on achieving this privacy that you might forget that your roommates are likely working toward the same goal for themselves – and a surefire way to have your privacy respected is to do the same for your roommates. Here are three ways to make space for your roommates’ privacy.

1. Respect obvious boundaries

Respecting obvious boundaries that your roommates set may seem like basic tact, but when sharing the limited space of an apartment, it can go a shockingly long distance. For example, see that closed bedroom door? Don’t just open it as though you’re automatically welcome in your roommate’s room just because you share an apartment. Knock first, and only enter if they say you can – if you hear nothing, turn around and wait until later. Likewise, repeatedly knocking on a locked bathroom door while your roommate uses it comes off intrusive without actually speeding up your roommate’s bathroom use.

In the modern era, you can go the extra mile in respecting obvious privacy boundaries thanks to texting. To make space for your roommates’ privacy, text them about minor things – alerting them you’re low on shared supplies, inviting them to share some snacks you’ve brought home, giving them a heads up that a friend or two are coming over – so that they can see and respond to your message on their own time. There’s no better way to make space for your roommates’ privacy than by giving them control over when they see whatever info you’re sharing and when they respond to it. Although texting people who live in the same apartment as you is pretty common these days, you should still handle sensitive, urgent matters in person.

2. Ask first

Across the board, a crucial way to make space for your roommate’s privacy is to ask first. This can be in regards to having guests over, using potentially shareable items they keep in your bathroom or kitchen such as hair dryers or cookware, and borrowing things they usually store in their room. If you don’t ask your roommate first before you have a bunch of friends over, claim the hair dryer during your morning rush, use the slow cooker for a whole afternoon, or step into their room while they’re absent to borrow that comfy sweater of theirs, you’ll have shown disregard for their privacy – and they’re not going to be happy to have to confront your annoying roommate habits.

3. Listen and commit to change when confronted

When you’re living with roommates, it can be easy to feel personally attacked when you’re told that you’ve invaded their privacy. You might think that your roommate feeling angry about the three guests you had over on a work night is an overreaction, but getting defensive and disregarding your roommate’s feelings about their privacy is the exact opposite of making space for their privacy. Be sure to listen to your roommate when they confront you about your invasions of their privacy and commit to not repeating the same mistakes in the future. Chances are that your roommate isn’t trying to punish you or tell you that they don’t like you – if anything, they’re giving you a chance to improve since they think you’re capable of redeeming yourself. Make good on that promise to ensure good roommate relations.

How do you make space for your roommates’ privacy? Share your tips in the comments!

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