Flatmates and Friendship
A flatmate is someone you live with, but (s)he is not necessarily your friend. For social people it can be hard to understand how you could live with someone and not become friendly, but the fact of the matter remains that many successful flatmates have become this way because they do not have a deep friendship. For some, it is easier to set up and stick to the house rules that create a good atmosphere when they don’t have any overlap between flatmates and friends. If you will soon be in a flatshare or house share, decide before you move in just how friendly you would like to be and have an honest discussion about becoming a friend to your new flatmate. However, don’t feel that you need to decide right away if you want to become best friends, or not friends, with someone. As long as you both can remain polite and respectful then friendship can run its natural course.
Becoming Friends with a FlatmateMany people choose to flatshare or house share with their friends, but many also choose to (or have to) live with someone new to them. When flatmates start out without a history it can be easier to set house rules and be honest about what each likes or dislikes as there is no real worry about offending anyone or having ancient history brought to the fore. In essence, starting out with a new flatmate is like starting out with a clean slate. In fact, it may be weeks or even months before new flatmates have a meal together or spend an evening watching a DVD. For some flatmates, this may never happen and for some it may happen almost immediately. As long as neither flatmate feels that they must spend time with the other, or enjoy the same things as the other, then any friendship that does develop can be viewed as a nice perk of the living arrangement.
Flatmates and Mutual FriendsSome flatmates, particularly those living in smaller areas, may find that they have mutual friends. When this occurs it can be easy for a flatmate to want to question the mutual friend to find out all that (s)he can about the other. However, questioning others can lead directly to gossip so both flatmates should try to avoid any “investigations”. Instead, asking a flatmate directly about something that the other wants to know is the best course of action. Not only does this help maintain good communication between flatmates but it also allows the other flatmate to answer – or not answer – as (s)he sees fit.
More than Friendship with a FlatmateSome flatmates may find that they get along so well with a flatmate that their friendship is in danger of turning into something more. As a general rule of thumb romantic entanglements should be avoided between flatmates as it can be hard to go from living with a flatmate to living with a romantic partner almost immediately. Flatmates should also consider what would happen if they fight or break-up with the person they live with. Only after careful consideration should flatmates decide to become more than friends.
Flatmates and friendship often, but not necessarily, go hand in hand. Flatmates should set rules about respect early and allow friendships to develop naturally. If they don’t, neither flatmate should feel like a failure but instead commit themselves to having a respectful, polite living situation.