Living alone certainly has its perks — especially if you’re a bit of a lone wolf — but it can also be really expensive. When living with roommates is a necessity for your budget, how do you deal when you consider yourself an introvert?
Here are a few strategies for coping with a communal living arrangement when you prefer flying solo or aren’t completely comfortable in social settings.
Show that You’re Friendly in Ways that are Unique to You
If someone is naturally an extroverted person, they may have a tendency to think that introverted people always act like they’re blowing them off, or that they’re even being rude. While you may not feel comfortable enough to hang out in the living room with your roommates all evening or join them for dinner with a bunch of friends, you can still show them that you’re a friendly, generous roommate by doing other things that are more in your comfort zone.
For example, you can be the go-to person in your apartment to make the morning coffee. Bake your roommate some cookies if they’re going through a particularly rough week at work or school. Take the initiative to check the mail every couple of days (because let’s be honest, when you live in an apartment, no one remembers to do this).
You don’t have to take on every responsibility in your household, but doing small things to let your roommate(s) know you care is important.
Set a “Date” Each Week
It may be tempting to just hang out in your room all the time, but you should still check in with your roommates at least once a week to get to know them a little better. You could make dinner together, order takeout and binge on Netflix, go grab a drink, or do something else you both enjoy.
As difficult and unnatural as it may be, it’s good to be a little sociable with the people you live with just so you can know what’s going on in their lives. You do live under one roof, after all!
Have a Sacred Space
When you’re an introvert, it can feel pretty overwhelming to be in social situations for long periods of time. Sometimes you just need to have a space to relax in when you’re needing some time alone. Whether it’s a coffee shop, a 24-hour diner, or even a boyfriend or girlfriend’s house, it’s perfectly fine to escape the apartment for a little while if it helps you feel more like yourself.
Be Honest with Your Roommates
If you’re moving in with roommates that you haven’t known for all that long (or if it’s a potluck/Craigslist roommate-type scenario), then it’s best to be honest with them about your introverted tendencies. If they ask you to hang out in the living room or go out to dinner with them, don’t make up an excuse. Just say something like: “I’m really glad that you want to hang out with me and thanks for the offer, but if you don’t mind I think I just feel like hanging out alone this evening to decompress.”
Most people will understand that everyone needs a little time to themselves. If they seem offended or hurt, try to explain that you’re not a super social person and that it’s nothing personal against them. If you can get them to understand that you just need some time to yourself, then they probably won’t be offended.
Try to Get Outside Your Comfort Zone
Introverts have a tough time in social situations, but sometimes it’s good to try to step out of your comfort zone. Your bed, a book, and a quiet evening in may sound like a good idea most every night, but bonding and hanging out with your roommates is a good thing overall.
You may not have a relationship with your roommates like the ones you see on Friends or New Girl, but you can still create a harmonious household together and actually enjoy living together.
Ask your roommates about their days, know what’s going on in their lives, and try to establish friendships with all of them. You’re entitled to a night alone every once in a while, but when you’re living under the same roof, it’s difficult to avoid social settings.
This is especially important if you’ve just moved to a new city or state and don’t know anyone yet. You never know who your roommates are connected to, or whether or not they’ll become your new circle of best friends. If you don’t give them the chance to get to know you, then you may never find out.
Of course, opening up to a new group of people may not be a completely positive experience — you could be total opposites, or they could be jerks — but it’s important to take a chance nonetheless.