eating, health

Eating food you’re not hungry for is wasteful

Years ago, at least five and maybe up to ten, my friend Erin casually commented to me that eating food you’re not hungry for is wasteful. I can’t remember the exact situation. Maybe we were sitting in a restaurant after eating, feeling totally stuffed, looking at two bites of delicious food left on a plate and I asked who was going to finish it off. Probably something along those lines.

I didn’t grow up in one of those strict families that won’t let kids leave the dinner table before finishing everything on their plates. My parents never made us feel guilty by reminding us of children starving in Africa. Still, my parents also never threw away food, and if there was some left on the table at the end of a meal, someone would eat it in order not to waste it. Because not wasting food was so deeply ingrained into me growing up, Erin’s idea of eating unwanted food as wasting it pretty much blew my mind.

At first, I instinctually knew Erin was wrong. Of course eating food is less wasteful than throwing that food in the garbage, regardless of how hungry a person is. Duh. Then I thought more about it and kept reasoning through it and realized my instincts were wrong in this situation. She was right! It is just as wasteful to eat those last few (unwanted) bites as it is to throw them away. Maybe even more wasteful.

How so? If you eat food you don’t want, the calories are just as wasted as if no one ate the food at all. Your body isn’t going to use that energy to do anything because you already have enough energy. The food is going to sit in your body, wasting away, requiring energy for processing, putting unnecessary strain on your digestive system as it turns into poop. The unneeded food might make you sluggish and lethargic. It might make you fatter and less healthy. It might stretch your stomach and contribute to a future desire to overeat.

Maybe everyone who reads my blog already knew this, but even 5-10 years after learning it, the “eating can be wasteful” idea feels new. I need to remind myself of it regularly, especially when at a nice restaurant and sitting face-to-face with food I’m no longer hungry for but view as unusual or expensive. Of course, I’ll take leftovers to go if it fits the situation, but oftentimes it does not because of the nature of the food or the way my day is planned.

It still takes quite a bit of conscious awareness for me to push away a plate that has food sitting on it. In these moments I have to sit and mentally walk through the logic, reminding myself that I’m being less wasteful by not eating what’s in front of me since I’m not hungry. Once I feel reassured that I’m doing a good thing by not eating it, a less wasteful/more healthful thing, pushing the plate away becomes easy. It’s remembering to do this and break through those old eating habits with conscious thought that is difficult.

 

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facebook, fear, friendship, internet, personal growth, relationships

The top ten reasons I quit Facebook

About a year ago I permanently deleted my Facebook account. I have no regrets and am very glad I did it. Still, a full year later, I regularly have people acting like it’s strange I’m not on Facebook and asking why I quit. Here are my top ten reasons:

1. I felt addicted.
I checked Facebook every day, multiple times per day. As I began bringing more mindfulness into my day, I realized I was checking the phone app instinctively, without even realizing it, whenever I had the least bit of down time. I’d look at Facebook while sitting on the toilet or waiting in line at a store, for example. Of course this avoidance of the present moment can be achieved through other smart phone activities such as playing games, text messaging, or browsing online stores, but for whatever reason those do not hold the same pull for me.

Although I don’t think my frequent checking of Facebook qualified as a true “addiction” (it didn’t interfere with my work or social life), it bothered me to know I was engaging in an unconscious behavior so frequently. It bothered me even more to think that Facebook had probably spent several years and millions of dollars intentionally making their site more addictive and I had fallen right into their trap. It made me feel dumb, as if I lacked self-control, and as if I was being fooled.

2. It was a waste of my time.
As I became more aware of how often I checked Facebook, I realized what a waste that was. At first I tried to justify it since I usually wasn’t on Facebook for more than a few minutes at a time, but I realized even those short bursts had an attached opportunity cost. Minutes add up. Even if I spent only 10 minutes per day on Facebook (much less than I was spending), that is equivalent to 60 hours or 2.5 days over the course of a year. Thirty minutes a day is equivalent to 182.5 hours or 7.6 days per year. I wondered how different my life would be if I spent those minutes doing something of value, such as reading a book, silently meditating, or writing down short story ideas.

3. It negatively impacted my mood.
As I became more mindful, I noticed that my mood soured a bit any time I went on Facebook. I’m not sure why. Maybe it had to do with FOMO (fear of missing out) after seeing snippets of other people’s lives, or maybe my feelings were hurt because I didn’t get enough “likes.” Maybe I was just disappointed in myself for checking something I no longer wanted to check. Either way, I felt worse after looking at it and did not enjoy time spent on the site.

4. I didn’t gain anything from it.
People have asked why I quit Facebook but not LinkedIn or twitter, as if that implies some inconsistency. I have recommendations and endorsements on LinkedIn, and the service has helped me get jobs in the past. Some day I’d like to delete my LinkedIn account, but right now I’m still obtaining value from it. Twitter hasn’t provided me any tangible value like that, but I enjoy it, and enjoyment is valuable. People I follow on twitter regularly make me laugh or share articles that make me think. With Facebook, I couldn’t identify any positive value.

Full disclosure: Six months ago, I had to create a dummy Facebook account to manage my work’s company page. It isn’t a “real” account–it has no photos, information, or friends. I did use it a few months ago to join an MFA Creative Writing group, however. I wondered if Facebook groups like that would provide value, and if I’d deleted my old account too hastily. In the end, I left the group and reaffirmed that I am not missing anything valuable by being off of Facebook. For a couple of weeks the group became a thing to obsessively check as I waited to hear back from schools (with many others in the group saying they did the same), and I probably would’ve been better off without joining it.

5. It seemed boring and out of touch.
When I first joined Facebook I was in my early/mid-twenties. It was new(ish) and cool (or at least interesting in its novelty) and exclusive in the sense that you couldn’t join without a university email address. By the time I quit, my grandma was on there. So was my mom. So were a bunch of my aunts and uncles and cousins. So were people from work. Their updates bored me, and knowing they read mine made me paranoid that I was being judged for showing them parts of my personality I wouldn’t normally show to them.

The whole thing began to feel stupid and pointless, the same way myspace felt right before I stopped using that. I reached a point where I’d sign on and think, “Why do we all do this?” Once I’d hit my 30s, my Facebook feed became overrun with photos of weddings and babies. I have nothing against either–I love meeting my friends’ babies and cry at every wedding I attend–but if I’m not close enough with someone for them to personally tell me about their major life events, I don’t really care to know about them.

6. I resented the way it changed my relationships.
A close friend got engaged and I didn’t know about it because I was taking a Facebook break at the time. (If you doubt our closeness, know that I later stood in her wedding.) Same with another close friend who had her baby. When I expressed hurt at not being notified of these major events, the people who had them said they didn’t contact friends individually because they figured everyone would see the news on Facebook. I didn’t like that.

On my birthday, I received over 100 “Happy Birthday!” wall posts from people who I doubt would’ve showed up if I had thrown a party, and a few from people I consider close friends. The mix made me realize that Facebook was blurring the lines between close friend and casual acquaintance. I didn’t like that, either.

I decided if our society is moving toward more relationship exchanges happening via (quasi-) public broadcast rather than true interpersonal communication, I don’t want to be a part of it. Instead of the widespread broadcasting and reading of others’ broadcasts, I want my real relationships to be obviously maintained through actual personal intimacy. I decided I was okay with allowing any acquaintanceships that were purely Facebook-maintained to fade away.

7. I resented the way it changed words.
A friend said to me, “I think I’m friends with him, but I’m not sure.” When I asked if she was unsure if she liked him or not, she clarified no, she just couldn’t remember if she’d “sent him a request.” I’ve heard many people say they “like” something, when they mean they went on Facebook and clicked a button that says “like” in conjunction with that thing. Maybe it’s because I’m a reader and a writer and a respecter of language, but this irritates me and I don’t want to propagate it.

8. I resented its attempt to become a necessity.
There are many things I dislike about Google, but I’m not going to quit gmail because I want to be a member of the present day. Email is a necessity. A wireless phone (maybe even a smart phone, at this point) is also a necessity for the lifestyle I live. Facebook is optional. Of course the company would love people to believe otherwise–the more “normal” and ubiquitous it is to have a Facebook account, the more money Facebook shareholders make. I actively reject and resent this idea. I identify it as something strategically pushed on the general public so certain people can increase their profits. I don’t want to help them. (In August, when I quit my present job and start school, I will permanently delete my dummy Facebook account and be 100% Facebook-free.)

9. All of the reasons I could think of for staying on it were negative and fear-based.
I wanted to quit Facebook much earlier than I did, but I held on out of fear. The number one reason I could think of for staying active on Facebook was that something bad might happen if I didn’t. What bad thing, you ask? I don’t know. That’s the thing–I didn’t have anything specific I thought would happen, just a general feeling that Facebook wasn’t something I could live without. The few times I mentioned to others that I wanted to quit, they reacted as if I were talking about doing something insane, like choosing to live on the street. I don’t want to live a fear-based life.

10. I hated giving up that much personal information.
Privacy is one of the main reasons I quit Facebook. I list it last, however, because when I’ve named privacy as a reason for quitting Facebook, people have either acted like I’m a crazy conspiracy theorist or rushed to remind me that Apple, Google, Verizon, and every store that has a loyalty program is working hard to erode my privacy as well. The latter is true, but still a logical fallacy (called the nirvana fallacy) when used as a reason for me to stay on Facebook. Sure, my privacy isn’t being kept perfectly by everyone. That is no reason to go and voluntarily share even more private information with a company that I know will immediately give it to the government and sell it to advertisers and marketers.

Facebook’s invasion of privacy bothers me more than most others. They don’t just want your name, they want it all–birth date, phone number, current location, birth town, company, schools attended and degrees attained, sex, romantic relationship status. Years ago, I remember reading conspiracy theories about government plans to steal and stockpile citizens’ personal information. It turns out they didn’t have to steal it–we willingly typed it into Facebook ourselves.

***

To sum it up: I used to unconsciously check Facebook multiple times per day even though it was collecting and sharing my private information, wasting my time, providing me no value, negatively impacting the nature of my relationships, and putting me in a bad mood. I’ve never once regretted quitting Facebook, and the short time I joined a group using a dummy account just reaffirmed my decision to permanently delete my account. Although I won’t overstate it and try to pretend that quitting Facebook has completely changed my life, I will say I generally feel happier, healthier, and smarter without it.

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dating, friendship, relationships

The friend zone doesn’t exist.

mlady sketch

Screen capture from the M’lady sketch on Inside Amy Schumer.

I’ve been hearing about “the friend zone” for years and I’m sick of it. “The friend zone” doesn’t exist. It’s fake. It’s a concept that doesn’t correspond to a real phenomenon. “The friend zone” was invented by men who are selfish and cowardly and do not understand women or their own behavior. They are unaware of their mistakes. They cling to wrong ideas like “the friend zone” because it’s easy, requires no reflection, and allows them to avoid taking responsibility for their own bad behavior.

“The friend zone” is supposed to be this (awful, terrible) place where a woman sticks a man who would presumably much rather be in “the dating zone” or “the sex zone.” Often times, the man thinks he has “earned” dating and/or sex by being nice. When his niceness is reciprocated with niceness instead of dating/sex, he proclaims he’s been “friend zoned.” He feels as if he’s been slighted or screwed over and not given what he deserves. Sometimes he uses the fact that he’s been “friend zoned” as evidence for other totally off-base ideas, such as “nice guys finish last,” or “women love to date jerks.”

If you’re a dude, “the friend zone” is probably so ingrained in your mind as a real thing that you might have no clue what I’m talking about or where I’m going with this. I’ll break it down.

If you act like a friendly friend seeking friendship, don’t be surprised or upset when friendship is what you get. Friends are nice to each other. They listen to each other vent. They hang out. They help each other move (my googling shows this is the quintessential “friend zone” example). Being nice is how friendship works. If you do all of the things people do when they’re trying to cultivate a friendship and then receive friendship in return, know that it is the direct result of what you did. Friendship is what you sought out and created–not an example of “nice guys” losing, or you being mistreated, taken advantage of, or shorted of something you deserve.

Two things must be in place for a man to believe he has been “friend zoned.” 1) He must be a coward. 2) He must have a (sexist) sense of entitlement.

If the “friend zoned” man weren’t a coward, he never would’ve become “friend zoned.” He would’ve seen the woman he wanted to date and asked her on a date rather than pretended he wanted to be her friend. If/when she said “no,” he would’ve moved on. He wouldn’t have invested time, energy, and money with secret hopes of romantic or sexual pay-off because he would’ve already been clear on the fact that she wasn’t interested in that way.

If the “friend zoned” man weren’t sexist and entitled, he never would’ve considered himself “friend zoned” because he wouldn’t have viewed friendship with a woman he thinks is cool as a bad thing. He would’ve acted genuinely, not with the secret motive of having his hidden desires met later on.

“Nice guys” who get “friend zoned” think they’re being nice by doing what appear to be kind deeds. Intention matters, however. Kindness that comes with strings attached or out of a secret motivation is unkind. It’s manipulative and deceitful and, when the goal is sex, pretty douche baggy. It’s sexist, too. It is a man treating his desire as real and important and the woman’s desire as irrelevant (at best), or something less authentic than his own that he believes can be controlled by him (at worst).

Men who cry “friend zone” often blame women not liking “nice guys” as the cause. Wrong. If you’re continually hanging around and being nice to a woman and she doesn’t make a move, she probably doesn’t have any attraction for you and wouldn’t have even if you’d been less “nice.” In the rare case that you did once have a chance with this woman and your actions somehow blew it, it wasn’t the “niceness.” It was that she realized you were a coward who couldn’t ask her on a date and wasn’t interested in you as a result. Or, she was a coward too, and by the time you made your intentions clear it was too late and she had moved on.

Some dudes like to act as if they’ve been led on and taken advantage of when “friend zoned.” Nope. Sure, there are women out there who take advantage of men, but “the friend zone” phenomenon isn’t an example of that. Don’t say a woman led you on because she trusted your actions as being honest and didn’t actively block you from being nice to her. The “friend zoned” guy is the one with the ulterior, deceitful motive. The responsibility does not lie with the woman to go out of her way to analyze his behavior, read his mind, and then stop him from being (fake) nice. Even if a woman did do this, a “nice guy” would probably (secretly) call the woman a “bitch” for hurting his ego. Remember, the whole reason he acts like a nice friend is because he isn’t willing to put himself out there and risk directly hearing that she isn’t interested.

That reminds me, check out the related M’lady sketch on Inside Amy Schumer. It is so spot on and funny. At one point Amy says something along the lines of, “I don’t want to lead him on, but I don’t want to hurt his feelings.” Her friend replies, “Oh, you can’t win.” It’s true. When a “nice guy” pops up with ulterior motives, he’s set up a situation in which he can damn the woman no matter what she does.

The bottom line is that “the friend zone” is just another phrase that means friendship, except it’s being said by guys who are too afraid to go for the women they want and are resentful and blame said women when their manipulative, “nice” half-efforts don’t result in their sexual and/or romantic day dreams coming true. In reality, these “friend zoned” guys should be grateful that women whose company they enjoy are willing to put up with their cowardly, manipulative, sexist ways. Friendship is a pretty cool thing to have with someone when you respect them and view them as a cool human being, but some guys are too busy being strategically “nice” to notice that.

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dating, friendship, relationships, roommates

Manipulation techniques used by manipulative people

UPDATE 9/20/15: It has come to my attention that this was posted on reddit and 50,000 people have visited this post as a result. Wow, cool! Based on comments from redditors I want to clarify some things. One–manipulation is about attempting to control someone else’s behavior. I’d never claim that everyone who does any of these things is manipulating. If you buy a gift or give a compliment because you want to be kind and you do not have an ulterior motive, clearly that isn’t manipulation. Two–most of these examples are made up and not from my personal life so any assumptions you make about my personal life based on these examples are probably false. Three–I switch gender pronouns throughout the post so if you comment or message me saying this post is anti-men or that all the examples are about men, it will be obvious to me that you didn’t read the whole thing/went into it with existing assumptions that are incorrect. That said, thanks everyone for reading! PS, can one of you post my Workaholics post to reddit? I feel like it’d do well there.

I’ve dealt with roommates, boyfriends, friends, co-workers, bosses, and even casual acquaintances who used manipulation techniques to try and get me to do what they wanted. Everyone uses manipulation at some point in time, but for most people it’s not a way of life.

Why do some people relentlessly attempt to manipulate and control others? I don’t know. Some manipulators probably have a personality disorder; others are probably unconsciously mimicking behavior they grew up with and haven’t yet examined; others are probably using planned, calculated attempts to get what they want in life. My concern isn’t why people manipulate, but how I can identify the manipulation and shut it down. I enjoy making decisions of my own free will and resent the idea of anyone trying to control me, even if it’s in a minor way.

Here I have brainstormed all of the manipulation techniques I can think of in order to help myself and others identify and resist them. I googled each concept and used the existing name for it, if I found one. For many of them, I created a name. At some point in time, someone has attempted each of these on me, with varying degrees of success.

1. Frog-in-Pot
Frog-in-pot is based on the idea that a frog will jump out of a pot of boiling water, but if it’s sitting in a pot of cold water that is slowly brought to a boil, won’t notice the gradual change and will die. Most manipulators know that if they are nasty to you right off the bat, or they try to openly coerce or intimidate you, it won’t work. Alarm bells will go off and you’ll immediately think, “Get me away from this monster.” Instead, they work gradually. Frog-in-pot is how strong, confident women find themselves in abusive relationships years after meeting someone, unsure of how they got there or if it’s truly abusive. This is also called creeping normality.

Frog-in-pot is more of a meta-manipulation technique. Manipulators apply manipulation techniques lightly at first, testing what they can get away with, and over time become more and more manipulative as you adjust to their behavior and accept it as normal. I’ve listed the manipulation techniques in the order I think people are most likely to chronologically use them as they crank up the manipulative heat on the metaphorical frog in the pot. Frog-in-pot is essentially the foot-in-door technique applied to control–once you (often unknowingly) allow the manipulator to control you in some small way, they know they will most likely be able to control you in larger ways later on.

2. Fun and Excitement.
Some manipulators draw people in through fun and excitement. These manipulators are really great to be around, at first. You might view them as the gateway to a good time. When you’re having more fun than you’ve had in ages, you don’t mind being the one to pick up the tab or drive the car or do whatever else it is that the manipulator is expecting of you. This is especially true if you also have a romantic interest in the manipulator. You’re willing to overlook initial red flags because you’re pursuing the fantasy life or relationship you think this person might help bring you. All people who are fun and exciting aren’t manipulators, of course. The manipulator uses fun and excitement to divert your attention so you don’t realize you’re being manipulated.

3. Flattery
Flattery is a well-known manipulation technique in which the person gives a disingenuous compliment in order to “butter you up” and encourage you to do what they want. Kids seem to learn flattery pretty early. “Mom, you look beautiful today. Can I spend the night at David’s?” An easy way to get someone you’ve just met to like you is to give them a compliment.

We are self-centered beings that crave approval, which is why flattery works even when it’s obvious. While basking in the glow of compliments, some people can be convinced to do almost anything. A master manipulator will hone in on a person’s insecurities and tailor their flattery to provide the person the reassurance they need. Of course, once the manipulator gets what they want, the flattery often ends.

4. The Favor/Gift
Manipulators can be well-liked not only for being fun and charming, but also because of how generous they seem, giving large gifts or doing major favors for people they hardly know. The catch is, they are doing these things in order to better manipulate later on. The favor could be as small as buying your drinks or meal when it takes you a minute to find your cash, or as large as lending you a vehicle, offering to dog sit for free, or connecting you with a job. This is similar to bribery, except it is subtle and not explicit. You are unaware there are strings attached or an ulterior motive.

Either immediately after providing a favor or gift (as is true with the salesperson who expects you to listen to his spiel in exchange for a free sample, or the douchebag who expects sex because he bought an expensive dinner) or down the line, the manipulator will ask for some sort of favor in return. You will be more likely to comply because of the “reciprocity norm.” If you do say no, the manipulator might couple this with a guilt trip (see technique #13) by bringing up that you “owe” him for all he’s done for you in the past. Reminder: true gifts/favors come without expectations or strings attached.

5. False Intimacy
False Intimacy is similar to the favor/gift technique in the sense that the manipulator gives you something with the ulterior motive of receiving something in return. Instead of giving a tangible gift or favor, however, he shares information. The manipulator might tell you a secret, acting as if you are special and the only one he’s told in order to gain your trust and get you to share private information about yourself in return. The manipulator might pretend to have feelings he doesn’t have so you are mistaken about the depth of the relationship and more willing to do what he wants as a result.

False intimacy is being used by sales people when they pretend to have something in common with you, or whisper an industry secret, asking you to keep it “just between you and me.” False intimacy is being used by the teenage boy who says “I love you” to his girlfriend even though he doesn’t mean it because he knows it will get him sex. False intimacy is being used by the new friend who tells you heart-breaking details about her past way too soon, right before asking you for a favor.

6. False Agreement
False agreement is when the manipulator pretends to agree with you when she really does not. She might pretend to have the same political beliefs or the same favorite band–anything to make you think of her as being more likable and more similar to yourself. This is similar to flattery and false intimacy. It builds trust and will make you more likely to go along with what she wants. Many manipulators do this when trying to gain a romantic relationship, suddenly showing a strong interest in all of the things their object of affection is interested in.

7. Scarcity
With scarcity, your manipulator pretends that whatever she wants you to do is scarce in order to entice you to do it. She’ll make it look like a limited time offer or a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity although it is not. Maybe she’ll say, “You can probably come with me to the concert on Saturday, but tickets are sold out so I’ll have to try really hard to find one” when the truth is she has an extra ticket at home on her dresser top but knows the lie could help ensure you say “yes.” In dating, scarcity is known as “playing hard to get,” and the manipulator will pretend her time and attention is scarce in hopes that you view her as more valuable.

8. Fake Expectations
With fake expectations, the manipulator pretends he thinks things are a certain way–the way he wants them to be–forcing you to contradict him and create a potentially awkward situation if you want things to be different. This technique works especially well when you aren’t very close yet and you’re still highly motivated to be polite and avoid confrontation with someone you hardly know. Fake expectations often manifest in the form of the manipulator telling you what is going to happen, when really anyone who respected you would be asking you.

For example, a new boss might say, “See you tomorrow! We’re all working Saturdays this month,” instead of asking if you’re available and interested in overtime. After inviting you out, a new friend might say, “See you Friday–pick me up around eight,” although you haven’t yet agreed to attend the event on Friday, much less drive her to it. A new boyfriend might say, “Of course you won’t hang out with him one-on-one anymore now that you’re dating me,” when you turn down plans with a male friend because of a schedule conflict, although you weren’t planning on making any such rule for yourself.

9. Fake Normal
This is similar to fake expectations, except instead of implicitly pressuring you to adhere to his expectations, the manipulator explicitly pressures you to adhere to what he presents as socially normal. If you took DARE, you might remember this as the hallmark of peer pressure–the “everyone is doing it” technique. Your manipulator will point out that the thing he wants you to do is so normal that literally everyone is doing it except for you. Of course you’ll feel inclined to join in because you don’t want to be ostracized or to feel weird, crazy, uncool, or left out. If you’re doing something he doesn’t want you to do, he’ll point out that no one is doing it except you. Regardless of what “everyone” (or “no one”) is actually doing, the intent here is to control your behavior.

10. Facts & Figures
With facts & figures, the manipulator again tries to make you feel like you’re doing something wrong, but instead of being socially wrong, you’re made to feel factually incorrect. She might use logic, quote experts or authority figures, and reference scientific studies. The purpose is for you to change your behavior to fit what the manipulator wants, but to think you’re changing it in order to be right or in line with science. Although this sounds like an official argument, it might not be presented that way. In fact, a manipulator could try to present the information as casually as possible so her manipulative intent is less noticeable, off-handedly remarking that she’s surprised to see you do x, y, or z given the results of latest study on the topic.

11. Fake Help
Fake help is–you guessed it–when a person pretends to try and help you, but really their “help” is just an attempt to control your behavior. The manipulator frames their argument as advice and suggests that it is in your own best interest. Maybe a jealous friend will “help” you by pointing out that your favorite jeans make you look fat and suggesting you change out of them, when in reality they make you look so good she feels threatened and doesn’t want you wearing them when she’s around.

Fake help becomes gaslighting when someone disingenuously “helps” you with some sort of psychological problem, either one you really have or one invented by them, with some motive other than helping. For example, when you question a cheating boyfriend, he  might convince you that the real issue is your own deep insecurity and nobly offer to help you deal with it…in a way that keeps you from asking questions that would cause you to discover his cheating ways, of course.

12. Subject Change
A manipulator will change the subject in order to distract you any time you bring up something he doesn’t want to talk about, especially if it involves calling him out on a manipulation. A master manipulator will bring up a new subject that genuinely interests you–hot gossip or surprising news–so you get so drawn into the new topic it isn’t until much later you remember what you were trying to talk about originally. If he can’t think of anything interesting to bring up, he might falsely accuse you of wrong-doing in hopes that you’ll get caught up in defending yourself.

Changing the subject often goes hand-in-hand with fake expectations. The manipulator will slip in his fake expectation quickly and move on to a different topic before you can speak up and disagree. Now, not only do you have to contradict something he said in order to avoid manipulation, you have to bring up a subject that he’s pretending is already settled, agreed upon, and in the past. This puts more pressure on you to go along with what he wants in order to avoid awkwardness (if you don’t know him well) or a fight (if you do know him well).

13. The Guilt Trip/Shaming
The guilt trip can take many forms, but the bottom line is the person makes you feel bad about something you’ve done or are going to do (or haven’t done, or are not going to do) and because of the resulting guilt or shame, you say or do what the manipulator wants. Often times they will frame the guilt trip as a question so it is less obvious. A master manipulator will identify the things you are most likely to feel guilty about/ashamed of and focus on those.

  • “You seriously aren’t going to be at my birthday party?”
  • “Is that your third cookie today?”
  • “You’re going home with him? Didn’t you go home with someone else last week?”

14. The Insecurity Trip
Similar to the guilt trip, the insecurity trip is intended to make you feel bad so you will do (or not do) what the manipulator wants in order to feel less bad. The manipulator will make a casual comment intended to hurt your feelings while acting completely innocent and oblivious to the comment’s effect. His goal is to convey the insult in such a way that you do not realize it was intended as an insult, and you accept it as true. It will generally be directed at an area in which you already feel insecure. For example, if you are self-conscious about your weight, the manipulator might ask you if the jeans you’re wearing shrunk in the dryer. Of course, when you say they did not, the manipulator will pretend to be embarrassed about the mix-up and apologize profusely.

Sometimes, especially in a romantic relationship, the manipulator will use the insecurity trip to purposely break down your confidence so you will become more dependent on him to bump up your self-esteem. After “accidentally” insulting you, the manipulator might switch over to flattery. You might feel immensely grateful for the reassurance that at least he loves you despite your flaws. You might even be less likely to leave him when things go wrong, thinking that no one could love you the way he does when really he is the one who orchestrated your insecurity in the first place.

15. The Pity Party
The pity party is similar to the guilt and insecurity trips in the sense that the manipulator is trying to make you feel bad, except instead of feeling bad about yourself, you feel sorry for her. I’ve noticed many manipulators try to play the victim very early on after meeting someone, giving a sob story of how awful their friends/family/ex-boyfriends have treated them. If you’re a kind person, you’ll naturally feel empathy and want to help. It could take quite a while to realize the manipulator’s “problems” you felt bad about were either self-created, greatly exaggerated, or outright lies.

Manipulators often have to stop using this technique as someone gets to know them better since most people aren’t willing to buy into someone else’s crises for an extended period of time. I’ve noticed manipulators will pull the pity party out again much later though, as a last result, after being called out for using manipulation techniques. “You’re right, I’m a liar. I’m awful. I need to change. There’s something wrong with me. I’m insane. No one loves me. I’ll be alone forever.” While some people might mistakenly view this as the manipulator finally changing or owning up to mistakes, it is simply another manipulation technique. Perhaps their words are more honest than usual, but the honesty is being used as a tool for deceit.

16. Playing Dumb/Fake Surprise
If you call a manipulator out on a manipulation technique or contradict his fake expectations, be prepared for him to act as if he has no clue what you’re talking about. It’s difficult to argue with someone who has no counter-argument other than “Huh? I don’t understand. Where is this coming from?” Playing dumb might be part of a larger plan to make you feel crazy so you trust his perceptions over your own. If that’s the case, it’s a form of gaslighting.

The manipulator might also pretend to be surprised. Acting surprised that you’re questioning his fake expectation puts more pressure on you to go along with it. Acting surprised that you’re calling him out on being manipulative can be another form of the guilt trip (“I am shocked you’d accuse me of this. I’ve been nothing but nice to you!”), yet another manipulation technique.

17. Misquoting
Misquoting is when the manipulator pretends to have misunderstood what you said at some other point in time. It usually creates an awkward situation. It goes hand-in-hand with fake expectations, changing the subject, and playing dumb. Say your boyfriend stated that you’d attend an event that you never agreed to attend, then changed the subject before you corrected him. Later, when you bring up that you aren’t going to the event, he might fake surprise at this and reference the conversation in which he mentioned you attending, attributing his words to you. “But you said you were going to come with me! We just discussed it on Saturday.”

A manipulator might misquote you in front of other people so the pressure to go along with what was said is even greater. That puts you in a situation where not only do you have to disagree with him in order to get out of doing what he wants, you also have to correct other people and potentially disappoint them.

18. Bait and Switch
Everyone’s heard of this one. A manipulator gets you to agree to one thing that is desirable or at least neutral, then uses that to manipulate you into doing some undesirable thing you wouldn’t have agreed to had you known what it was upfront. A friend might invite you to dinner but ask you to drive, for example, then once you get on the road suddenly “remember” she has several stops and errands to make. The “bait” was the dinner, and the “switch” was you playing chauffeur for the evening.

If you confront a manipulator about a bait and switch, she will probably either play dumb and pretend it was an accident (“I totally forgot I had to do these things until after we got in the car,” or “How was I supposed to know traffic would be so bad and running errands would take that long?”) or else misquote and act as if this was part of the plan the entire time (“I told you we would stop a few places and go out to eat. If you had a problem with it, why didn’t you speak up sooner?”).

19. Over Asking
This is called the “door in face” technique. The manipulator makes a ridiculous request he knows you will say “no” to, then follows it up with something more reasonable, knowing you’re now more likely to say “yes.” For example, a friend might confess to having financial trouble and ask to borrow $5,000. When you balk, he’ll apologize, then ask for $50 so he can at least keep his phone turned on. You’ll concede–$50 is affordable. In reality, he only wanted $50 all along.

This technique can be used for much more than money. A controlling boyfriend might have a jealous freak-out and demand his girlfriend never wear skirts or dresses again. When she responds that he’s being absurd, he might apologize and admit to irrational jealousy. As they make-up and the emotional roller coaster winds down, he might casually mention that getting rid of the one really short, tight skirt she has would help him keep insecurities like this at bay. She thinks she’s making a reasonable concession and being sensitive to his feelings by tossing the skirt, when really, his plan was for her to get rid of that one skirt from the beginning.

20. False Equivalence
False equivalence is when the manipulator uses a logical fallacy to imply that if you do (or don’t do) one specific thing, that it means something else, usually that you have a generally undesirable trait. The purpose is for you to conform to what the manipulator wants because you believe this false logical equivalence and don’t want to have the trait in question. The false equivalence is often mentioned casually, as fact, without any anger or malice. If it is questioned, the manipulator might employ the fake normal technique by making it seem that everyone believes in this false equivalence.

  • “You’re going to be out of town for my birthday party? Oh, I guess I thought you were my best friend.” (False equivalence: If you don’t attend my party, you aren’t my best friend.)
  • “Is that your third cookie today? I thought you cared about your health.” (False equivalence: If you eat this cookie, you don’t care about your health.)
  • “You’re going home with him? A week after going home with that other guy? I didn’t realize that you were one of those women.” (False equivalence: If you go home with this guy, you’re a slut.)

21. “Jokes”
No one likes to be humiliated or be the butt of a joke and manipulators know it. The manipulator will mock or joke about whatever you’re doing that he wants you to stop, or whatever you’re not doing that he’d like you to do. For example, the jealous boyfriend might make a “joke” about your skirt being so short that from a distance he thought you were a prostitute. The clingy friend might “kid” that if you won’t go out with her to a party tonight, you’re becoming “old.” If you stop wearing the short skirt or attend the party you didn’t want to attend, you were manipulated.

Jokes are often used by manipulators because it gives a built-in defense–“I was just kidding.” It puts you in a position where you cannot call out his manipulations without being made out to be uptight, boring, unfunny, or someone who just doesn’t “get it.” It gives the manipulator free reign to insult you without having to take any blame. This is especially difficult when the manipulator is genuinely funny and makes jokes in front of other people who laugh, not realizing that the jokes are part of a large manipulation attempt.

22. Punishment 
A master manipulator will know how to punish you for not complying with his manipulations without making it look like a clear-cut “punishment.” Maybe a boyfriend disappears or gives you the silent treatment after you bring up a discussion he didn’t want to have, ensuring you spend days feeling unloved and anxious at the prospect of being dumped. If you question this, he just says he “needed time to think” about all that you brought up. In reality, he punished you, sending the message not to talk about that topic again.

Maybe a friend or boyfriend with an anger problem will cause a scene in public in response to you doing or saying something they dislike, knowing that you’ll be embarrassed by the negative attention and will drop the conversation or behavior. If you censor your words or actions around someone in order to avoid an unwanted response–whether that is anger or the cold shoulder–that person is manipulating you.

23. Insinuated Ultimatums
Insinuated ultimatums hint at a possible punishment to come. These are more subtle than the outright coercion or blackmail of, “If you don’t do X, I’m going to Z,” but they operate on the same premise–you do what the manipulator wants in order to avoid a consequence the manipulator hints at and that you fear.

It took me quite a while to realize it, but I used this manipulation technique in past romantic relationships. “I don’t think I want to be with a smoker for the rest of my life,” I said, as he smoked a cigarette in front of me. And, “I don’t know if this relationship is going to work out,” I said after he displayed anger in a way I didn’t like. I didn’t realize this was manipulation at the time because the words I said were true. I didn’t want to date a smoker forever. I didn’t know if the relationship would work out if he kept getting angry like that. My intent was manipulation, however. I wasn’t sharing those true words in the spirit of open communication; I was sharing them in an attempt to control aspects of his behavior.

Insinuated ultimatums are used a lot in co-dependent relationships, I think, where one person walks on eggshells so as not to prompt the other person to start drinking or doing drugs again, or to become suicidal, or to once again resort to whatever unhealthy behavior they struggle with and happen to conveniently turn to or bring up when their partner does something they dislike. Perhaps the “sick” person purposely uses their issues to manipulate, or perhaps they don’t even know they’re doing it, but the unsaid message is, “Comply with my requests or I’ll go off the deep end again.”

24. Name Calling 
Name calling is false equivalence to an extreme. It’s nasty. It’s no-holds-barred, I-want-to-make-you-cry manipulation. Name calling will backfire with most people who have healthy self-esteem unless the frog-in-pot method has been used to acclimate them to bad treatment. Most manipulators will only pull this out once you’re very close with them and in a relationship that is difficult to sever. Name calling is done to shock you, hurt you, and ultimately, get you to do what they want.

  • “You aren’t coming to my party? I always knew you were a bitch. Everyone knows it.”
  • “You’re eating another cookie? God, what a fat pig.”
  • “You’re going home with that guy? I can’t believe I’m friends with such a whore.”

25. Fake Apology
Manipulators pull out the fake apology when they’ve gone too far and pushed you to the edge. They’ve acted too nasty or mean, or else you’ve caught on to their manipulations. They fear you’re about do something rash, like get serious revenge or cut them from your life forever. They say, “I’m sorry.” They say, “It’ll never happen again.” They say, “I can change.”

It’s all lies. If the manipulator was really sorry, he would’ve come to you and apologized on his own, before he realized you were going to do whatever it is he’s now trying to stop. The apology is just another manipulation, usually used to keep you engaged or to avoid other unpleasant consequences of being caught manipulating. Remember, manipulators don’t use words to express their thoughts and feelings like most people do. Manipulators use words as tools to get what they want. I’ve found most manipulators don’t like apologizing–it’s their least favorite tool–but they will do it when it appears to be one of the only options left. Of course, once they’re no longer at risk for dire consequences, they’ll be up to their old tricks and it’ll become clear they never felt sorry at all.

26. The Beg and Plead
This is another last resort manipulation tool. When nothing else works, the person might break down and say, “Please. Please help me. Just this once. Give me a chance. I’ll do anything. What can I do to prove myself to you? What do you want me to do? I’ll do it.”

The beg and plead could be combined with fake apologies and false promises and lots of crocodile tears. If you don’t know the person well, it might work because of how intensely awkward it feels, or because it becomes a pity party. If you’re close with the person, it works because it tricks you into thinking the manipulator has finally reached a breaking point and is owning up to his manipulative ways. You might view this as progress and a sign of maturation and changes to come. Most likely, he is just desperate and this is the only option that will allow him to continue manipulating you.

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Wow, this was an intense exercise that brought back many memories of dealing with manipulation. Although I am frustrated and saddened by manipulators, now that it’s fairly easy for me to spot their before I do feel a bit of joy in outwitting them and shutting down their attempts.

I’m curious, as you read this list, did any people in your life come to mind? Were there any manipulation techniques you recognized as something you’ve used before, whether intentionally or unconsciously? Are there any manipulation techniques you know of that I missed here?

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relationships, roommates

How to deal with a bad roommate

The other day I posted what to discuss before moving in with a roommate. A discussion about expectations held prior to moving in together can help prevent roommate issues, but not always. Maybe you don’t ask enough questions out of politeness, or don’t think to ask the right questions simply because they aren’t issues you’ve dealt with before or could foresee being a problem. Maybe you are too focused on the more immediate need of securing shelter to notice roommate differences that could lead to problems later.

Regardless of how it happens, at some point, you’ll probably find yourself living with a roommate you can’t seem to get along with. Here are my tips on how to deal with a bad roommate:

Address issues early, the first time you notice them. At first I had the opposite approach–I’d give roommates the benefit of the doubt and hope the problem would be a one-time thing rather than ongoing. I was almost always wrong. If there is one “rule of roommates,” it’s that if they do something once, they’re probably going to do it again unless you speak up.

The longer you wait to address something that’s bothering you, the more difficult it will be to resolve for a couple of reasons. First, if the behavior goes on for an extended period of time, it’ll become a habit and your roommate will be less inclined to break it. If you say something the very first time they wake you up at 2 am/leave the kitchen a mess/pay rent late, your expectations will be clear and they will (hopefully) adjust without forming a habit. Second, the longer you wait to address something, the angrier and more resentful you’ll become, and what could’ve been a casual conversation if you brought it up the first time will now be a bigger, more difficult confrontation.

Communicate openly rather than being passive aggressive. Sending hints to your roommate through your actions rather than speaking openly about whatever bothers you is cowardly, ineffective, and can drive you crazy. Sometimes people who have been raised to think that confrontation is mean feel they’re being kinder by sending subtle hints instead. Wrong. It isn’t kind, it’s passive aggressive, and it probably won’t work.

Your roommate might not pick up on yours hints. This will be frustrating for you and cause resentment to build. If your roommate does pick up your hints, they might be insulted and retaliate with their own passive aggressiveness. I’ve been in a passive aggressive roommate stand off before and it’s an awful way to live. You get sucked into a paranoia vortex where you can’t tell what your roommate does innocently and what is done vengefully. A confrontation might feel difficult or intimidating, but it’s much better than allow anger to build and second guessing the meaning of everything little thing your roommate says and does.

Don’t allow their passive aggressiveness. Open communication is a two-way street. If you make attempts to communicate openly but suspect your roommate is being passive aggressive in return, acknowledge it right away. Be direct in a kind, non-accusing way. “Hey, I haven’t seen you much since we discussed things the other day. Are you angry with me, or is that a coincidence?” “Hey, I noticed you keep moving my stuff off of this shelf in the kitchen. Is it bothering you? If so, where else should I put it?” Even if they deny obvious passive aggressiveness, you calling it out could keep them from doing it again in the future. Also, I’ve noticed people are much more likely to communicate openly about their concerns once you’ve communicated yours.

Talk about things in person, face-to-face. I learned this with my very first college roommate. After weeks of feeling frustrated by her clutter, I came home and found dirty clothes on my bed–the only uncluttered space in the dorm room–and decided that was the final straw. She wasn’t around, so I wrote her a note that I thought was straight-forward yet polite. It turned out that the clothing on my bed was not hers, but a friend of hers, and she hadn’t known it was there. Later, I found out she showed the note to a bunch of my friends and former co-workers without explaining the context, making me out to be insane. (Woah, I just realized that might be where fear number 87 originated.)

Writing notes or sending text messages is tempting because it relieves immediate frustration and it’s easier than dealing with a face-to-face confrontation, but it’s not worth it. Most times it’ll make things worse. With a text message, email, or written note, there is no context or tone. Chances are, such a message will anger your roommate rather than fix the problem. Plus, then the message is there forever, for them to show to whomever they’d like and to reread (and become re-angered about) over and over.

Show that you’re willing to compromise. No one likes being bossed around. Also, if you have problems with your roommate, chances are they also have problems with you. When you’re dealing with an issue, show that you aren’t trying to order them around and that you’re also willing to make changes. “Hey, your loud music woke me up last night and that kinda sucked because I had to get up so early. I’m wondering if you can turn it down after midnight. Am I being too loud in the morning? I can try to be quieter too, if I am. I want to make sure we aren’t doing anything to disturb each other’s sleep.”

Pick your battles. If your roommate does twenty things you can’t stand, literally sit down and rank the top 5 worst behaviors and even then only pick 1-2 to discuss at a time. No one is going to respond well to being told that pretty much everything they do is awful so you’ve got to narrow it down. You want your open communication to feel like open communication, not a personal attack. Address how he doesn’t pay rent on time and leaves out food that is attracting cockroaches, but let the more minor things slide.

Be nice. Hang out. Have fun. Maybe you’ve decided your roommate is an evil human being and you look forward to never speaking to her again once the lease is up. Fine. Be nice to her anyway, for pragmatic reasons. Buy her a birthday and Christmas gift. When you’re going out with a group of people, invite her. When she gets home at night, have the courtesy to ask, “How was your day?” instead of rushing into your room and shutting the door. Kindness melts resentment on both ends. This doesn’t mean be a doormat or allow yourself to be taken advantage of, but don’t allow the situation to devolve into one where you are avoiding each other, giving the silent treatment, or being openly hostile. A tiny bit of effort into being nice–even if it feels fake–can make the subsequent days or weeks more bearable.

Get out of the apartment. That said, sometimes you just need a break. Address your roommate issues, but don’t let them consume your thoughts. If you’re like me–an introvert who spends a lot of time at home and tends to ruminate on things–a bad roommate situation can take over your mood and begin to feel more dire than it actually is. Plus, the more you sit around at home feeling irritated, the more you contribute to an unpleasant situation. Do things that improve your mood and force a change of perspective. Go for a walk. Visit a friend for the weekend. Study at the library instead of in the living room. Do whatever it is that will take your mind off of the roommate situation and leave you feeling refreshed.

Take action. Talk to your roommate first. Talk to your roommate second. Talk to your roommate third. If your roommate doesn’t respond to your multiple attempts at open communication, take action. They won’t buy toilet paper? Let it (and the tissues) run out the day you’re leaving for a week-long vacation, forcing them to buy some. They won’t clean? Hire a maid and deduct their portion of the cost from the amount you owe them for utilities. They are months late on paying you for cable and internet? Cancel cable. Change the wi-fi password. They keep using your shampoo, conditioner, and toothpaste? Get a shower caddy and keep that stuff in your bedroom. (I’ve actually had to do this one before.)

If these actions were your first response, they’d be nasty passive aggressiveness. If you’ve addressed issues multiple times (I believe in the “three strikes and you’re out” philosophy) then taking action like this isn’t nasty–it’s standing up for yourself and not being a pushover.

GTFO. Maybe you’ve tried everything, and things aren’t  getting better. Despite your attempts at communicating openly and being nice and friendly, your roommate continues to be passive aggressive, or otherwise make your life at home a waking nightmare. Maybe it’s at a point where you don’t trust your roommate or the people she brings over. You’re concerned you’re in an unsafe situation, or that your things could be damaged or stolen. Maybe the situation is in some way affecting your health, your other relationships, or your work performance. If you’ve tried everything and the situation is still unbearable, get out.

If you’re in a dorm, this should be easy. Go through the proper channels to get a new roommate–you can’t be the only one wanting to make a switch.

If you’re in a lease, first try to talk openly with your roommate about wanting to leave. If your roommate is as unhappy as you are, maybe she will either volunteer to move out, or happily help find someone to fill your spot. If you’re past the point of talking with your roommate, contact the landlord or building manager and ask about the procedure for having someone else take your place. Try to arrange it so that person signs on for the remainder of the lease so you don’t remain liable for anything after moving out. Also try to arrange it so they pay their security deposit to you so you don’t lose money, although if you’ve reached this point, you might be willing to pay a few hundred dollars to be free of the situation.

 ***

What other methods have you used when dealing with an unpleasant roommate? When I go back to school this fall I’ll be living alone for the first time in years (yes!), but I know that I might end up living with a roommate again (or a boyfriend, which is still a roommate of sorts) some day.

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relationships, roommates

What to discuss before moving in with a roommate

Today I tallied it up and realized I’ve had ~14 roommates throughout my adult life. Some have been great, some have been weird, and others have been straight-up nightmares. After getting out of a particularly difficult roommate situation recently, I’ve been reflecting on how the roommate issues I’ve faced could’ve been dealt with better. I think the best way to handle roommate issues is to try and prevent major problems in the first place, by making sure both (or all) roommates are on the same page.

Without further ado, here’s my take on what to discuss before moving in with a roommate:

Money. Is rent being split equally, or does the person with the larger bedroom have to pay more? Are all names going on the lease? Are all people paying into the deposit equally? Who will put which utilities in their name? Will that person pay the utility up front and be reimbursed, or will each person write a separate check out to the utility company? Does everyone want cable? Internet? A landline? Will these be split equally?

Household items. Will people take turns buying dish soap, sponges, toilet paper, etcetera, or will the costs be split each time? What items are considered necessities and will be shared costs by everyone, and what are not? Who is bringing which pieces of furniture? If new furniture or decorations are needed, are the costs being shared? If so, who will keep the items when it’s time to move out?

Space. How are common spaces being divided up, and what will they be used for? If there is limited car or bike parking, how will it be shared? If there is limited closet/storage space, how will it be shared? How much stuff does each person own and need to store? Whose photos and art will be hung in the living room and common areas? Can the kitchen cabinets fit everyone’s dishes and kitchen items? If not, who will put theirs in storage?

Cleanliness. How clean and tidy should it be? What items can be kept in common areas, and what needs to be in storage or in bedrooms? Can people wear shoes inside, or do they need to remove them at the door? How often will dishes be washed? Does everyone wash their own dishes, or is it more of a communal effort? How often will the floor be swept/mopped/vacuumed? How often will the bathroom be cleaned? Will there be a cleaning schedule? If someone is unhappy with the cleanliness level later on, how should they address it?

Food. Will roommates share groceries or plan meals together? If so, which groceries? Which meals? If not, can one person ever eat another’s food? If so, must they ask first? Must they replace it later? Should roommates label their food to help keep things straight, or is that viewed as rude? Should people throw away food that is rotten if it isn’t theirs, or ask first? Will people have designated shelves in the cabinet/pantry, or will everything be intermixed?

Quiet time. What time does each person go to sleep and wake up? Will anyone be studying at home or working from home? Will there be “quiet hours” during which no one will watch TV or have guests over, or is anything allowed at any time? Is any bedroom better protected from noise than others? If so, who gets the quieter room?

Guests. Who is allowed to come over? How often? Must they leave by a certain time? How many guests can a roommate bring home without first asking permission–one, two, five? Will you throw parties? If so, how often? What kind of parties? May friends and/or family guests stay the night? If so, how many nights, and where will they sleep? May significant others spend the night? How many nights per week? May they take showers there? May they have a set of keys, or be there when no one else is home?

Bathroom. What time does each person shower? Will any toiletry items be shared? What about hand soap? Will towels be shared? If so, who will wash them and how often?

Mail. Who will get the mail? Where should mail for someone else be put? Can one person sign for another’s packages if they aren’t home? Is there ever a case where one person can open another’s mail, if it’s a shared utility bill, for instance?

Privacy. May one roommate go into another’s room to put something in there when they aren’t home? Does a closed bedroom door mean “knock first,” or “do not disturb?” If a roommate forgets their clothes in the washer or dryer, may the other remove them?

Partying. How much drinking is too much drinking? Is alcohol going to be shared? Does anyone smoke cigarettes? If so, where is that allowed and not allowed? Does anyone who lives there smoke weed? Is that allowed inside even if smoking cigarettes is not? What about during parties or when visitors are over? Are other drugs allowed during parties or at any other times? If so, how often and in which rooms?

Personality. How introverted/extroverted is each person? How much alone time does each person need? Are roommates expected to be friends with each other,–chatting at night, going out together on weekends–or is this more of a business-type roommate relationship?

Pet peeves. What little thing really, really irritates each person? What quirks does each person have that the others should know about in order to avoid getting under their skin?

These things might seem overly obvious, but most of my roommate issues have stemmed from different ideas on what is normal or expected in a roommate situation. It’s easy to assume that there’s such a thing as “common sense” when it comes to living arrangements, but there isn’t. Everyone has had different experiences and comes in with different expectations.

I had one roommate who grew up with sisters say, “You can come in my room any time to borrow clothes, but please don’t wash them because I’m particular about how I do laundry.” I was glad she mentioned it because I did not grow up with sisters, and I am not okay with someone borrowing my clothes or, even worse, entering my room and rooting around in my closet when I’m not home. What would’ve been totally normal to her would’ve felt like a serious privacy violation to me.

Roommate issues are going to crop up no matter what. There’s no fool-proof way to avoid them. Still, discussing things in advance can help prevent the more major issues. Plus, it sets the stage for a roommate relationship based on open communication, which makes addressing and resolving issues easier later on.

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