Even though your home should be your sanctuary from the world, every now and then, you'll find yourself sharing a space with a person (or, heaven forbid, people) who don't make your life easy.
This can be massively stressful, but there are ways of making sure that your home remains a safe and comfortable place to return to after a busy day. We've taken a look at five potentially-explosive living situations and written some guidelines on how to deal with them.
Living with an ex:
Until you can both find alternative arrangements, this can be a fraught time, especially if it's been a particularly acrimonious split.
- If you have the space, sleep in separate rooms. If you don't, alternate between the bed and the sofa; it's vital that you both take turns, as resentment will soon build if one of you is consigned to the sofa until a new arrangement is decided.
- If you can't stand to be around each other, let each other know your work and social plans so you can arrange to cook, watch TV and be at home without the other person. This might mean that you see your friends more than usual or head to your parents' house for a few nights to give the other person some space.
- Avoid the booze if drinking brings out the worst in you.
- Always walk away if a row is brewing, and remember, this isn't forever.
- Under no circumstances, never, ever bring a new romantic interest home, even if you're 100% sure your ex will be out. It's hugely disrespectful.
- Don't attempt any sloppy revenge tactics, such as 'accidentally' binning their food shopping or cutting small, annoying holes in their clothes.
- Don't attempt to win them back by preparing candlelight dinners and wistfully talking about 'old times'. Instead, focus on helping them find a new flat, or how you're going to find somewhere new to live.
Living with a troublesome housemate:
Whether it's nocturnal noises of the x-rated kind or eternally leaving their muddy shoes on the cream carpet, there are ways of living together.
- If you have an issue, the first port of call should be to speak to your housemate about your concerns. Try to do it in a shared space and avoid getting confrontational; they may not realise they've done something wrong.
- If that fails, run a close eye over your contract. Is there a clause about frequent overnight guests, or noise after 11pm?
- Try to be consistent - every time they repeat the offending behaviour, give them a gentle reminder. They'll soon work out you won't let this go.
- Don't go behind their back and approach your landlord to complain. They'll feel put-upon and embarrassed, and it may exacerbate the issue.
- Don't bang on their door during the times they're being noisy or slip passive-aggressive notes into their coat pockets. Always address issues face to face.
- Much like living with an ex, don't exact revenge. Step away from their sandwiches and their record collection. You're better than that.
Living with your parents again:
Whether you've just finished uni, you're home from a stint of travelling or you're trying to save some money to buy, there are lots of reasons why you may have to relinquish your freedom and move home.
- Be polite and grateful. Your parents probably thought they were shot of you by now; abide by their house rules, even if you think you've outgrown them. Let them know if you'll be home for dinner, or you'll be staying out.
- Wash up, clean and tidy up after yourself. You're 35, remember?
- If you've moved home to save, make sure you've set up an account and stick to your word.
- Even if they've said you can live rent-free, always offer to make a goodwill payment, and offer money towards the bills.
- Don't think this is your chance to regress and act like a spoiled teenager again, even if you're getting used to the idea of your bed being made every night and coming home to a hot meal.
- Don't revisit old conversations that lead to rows. If you're living at home because of a relationship ending, resist the urge to get angry if your parents voice worry or disapproval. They care about your welfare; they're not trying to wind you up.
Living with a couple:
Even though living with a couple has long been cited as the most diplomatically-sensitive arrangement of all, it can be done.
- Treat them as individuals; they're not joined at the hip. Make the effort to get to know them both and when one of them suggests you do something together, don't feel like you have to invite their spouse - they may want some alone time with you.
- Feign deafness if they decide to have an early night once in a while.
- Take them up on invitations to have a house night in together, or go to the pub. They want to make you feel welcome; don't feel like you're intruding.
- Get involved if they have a row. They won't appreciate you interfering and when they've made up, you'll be public enemy number one.
- Try to play them off against each other for your own gain; they have a bond much stronger than yours, and if that's not the case, you definitely shouldn't be living together.
Just about to move in together? Here's our guide to cohabitation bliss.
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