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09.18.2003

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09.18.2003: Etiquette Schmetiquette
common-sense manners for real-world living
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continued from page 2

roommate tension (cont.)...
Q: (cont.)
Her problems with me are that she thinks I am high maintenance and unreasonable. I have treated her badly and she did not deserve it. The only things I have done is object to these four things. She thinks she is cool and laidback because she would not mind if I did all of these things, although I think she would if I participated in the fourth.

Am I crazy?

A: Everybody has different, potentially annoying quirks. And each person has a different tolerance for which quirks they can deal with in others, and the level to which they can cope with said quirks on a daily basis. There's nothing crazy about it; it's just how people are made. Finding a good roommate for yourself is a tricky thing - almost like finding a good mate - because there are a lot of quirks that you simply don't learn about a person until you're living under the same roof. The key to a successful apartment-share is that A) the roommies have living styles that basically mesh, and B) that when the occasional clash in lifestyle occurs, the roommies are willing to work on a compromise.

Take the dishes thing, for instance. I can empathize with you on this point. My otherwise thoroughly wonderful, very kind boy has the remarkable ability to tune out the presence of a mountain of dirty dishes threatening to topple over in the sink. He's not trying to be rude when he simply adds to the pile instead of taking the time to wash up right away; it's just he has a much higher tolerance than I do for dishes caked with food that's more than a day old. And he finds it far more efficient to wash a huge stack at once, rather than a bowl or two as they're used. I've tried every tactic known to man to change his approach, and he's even promised at times to try and be better about it, but so far, to no avail. The thing is, as much as the five-day-old dirty dishes quirk exasperates me, I know I have quirks - like my less-then-thoroughly water-efficient manner of washing dishes - that drive him bonkers. Ultimately, though, we've both accepted that these are quirks that we can live with in each other. And we've come to a bit of an understanding on the matter: I'll try to use less water when I'm washing, and he'll do the dishes without complaint whenever I thus dictate. Clearly, this is a solution that works better for a couple than regular old roomies, but my point is this: it takes a combination of understanding of differences and good old-fashioned compromise for two people to co-exist under one roof without wanting to kill each other.

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