Cohabitation is not easy under any circumstances; it poses a huge challenge for anyone. There are many possibilities that come with sharing a living space with another – for example, it could lead to a strengthened relationship built on affection and support, or maybe it could lead to the disintegration of a relationship as a result from disagreement and frustration.

Living together is basically sharing: a mutual exchange in which we sacrifice part of our space and therefore experience a new level of comfort and intimacy. This comes with the expectation that both people will show some sort of flexibility as a means to maintain a good relationship with one another.

There are many types of cohabitation. We can live by obligation, by necessity, or by a personal decision. There are cohabitations that are pleasurable and enriching, and cohabitations that end up destroying our mental health. You can mourn the day when you and your roommate(s) part or desperately yearn for the day when you won’t have to share a sink with anyone.

Either way, cohabitation is often a huge challenge at different levels. People who live together, whether they like each other or not, have to exercise different “psychological muscles” to prevent the end to a relationship. Here we mention four of these characteristics, or “muscles”, used to maintain a good standing with whom you are living with:

4 characteristics to confront the challenges of cohabitation

Social skills. When you live with someone – no matter if it’s your family, your partner, or other people – you have to know how to express what you need, how to complain about something, how to ask for a favor, and more. Be assured that if you do not use social skills, then your room will start to feel smaller and more uncomfortable.

Patience. If you don’t want to live in a space where you know you and the living mate will fight to the death, then it is important that you adapt to the rhythm of the other (their speed, their style). When you and your living mate have different rhythms, it is important to realize that not everything can or will be done your way.

Generosity. If your closet, your bathroom, or your couch is not just yours, that means you have to give up some of your individual routine as a means to share it with the other person. You can achieve that by being altruistic and, to your surprise, when you engage in selfless actions you might just receive that selfless behavior back.

Flexibility. Living with someone is the perfect practice to instill this virtue of flexibility. Being flexible will allow you to negotiate, change opinions, and reach healthy pacts with people whom you share the same roof with. If you haven’t noticed it already, you will soon realize that being flexible is not optional.

In short, cohabitation is a challenge we will all have to face at some point during our lives. If you need help training these muscles just mentioned, do not fret: psychologists are personal trainers for those characteristics, don’t hesitate to consult us!