The phrase "a roommate from Hell" seems to be universally recognized as the term to describe a roommate who drives us insane with his or her incredibly bad behavior.
It's a fairly emotional expression but it sums up our need to express the anger, frustration and sometimes awe at the outrageous behavior of some people and their complete disregard for others.
However, it's not only extreme behavior that causes us to pull out that phrase. Relatively minor daily irritations can blow up out of all proportion and before we know it we have a major issue on our hands, and the one-time friendly roommate reveals them self as a dreaded "roommate from Hell."
But are they really "roommates from Hell?" And how do we let these situations arise in the first place? The key is in realizing that during the first few weeks with a new roommate, everyone is on their best behavior. Following the initial "honeymoon" period, things can start to slide and people revert to their own standards of what is, to them, normal and acceptable behavior.
It's these "hidden" standards of behavior that are rarely exposed in an interview and therefore often overlooked right from the beginning.
The secret to avoiding a "roommate from Hell" is in carefully planning, searching for and then choosing, someone whose standards and expectations meet your own.
So right off the bat, let's look at some of the preventable reasons why things don't work out in roommate relationships. Here are the seven routine mistakes that people make right from the very start of a roommate search. Failure to pay attention to any one of these steps will turn your search for a great roommate into a game of chance!
1. They don't take the roommate search seriously enough and don't think about the potential consequences of being stuck with a "Roommate from Hell." Anyone who has lived with a troublesome roommate knows only too well how their lives can be affected, right down to the smallest possible level, not to mention the potential for financial and property losses. It's often only with hindsight that people realize they should have given more thought to the whole roommate search process.
2. They don't think about what is going to make them happy in a shared living situation. While they say "love is blind" to our partner's flaws, there is not much forgiveness when it comes to roommates. In the absence of infinite patience, consideration needs to be given not only to the big things that your roommate might do to drive you mad, but also some of the smaller irritations.
3. They don't conduct a wide enough search and consider only one or at most, a very limited number of possible roommates. The more limited the number of candidates, the less likely a compatible roommate will be found. The larger the pool of qualified interviewees, the better the chances are of finding a really great roommate.
4. They don't conduct a proper interview and only ask a limited number of questions, and even then, they're usually the wrong ones. Without an appropriate selection process and a list of pre-prepared questions, it is impossible to get the right information or make the right choice. The unprepared "chat over a coffee" approach is how many "roommate from Hell" relationships begin.
5. They don't think carefully enough about choosing the right person. Decisions either made in haste or without considering all the relevant information result in poor choices. Taking the time to objectively weigh up one candidate against another or even rejecting all and to continue searching, is an essential mindset. Selecting the "best of a bad bunch" just because there's currently no one else, is a recipe for creating problems, not solving them.
6. They don't bother to check the credentials of the applicants.In the same way that job recruitment people always check the background of applicants, it is unwise to accept anything a potential roommate tells you on face value. Given the potential to disrupt your life and your belongings, background checks on potential roommates are essential.
7. They don't set up and agree ground rules from the start. Unless the finer points are discussed, negotiated and agreed upon up front, new roommates may innocently have totally different expectations of each other. So that everyone knows what is expected of them, a Roommate Agreement and a set of House Rules should be created before the new roommate moves in.
So there you have it, the seven sins of the roommate search. Now that you know what needs to be done, you are already ahead of the game and ready to find a "roommate from Heaven."
However, finding an emotionally mature, financially stable, considerate and respectful person to share your home with requires preparation.
Ultimately, how happy you are going to be with your new roommate really comes down to you, because at the end of the day, it's you who finds them, you who interviews them and finally you who chooses them and offers them the room.
It really IS, your choice!