But what’s worse than being alone during quarantine?
Dealing with other people during quarantine.
Here we are in lock down (still!) with no choice buuuut to stay inside all day. (of course that’s no big deal if you’re lazy enough)/ Your place of residence has become your bar, gym, office, and movie theatre. It’s basically the only hub where you do...well, pretty much everything. And that much applies to the person or people you live with, meaning you are going to spend a lot more time together. Thus is the prologue to “The Coronavirus Tales”
Being stuck inside a tight space with another person (or multiple people) for an undetermined amount of time wears down on your psyche, and theirs too!
Whether it’s someone forgetting to load the dishwasher or leaving the toilet seat up or playing music too loud, if you’re living together with a partner or roommate and forced to spend literally every waking hour with them, you’ll inevitably get on each other’s nerves. Doesn’t matter how well you typically get along, this seemingly never-ending confinement puts your compatibility to the test and will cause some conflict at some point.
You’ll no doubt feel frustrated with your roomie eventually over something innocuous, like the way they chew or the temperature they preheat the oven or the time they go to bed. And god forbid if they cough or start breathing heavily, well then that’s just an anxiety alert. Any sort of symptom or illness that could potentially be the coronavirus is gonna bring about some panic, especially for the germ-a-phobes out there.
All this time trapped in confinement with the same damn people all day everyday makes you want to get away and be alone and have room to, I don’t know, breathe for a minute or two. It’s like that feeling of being constantly watched and paid attention to; it’s enough to drive you mad.
In fact, loneliness sounds pretty refreshing after putting up with these people you barely even like or maybe you actually love but can’t stand their constant presence for nearly two months in the same building.
Last time a man had was stuck indoors with his family, he went on a murder spree.
But seriously, domestic violence rates are on the rise as well as divorce rates. That says a lot about how well people are handling this shared isolation with their partner. They’re learning to hate each other’s guts.
Suicide rates are up too, the highest they’ve ever been. Between the lack of employment, inability to pay bills, and a partner screaming -- to say it’s a stressful situation is an underestimate.
All the problems in the relationship come to the surface. Fights ensue. Drama happens.
While they may be safe from COVID, people living together are getting “sick” of each other and the symptoms of that can be far worse than a little trouble breathing.
For couples, this is the time to either make it or break it in their relationship. They either are gonna come together a lot closer because of this or...break up. There’s no in between.
As for roommates, they’re gonna notice each other’s bad habits and get into arguments.
Ultimately people are going to tear each other apart (or at least be very, very tempted to) during this perpetual isolation.
So how do you survive this quarantine without straggling the person(s) you live with?
Well, we’re gonna dive into the lazy method of handling all the crazy drama that might arise as you struggle to get along instead of loathing their soul down to the core.
One of the easiest ways to avoid drama in the first place is to set solid expectations. You have to create clear boundaries about how others should treat you and what sort of behaviors you will or won’t tolerate.
Now with this COVID craziness, there are definitely some situations that need to be discussed beforehand and have rules about. You know what they say: an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
You’re going to have to practice that ancient lost art of...Ready for this? Communicating. I know, I know crazy right? Actually talking to one another. Sheesh what a concept!
Anyway, the world is bizarre right now and being locked in with your roomie or partner for months straight is gonna put both of your communication skills to the test.
Fortunately, communicating effectively is rather simple, even though a lot of us don’t do it. That’s only because we try to get our point across and aim to get the other person to agree with rather than going for the lazy, straightforward approach, and just focusing on solving the issue.
Solve the issue. This isn't a debate club. You’re not trying to win an argument or conquer your opponent. You’re just trying to get on the same page.
Communicating effectively just a matter of being honest and expressing your feelings in a cool, laid-back sort of way. Of course, communicating is a two-way street and also requires listening, which we’ll get to in a bit.
But one of the things you are going to have to communicate right now to the person you are living with is how the fuck to deal with this whole situation we have at hand.
Are guests to be allowed? Or will there be a temporary “No Guest Policy” during quarantine. If they are allowed, what rooms are off limits?
Inviting guests, outsiders, of course invites Corona to your door. You don’t know where these people have been and anyone outside the household coming in raises the risk of infection. But at the same time, are you going to ward off friends, family, and lovers for months on end? Maybe there’s a limit to how many and how often guests can come, if at all.
Similarly, are significant others allowed to come over? Or are they nixed as well and limited to Skype dates until further notice.
Do you have to tell each other when you’re leaving the house/apartment and for what reason? Or is it cool just to leave?
Obviously, it’s important to know the whereabouts of your living partner in terms of virus prevention. After all, you should know if the person was out to the grocery store so you can take your own precautions when they return.
But at the same time, constantly keeping track of one another’s location invades privacy and individuality. I suppose on a personal level, it’s the large political debate we’re having on a large scale: personal freedom vs. safety. That’s something you and your roommate have to negotiate about.
What are the “quiet hours” to be respected?
Everyone’s routine is out of whack completely You’ve got to lay down the sort of schedule you both expect to follow, now that the work world is out of commission and the day of the week is something even Sherlock Holmes couldn’t figure out.
These are the types of questions you have to ask yourselves. Obviously you want to maximize everyone’s safety as well as sanity in doing so. Let’s break down how to communicate effectively and deal with conflict when and if it arises (which it will).
If they do something shitty you don’t like, don’t be afraid to tell them.
Now, you don’t have to be a belligerent d-bag about your rules. You don’t have to beat them to a bloody pulp and pound your chest chanting words of “Holier Than Thou”. You don’t have to entirely degrade them as a person.
Be polite, but don’t let them walk over you.
Be calm yet firm. Don't get all shaky and worked up. No need to yell, but do talk in a confident tone of voice. Relax and state what you need the other person to do (or not do) and WHY. The why is important.
People are more likely to be complacent when given a reason as to why they should comply. There have actually been studies on this.
For example, if your roommate is playing loud music say “Turn down your music because I’m trying to take a nap”.
The reason doesn’t have to be elaborate or detailed. In fact, the simpler, the better. Be lazy about your explanation. But be sure to include a “because” and be honest.
When you are on the receiving end of criticism, you have to remain unfazed. It doesn’t disturb you that someone would notice your bad habits.
In other words, allow them to call you out on your own bullshit. Calling each other out on bullshit is the key to a happy healthy relationship or at the very least, tolerating each other enough not to kill one another during quarantine.
If they call you out on being unreasonable or doing some ridiculously uncalled for or rude behavior, don’t jump up and get all defensive. That’s just weak and insecure, and not lazy at all.
Lean back and let them say their piece. They may have a point or two if you actually take the time to listen and don’t jump down their throat right away.
Handle criticism with poise and grace. You’re human. They’re human. You both have flaws. Humble yourself a little and allow them to say something, which brings us to the next point.
Listen or Lose
That’s right. Listen. Actually fucking listen.
You can communicate all you want, talking until you run your mouth off to the floor, but none of that matters if you don’t LISTEN.
Listening is so essential in communicating. If I had to choose between speaking and listening skills to master, listening would be the choice. Hands down. You can’t properly get along with anyone if your listening skills are lack.
Not to mention, it’s a lot less work to just lean back n’ listen than it is to say as much as you can in five seconds like you’re Ben Shapiro trying to be right about everything.
When it comes to living together in harmony, “winning” is not determined by who gets to be right.
It’s not a competition. It’s a co-op mission!
If there’s only one person who’s “right”, then both of you lose because the goal is to find a mutual accommodation for both parties. The goal is NOT to dominate. Repeat it with me now: The goal of a relationship (or living situation with a roommate) is NOT to dominate the other person.
It is to create together peaceful harmony. If you’re creating a warzone, you’ve failed, even if you “win” the battle.
Victory is not determined by who gets their way, it’s determined by how well you compromise and put aside your differences. Value Resolution over Being Right.
Don’t just criticize them for doing something because you’re feeling frustrated about this whole covid situation. Never make someone else responsible for your own emotions.
Have the maturity to own your own emotion, and most importantly, don’t allow your emotions to make decisions for you.
Take a step back and observe yourself. Check yo’self befo’ yo wreck yo’self. Find out what you’re really upset about, instead of making the person in your immediate facility the scapegoat for all your stress.
Now what they are doing may be bothersome, it may be frustrating, and they may just be the straw that broke the camel’s back.
But take a moment. Realize what’s happening. Become aware of the physical sensations in your body when you are stressed, so that you know when you’re not in the right state of mind to make a big decision.
Remember, you can’t control what happens or how you feel about it. But you can control how you *react* to it. That’s not only what you want to do, it’s your responsibility.
Own Your Mistakes
You fucked up. Big time.
Don’t hide it. Don’t deny it. Don’t try to change the story. Own that shit. Own what you did wrong.
Don’t explain it away or try and excuse it. Admit it was a terrible choice. No need to justify it or apologize profusely. Recognize why it was so fundamentally a mistake and never do it again.
Don’t say sorry (unless you really mean it, but even then, the “S” word should be used as sparingly as possible). Just admit you fucked up and take steps to change it.
Be a big boy or girl and step up to the plate. Come to grips with the fact that you’re an imperfect human being, and learn from it.
Lead by example and show that it’s okay to mess up sometimes, as long as you level up from it. Mistakes are Meh. They are no big deal. They happen. Who cares?
People only care about your mistakes if you try and act like they didn’t happen or fail to evolve after making them. So get your shit together and own your mistakes to the point where you won’t ever make the same one again.
People respect those that admit their flaws and shortcomings. It’s strong, it’s stoic, to be able to be vulnerable enough to say “I fucked up” rather than try and cover it up like an insecure teenaged dweeb.
And hey, just ‘cause you fucked up does not mean you are a fuck up.
OH NO! TRIGGERED!
What pushes your buttons? What pisses you off?
And why does it light up your fuse so easily?
Part of self awareness and being able to communicate your needs to your partner or roommate is knowing what exactly makes you tick.
What are your pet peeves? In other words.
And the next question you need to ask yourself is: Is it really that big of a deal?
Do you really care THAT much about which way the toilet roll faces?
Is it worth making a fuss over mundane things? Use your logic voice here and not your screaming toddler emotions. Don’t escalate things more than you need to or should.
Now if it is something *actually* important, say, because it interferes with your values, communicate that. Talk it out.
So your roommate keeps putting the toilet paper the wrong way. Is it really about the TP or something deeper?
Maybe you feel disrespected. But again, take responsibility for your own emotions.
Your emotions do tell you something about what’s important to you. They just don’t do a really good job about telling you how to communicate that. Listen to your emotions but don’t let them take control.
You take control of your emotions. Paying attention to your triggers allows you to see what you value and where your concerns lie.
You shouldn’t act on triggers but instead recognize when they’re fired off and why they’re being fired.
In the age of social media, socializing has turned into a cash grab for “likes” instead of what it is at its roots: human connection. Aim to dig back to the roots man. Keep it classic.
Look, if you can take daily bathroom selfies for your Instagram followers, you can take five seconds to tell your roommate/partner “Hey, I don’t like when you do that.”
Remember, conflict arises when boundaries are stepped upon, and augments when that boundary isn’t made clear, so nip issues in the bud before they grow into a wild uncontrollable growth. Tell the person what bothers you. Again, smoothly, calmly, and firmly.
Don’t use Passive Aggression to communicate either. This isn’t high school. Talk. It. Out. Like an actual person. Don’t leave the other person wondering what you’re actually upset about as they watch you storm off over a little burnt toast.
Don’t shut them out because you’re mad. It’s okay to take some alone time to calm down, but explain what you’re doing first before just giving them the “Silent Treatment”. Unexplained silence gets you nowhere in communication
And it goes without saying, don’t post your roommate struggles on social. There was recently a viral Tweet about a girl who asked her roommate not to have her boyfriend visit.
The Salt Lake Health Department got involved, tweeting “Brett could do his part in flattening the curve by visiting virtually! #StayHomeBrett”
The hashtag went on to be trending.
C’mon now! Keep the issues in the home. Don’t turn it into a public debate. Talk ti out like adults instead of warfarin the Twitter mob against each other.
Seriously. This can’t be stressed enough. If your roommate or partner is stressing out about their Zoom work meeting they just had with their belligerent boss, for example, it may not be a good time to remind them that it’s their turn to take the trash out.
While your intentions may be well and good, you know to maintain a sanitary living space, it’s just not a good time to bring up the issue.
Survey the other person’s mood before you make your approach, and if it is an absolutely pressing issue that cannot wait, like say, paying the rent, try to address it in a way that complements their mood.
You don’t necessarily want to “mirror” how they feel. I mean, if they’re upset and you act upset, that’s just gonna create unnecessary tension. Instead, match your tone and words to suit the situation.
If they're upset, be calm. If they’re more energetic, out of excitement or anger, match the energy but remain positive. You can’t get across to someone angry if you’re too mellow and you can’t get across to someone downbeat if you’re overly spirited or aggressive.
Like I said, read the room. Analyze the mood and overall tone of the environment before letting any words slip past your lips.
Don’t Do Drama
If I wanted drama, I would watch TNT. THEY know drama.
Drama is unnecessary work. It’s screaming, shouting, or worse, physical attacks. Man, I’m too lazy for that.
It takes a toll on your mental and emotional resources and leaves you feeling drained. On top of that, it usually results in the conflict remaining unresolved, causing more drama in the future on a perpetual loop.
But in this case,where you’re trapped together for months like a season of Survivor, the conflict needs to be resolved. And drama is certainly NOT the answer.
Now to be clear: there is a fine line between Tension and Drama.
Tension is inevitable. As long as you are two different people with different thoughts, backgrounds, worldviews, and emotions, there is going to be tension between the two of you *at some point*. You’re not going to *always* agree on every single little thing. Disagreements will happen, and those disagreements will cause Tension. If you want literally any other human being in your life, tension is unavoidable.
It all comes down to how you handle that Tension. Do you handle it with panic or poise and grace?
Drama is escalating that tension into an emotional outburst. Drama is turning that small Tension into a raging fiery beast. It’s “making a mountain out of mole hill” as the saying goes. It’s “taking it too far”, “crossing the line”. There’s a million ways to say it, but at the end of the day, drama is what it is. It’s bringing the conflict to a level of insanity, often beyond repair.
Once you initiate drama, there’s no going back. You opened up Pandora’s Box and suddenly all the negative emotions come to surface. Next thing ya know, there’s a smashed dinner plate on the kitchen floor, a broken window, and the end of a relationship.
See how bottling up emotions and acting upon Passive Aggressive has some serious bad side effects?
You must deflect drama and avoid raising it yourself. Keep conflict resolution productive, not destructive.
If the other person tries to escalate an issue into drama, you have the choice to walk away, politely telling them that “I don’t want this to get into drama. Let’s take a few minutes to gather our thoughts before we move forward in a discussion”
It’s NOT about You.
Get out of your EGO!
Maybe your roommate forgot to replace the milk because he’s worried that his aunt is in the hospital with COVID. Maybe your significant other isn’t being their sweet, caring self because there’s a lot of stress at work right now. Maybe, just maybe, it’s not about you.
Don’t take things as a personal insult. Put away your pride for a second. Chances are, the other person didn’t do that thing that upset you purposefully to ruin your day. Chances are they did it because of something completely outside of you and your relationship or living situation.
Also, remember that the other person has different needs, expectations, and boundaries than you do. Be respectful and mindful of that. Treat others how they want to be treated, not how you want to be treated, contrary to the popular saying.
That of course doesn’t mean waiting hand over foot to meet their needs, but it does mean being considerate enough not to be overbearing and demanding. You can be courteous without being a doormat.
Don’t rely on each other.
If you’re in a relationship, it’s okay to expect a little give and take. It’s a balancing act. You give a little, you take a little.
Emotional support is an obvious advantage of being in a relationship. You have someone there for you to help meet your emotional needs, but making them the sole source of comfort is taxing on the relationship. No one likes a needy partner.
In the same vein, you can’t constantly support the other person without receiving any support in return. It takes two to tango.
Don’t be a selfish asshole nor an ass kisser. The same goes for a platonic friend/roommate. Never give too much or take too much. Give just enough and take just enough.
Co-dependency is unhealthy. Rely on yourself for self-esteem, not another person.
You also shouldn’t solely rely on each other for a social life either. That’s what the Internet is for, in this time of quarantine. You can socialize with your friends while social distancing in various ways, but we won’t go into too much detail about how in this article as we already covered that earlier.
Sleep in their Bed
I don’t mean literally. I mean, obviously, if you’re a couple, that’s gonna happen anyway, but you probably don’t want to sleep in your roomie’s bed. Just saying. Well I mean, unless you’re into that sort of thing.
Some people have actually admitted to “experimenting” with their roommate, questioning their sexuality, during this lock down. I kid you not! I guess they were bored or maybe being isolated with one other person can be one of the most intimate experiences.
Anyhoot, what I mean when I say “Sleep in their Bed” is “take a walk in their shoes”. I’m too lazy to go out for a walk and we’re locked inside anyway, so I like my saying better. Fuck it.
Understand their perspective. This goes hand in hand with that listening we talked about earlier. The better you listen, the better you can understand
It’s far more effective to state why you believe the other person very well *could be* right before even getting to why you disagree with them or why they should change their mind.
Most people, in arguments, feel like they’re not being heard, and rather than attempting to hear the other person, they just reiterate their own points.
This just creates an endless loop between two people talking and not listening, saying the same points over and over again, without either one taking the time to “sleep in the other’s bed”.
You must understand before trying to be understood. Remember that.
Save yourself the hassle of “talking in circles” by taking a look through their eyes and seeing where they’re coming from.
That phrase alone: “I see where you’re coming from” or “I understand completely” is very powerful. Be sure to follow it up with an explanation of
Never say “I understand BUT…” Don’t “but in” your own point of view UNTIL AFTER the other person feels like you DO actually understand where they’re coming from.
You can’t get them to see your point of view unless you see theirs, and that’s absolutely key. The goal is not to change their mind; it’s to understand theirs.
When in doubt, ASK
If you’re completely unsure about how the other person is feeling or what they’re trying to communicate, ask and clarify. Don’t just assume you know if you don’t.
“If you assume, it just makes an Ass out of U and Me,” as the great saying goes.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions in order to fully understand your partner or roommate and the emotions they’re going through. Don’t ask in a condescending way, but one of genuine curiosity. Try to legitimately understand them, not tear them apart.
Stop. Wait. Procrastinate.
The number one advice when it comes to dealing with the people you’re living with. Any time you want to say or do something when an issue arises, stop and think, actually fucking think, before you make a move. Procrastinate with purpose!
You can do a hundred things right, but one single emotionally fueled decision can take it all away.
Wait it out a bit and make sure you are approaching an issue with a cool, calm head before diving right in. Take the slow, yet more rewarding path.
Quickly jolting to satisfy your own Ego will lead to terrible consequences, which in all fairness may render the relationship completely unsalvageable once what is done is done. Trust me, I’ve been there.
It’s best to be in control of how you act and what you say than allow your emotions to lead the way, even for a single goddamn second. You must procrastinate and rationalize every single decision you make with your partner or roommate, especially when it comes to dealing with negative emotions and frustrations, especially when there is Tension.
Take your time. Relax. There is absolutely no rush to get an answer. Find the right answer before your proceed, then make your move.
Stretch out the tension rather than letting it snap. Avoid the snap!
And if you have kids, that’s an entirely new act to juggle, which to be honest I don’t really want to write about. I’m not a parent nor do I plan to be.
What a time to be child-free! Let me tell you. That’s all I gotta say.
Anyway, relax, stay calm, and don’t kill the people you’re stuck with during this quarantine, mmm k?
Next week, we’ll dive even further into Self Awareness, understanding your lazy self, so that you can more easily understand others too.
Take it easy