Please help me not make a social mess of my new flat.
posted by schmichael to Human Relations (24 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I've just moved in to a new flat for the year. My town is a small city, and there aren't a huge amount of flats to find - and it's quite tough to find a flat that isn't either cold and damp and grotty on the one hand, or overly expensive on the other. I wasn't choosing from a lot, and i decided to move into a flat with a bunch of people I didn't know. When I mentioned to a workmate that I would be flatting with strangers, she said 'that's brave of you!' This made me pause and realise I guess that most people do tend to flat with friends, and the reason I'm not is because I just don't have a lot of friends.
Anyway the situation with my new flat is that for the first two weeks I'm staying on the couch because the person whose room I'm taking isn't moving out until mid-Janunary.
The first night I slept on the couch, one of the flatmates, who I hadn't really dealt with much, came home drunk, and was surprised to find me there. He got angry and berated me and threatened to beat me up and throw me out. He seemed to be very touchy about the flat politics, about not being allowed by the other flatmates to make decisions, so I played on that and managed to defuse the situation without violence by assuaging his prickliness. It definitely left a foul taste in my mouth, and it's made me even less comfortable about living on the couch - I mean, I'm working at the moment and it sucks not having somewhere to live - how comfortable can you be, winding down at night and staying on someone's couch? I'm not sure whether my flatmates really considered the logistics of asking me to live on the couch. And then for the situation to instantly (and I think, blamelessly in my regard), to turn slightly ugly, is really unfortunate.
So I decided to throw my sleeping bag on the bed in the room I've been allowed to store all my stuff in. It's not my room, and it's really not ideal and I'm sure if the flatmates realised it they would not be happy. But I'm also sick right now, and it seems like everything is so sloppy that I figured it was worth the risk to do this.
Earlier today the same flatmate who yelled at me when he was drunk was apparently unnerved when he came home again and I was hanging out with friends in the living room. My friends are not intimidating, and we weren't making a mess of the house either... I was perfectly polite to the flatmate, I thought I was really decent after how he treated me the other night.
Later on one of the girls came home, and told me that she thought it was presumptuous that I had friends around. As far as she was concerned, they had done me a favour in accommodating me for these two weeks, and they expected me to act like a guest. None of this had been said openly, so it left me wondering whether I have really poor judgement or whether I should be blaming the messiness or what.
In our conversation I kept my head, but I was didn't exactly agree that I had behaved poorly - there was barely anyone in the flat, over the three days I've stayed here, I've seen my flatmates three times, and it didn't feel like I was out on a limb to hang out with my friends here. I did the response irritating and unsympathetic to the difficulties of my position. Once or twice the girl told me I was 'making things weird,' when I tried to ask about what I was and wasn't expected or allowed to do. I guess there's a range of reactions, and I was closer to the 'fine! if I'm not wanted, I'll just leave!' side of things... I did go out of my way to apologise for misjudging the situation, but I wasn't effusively apologetic, and I didn't make light of the situation, which I feel someone a bit more easy-going than me might have done.
I feel like the situation sucks, and I'm not actively trying to offend these people. I do feel uneasy of their perspective of my position in the flat. And I could imagine them trying a lot harder to make me feel welcomed, and I think some people would try harder. I don't know how I would act in their position, maybe I would just feel self-righteous, maybe I would expect very little of a random stranger flatmate.
It feels so strange to make so much out of a temporary state of affairs, that will only last two weeks.
I guess this is mostly about just letting this out, but I'd also appreciate some commentary. I'm feeling kinda down, I don't feel like this situation is likely to become better. I don't want another difficult flat, I wish I didn't encounter problems in this vein so often. I don't know how to apportion blame between bad luck and bad circumstances on one hand, and my bad thinking and bad actions on the other.
I have the usual response of wanting to give up and try again, but i realise that looking for another place may also be avoiding systemic problems I can do some work on, and may be inviting further disaster by throwing myself into an environment with even shakier foundations.
I do probably over-think things. How well do people tend to get along with stranger flatmates? Is it just the case that people who tend to be bad at getting along with people are the ones who tend to wind up in stranger-constituted flats?