How to go from sharing a bedroom to separate bedrooms in the same house?
July 14, 2019 9:13 AM   Subscribe

I'm having a hard time transitioning from sharing a bedroom with a close platonic friend for several months, to being in separate bedrooms in the same house. The house doesn't feel the same and I feel at a sort of a loss. I know this is silly but I'm having a hard time dealing with it and I'm not sure why.

Relevant info:

-We're late twenties/early thirties
-We've been traveling together and living side by side for over four months now
-We are both foreigners in the country we live in and they are definitely the closest friend I've made here
-We started out both wanting separate rooms but ended up sharing due to circumstance. I grew used to this and was fine with either sharing a room with them or having my own, as we are very close and I was capable of fulfilling my own need for space and privacy despite having them around. For them, however, they have been insisting they need their own space for a while now and need to be separate from all other people.
-I used to feel the same way and feel like I NEEDED my own space, but our time sharing a room surprised me in how well it worked and how much I ended up liking it
-We live in a large sharehouse with several people. We moved into this house together as a pair of friends, knowing no one else beforehand except each other
-It's literally only been a few days and I KNOW this is so silly but I already miss having them so close, having someone I trust to talk with in the morning and at night, after I've retired from the "outside world" (our other housemates.) It was like being able to go to my safe space and have someone in there with me, like I had to be "on" for the rest of the world but could completely be myself behind the door of the room we shared.
-I felt safe and happy in our room, and we had to very suddenly move out of it due to a mold issue. This has definitely added to my feelings of displacement/loneliness

Rationally, I know how dumb this is. We still live in the same house, we're still close friends, it's not like we're never going to see each other anymore. I also know that it's not a bad idea to get a little space so we can go out of our way to do fun things together rather than spending so much of our time together just due to proximity. They need their own space and that's totally cool, but I find myself worrying about things like not having a chance to talk to them as much in private, or not being able to connect with them in the same way as there will usually be our other housemates around so I can't be fully transparent. I don't know. It's making me feel lonely and weird, which is ESPECIALLY dumb because having our own rooms in the same house was what we originally wanted...but that was before the longterm sharing, I suppose.

Also worth noting is that as of this time, my friend is able to get their own room in this house and there's no where else for me to really go besides sharing a room with another housemate, which doesn't feel as "safe" and I'm definitely not as comfortable with the situation.

I recognize that maybe this is unhealthy, as obviously we weren't going to share rooms forever and I probably shouldn't be reacting in this way. I think I just got so used to the emotional intimacy of having them right next to me all the time I'm having a hard time dealing with NOT having it. I find myself making up stupid things to say to them when I see them in passing in the house, as I want to maintain that closeness. This also makes me feel like I'm annoying them and need to give them space. It's stupid and makes me feel stupid and lonely. How do I get over this?
posted by Emms to Human Relations (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I agree that this feels like an outsized reaction to a relatively small change, but also it involves deeply intimate personal things so it's going to have a big underlying impact for you. When something like this happens to me, having a big messy emotional response to something that should be fine, I always try to step back and see what else is going on with me - I regularly shift stress and emotion from one issue onto another one that doesn't deserve it. Could this be part of what's going on with you? Especially because you mention the mold issue, and matters of safety multiple times, I bet there's some other things happening that are really stressing you out. Are there small steps you can take to sort those things? People you can ask for help or advice? You could just be approaching the problem obliquely, here.

Anyway a more specific suggestion: start an ongoing chat with your friend. I live with a guy who used to be my closest internet friend and over the years even though we were housemates and best friends, we kind of drifted apart in weird ways because we were no longer spending hours online yacking at each other. To rectify this a few years ago I started a slack channel just for the two of us and it really works. We share dumb memes and talk about grocery lists and life and stuff, send pictures of our cats when one of us is traveling, all the usual stuff. But also because it's not a text chain we don't worry about notifications interrupting sleep or having the wrong device or no service or whatever. So we can chat at each other in a virtual space that is as you describe it, really private and completely ourselves, and we keep in touch this way regardless of what we're doing daily in person. It's closeness but with individually controlled space and it works very well for us. Maybe your friend would be open to something similar?

You're being really hard on yourself in this question and I'd like to ask you to treat yourself with more kindness. You call yourself silly and unhealthy and stupid a whole bunch. I don't think any of those apply at all; the only descriptor that fits is lonely. Your feelings are a normal response to sudden loneliness. I think this will get a lot better with some more time, in addition to whatever else other responses will suggest.
posted by Mizu at 9:35 AM on July 14, 2019 [11 favorites]

How different would this be if you were both getting your own rooms, rather than you sharing with a new person? Because to me it sounds like this is a big issue partly because they're getting their own room and you're going to share with a new person, and a big part of what's hard for you is that you're going to be sharing a bedroom with someone you don't have the same background and connection with. That's legitimately hard, and something that it's okay to be stressed about - maybe the new person you'll be sharing with will be awesome, but you don't know that yet and it's easy to want to stick with what's familiar and comfortable.

Give yourself some space to process all of this, and stop beating yourself up for having feelings. If you can talk to your friend about maybe having some scheduled time to hang out just the two of you, that will be good. Also, please keep in mind that the new person you're going to be sharing a room with is likely nervous about sharing with you too, so if you can find some time to hang out with them and just get to know them a little that might be good.

I wish you the best. I hope the change is good for you and your current roommate, and that your new roommate is even more fabulous.
posted by bile and syntax at 9:48 AM on July 14, 2019 [9 favorites]

Honestly? Time. You grew used to sharing your space with a close friend and it's going to take some time to grow used to not doing so.

The way you talk about this suggests that you knew that it would be an adjustment going one way, but you didn't know about going the other way. It was always going to be an adjustment both ways, you just didn't have the experience to know that.

So I'd say chill out, recognize you're going through a process every bit as valid as the one you did going in, and let it happen in its own time.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 9:50 AM on July 14, 2019 [2 favorites]

I don't think it's silly at all. This kind of platonic intimacy used to be much more common among women, but sadly it's not anymore. I'm assuming from your previous asks you're an American in a foreign country? Americans are raised practically on intimacy starvation. It works for some, it's harmful for most, and for a percentage it's absolutely the worst. I think you should honestly feel the feelings you're having. Trying to dismiss them and squash them that way is only going to make them linger. Take care of yourself, do you have any methods of self soothing that you normally turn to? Whether it be treats like special teas, or something to look forward to, something to distract yourself, a diary etc. Again, Americans are raised to think this kind of self-awareness is "woo" and shameful, but its honestly a marker of a well adjusted adult. Time will help, but in the mean time it'd be good to reflect on new ways you can achieve those feelings of intimacy and emotional release.
posted by FirstMateKate at 9:58 AM on July 14, 2019 [15 favorites]

I’m so sorry that you’re dealing with this. I would honestly be so miserable. It must feel like you’re being rejected, albeit kindly, and put that with having to share a room...geez. No wonder you’re out of sorts.

It has been the norm for people to sleep and live in very close proximity to each other since people have been people. I personally really hate living and sleeping alone, and I am definitely not the only person who feels that way. But we are only supposed to care about it if sex is involved, which is really unfair.

I’d give it time and maybe try journaling about it without judging yourself for how you feel. I write poetry when I’m in a state but whatever creative expression works for you works.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 10:30 AM on July 14, 2019 [1 favorite]

Also, I’m not saying your friend is doing anything wrong here, but if I got booted out of my room by a combo of a good friend and mold and then was forced to share a room with a stranger I would be very put out. So I don’t think your feelings are disproportionate, even before you get into you missing your friend (which is valid too!)
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 10:32 AM on July 14, 2019 [11 favorites]

Time is the thing that will make this feel better. You're having a perfectly normal - if unpleasant to experience - reaction right now, because change sucks (at least if you liked the way things were before). But I think modern humans suffer very acutely from a syndrome of believing "the way I feel this second is the way I shall feel FOREVAH!!!" and it's not true. You will adjust; you can take comfort in knowing that you will adjust. Six days from now you will be more accustomed to the circumstances, and six weeks from now you may very well feel very strongly about your space and privacy again. You may even find that having had the experience and then the change may deepen your friendship with this person (and perhaps others in the vicinity) in ways you cannot imagine now.

Be kind to yourself as you make this transition. Be open to other possibilities that might be unfolding as a result of this change.
posted by Lyn Never at 10:49 AM on July 14, 2019 [3 favorites]

I went through something like this after college when I started living on my own. I had previously always had a room-mate, and being entirely alone was super unfamiliar and uncomfortable.

I don't know any good answer except to say, your feelings are well within the range of normal, and also that people can get used to a lot of things given time. Give yourself time.

Perhaps a concrete mitigation: does your former room-mate also feel and regret that your relationship has grown more distant? If so, maybe the two of you could schedule a little more socialization to make up for it, and that would soften the blow a bit.
posted by meaty shoe puppet at 11:36 AM on July 14, 2019

I felt safe and happy in our room, and we had to very suddenly move out of it due to a mold issue.

Mold exposure and the sudden lack of control over one's housing situation can trigger depression.
posted by Iris Gambol at 12:11 PM on July 14, 2019

Since your friend has her own room now, that could still be a place where the two of you can get together away from everyone else. All you need to do is say "hey I miss our little chats, let me know when I can bring a pot of tea and some cookies to your room so we can hang out for a bit like we used to" Do your best to be fun and enjoyable company, and soon these little hangouts will become routine, a break that you both look forward to.
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 1:00 PM on July 14, 2019 [6 favorites]

I would try to establish a standing friend date night where you guys hang out in your friend’s new room or even do a sleepover. You can say “I really miss our late night / early morning chats, how about we have a standing thing every Thursday night where we bring snacks and drinks into your room and have chat time?”

If you are feeling at all like you’ve been rejected by your friend, or that your friend wanting to be in her own room is a way of her rejecting your shared room, please know that some people just feel itchy without alone time. I have lots of close friends but having a houseguest for more than a couple days drives me nuts. Sometimes I even shut my dog out of my room for a little bit because I vant to be alone.
posted by sallybrown at 1:53 PM on July 14, 2019 [4 favorites]

I just want to say - humans have slept in groups for the vast majority of our existence as a species. Sleeping alone in separate rooms may be our current "normal," but it's not what we evolved to do, and you're not a weirdo for having enjoyed sharing a room with a friend.
posted by showbiz_liz at 8:33 AM on July 15, 2019 [1 favorite]

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