The Friendship Doctor

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Living With a Close Friend: What Happened to Our Friendship?

Living together as roommates can change the dynamics of a friendship.

QUESTION

Hi Irene,

About two months ago, a close friend and I moved in together. At first, I was very excited about our new living arrangement and assumed that it would only strengthen our friendship. However, living with this friend seems to have had the opposite effect.

I know that living with a friend can be difficult and I anticipated arguments over things and annoyances over things too. But as of yet, we haven't had any issues. Our friendship just seems to be slowly dissolving.

Part of me thinks that this has to do with the fact that we no longer identify as friends, but rather as roommates. We no longer do the friend-type things that we used to do (e. g., go for drinks, go for dinner, take trips together). We still do things together, but now it is more like a chore. We go to the supermarket, we go to the pharmacy, we go to the hardware store, etc. We still spend time together, but the time that we spend together is no longer fun.

I want to tell my roommate that I feel like I am losing her as a friend but I am not sure how to go about it. Like I said, nothing bad has happened between us. But it seems like she has forgotten that we were friends before we were roommates. What do you think I should do?

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Signed, Penny

 

ANSWER

Dear Penny,

Your living arrangement is still relatively new, and living with anyone is always an adjustment. It's great that things are going smoothly in terms of the logistics of living side-by-side. However, your frustration at not having more "quality time" with your friend may suggest that you and she have different expectations of how closely interwoven you both want your lives will be. 

Although your roommate still considers you a close friend, someone she feels close enough to room with, she may still need some downtime for herself (especially if she is used to living alone) or may want to make sure she doesn't spend all her time with only one friend (who, in this case, happens to be you). 

My suggestion would be to approach this situation positively. You are still friends, you haven't had any disagreements, and you get along as roommates. Open a dialogue and ask her if she wants to plan a night out together next week. However, you need to be sensitive to her boundaries so she doesn't feel like she has taken on a needy roommate. By the same token, you need to seek out other social relationships so you don't feel as dependent as you do on her. 

One last thought: Try to remain confident and secure in the soundness of this friendship and that you'll work things out together. Hope this helps.

Best, Irene 

 

Prior posts on The Friendship Blog about roommate dilemmas:

Irene S. Levine, Ph.D., is a psychologist and professor of psychiatry at the NYU School of Medicine. Her latest book is Best Friends Forever: Surviving a Breakup With Your Best Friend.

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