In this corner weighing in at no animal protein products, ittttt’s Vegan Vitto! In this corner defending titleholder, Glam & the City! Can roomies with seemingly conflicting lifestyles live successfully under one landlord? — BadWitch
Readers Are Spellbound & Perplexed…
Dear GWBW — I have a new roomie who’s really nice but is a total vegan and yoga nutcase. I like to drink, smoke my ciggies, and eat out (I don’t do drugs). We get along just fine, but I don’t think we approve of each other’s lifestyles. Can a veghead and a smoking carnivore get along under the same roof? — War of the Roomies Avoider
Dear Roomie war avoider,
How the heck did you two come together? It can sometimes be tough enough to live with people we love, share commonalities with…but I know when it comes to making the rent, we can do a lot more than we’d guess, if we set our minds and grit to it. Here’s what comes to mind immediately:
• Set some house rules – most especially around food storage and other territorial netherlands. Start with comparing your separate deal breaker lists, and working down to the Would Likes. Oh and of course you may find you can live together under one roof, but you will have to smoke somewhere else, most likely.
• Be respectful as you wanna be respected – this includes a brief and mutual head/life re-orienting time; check in weekly on progress and to air concerns (your case has high potential for stuffing feelings down, don’t). If you do the above robustly, this part should come more naturally for both of you — but I would do definitions here, like, “When I say X, I mean (fill in the blank specifically as you can articulate each).”
• Share an outing – If you can successfully navigate #s 1 and 2 above, Pass Go and Collect $200 by trying to see if you can come up with and share an easy, low maintenance outing like a coffee/green tea, a walk, or even eating out. This civility is only meant to help shine light on the commonalities of your lives towards lessening the differences. If you two become actual friends, even better!
Hmm, you kinda have a lot of potential for cool and expanding experience here. If you both consistently focus on that as being a mutual goal — and do the work — your communications will likely come smoother, less haltingly mindful, and eventually easier. Learning how to communicate and live with people we’re different from on the surface could even begin to teach us how to be more at home with truest selves…whoa, now that’s cool.
Dear War of the Roomies Avoider,
What can I say, “Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me.” I realize that your two lifestyles are very different, but judging one another is not the way to peaceful cohabitation. I also realize that some deep personal beliefs may come into play, but in the end, we are all just trying to get through this life thing. Making your roomie wrong because of seemingly austere vegan ways is not the way.
RESPECT! Respect does not mean expecting others to bend their wills to fall in line with what you believe is the best way to live your life. Respect is allowing for each person to be as they are and finding, if not acceptance, then understanding. For instance, perhaps out of respect for your roommate’s virgin lungs, you might smoke your ciggies outside. You will not only be happy for a fresher, less second-hand household. I understand the aroma of cooking beef or chicken, while delightful to some, might be trying for a vegan. Your roommate, should respect your need to cook your food in your shared kitchen, though I suggest separate pans. These are just uncomfortable bits of undefined boundaries. Work out the rules of the house so you can move on to amicably.
So, I guess what I’m saying in a very motherly tone is, “Work it out!” I should not need to come to your house to show you how to compromise effectively. Apparently, you both signed on for this cohabitation, knowing what you were getting into. Why now the judgments? Why the disdain for exercise and rigid eating habits? Why the condescension for indulging in life’s bounty? You two need to have a good, cold-hard-facts-on-the-table discussion. Work out the boundaries of you respectful compromise and get back to the business of the “who’s really nice,” you started off with.
The Vegan is no more of an exalted human because he/she does not eat any part of an animal’s flesh. You are no less of a human because you may choose to have a cigar with brandy after a nice steak. We are all spirits in this 3-D existence with our own karma and lessons to learn. We do not know what you or your roommate is intended to learn in this life. Who are you to judge the path before the other? Every human is not alike, though every human is equal in the eyes of God. The trappings and “story” we have concocted around our lives means little in the grand scheme of things. If you’ve ever lost a loved one, you know it is the loss of the spirit, the communing, the relationship that echoes loudest—not what would have ordered at a restaurant.
As I say to my own children when bickering is just easier than being respectful, “Get over it before other people start treating you that way.” You two seem to be in the throws of teaching each other the wrong things. Have an honest, respectful conversation, agree to some respectful boundaries and get on with the peaceful cohabitation.
Image, DrummaKween @ flickr
Juicy Coaching for Leaders and Individuals.
Mondays money, work, purpose dilemmas. Thursdays family, relationships, love dramedy. Send your FREE brewing questions on how to thrive—not just survive— modern life to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
© 2009 ManifestGroup. No materials may be used without expressed written permission.