Be fair with others, but then keep after them until they’re fair with you.
In addition to having manners and maintaining boundaries, being fair in what you contribute in a household makes a big difference in long-term relationships. Here are a few guidelines that work for most people:
1. Clean up after yourself. There’s nothing so discouraging as living with someone who leaves a mess everywhere. Relaxed order, not sanitary perfection, is a happy medium for most people living together. People who are either sticklers for perfection or extremely messy are often better off living alone.
2. Be thoughtful, but beware of doing too much for others. While it’s kind to cook or clean for others, doing too much without willing reciprocity from them may lead to you becoming resentful.
3. Maintain your boundaries regarding personal property. It’s nice to be generous with people who are respectful and appreciative. However, if someone “borrows” something of yours without asking, you might say, “I’d like you to ask me first.” If people don’t respect your belongings, they likely will not respect you. If they persist in “borrowing” without asking, take steps to secure your property.
4. Have clear understandings regarding finances, both your own and your collective finances. In temporary relationships, where society has no legal say, such as non-married partners, or renters who share a house, it is very important to have clear understandings that address bills, finances and paperwork. Clearly define what belongs to whom and who is responsible for what. Even if you live with your best friend or the love of your life, you want to protect yourself and your relationship from the outset. A relationship is more solid and stress-free when there is clarity regarding finances.
5. Don’t gossip. When you align yourself with just one person, if there are more than two in the household, others in the house may feel alienated.
6. Have a sense of humor. This is probably the most beneficial trait you can have in relationships. As William James puts it: “Common sense and a sense of humor are the same thing, moving at different speeds. A sense of humor is just common sense, dancing.”
by Alison Poulsen, PhD