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Things That Only Friends Who Used To Live Together Can Relate To

Things That Only Friends Who Used To Live Together Can Relate To

Living with someone can be a logistic nightmare, and you can never really tell what you are in for, even if you move in with a great friend. There’s an entirely different dynamic at work – one that neither of you have explored before – and if you manage to click on one more level it creates a deep bond of trust and respect that very few things can compare to.

Having had the good fortune of sharing a home with a long-time friend for a while, I can honestly say that are certain things that you can only understand if you’ve spent a lot of time cooped up in the same apartment with someone you know well. There are too many little details to cover in a single article, but here are ten of the most memorable things that stay with you and change you.

1. Moving in together is an adventure you’ll fondly remember for the rest of your days

Moving in with a friend is a huge lifestyle change, and even if you are both easy to get along with and do things by the book, there can still be a lot of stress involved. However, as they say, the strongest steel is forged in the hottest fire. A little bit of adversity is what will ultimately help you become a more capable, mature and responsible person, and the things you and your roommate had to go through will always have a special place in a corner of your mind.

2. Going your separate ways is almost like a divorce

This might sound a bit over the top, but when you really think about it, you see that it makes a lot of sense. You go over a few basic steps in both divorce and when moving out:

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  • There’s an emotional mix of excitement and sadness
  • You go over detailed list of your stuff and try to split it up fairly
  • You feel anxious because you know you’ll have to get used to a new roommate all over again
  • The prospect of living alone makes you a little anxious
  • It’s an end of an era, and you feel compelled to go out with a bang

The whole situation is stressful – much less than divorce, but still – everything feels weird and there is plenty of uncertainty in your mind, but you can’t wait to give your new life shot. Luckily, you’ll have Skype to help you get through that initial shock.

3. It’s hard when no one gets your random TV show references

There’s nothing I loved more than to have someone laugh at my incredibly obscure reference, or at my attempts at a joke that borrowed themes from several shows that no one seems to watch. My roommate and I had a penchant for quality British television, but, for some inexplicable reason, no one else knew anything about them.

Oh sure, they’ve all heard of “that doctor guy, the one with the blue phone booth,” but I gave up trying to explain it to them after my fiftieth consecutive joke fell flat. I guess we all have some guilty pleasures, but it’s no fun when you can’t share it with someone.

4. People can be vastly different, yet complement each other’s characters perfectly

I would’ve never thought it possible, but I actually managed to get along great with a musician. It may not seem like much, but even though I have a creative mind and enjoy art, I never really thought about music in terms other than music that I like and music that I don’t like, party music and relaxing music. However, it turns out that you can dissect a song quite thoroughly and talk for hours about scales, genres and so on.

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My roommate taught me quite a few things like that and he was great at haggling, while I, in turn, helped him learn his way around a computer, how not to turn all your white laundry pink and generally dealt with minor fixes around the home. A grumpy techy and a laid-back artist sound like a pairing straight out of a comedy show, but you find that you can help each other out in areas that the other one is not really good at. You’d be surprised how easily you can get used to someone after living with them for a while.

5. There is now a permanent yardstick based on which all future cohabitants will be measured

The bad thing about hitting it off and getting used to living with someone is that it’s easy to get set in your ways. This means that you’ll have a certain way of doing things and anyone that comes to live with you afterwards is going to have habits that will annoy you, simply because they’re different then what you’re used to.

If your roommate liked to keep everything squeaky clean and never really asked for help unless you offered it yourself, it’s easy to think that someone who likes to make a list of chores and assign everyone something is actually a difficult and bossy person. You end up saying things like, “Well, so and so never gave me grief about the little stuff, and we got along just fine for years.”

6. You really get to know a person when you’ve both hit financial rock bottom

Being fresh out of college, my friend and I had a substantial debt to pay. Even though we were lucky to get jobs that were interesting and paid well soon after finishing school, there were times when we had to really buckle down. We’d burn through most of our money within a couple of weeks, and then subsist on cheap pasta, pastries and whatever was on sale for the rest of the month. It’s then that we both learned a lot about each other that we never knew about before.

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First of all, my friend took charge by doing some research and suggesting that we should take a new route – start saving up and consolidate student loans. I’ve never found the guy to be the financial savvy type before, or one to take matters into his own hands come to think of it, but when he presented me with tons of details and showed a willingness to do what it takes, I knew that this was something he had in him all along.

He just never had the chance to take the initiative before, because he never had someone else depend on him. The fact that we weren’t screaming at each other all day and complaining showed me that some people give their very best when they are at their worst.

7. Even years down the road, you can get your point across with a single look

A side-effect of spending a good part of each day with someone is that you gain a near telepathic ability to communicate without uttering a single word. It’s usually when you’re with a bunch of other friends that this ability truly shines – someone says something awkward or tries too desperately to be funny, and you just shoot a sideways glance at your friend, whose eyes are already rolling. It’s these priceless little moments that you end up missing the most.

8. You bore everyone to death with your roommate stories at every get-together

After a few years, there will be tons of little disasters, funny moments, heated or dangerous situations that only seem funny after a bunch of time has passed. It’s quite natural to want to reminisce once you meet up with an old friend who you shared all these exciting moments with, and quite few boring ones as well, but those around you won’t really appreciate it. Others will often feel excluded during your long-winded stories of what life was like back in the day, but you just won’t be able to help yourself.

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9. You catch yourself doing the same things that you used to tease your friend for

During the first few weeks of living together, I used to tease my friend about his unhealthy obsession with turning off all the lights in the apartment except the one that was absolutely necessary. It just seemed like something a secluded vampire hermit would do, but I recently caught myself running around my home and switching off lights because the TV provided more than enough light and there was no need to waste electricity.

I remembered my friend, let out a few mumbled cuss words and laughed. On the other hand, I heard that he now puts butter in every meal and double checks all the doors and windows as a safety precaution before going to bed, so some of my annoying habits must have rubbed off on him too, and worked out well for him.

10. No matter how hard you screw up, you’ll always have one number you can call

In the end, the most rewarding thing about living with a friend is that once you’ve earned a deeper level of trust and respect, you know that there will always be someone who feels like its their duty to help you out when you’re in need – no matter how much trouble you’re in or how insignificant a problem may seem to someone else.

I can count my good friends on the fingers of one hand, but if push came to shove and I needed to talk to someone at three in the morning or needed to bury a body, I know who’d answer the phone and remember to bring work gloves so we wouldn’t get blisters while digging.

I’m sure anyone who’s been in a similar situation will agree when I say that even though there is a certain sense of freedom you get when living on your own or with a partner, living with a true friend really opens your eyes to a lot of things. You learn a lot, not only about the other person, but about yourself and people in general as well. Just don’t let the nostalgia get to you, and stop teasing your ex-roommate about those dishes she broke when she was drunk or that weird girl he brought home from the club one night.

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Vladimir Zivanovic

CMO at MyCity-Web

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Last Updated on January 15, 2019

How to Talk to Strangers Without Feeling Awkward

How to Talk to Strangers Without Feeling Awkward

Many of us feel awkward talking to strangers. I’m a very outgoing person, even though I sometimes feel uncomfortable walking up to someone and asking a question or starting a conversation. I consider myself pretty high up on the extrovert meter. So what is it that makes us pause and become worried or anxious about talking to people we don’t know?

In this article, we will discuss why we feel this way as well as some tips on how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward.

Step right up, don’t be shy!

Why We Feel Awkward Talking to Strangers

The next time you feel uncomfortable talking to a stranger, tell yourself that’s completely normal. There are numerous reasons why it’s actually natural to feel awkward talking to strangers:

Our Stress Levels Rise Around Strangers

Numerous studies have show that our levels of cortisol go up when we are around strangers.[1] Cortisol is the hormone inside of us which produces stress responses.[2]
So there you go, right off the bat you can see part of your standard response to strangers is due to a chemical reaction!

A very interesting by product of increased cortisol is that it makes us less empathetic. More than likely this can be traced to our evolution. The increase in the cortisol and the corresponding decrease in empathy makes us want to stay away from strangers. We are biologically wired to feel concern around strangers.

Evolution Taught Us to Be Wary

Evolution has also taught us to be wary of strangers in general. Humans as a whole have spent a large chunk of their history banded together in small protective groups. We did this in order to help protect each other and maximize resources.

When you think about it in this context, outsiders to our small groups or strangers are considered potential threats. Fear of strangers is common across almost all human cultures.

Culturally Conditioned

We can also thank our society for helping us feel uncomfortable and sometimes afraid of strangers. The term “stranger danger” is something most of us can relate to either growing up or raising kids. Or both.

I remember hearing this from my parents, mostly about not getting in someone’s car I didn’t know. And as the father of 2 teenage girls, you can be sure I’ve talked to them about this very concept more times that they want to hear.

The thought that strangers can be dangerous is built into us as it is. Toss in the amplification of the media on strangers doing things such as kidnapping kids and it takes it to an even higher level.

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Now that we’ve reviewed some of the reasons why we are nervous, let’s look at why you should talk to strangers more.

Benefits of Getting over the Awkwardness

Let’s take a quick look at some of the advantages of how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward. These are some high level benefits of talking to strangers.

1. Broadens Your Network

After you talk to someone, you didn’t know previously they become someone you know at least a little bit. This alone helps broaden your network of people you know. This is helpful in many ways whether it is work related or socially related.

2. Improves Your Communication Skills

I am a huge proponent of the value of solid communication skills and have written about it often. The more you talk to people, especially people you don’t know, the better your communication skills become.

Interacting with a wider variety of people will bring the added benefit of improving your communication skills.

3. Continually Learning

So many of us don’t actively seek to learn new things. This is one of the primary keys to staying engaged in life and our own personal self fulfillment.

Almost every time I speak to someone I didn’t know previously, I’ve learned something new. When we speak to strangers, it pushes us out of our comfort zones and we tend to learn new things.

4. Increases Self Confidence

Every time we learn to do something we were previously anxious about, we feel better about ourselves.

Forcing ourselves to talk to strangers will lead to increased self confidence. As we get more and more comfortable doing something that previously made us feel awkward, our self confidence will go up and up.

So, how to talk to strangers to reap these benefits?

How to Talk to Strangers

Here are some tips to on how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward.

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1. Say Hello

Putting “say hello” first may seem a bit obvious but let’s take a deeper look. Much of the social awkwardness when speaking to strangers is simply breaking the ice. The first words that will engage someone.

Most people will respond when someone says hello or hi to them. And those that don’t, you probably don’t want to talk to anyway.

Practice being the person that opens the door to a conversation. Say hello.

2. Ask About Them

Something that I have noticed over the years is that people love to talk about themselves. Even fairly private people tend to open up when asked about events in their lives.

You can ask leading questions that get people to talk about themselves and recent events. Things like recent movies watched or the summer vacation are great to get someone talking.

As a father, I also know that people love to talk about their kids. Asking about kids is a fairly easy topic to bring up and in general, most people will expound upon all the great things their kids do or are involved with.

3. Just Do It

One of the biggest reasons we don’t do things we want to or know we should is because we overthink it. Quit thinking about it so much and just do it.

When you give yourself the time to analyze every little angle about a situation, you also give plenty of time to talk yourself out of it. You’ll wind up thinking what if this happens or what if that happens.

Try to force yourself to jump right in without thinking about it too much. Whenever I have done this, I always feel great about it afterwards, no matter how it turned out.

4. Don’t Take It Personal

One of the greatest lessons in life I ever learned was don’t take anything personally. We all go through life with our own sets of experiences and see things through our own lens. The way people react to different situations has almost nothing to do with us. It has to do with previous experiences and the way people feel about things other than us.

When someone’s reaction isn’t what you’d hoped or expected, chances are it has nothing to do with you. Remember that and keep it in context.

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5. Get a Chuckle If Possible

I used the word chuckle purposely because it makes me laugh. In my opinion, it’s one of those funny words. We all like to laugh because it makes us feel good. And when someone makes us laugh, we typically remember those people in a positive light.

One of the best ways to make a conversation easy and free flowing is to get some laughter going. It doesn’t mean you have to be the master joke teller or anything. See if you can work in a way to make the person you are talking to get a smile or some laughter in. In fact, laughing at yourself maybe a nice try.

6. Detach

A great feeling is when you don’t mind which way something turns out, that you will be fine no matter what happens. Kind of like when I watch my two favorite football teams play against each other. I don’t really care who wins, I just want a fun game.

Treat talking to strangers the same way. You don’t really care how the conversation goes because you are detaching from the outcome. Make it a fun time with yourself and if the conversation goes well, awesome! If not then no big deal, move on.

7. Share Your Stories

Well, all like to feel connected to other people. And many times we wind up hanging out with people that we have things in common with. No surprise here.

To help with how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward, tell stories that have commonalities with the person you are talking to. Kids are an easy one. I have a daughter who was a competitive cheerleader and now plays club volleyball. I have instant connection and stories with strangers I speak with who have kids that play sports. It’s easy to relate to.

So when you are speaking to a stranger and you have a story or mutual connection point, bring it up.

8. Give a Compliment

Almost everyone likes hearing a compliment, whether they admit to it or not. As a general rule, we don’t give out enough compliments. It’s amazing how one small remark someone tosses your way about how good you look can literally make your entire day.

When you are speaking with someone you don’t know, see if you can work a compliment in. Nothing creepy here. Not a good idea to tell someone you just met that they are the prettiest or handsomest person you ever met. However, if you can share how you like their tattoo or shoes or something like that, it will help put the conversation into an easy going, smiling place.

9. Relax Your Body Language

If you go into a situation all worried and nervous, it shows on your body. Your shoulders are tensed up, there’s a look of consternation on your face, things like that.

When you engage a stranger in conversation, make it a point to relax your body language. Take a deep breath before you engage the person, let your body relax, and put a smile on your face. This will help relax you and it has the added benefit of putting the other person more at ease.

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If they see that you are relaxed, it helps them relax. Plus having open, engaging body language is very conducive to inviting someone to open up into a conversation with you.

10. Practice, Practice, Practice

Like everything else in life, talking to strangers gets easier with practice. The more you do it, the easier it becomes.

Make it a point to talk to several strangers each week and it will definitely help you relax as you do it more and more.

After a while, it will become something you don’t even think about, you just do it. And that takes all of the awkwardness out of being in these type situations.

The Bottom Line

As we have seen, it is perfectly natural to feel awkward talking to strangers. We are biologically built that way and we have our own society constantly warning us how dangerous it is. It’s no wonder we feel awkward talking to strangers!

There are numerous benefits to learning to be more comfortable talking to strangers. See if you can employ some of the techniques mentioned to learn how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward.

Once you start practicing speaking with strangers more often and utilizing some of the tips, you will become more comfortable doing so. This in turn will lead to a learned new skill and increased self confidence.

Remember, everyone you know was a stranger at one time. Now get out there and make some new friends.

More Resources About Strengthening Communication Skills

Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

Reference

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