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Topic: Share House Anxiety

3 posts, 0 answered
  1. Hitchcock
    Hitchcock avatar
    2 posts
    7 September 2021
    Hi all,

    I've been sharing a house with a couple (James, Sarah) for the last 18 months and it's presenting a few difficulties and contributing to anxious feelings: I hope it's appropriate for me to collect some of my frustrations here in the hope for some advice.

    I had known James for 8 months prior but had never met his partner Sarah. James and I got along relatively well as colleagues and coincidentally were both forced into a quick exit from our previous living situations and felt it would be appropriate to move in together. We had a few interests in common, so we figured it could work.

    Sarah is a self confessed introvert - we have nothing in common and struggle immensely to strike any sort of rapport unless there are a few beers involved. If we're in the communal area, at most it's a "Hey, how are you? Good" and that only stems from me initiating the conversation, otherwise she will pass by like I don't exist. If I enter and they're present, she will almost instantly leave, allowing James and I to have a slight amount of chit-chat that more often than not feels forced (for the sake of us knowing each other prior. He isn't a brilliant conversationalist also) before he leaves.

    I love my downtime, but I guess I'm also relatively extroverted. I feel I often need to speak to break the tension within the room just to feel like there is even a small sense of community. I try to strike subjects that I know they're both interested in, even if I'm not as well versed to try and lay some foundation in the hope that the next day might not be as difficult. You can literally cut the tension most days like butter. When I eventually burn out and can't be bothered trying and want to ignore them myself, I'm the worst person ever however. I don't want to be best friends but I feel perhaps a little bit of effort on both of their behalves would go a long way in making the house a little more enjoyable.

    I respect their space when cooking and will join the kitchen from my room once they've sat down to watch some television, but more often than not find I'm locking myself away in my room just to avoid the uncomfortable situation that inevitably awaits me. This is an ongoing thing during lockdown and its starting to affect my mental health hugely. Constant stress and anxiety; avoid them - feel bad, try to help, feel worse.

    It's a really uncomfortable environment. Apologies if this is a ramble, any thoughts or experience with this is greatly appreciated.

    Thanks kindly.

  2. The Bro
    Valued Contributor
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    The Bro avatar
    181 posts
    7 September 2021 in reply to Hitchcock

    Hi there Hitchcock and welcome to the forum!

    Your post displays a lot of thought and well worded descriptions of the situation you are in.

    Something needs to be changed as you will probably agree it cannot go on like this with you gradually spiralling downwards amongst the tension.

    I have been in a similar situation! A natural extrovert (chatterbox according to my wife), it feels very strange to not chat when with someone - about almost anything! Yet if I make and effort to talk less, I get asked what's wrong! So I asked my group friends one day if my chat really annoyed them. Their reply was instant - NO WAY - don't stop, keep on exactly the way you are! We all had a good laugh and sometimes refer to that occasion today when together - the point is it cleared the air and made me feel much more relaxed about my relationship with the group.

    As humans, we all have our own set of values and personality pillars - these must be honoured and followed otherwise we cannot function properly and reach our potential. In your situation, it sounds like you just cannot be yourself which is not healthy.

    I wonder how Sarah would react if you asked her to have a chat evening about your relationship with her? Think carefully about it beforehand, and be careful to not criticise her. The angle might be that you know you love to chat all the time, even to the extent that you find your own chat annoying from time! You have noticed she doesn't respond much, and you just want to understand if things are OK between the two of you. Are there any things you do that might annoy her? What does she feel about having you in the house? Would she prefer you to talk less?

    As you can see, the list can go on. What's more important its that you prepare beforehand, do not criticise her in any way (otherwise she will get defensive and not give an open response), and really listen to what she has to say.

    As with the outcome from own situation above, I am picking that she will respond in a way that clarifies things, even if not as positively as you would like. At least you should know what's going on and can decide what to do based on that information.

    This will take some courage so good luck with it - very happy to discuss further if you want to!

    Regards, The Bro

  3. Pumpkinella
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    Pumpkinella avatar
    98 posts
    16 September 2021 in reply to Hitchcock

    That sounds really stressful to be in a constant state of tension for 18 months. I feel your pain.

    It sounds like you are placing a lot of pressure on yourself to talk because the silence makes you feel comfortable. My recommendation would be to dial down that pressure and perhaps try to accept a quieter environment. I know this can feel really awkward initially but accepting the silence without judgement and not feeling like you have to make conversation might be a huge relief.

    It’s not your job to make up for their introversion and fill the silence, so you can take that off your shoulders. And it does sound like its just their personality so they are unlikely, I think, to change dramatically (given they haven’t in 18 months). They may not even feel the tension, it could be just uncomfortable for you because you’re used to being with extroverts.

    So perhaps down the track you might consider moving in with people more your speed if you’re just finding it too hard. Otherwise in the meantime just talk when you genuinely have something you would like to say, not because you feel you have to. Otherwise it will just get too exhausting constantly searching for topics and not getting enough back.

    That and I recommend going for long walks and calling a friend or relative so you don't go crazy, I'm an extrovert too so I would need to call people and talk so I'm not just in the quiet all day. :)

    Just a suggestion, feel free to write again!

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