Started conversation Feb 12, 2003
More and more often, young people are comfortable forming shared living arrangements that involve mixed genders. Especially these days when sexual orientation can't be automatically assumed, it makes sense to share quarters with someone you know and trust regardless of gender.
For the most part, there is little difference between these arrangements and traditional same-gender ones. Romantic trysts between roomies will tend not to occur, because people generally don't feel comfortable living casually with a person they're attracted to. (Or if they do, it's outside the scope of an article on 'roommates'.)
And while there may be heightened concern about privacy, the usual rules applicable to any shared living arrangement are typically sufficient. That is, always knock first when approaching a closed door. Put down the phone immediately if you find the line is in use. And don't walk around naked or in your underwear. If you haven't already, buy a robe or some casual wear around that you can throw on easily.
The only place where modified behaviors are often necessary is the shared bathroom. The toilet seat (up or down?) issue can become a source of tension. It's best to discuss it upfront. Also, women are not generally used to seeing shaved hairs in their sink in the morning. And men may be surprised by the amount of time women can spend bathing and primping, and by all the space taken up by women's personal items.
As with all tensions between roommates, a combination of compromise and understanding is in order. If everyone keeps their roommate's feelings in mind, shared living with mixed genders can be surprisingly comfortable. And it can also arguably be good experience towards one's (perhaps distant) future negotiations with the ultimate mixed gender household -- the family.
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