Do You Feel Like the Only Roommate Who Cleans?


Do you live with roommates? Having roommates is an important part of growing up and maturing. It can be great for you because roommates can be fun, supportive parts of your day to day interactions. But learning to live with other people is one of life’s great struggles because we all do things so differently.

Do you split up the chores evenly between yourselves or do you feel like you do them all by yourself? If you find yourself struggling with your roommates because you feel like you’re the “responsible” one who cleans and takes care of the tidying up, an article from New York Magazine’s Science of Us page may have some insight for you:

“As behavioral economist Dan Ariely recently explained in The Wall Street Journal, even when we make it clear who’s in charge of what and everyone’s taking care of their own chores the way they’re supposed to, it can be easy to grow resentful. The reason: We tend to overestimate how much work our own tasks require, and underestimate the effort the other person puts into theirs.”

Simply put, it’s much easier to understand what you’re doing than what others are doing. You know exactly how long you spend on a task and how much you put into it. You only see the results of what the other party has accomplished and it’s easy to feel like yours was more intense.

What this calls for is something that will help in any relationship: empathy. Putting yourself in someone else’s shoes is the quickest way to the possibility understanding another person’s feelings. While this particular example only relates specifically to chores in your apartment, empathy is a mindful and helpful tool to maintaining healthy relationships with others in any part of your life.

One way to “force” empathy in the cleaning situation, as later suggested by the article, is by switching chores with your roommate on a regular basis. When you trade responsibilities, you both know what is entailed in the job and what it takes to complete it.