How do we get our housemate to relax about trying to please us?

June 21 |

Sarah asks:

The husband and I live in a two bedroom house, and have always had a housemate in the spare room. We've always got along splendidly with our roommates.Chill. I like you.

That said, all of our previous housemates have been introverts, which suits us as we're incredibly chill people. Our new housemate is a lovely guy, but is definitely an extrovert — and on top of that, incredibly anxious. How can we get him to chill out a bit and realise that we're not judging him for any real or perceived misdeeds?

He has gone out of his way to make sure we like him — buying a whole heap of cleaning supplies, even though we share it all and weren't even close to running out. This is making husband and I feel uneasy, as we do not have hugely stable incomes and can't always afford to 'repay the favour'. There's also the point that we already liked him, otherwise we wouldn't have taken him on as a tenant!

Offbeat Homies, how on earth do you get the excitable bogan housemate to settle into a chilled-out hippy house?

When you have an extroverted roommate living with two introverts, what can the quiet kids do to assure him he's doing just fine?

  1. Speaking as a people-pleaser myself: let him please you and be vocal about your appreciation. Give him some time, he will figure out that you guys like him (I always need some time to establish that). Do something fun together and then casually drop that he doesn't need to buy things etc., but that you appreciate it anyway.

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  2. I think you're probably going to have to be patient. Spend time with him–invite him to go out with you to a movie, or cook dinner together. The more time you spend together, the more he'll realize that you're laid back people, and that you like him already! Even though it may become frustrating at points, always respond positively when he displays his anxiety–getting to know new housemates can be a very scary thing for some people, and he probably just needs reassurance. Also, it may just be that he isn't suited or used to living with a couple. I had a married couple as roommate a couple years ago, and I constantly felt like I was invading their privacy just by living there, and not because of anything they did or said. So, yes, I would say be patient & continue to reassure him that you like having him there, and just spend some time getting to know each other!

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  3. Wow, your problem is the total opposite of mine! My roommate is "forgetful" and makes me ask multiple times for rent, doesn't take out the trash, or buy any cleaning supplies/pantry staples. If I could afford to buy all of that crap I wouldn't have a roommate! Enjoy your eager beaver roomie!

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  4. Give him a positive outlet for his eagerness. If you talk to him just say "man, we really appreciate you doing all this, but it's totally not expected of you. I mean, if you maybe cook a meal a week (or insert other thing that you wouldn't mind some help with) that's the most we would expect, and don't need you to spend all your money."

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  5. Agreed on being patient & positive.
    One small thing that worked for me: conspiratorial whispers. Strange, I know, but it was like magic. Our duplex neighbors used to be super-anxious about the way they kept the yard and the things they kept on the porch. We truly did not care one way or the other, but they kept asking us about it, kept telling us they'd fix it or move things out of the way despite all my protests that we didn't mind, until one day I said in a conspiratorial whisper, "It's okay, we really don't care about the bike." I let my neighbors in on the 'secret' that we're not like everyone else, and by saying it as a secret, I showed that I trusted them. I showed that my protestations that we liked the yard were not just politeness, they were truth. Somehow, that made all the difference in the world. Now they know we like their habits as neighbors, even though we're far more laid back about life.
    I think whispers work well for compliments, too. It's not that you don't want anyone else to know, it's just that it's intimate and can therefore be sincere.

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  6. Consistent appreciation definitely helps. You might consider just sitting him down and saying, "Dude, we like you, chill." You might also consider not using the word bogan. I get that it might all be ok or funny in your social circles but even in non-pejorative usage, there's an underpinning of meaning that signals "not good enough." Even if the individual self-refers that way.

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    • We live in Queensland, so we're all a little bit bogan, whether we like it or not. Bogan is rarely used maliciously in Australia these days – and I've never heard it used as such.

      (Typed as I sit here in ugg boots, wearing my warm flanno and smoking rollies ;) )

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  7. I *wish* I had this problem. It was so complete opposite with our one of our last flatmates, that I'm terrified to get anyone else in. He slept on our couch for near 2 weeks (when it was agreed it would be a "couple of days"), stopped paying the full amount on his own account, due to him not being able to watch what he wanted on the tv 24/7 (even though it's mine and my husbands tv, and he brought nothing with him when he moved in…including a bed). Not to mention his complete lack of respect for our house, our furniture and us … I have never had anyone that completely pushed my buttons that way. It certainly brought out the murdery in me! :P

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  8. I don't really have much to add to this, I have had all sorts of flatmates but no one over eager to please..

    I DO have to say I love that you know what a Bogan is. You just made my day!

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  9. just be like "oi ya bogan, chill the f*** out, we like you"…

    @beegirl…. bogan's not a bad word… it's not like the N word… if you live in Australia (even if you weren't born here), chances are you're a bogan…. at least on Sundays….

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  10. Maybe remind him what an introvert is and that both of you are introverts. He won't be able to fully understand, but he may realize that if you don't jump up and down for joy at every little thing, that it's you, not him.

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  11. Thanks for publishing my question, and thanks for the helpful responses!

    Patience is definitely going to be the way to go, and the consistent appreciation is an awesome idea. The first day he moved in, he cleaned the shower! I couldn't thank him enough!

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