Space is important to people living alone and with others. Valuable and limited, space comes in many forms that you can try to control. It can be your kitchen that you decide to fill with objects and supplies, or your living room that you decide to fill with guests. What we do with our space is decided by us…unless you live with someone else. Sometimes you don’t have a choice who you live with (e.g. being born and living with your parents, siblings, etc.), but when you do, you should be careful.
Sharing space may mean living with a random roommate, or someone you’ve never met before and have no knowledge of their cleaning habits. This can be because of college or just trying to find a way to pay the rent money. Make sure your communication is strong with this person (random or otherwise), and you talk about boundaries. It’s important to keep some to yourself so that you don’t have to worry about others invading or changing around your organization. Talking about your concerns is one of the most important ways to be comfortable with your shared space.
One thing you can do is suggest divisions. Depending on the amount of space you occupy, this can range from curtains to storage bins. When I first moved in with my suitemates, I bought a toothbrush holder for us all to share. This and the counter it sits on was decided as an agreed upon shared space. Things such as my desk and drawers in my room are typically only for my use. Cabinets in common areas that are meant for everyone are divided and what is put in there is typically discussed. Be open to other people wanting to use space and other ways of organizing!
There’s a difference between the space that objects take up and the space that people take up. Clutter and a mess from objects being lazily thrown around can be annoying. People moving around where they are not wanted can be frustrating. Sometimes you’re not in control of the guests in your living space and that could be a problem with what they do to it and how their presence affects your mood. The idea is to make sure your roommate(s) are able to bring up who they will be having over and when beforehand, while you do the same.
After all, it comes down to respect. There are times when people can be invited into certain spaces, but everyone still has their own personal space. Some people may require more or less than others. It’s only polite to ask if you can come in someone else’s space or touch their things. And just because you did it once before, doesn’t mean it’s something they’d like now. Be aware of other people’s feelings and if they are uncomfortable with you taking up space in their home.