“In our home, vulnerable conversations are cautious and nuanced, made up of sympathetic looks and ice-breaking jokes and pats on the shoulder. And it’s great.
Before going any further, let me clarify something. It won’t be some sort of thinly veiled jab at female friendships. While I believe the ‘choose me girl’ complex is inherently anti-feminist (a story for another time), I understand the sentiment. It can be hard to listen to women crumble under the weight of their own internalized misogyny – but this is not that story.
Having moved to Melbourne from Queensland six years ago, I’ve experienced the full spectrum of shared accommodation – the oversized, pocket-sized dorm, the spectacularly disgusting first “real place”, the uniform apartment in a suburban residential and the ephemeral townhouse. which is full of security risks and never has a lease attached.
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Each location came with its own set of spikes and traps (some more than spikes) and was important in shaping those formative young adult years. Living with someone can be very intimate, and I feel like I’ve learned a lot from watching how others handle the logistics of their own lives.
I have always lived mostly with women, with the exception of one particularly close male friend. So when the opportunity arose to live with three men, I thought it would be a valuable experience to add to my mental album of sharehouse memories. Admittedly, I was a bit nervous – I only knew one of the three boys well – but I made a quick decision and got my many, many boxes moved during the month.
During the first week, I began to examine my own comfort in Platonic opposite-sex friendships. As I spent more time at home, I realized there was an unconscious barrier that had never existed around my friends. It was the deep-rooted instinct to be very pleasant, restrained and harmless.
Without even realizing it, I kept myself from looking embarrassing reality show in the living room and shamelessly shoving junk food into my mouth (two of my favorite things). Yes, it’s a natural occurrence in the early stages of a new roommate relationship – but it felt more acute this time around.
I learned that an uninhibited platonic relationship can be a beautiful thing. I imitated my roommates and began letting go of insecurities, basking in the blissful nonchalance that is roommate living. And even though I had been taught that men lacked emotional depth, I was quickly proven wrong.
No, it’s not the same as the fragility I lived with my friends. But in times when a member of the household was seeking advice or comfort, there is always time set aside for deliberation around our living room table. Dinner is often served by anyone who can be bothered walking up the road to the grocery store, with meals put together on the whim.
With us, vulnerable conversations are cautious and nuanced, made up of sympathetic glances, ice-breaking jokes and pats on the shoulder. And that’s great. I’ve learned that most of the time I can actually use half the words when I’m speaking and still say the same thing. Actions matter, and you don’t have to shout every thought that passes through the rooftops. Maybe this experience will make me more mysterious?
I also learned that throwing caution to the wind is sometimes a lot of fun, generosity is important, and boys appreciate fancy grooming products too. If men are from Mars, I’m definitely happy to live there for a while. It’s a pretty planet.
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