Callum had just started meeting up with his new peer, Jared. As they sat on a bench with their coffees and watched the crows picking up breadcrumbs, Jared explained part of what was stressing him out. “My roommate has a new boyfriend and he’s over pretty much every single night. I wouldn’t mind, but it’s a small flat and I just want my own space every now and then! They also watch movies in the living room all the time and put the volume up super high so I can’t sleep or focus on studying. I’m ready to lose it!”
“That’s so frustrating!” said Callum, “I feel your pain… I had a lot of difficult roommates until I found my current one. But we still have issues… like the other day she left a huge mess in the kitchen despite knowing I was having friends over for a dinner party. Have you tried talking to your roommate about what’s bothering you?”
“Well… I kind of got really upset the other day and told him he should go over to his boyfriend’s house instead, and now we’re not really talking.”
“Yeah… sometimes when we bottle things up, they can burst out a little too harshly.”
“Yeah. I mean, I’m glad I stood up for myself, but now it’s so awkward and we barely talk.”
“Do you think there’s another way you could have approached him?”
“I mean… I guess I could have communicated what I was feeling sooner. Like, at least asked them to turn the volume down. Or maybe let me have my own space every couple of days, or at least have the living room to myself a couple nights a week.”
“Yeah that sounds reasonable. Setting boundaries is stressful! It’s hard to know when you’re being too assertive, or not assertive enough.”
Later, Jared asked if they could follow each other on social media. Callum didn’t really like adding peers on social media, but didn’t want to be rude. He added Jared on TikTok and Instagram but wished he hadn’t. That night, Jared messaged him on Instagram to ask his advice on what he should say to his roommate. Callum was tired from a long day, and it was already 10pm. He tried to relax before bed and avoid being on his phone too much, because sometimes he had a hard time sleeping. He wished he hadn’t added Jared to social media, but he also wanted to be helpful. He thought about the conversation they had that day about boundaries, and how he could express his needs in a respectful way.
Hey Jared. Sorry to hear things are still stressful with your roommate. I’m just about to head to bed, but I’m free next Tuesday and Thursday afternoon if you want to meet up again? Let me know a time that works. Thanks!
Reflecting on the day, Callum thought about how he could have been clearer about his boundaries without being rude. Perhaps telling Jared that he had a policy of not adding peers on social media would make it less personal. The next time Callum started working with a peer, he explained that he didn’t add peers on social media, but was happy to share his cell number for organizing meetings and chatting. At first, he felt awkward expressing this, as he didn’t want his peers to feel like they weren’t important enough to be added to his social media accounts, but he soon realized that as long as he was upfront and explained that it was for privacy reasons, no one really minded. He asked Jared about his preferred means of communicating, and Jared explained that he didn’t like talking over the phone but was fine with texting.