8 things you don’t realize you’re doing that make you difficult to live with, according to psychology

Are you having problems with your housemates and are unsure who is at fault?

Or have you moved out of home for the first time and are navigating the complex dynamics of living with others?

Whether you’ve joined a house share, moved in with friends, or are living with your partner, you will sooner or later encounter challenges that threaten to strain your relationship.

Because let’s be honest – living with others is never easy, even if it’s someone you love!

As someone who has had my fair share of housemates and lived with various partners, I’ve learned what to do and what NOT to do to maintain harmony.

However, I’ve also realized that we often don’t know when our behaviors negatively affect our housemates.

So, to help you cultivate a positive and harmonious living experience, I’m sharing eight things you may be doing that are making you a difficult person to live with!

1) Not cleaning up after yourself

I always thought that my level of cleanliness was pretty standard. I’m not a clean freak by any means, but I don’t like being in messy spaces.

So, when I started living with other people, I was shocked to learn most people don’t clean up after themselves.

For many people, leaving dirty dishes in the sink for days is normal, as is leaving personal belongings all over the place.

If you are one of these people, know that this behavior annoys anyone who values a clean space.

But it’s not just annoying…

Failure to clean up after yourself breeds resentment and strains relationships.

You might argue that there is no cleaning rota or that your dirty dishes do not block the entire sink or kitchen space.

However, not cleaning up your mess shows a lack of respect and consideration for others.

Moreover, as research shows, cluttered surroundings can increase stress and anxiety levels, affecting everyone’s mental well-being.

2) Being too organized

Of course, lack of cleanliness is just one end of the spectrum. The opposite is being ‘too’ organized.

While organization and cleanliness can make a household run efficiently, when sharing the space with others, there must be some leeway.

Some people may get annoyed if one thing is out of place, either due to Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) or a perfectionist tendency.

They might impose strict rules for household tasks or obsessively rearrange the shared spaces to keep things as tidy as possible.

As you can imagine, this person’s need for extreme organization can create a tense and oppressive atmosphere.

If this is you, you will likely perceive your actions as helpful. However, you could unknowingly be causing people to feel on edge.

Therefore, when sharing a home with anyone, whether housemates, friends, or a partner, it’s essential to strike a balance between maintaining order and allowing flexibility.

You must also demonstrate flexibility in decisions, which we’ll discuss next…

3) Not being willing to compromise

Compromise is crucial for successful cohabitation, yet many people display stubbornness when making household decisions.

This is because we all have different views and beliefs on how a household should be run.

Here’s an example:

Growing up, my parents would always do the dishes right after dinner, so this is a habit I “inherited.”

Moreover, because it was what happened in my household, I assumed it happened in all households.

That was until I moved out, of course.

From my first house share, I realized many people don’t do the dishes immediately after dinner. Instead, they eat dinner, relax, and then do the dishes before bed.

For me, this seemed absurd.

Doesn’t it make much more sense to clean up BEFORE you sit down to watch a movie?

Not everyone sees it that way.

At first, I wanted to project my beliefs onto everyone else, believing that my way was the best.    

And believe me, I did try to do this at first.

But it didn’t last long, as stubbornness has no place in shared homes.

Refusing to negotiate household responsibilities, dismissing others’ preferences, or being unwilling to compromise will eventually strain your relationships with your housemates and create resentment.

I get that everyone likes to do things their way. But when sharing a home with others, you must back down and compromise – unless you like living in a tense environment!

By prioritizing collective harmony and choosing cooperation over conflict, you’ll become much easier to live with.

4) Using things but not replacing them

I’ll be honest; I never knew this was an annoying habit until my boyfriend called me out on it!

So you could be doing this without realizing it, too.

When you live with someone, there will always be communal resources, which housemates typically take turns in buying.

However, if you use these things the most but never replace them, you will quickly become a source of frustration and resentment.

Like me, you probably don’t do it intentionally. For example, certain household items always slip my mind when grocery shopping.

Thus, I never buy these things, and my boyfriend always ends up replacing them.

It may seem like a small thing to you (it did to me), but your housemates or partner will see it as a lack of consideration for others’ needs.

5) Not respecting others personal space

annoying housemate 1 8 things you don't realize you're doing that make you difficult to live with, according to psychology

I struggle to live with someone who doesn’t understand or respect my need for personal space.

I once had a housemate who developed the habit of barging into my room every evening when she got home from work to tell me all about her day.

She never knocked and asked if I was free; she would just come in.

This was pretty frustrating as an introvert who needs and enjoys lots of alone time.

However, her need for personal space was much lower than mine because she was an extrovert, so she didn’t see any problem.

Thankfully, once I told her it was unacceptable, she stopped entering my room unannounced.

But because her boundaries were so different from mine, it had never occurred to her that it might be a problem.

So when living with others, it’s crucial to learn what is and isn’t acceptable to them and respect their boundaries.

Research from Stanford University shows that doing so will help cultivate a culture of mutual respect and understanding.

On the subject of differences in individual preferences and habits, here is a VERY common one that occurs in shared households…

6) Playing loud music or speaking loudly on the phone

We all have different noise tolerances. Some people are highly sensitive to too much noise, whereas others are uncomfortable with silence.

If you are the latter, you might play loud music all evening or speak on the phone late at night to avoid silence.

While this level of noise may be acceptable to you, there is a significant chance that your housemates will not agree.

Your behaviors could disrupt others’ peace and compromise their well-being, making you difficult to live with.

Interestingly, research published in Frontiers in Neurology shows that women are often more sensitive to noise than men.

This makes sense, as I, along with many women I know, dislike too much noise, both prolonged noise and loud sounds.

Psychological research shows that excessive noise can trigger stress responses in some people, leading to feelings of irritability and fatigue.

7) Hogging shared spaces

Another way you may be annoying your housemates without realizing it is by monopolizing the shared areas.

For example, are you splayed out on the sofa every evening, leaving no space for others?

Or do you cook elaborate 3-course meals for yourself every night, making it difficult for others to cook dinner?

When using shared spaces, you should always be mindful that they remain accessible to your housemates.

Taking up all the space or using shared areas for extended time shows a lack of respect and consideration for others’ needs.

It also gives off a sense of entitlement as you prioritize your comfort over communal harmony.

8) Complaining about everything

People often don’t know they are engaging in this behavior, so they certainly don’t realize it makes them difficult to live with!

However, psychological studies show that chronic complaining negatively impacts the mental health of the people who live with the complainer.

It’s all to do with something known as “neural plasticity.”

Let me explain…

Let’s say you’ve always been a positive person. In this case, the neurotransmitters in your brain will be wired to seek the positive in any situation.

But then you move in with a highly pessimistic person who always complains.

Just by being around this person, over time, your neurotransmitters will start to ‘rewire’ themselves to look for the negative in any situation.

In other words, you become more negative and prone to complaining.

So, if you’re the one who is always complaining, think about the impact you are having on those you live with.

Energy is contagious; being negative brings those around you down, too.

Final thoughts

As psychology shows, our habits can significantly impact the well-being of those we live with.

But by cultivating self-awareness, empathy, and mutual respect, we can identify when we are being a problematic housemate and nip our annoying habits in the bud.

Doing so allows us to fully enjoy the many beautiful aspects of living with others!

Picture of Gemma Clarke

Gemma Clarke

I am a certified yoga and mindfulness teacher and an experienced content writer in the spirituality and personal growth space. I’m passionate about sharing my expertise through the power of words to inspire and guide others along the path of personal and spiritual development.

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