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A Room of One’s Own

Why are some people easier to live with than others? One answer to this question regards the compatibility of the roommates’ conceptions concerning what it means to live communally.

Let’s consider two common ways of sharing living space: the beehive model and the ‘free to be you and me’ model. People who embrace the beehive model hold that living together is like forming a beehive. Each person has specific tasks that contribute to the successful operation of the entire household, and the commitment to that success trumps the individual desires of the people involved. Typically, people living in this sort of arrangement agree about what the living situation is supposed to look like, and use that agreement to guide the activities and priorities of each person who is a part of the group.

On the other hand, people who subscribe to the ‘free to be you and me’ model have a view that part of the living space belongs primarily to one person, and another part belongs primarily to another person, while communal areas in the house are set neutrally in order to facilitate communication among the individuals in the household. Negotiation within this more individualistic model involves deciding how each person can meet his or her needs while living together.

One source of complaints among people who live with others involves a clash between these models.

Let me relate a story about a married couple facing this sort of clash. The wife subscribes to the beehive model. When she and her husband are working together to meet the needs of the larger household, she feels safe and loved. However, when her husband creates a space in the house that is entirely his own, she feels lonely and abandoned. Meanwhile, the husband holds a ‘free to be you and me’ perspective in which he feels trapped and extinguished by the demands of the beehive view. He feels as though there is no space for him to be himself in his own home, and, consequently, is feeling pushed out of the house and the marriage.

This dynamic easily can lead to blaming: he is irresponsible for not cooperating and she is controlling for not allowing him space. I am hoping, instead, to bring awareness to this interaction. The beauty of recognizing energy patterns is the opportunity to use that information to make conscious choices about how to relate to those patterns. This situation calls for compassionate negotiation, informed by an awareness of the dynamic at play. The featured couple has decided to reset their home through a series of house healings designed to promote safety for her with space for him.

In our own life, it is helpful to notice of how much space we need, and how much we desire to create with others. The more we recognize our own tendencies, the easier it is for us either to find people with compatible leanings, or to negotiate our needs with the people we find.

Which relational dynamics help you to feel at home?Written by Heidi Szycher, a staff member at the Boulder Psychic Institute. Check out her personal site at

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