Acting responsibly, by paying bills on time for example, is a prerequisite for trust. “Dependable people are predictable,” says Ernesto Escoto, PhD, director and clinical assistant professor at the University of Florida Counseling and Wellness Center in Gainesville, Florida. That removes a layer of stress from your daily life. It’s certainly okay to miss a commitment from time to time, as long as it’s handled responsibly, like if she’s caught up in a meeting and texts to let you know that she’ll have to miss movie night tonight. Less dependable people will leave you hanging at times, causing unnecessary anxiety.
He can keep secretsiStock/SolisImages
It’s pretty key for a roommate to be discrete with any personal issues or feelings you’ve shared. “Trustworthy individuals realize that you’re trusting them to not only be good listeners but also to support you during whatever circumstances you might be facing, to be validating and encouraging,” Dr. Escoto says. “Their keeping your secrets is part of taking care of you, protecting you, and valuing the trust between you.”
She keeps a channel openiStock/Pradit_Ph
Frequent and open communication facilitates understanding and creates a level of comfort—even if your roommate is complaining about your loud music or your leaving dishes in the sink. “People who bring up misunderstandings or relationship concerns in a timely manner without falling into a pattern of complaining regularly, and who do so respectfully, help direct the growth of a relationship in a positive direction,” Escoto says. A study by researchers from the University of West Virginia and the University of Akron shows that when both roommates had good interpersonal communication skills and little verbal aggressiveness, they were more likely to be satisfied with their shared living situation. These magic phrases can make anyone trust you.
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He respects your boundariesiStock/monkeybusinessimages
Roommates need to be conscious of your limits and your need for privacy. That means not barging into your space or using your stuff without permission, not looking over your shoulder when you’re writing emails or talking on the phone, and not automatically joining you and your company if you haven’t made it clear that they’re welcome. Use this checklist to see how body language can build trust.
Trust builds naturally when a person is open and truthful. “When someone consistently tells the truth, admits their mistakes, and speaks from the heart, we tend to trust them more,” said Monique Honaman, Atlanta-based author of the book, The High Road Has Less Traffic. “By following through on promises and displaying consistent behavior, they earn our trust.” (Related: Don’t miss these expert ways to spot a liar.)
He’s eager to demonstrate his trustworthinessiStock/monkeybusinessimages
A recent New York magazine article explored the benefits of being assigned a random roommate, and how this can be a great opportunity for personal growth and fulfillment. “This is a tremendous opportunity for impressionable young people,” Bruce Sacerdote, a Dartmouth economist and researcher, is quoted as saying. “And the research has shown, convincingly, that having the right sort of roommate can expand horizons and open eyes in extremely important ways.” Students should embrace the clean slate they are given to build trust. Having a positive attitude is a great place to start.
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She’s flexible with schedulingiStock/chabybucko
Whether you work full-time or part-time or go to school, whether you’re single or coupled up, whether you’re a night owl or a morning jay, scheduling conflicts can easily come up and get in the way of a civilized relationship. That’s why it’s critical for a roommate to be considerate with early waking times, late arrivals home, and other occasional requirements, like needing quiet to concentrate or having to accommodate overnight guests in the shared living room. “Building trust is imperative in any relationship, and the building blocks of trust are consistent,” says Honaman. “If you want to build trust with a roommate, display these behaviors, and look for the same in return from them.”