Re: A Private person in cohousing
From: Sharon Villines (
Date: Mon, 6 Nov 2006 10:33:09 -0800 (PST)

On Nov 6, 2006, at 2:18 AM, Charlene McNamara wrote:

been through the development process and have lived here now for
8 months. I can honestly say I have never been more unhappy in my
entire life. [snip] I don't have concerns about the people
here, just that I am constantly overstimulated by all of them all the
time. It is simply exhausting to me to say hello to each and every
person I ever walk by. Yet there seems to be an expectation that I do
that. I literally have a few neighbors who go out of their way to get
my attention just to wave to me from across the property.

Part of the problem for you is that the community is still new and people are trying extra hard to be a community. They feel uncomfortable not saying hello and can't imagine that you feel more comfortable. Unfortunately the US is populated predominately by extroverts.

There is a lot of tension in a new community -- everyone is anxious and deciding whether they did the right thing. I can't remember how long this lasts but it does go away. It may be peaking right now both for you and everyone else. In a few months you might wonder what you were so upset about.

Cohousing is unique in that everyone is new to their homes at the same time. In housing developments, people move in one house at a time. In large buildings people move in one floor at a time and do not know each other so they don't expect to speak.

I am also an introvert and before I moved into cohousing used to spend 9 hours a day with no human contact. I once lived in the country where I had no human contact at least 4 days a week. When I first moved into cohousing, I used to stay in my unit just to avoid people--sometimes for 2-3 days at a time. Since I don't have young children it was easier for me to do. Extroverts, of course, thought something was seriously wrong.

I now have MUCH more human contact but people are familiar so it is easier. I balance how many events I attend. This is sometimes a problem since the number of meetings alone is enough contact for me and thus I wasn't forming relationships with people who didn't attend meetings or seeing people who did not live in the community. I've added more meals and movies in the CH but don't enjoy them as much as everyone else does and it means missing some meetings to balance the increased social contact. The noise and idle chatter seems so pointless. If I have a meal with someone, it's for good (serious usually) conversation.

I rarely shmooze which means I don't pick up idle gossip or things that "everyone decided" but didn't decide in a meeting. I object often to things that are never recorded in the meeting notes but "everyone" knows. I use email much more often which makes some people nuts. They want phone calls which makes me nuts. But over time, you adjust and find you don't have to relate to everyone in the community. People sort themselves out into relationships so the talkers find other talkers.

So while I'm interactive, it is often by email. Which makes me very happy. Others hate it. I've had to cut back to avoid drowning others out. I had to screen phone calls when I moved in so I was not so available and now only people I have regular business with or who are close friends call me.

Don't give up. It does work and will be very nice once everyone adjusts.

A community Meyer-Briggs workshop might help people to understand each other.

Sharon Villines
Takoma Village Cohousing, Washington DC

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