The whole picture (was disengagement)
From: Lynn Nadeau / Maraiah (
Date: Wed, 4 Nov 2009 09:08:08 -0800 (PST)
Recent posts have discussed how some people may find that cohousing is not what they thought it would be when they joined. Disillusionment may lead to disengagement or contentiousness or other unpleasant alternatives to them just leaving.

Even while trying to get people to join, to buy a resale, I am always careful to emphasize that it's not utopia. I say things like "I thrive on this, but it's not for everyone." "It can be a lot of work, though I find it worthwhile." "Can you live somewhere else part of the year? Well, legally, yes, but we really need warm bodies to participate and share the work and life of the community, and if people are only here part time -- besides normal trips or moderate vacation times--- it leaves the rest of us with more work."

Over the years I've learned to be cautious about would-be buyers who seem TOO enthusiastic. If they are really gushy about how fabulous it will all be, or how much better it will be than all the things they didn't like about where they lived before, it may turn out that they are on an emotional rollercoaster, and we'll get to see the downswing, too. I'd rather hear someone say, "Of course there are always challenges, and I don't expect everyone will be my best friend." "Every group has some difficult personalities." "For a project this size, it seems to work pretty well." More pragmatic than ultra rosy, seems to be a better indicator of eventual satisfaction here.

Not that I haven't overlooked some of those cautionary signs. Sometimes people fit better, or less well, than I could guess, when showing them around at first. And, as Rob points out, the community mix shifts over the years, too.

I struggle with some people's notion that anyone can be accomodated. I confess to sometimes giving up on the prospects of a given person finding satisfaction and resolution for their multiple conflicts and discontents. I really believe it just is not a match for some people's needs. At least I know I didn't lead them on, as I've tried to be balanced in my explanations at the beginning.

Lynn Nadeau
Port Townsend WA, RoseWind Cohousing

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