Getting Along With Your Roommate
It’s not always easy moving into a 3×5 index-card-sized room with a complete stranger, but millions of students do it every fall. Coming from different financial, cultural, and religious backgrounds can add fuel to the fire, or, can create a match made in heaven. Whether you’re best friends from the moment you set eyes on each others’ Star Wars t-shirts, or you never seem to click, here are a handful of great tips for getting along with roommates!
1. Find Space
Sometimes we find our lifelong best friend on the first day of college. But, much like our lifetime siblings, and lifetime significant others, we can still freak out if we’re attached at the hip. If it turns out that you become good buddies right away, remember to keep some separate time for yourself or you might lose your mind. Find other friends, classes, and activities that will give you a place to escape if you need a breather.
We all want to believe that those little notes, “your turn to take out the trash,” and, “we’re out of toilet paper” are cute and to the point, but most note-readers don’t take them that way. Some people are offended by the passive aggressiveness of a note, while others will simply disregard them altogether. For any kind of relationship in confined spaces to work, communication is key. Rather than leaving notes, just talk to your roommate in person, or at the very least, give him or her a call. This way is much more personal, and can give you a feel for how the other person actually feels about the information you’re sharing.
3. Negotiate Time for Quiet Time
It sounds ridiculous, but designated quiet time can come in handy. So your roommate wants to stay in and study on Friday night, but she wants to do it in the confines of your room, which happens to be the party room, and that really cute guy from the 5th floor is coming to hang out, and this is your chance! Well, this could turn into an awkward moment, a screaming match, or a really unhappy roommate. Instead of reaching this point, outline clear “quiet times” like after midnight on a weekday and before noon on a weekend. If your differing schedules cause this conflict regularly, you’ll have to compromise on some things, like moving the party room down the hall, or studying in the library on the weekends. Regardless, any designated quiet times must be respected.
4. Identify Your Thing
Are you a germaphobe or do you have questionable hygiene? Do you have specific religious customs? Does a messy room make your eye twitch, or feel like home? Are you possessive of your belongings or open to sharing everything? Before you share your space, make sure you understand these things about yourself, and then share them with your roommate over the course of the first week. Do it humorously and casually, like, “I have mild OCD so you might see me randomly scrubbing the floor on a Saturday night.” This way you can get your point across without sounding like a crazy person. Make sure to hear out your roommate’s thing as well to avoid offending him or her.
5. Assume The Best
Whether confronting your roommate about the stain on your favorite shirt, or watching his or her poor attempt at cleaning, always assume the best. Avoid harsh confrontation and negative assumptions, and ignore your inner desire to be right all the time. Maybe your roommate didn’t throw up in your garbage can and then leave it all weekend, or maybe he was too drunk to remember doing it. Do your best to assume he means well instead of thinking he is out to sabotage your happiness!