Getting along with your roommates doesn’t mean that you have to become the best of friends. Living with another person doesn’t always play out like a movie montage either. Sometimes getting along with your roommates requires certain rules and boundaries.
Chances are, the person you are assigned to room with may not be the person you were hoping for. These list of dos and don’ts will help both of you get through the school year in peace:
1. Set boundaries early.
It is important to be clear from day one what you are and are not comfortable with. Your new roommate can not read your mind and you shouldn’t punish them for not being able to. If you don’t say anything from the start they will never know that their heavy metal music annoys you or that a few dirty socks on the ground seriously grosses you out. It can be awkward at first to share your boundaries but once you do you will be relieved that it is out in the open.
2. Be specific.
When setting your boundaries with the other person be very clear about your expectations. If you tell them that coming in late and making popcorn bothers you, nake sure to let them know what you mean by “late”. Their version of late could be entirely different than yours.
3. Make sacrifices and compromise.
You can’t always get what you want all of the time. You learn that lesson quickly with a roommate. Maybe it makes you cringe when their friends come over to party and visit 6 days a week. It may annoy you but it won’t kill you to make a compromise. Let them know you enjoy some quiet days to reflect and study. Ask your roommate if they can compromise and have their friends visit twice a week instead. Later on they may be cut you some slack with some of your annoying habits too. Make a list of the things that you’ll each like each other to change and meet each other half way.
4. Keep communication open.
Let them know if anything is ever bothering them about your behavior that you are open to listening to them. If neither of you have lots of time to commit to this you can keep a roommate message board for any last minute comments you need to make in between classes. Bringing things up face to face can be intimidating, so start an email chain with the roommates that people can update when something needs to be mentioned. There is nothing worse than when two people have gotten on each others last nerves and no one says anything until it is too late. So much anger can build up over time that the two of you will spend more time resenting each other than enjoy yourself.
5. Be mindful.
This seems like a common sense one but make an effort to think about how your actions affect others. You really want to blast your favorite music but your roommate may not like it. Put on a pair of headphones and know that you haven’t given your roommate a headache because of your actions.
6. Report serious issues.
Everyone has disagreement with their roommates, but if things become more serious and you are having anxiety about being in your dorm it’s time to take action. Let your school know that things aren’t working out and that you’d like to move out. Often times schools have room swap programs in case people do not get along with their assigned roommates. If your roommate is doing illegal things out of your dorm room (other than drinking beer underage which doesn’t count…), ask for a transfer. Make sure you speak with your RA and Residence Life to find a solution, they can transfer you and deal with the situation without making you look like you snitched.
7. Be aggressive.
No matter how much you dislike your roommate and are tempted to be aggressive towards them take a deep breath and think. Aggressive actions from you will only lead to more aggression down the road. One insult can lead to something worse and worse and so fourth. It has a snowball effect and in the end it will only lead to something that is somehow even uglier. if you feel like you might lose it approaching them in person, write them an email instead.
8. Be Clingy
While you should make an effort to hang out with your roommates and make plans with them, don’t assume that you are automatically invited when they are out with their own friends. Wait for them to ask you before tagging along, and make your own friends outside of your dorm. That way when your roommate gets on your nerve you have other people on campus to hang out with. If it’s the other way around and your roommate is following you everywhere, don’t get mad and push them away. First try to become friends and see how they behave around your friends. If the situation just doesn’t work out and you just don’t want them to come out, stay vague about your plans and avoid pregaming in your own dorm room. As much as communication is encouraged between roommates, avoid bringing that one up if you can help it.
9. Borrow their things.
To you it may seem like nothing. Maybe you just needed to borrow a hair brush. That alone could gross the other person out. Only borrow anything of theirs if you are in a dire emergency and after you have asked them for permission first. Even if it is something that seems meaningless to you like a can of soda, ALWAYS ask if it’s not yours. Because how would you like it if something you needed went missing one day?
10. Nit pick.
You could bring up that time where they spilled pop all over your computer but what will either of you gain from it? Instead of nit picking focus on talking about the solution. Both of you making accusations will end up going back and fourth for hours and wasting a perfectly good day. Instead, focus each thought on steps that will bring you closer to an overall solution.
11. Sexile them too often.
This is a pretty big one especially if your roommate is single. Everyone expects to be barred access to their own room from time to time in college, but make sure you always let them know in advance and agree on some sort of a schedule. There’s nothing like coming back from a long practice or a hard exam only to be left in the hallway. Don’t consider your bae part of a packaged deal and have sleepovers every night. if your roommate is single make sure they also get some time alone in your shared room to do whatever they please. Finally, avoid having sex with them in the room. Nobody wants to wake up to that.
Not every detail of your life is meant to be shared with your roommate. Do they care that your dad got a new BMW while they’re working two jobs to pay tuition? Do they want to hear about your sexual escapades from the night before? Think before you share… and wait for a good time to tell your stories. If your roommate is studying or wearing headphones, these are cues that they want to be left alone. Finally avoid oversharing every aspect of your dorm life on social media. While some people are totally open about what they share with others, your roommate may not want their dirty laundry (no pun intended…) to end up on Snapchat.
A lot of these things seem simple but are often overlooked. The person you are assigned to room with is going to be in your home for the rest of the semester or the school year so make sure you put in your best effort to make it work before throwing the towel! Remember that by the time sophomore year rolls around, you will get to move in with your friends in pick your own roommate so even if your freshman roommate kind of sucks, this isn’t forever.