Living in close quarters with someone – friend or stranger – can become a toxic situation very quickly. By the end of your college career, you will have more than enough fill-in-the-blank roommate stories. Don’t let the memories of the best time of your life be clouded with negative thoughts about how your first roommate almost ruined your freshman year.
Try these 3 tricks for living harmoniously… or something like that:
1. DO: COMPROMISE – Drawing up a detailed roommate agreement right off the bat might introduce unnecessary conflict early on. Instead, casually discuss boundaries and “ground rules”. Be sure to compromise so that each of you feels the arrangement is fair.
- CLEANING – Make a schedule AND keep on top of it. Choose a day of the week to wipe down the desks, take out the garbage, and get those dust bunnies out from under the bed (they aren’t as cute as they sound).
- SHARING – Be sure to establish what’s on or off limits. If you’ve had issues sharing since Jimmy popped the eyeball out of your Furby in the 4th grade, be honest about it. But you also can’t expect to be able to borrow new roomie’s things as you please. A good, general rule of thumb here is to ask BEFORE borrowing. Sorry Suzy, you can wear my new Michael Kors leather jacket the day Ryan Gosling gets down on one knee and proposes to me (so, to be clear, we’re looking at an estimated 2-3 years here).
- GUESTS – This is a BIG one! Set up the rules around friends hanging out during the week (compare your class/work schedules), as well as finding common ground on overnight guests. If you or your roommate has a significant other, this is particularly vital to discuss early on. Look at the situation carefully from both perspectives. It’s not uncommon or unreasonable to say couple sleepovers make you uncomfortable – just make sure you have an appropriate delivery. “IHATEYOURUGLYBOYFRIEND!” rarely ever works out nicely.
- QUIET TIME – Go over your school and extracurricular schedules and come to an agreement about quiet time – this covers both studying and sleeping. There are few things more annoying than being woken up at 3am the morning of an exam by your roommate turning on the lights, slamming drawers, and mumbling about their missing mac and cheese. That being said, if you need to study for a rescheduled Saturday exam and your roommate has friends coming over, there’s always the library and student center if you need another quiet space to study. During finals week, re-visit the schedule and make changes as you both see fit. Remember, there’s no right or wrong answer – it’s what works for you and your roomie.
2. DON’T: AVOID EACH OTHER – Whether your new roommate is a friend, acquaintance, or stranger, it’s important to set time aside for just the two of you.
- COMMON GROUND – Get to know each other. What do you have in common? Come up with something that you both enjoy doing. This could be anything from working out, to watching The Walking Dead, to making music together. If you literally HATE everything that Brian loves, go to the dining hall and have a meal together once or twice a week. Bonding with your roommate can do wonders for your relationship, and it gives you both an open forum to discuss any issues you’ve had that week, or the opportunity to ask if it’s okay that your brother comes to stay next Friday night.
- TALK ABOUT ISSUES – If there is a problem, don’t gossip to other floor-mates about it. Calmly bring up any issues and discuss between the two of you.
3. DO: BE RESPECTFUL – You’d be amazed how big of a difference the “little things” make. Always keep in mind how it would feel to be in your roommate’s shoes, or how you would like to be treated if the situation were reversed.
- BE TIDY – Being clean and being tidy are vastly different. That being said – don’t be a slob! Keep your things on your side of the room/closet and put them away when you’re finished. This will not only keep your roomie happy, it will also keep you organized. No more meltdowns because you lost your lucky headband. No sir.
- TAKE GOOD CARE OF HIS/HER POSSESSIONS – If you borrow something of your roommate’s (after you’ve asked permission, of course), treat it as your own and be sure to promptly return it. If it’s clothing, wash it. If it’s a book, put it on his/her desk. If it’s cookies, replace them. If it’s a tissue… they probably don’t want it back. But buy a new box if you finish them off.
- KEEP PRIVATE MATTERS PRIVATE – Undoubtedly, you will learn more information about your roommate than you ever wished to know. It is imperative that you keep these things to yourself in order to keep a healthy relationship with said roomie. Whether the matter is embarrassing, upsetting, or downright disturbing, they clearly do not want the world to know. Not everything is for you to judge or understand. If it gets back to your roommate that you spread the word about their chronic feet-sweat, the rest of the year probably isn’t going to be pretty. Not to mention, all of your dirty laundry is just minutes away from blasting off into the Twittersphere.
- COMMUNICATE & COMPROMISE – If there’s one thing you take from this post, have it be this: When you have an issue with your roommate, go straight to him/her. As a non-confrontational person, I understand not wanting to rock the boat – but at what expense? If you have a problem with something that your roommate is doing, simply, but nicely, ask them to stop. If the situation is more complex than that, give some options that require you to meet in the middle. If she can’t sleep without the TV on, but you can’t sleep with it on – you have a number of choices. You could try ear plugs and a sleep mask, she could try sleeping with her laptop and headphones, or you could both put together a calming music playlist to fall asleep to. Or maybe you could put on the Golf Channel and bore yourself into a coma. Who knows? The real lesson here: there’s always a good compromise.
Make the most of your college experience by keeping a strong roommate relationship. Use these rules for a guideline and find what works for you and your roomie! Get more tips and tricks from the Seventeen Ultimate Guide to College: Everything You Need to Know to Step Onto Campus and Own It, Running Press 2014! Find more information or purchase it here.
How do you and you roommate get along? Anything to add to the list? Let us know! Find even MORE tips here.