In a perfect world, there would be a magical device that could pair students together who are destined to live in dormitory harmony – like the Sorting Hat, but for roommates. Until that glorious day, however, we run the risk of being placed in a room with a less than perfect companion. Whether you went with a randomly selected roommate or decided to live with your close friend from high school, there’s a chance you two may not get along in close quarters. And, hey – it happens! You’re in a small, confined space being inundated with school work and new experiences that come with living on your own. However, not liking your roommate is no excuse to let things spiral out of control.
Because we wouldn’t wish a bad roommate on anyone, we’ve pulled together some tips for how to remedy an uncomfortable situation with your roomie.
First things first – speak to each other. Whether you just met or have been friends for years, sit down at the beginning of the year and have a conversation about your living situation. Discuss schedules and bedtimes, keeping the room clean, and even sharing clothing and food! Although this may be an awkward thing to talk about at first, it can save a lot of headaches later on. If it’s too late and there is already some trouble in paradise, don’t be afraid to speak up and let him/her know what’s bothering you.
DON’T: Go on the attack – “You smell and I hate when you steal my clothes.”
DO: Be honest and clear – “Hey, I noticed you borrowed my sweater yesterday. Please just make sure you check with me first, please!”
2.SEEK OUTSIDE HELP
You’ve reminded your roommate that your towels are off limits. You’ve begged him to wash his dishes. You’ve explained how you need to get to bed early on Monday nights. And yet, she uses your towel at least once a week, his dishes are still stacked high in the sink, and she’s up until 4am on Monday Skyping with her boyfriend. Sometimes, no amount of chit chatting and well thought out speeches on the importance of boundaries hit home. Rather than spending your time roomie-bashing with your floormates, try speaking with someone who actually might be able to help you. Believe it or not, many RAs are specifically trained in conflict resolution and have great insights into sorting things out. They might even be able to host a mediation-session for the two of you so you can hash things out and work toward a solution.
DON’T: Bring your ten closest friends in as back-up. This isn’t the Bad Blood video.
DO: Get insight from a neutral party. Your RA isn’t just there to tell you to “keep it down!”
3. ALTER YOUR PERSPECTIVE
It’s easy to notice all of the things your roommate does wrong, without realizing how you might be contributing to the problem as well. Take a good look at your own behavior and see if anything might not come off the way you intend it to. Sure, she stays up late Skyping….but are you a bit of a bull in a china shop during the early morning? And while your study group meets in your room because it’s convenient for everyone, maybe he was hoping to have some quiet time to himself that night. Hold yourself accountable the same way you expect your roommate to.
DON’T: Assume you are not the problem.
DO: Acknowledge your own imperfections.
4. GIVE EACH OTHER SOME SPACE
After a while, you’re bound to get annoyed with anyone you have to spend the majority of your time (and space) with. If you really do want to spend your free time in the room…put a movie on your laptop and watch with your headphones on rather than making small talk. Or, find other places of refuge to escape to. Study in the library rather than at your desk or watch the new episode of The Walking Dead in a friend’s room, rather than your own. Absence really can make the heart grow fonder.
You don’t have to be best friends, but you do have to at least try to get along.
DON’T: Avoid your room and start sleeping in the library.
DO: Give your roommate some space and take advantage of the alone time you’re given as well.
Unless your roommate is really horrible or makes you feel unsafe, it’s important to compromise and keep your head up anyway. After all, the semester will eventually come to an end!