Making It Work With a Roommate

Living with a roommate is part of the college experience. Whether you choose to room with someone you know or let the school set you up with a stranger, you’ll likely face at least one or two challenging situations. Prepare yourself for the year ahead with these tips for sharing your space with a roommate.

Talk Before Meeting Each Other

If possible, talk to your roommate on the phone or in person before your move-in date. Doing so will help you feel less nervous about meeting each other. You can also decide who is going to bring what, such as a mini-fridge, microwave, or furniture.

Talk about personal habits. Is one of you a neat freak while the other is a slob? Are you both early birds, or does your new roommate normally stay up until 3 a.m.? You should have this discussion even if you’re moving in with someone you already know.

Respect Each Other’s Schedules

No matter how considerate you are, you may still unknowingly annoy your roommate. Talk about your class schedules and study habits early on, and set ground rules. For example, if your roommate is a light sleeper, don’t let your alarm clock beep too long in the morning. If you have an exam the next day, ask your roommate to give you quiet time so you can study. Do you both wake up early each day? Figure out how to share the bathroom without making each other late.

Dealing with Hook-ups and Relationships

You don’t have much privacy when you share a room with someone, and this is even more apparent when one or both of you has a boyfriend or girlfriend or starts hooking up with people. Neither one of you wants to feel as if a third person has moved in, but you probably want to able to bring someone home.

Talk about your expectations. What visiting hours are you both OK with? Are overnight guests allowed? If so, how many nights a week is too much? Do you feel uncomfortable with your flat mate bringing home complete strangers? Be upfront with each other, and set etiquette rules that you both agree with.

Discuss Problems Early

Confronting someone is never fun, but sometimes you just need to do it. If your roommate does something that bothers you, bring it up right away. Try to stay calm; he or she may not realize the actions are upsetting you. Letting it go and hoping things get better rarely solves the problem. Instead, you’ll become resentful and start acting passive-aggressively toward your roommate, making things even worse. 

If you’ve tried to fix a problem with your roommate, but nothing is working, ask your RA for help. He or she can help you find a solution, whether that’s approaching your roommate differently or moving into a different room. Remember that you don’t need to become best friends with your roommate. Your goal is to have a cordial relationship. If you happen to become friends, that’s a bonus.

The key to getting along with your new mate is communication and respect. If things become tense, try following one or more of these tips. In most situations, you can make it work with a roommate. 

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