Tips for a successful roommate experience
February 27, 2017
One of the many worries of incoming freshmen is how their roommate situations will turn out.
Regardless of whether you went random or elected to live with a friend, there are similar challenges. Living with a friend can be akin to living with a stranger, and you will learn many new things about them.
I speak from experience, but through the years, my roommate and I have learned how to effectively live in a room together. It is a continuous learning process that affects both upper and underclassmen.
One of the most important things that I have learned, both from personal experience and from the stories of others, is to not be afraid to be stern with your roommate. This can sound harsh, but note that this should only be the case if absolutely necessary. If your roommate is being obviously invasive of your privacy, being obnoxiously indifferent to your presence in the living space, or is just straight up doing something that makes you uncomfortable on a consistent basis, you should speak up.
Be diplomatic about if you can, or just firmly tell them to stop. If they refuse, ask others for advice because sometimes it can be hard to objectively view a situation from your own biased standpoint. If their advice doesn’t work, there are more disciplinary routes that can be taken through higher authorities in the residence halls, or wherever one might be living. This is a situation that we all would like to avoid, but it doesn’t hurt to be confident and prepared.
Being strict should not serve as your approach to being a good roommate. It is a safeguard against bad roommates. The steps to becoming a good roommate are much easier to follow. The most important thing to remember is compromise. It means realizing that your room is not your room only. Someone else, just like you, will be living and sleeping in the same room.
The safe route when rooming with another person is really quite intuitive. It involves being cautious of the other person’s needs and possessions. You are entitled only to your belongings, but sharing your things is an excellent way to build rapport and trust between you and your roommate. The residence halls also have something called a roommate agreement, which acts like a contract between you and your roommate outlining what is and isn’t permitted.
I personally don’t take the contracts too seriously, but I like the idea. I will talk about boundaries with my roommate whenever need be. Another important thing to remember is that the way you like things may not be the way the other person does. This is where compromise can mitigate any kind of conflict.
Think of having a roommate as a long-term relationship. You have to make sacrifices in order for the relationship (or partnership) to flourish. You don’t have to be best friends, but there should be a mutual respect and understanding between the roommates.
One strategy that works for a lot of people is to just draw an imaginary line down the middle of the room. You can do whatever you want to your side of the room and so can your roommate, so long as it doesn’t affect the other person, such as the smell of dirty clothes piled up to the ceiling.
I have a last little bit of advice that may not be as obvious or as popular to some. When compromising, it is important to not establish a trend of power. Show a little dominance here and there to keep from that submissive pattern that the other roommate may be inclined to take advantage of. This does not mean forcing your demands on the other roommate, but rather, it should act as a reminder that you have equal say in the room decisions.
Having a successful roommate experience shouldn’t be a stressful endeavor. You should be able to come back to the room after a long day and feel comfortable in your little home away from home.