It’s not your roommate, it’s you
February 17, 2020
In a perfect world, upon leaving the cramped communal spaces of the University dorms, every student will have the option to set off on their own and experience the bliss of independent living where you make your own rules, cook your own meals, play your music and stay up as long as you like. Unfortunately, in the world we live in, there are measly options for affordable apartments and private housing; most of us won’t be so lucky and will have to face the unique trials and tribulations that come with one or multiple roommates.
There are already plenty of articles and advice readily available that can teach you how to set boundaries with your roommates, how to deal with less-than-satisfactory living partners, and, for worst-case scenarios, how to break your lease and run screaming from the broccoli-microwaving, EDM-blasting monster you’ve had to live with for months.
In most cases, however, conflicts between roommates aren’t entirely one-sided, and you’ll have to face the difficult, but necessary, task of looking within yourself to acknowledge and adjust habits and behaviors that may have been unnoticeable to you but have been annoyances for your living partner. Hopefully, this article helps current and future roommates bring themselves one step closer to the tranquility of successful cohabitation.
If you notice it, so do they
It’s happened to everyone: You wake up one morning, look around at the pile of clothes and papers strewn across your room leaving less than half of your floor space bare, and you wonder, “How did this happen?”
Often with our busy schedules, personal clutter can seem to build up overnight, while other’s disorganization is far easier to notice and judge. Chances are, around the time you’re just noticing your mess, its presence has been blatantly obvious to a neat-freak roommate who has spent the past few weeks resisting the urge to go through your room with a fine-tooth comb and tell their friends how much of a slob you are.
The moral of the story is not to beat yourself up but instead to take a few seconds every day or every few days to step back and see if papers are piling up or if your desk chair is becoming another place to put your old jeans.
Don’t be afraid to ask the hard questions
Sometimes, when your roommate is the nicest they can be but could become acquainted with some deodorant or could be helping with cleaning up around the apartment, speaking up and setting boundaries can be easier said than done. Chances are, your roommate has these same pet peeves, too, which can lead to an incredibly awkward situation in your residence that will only worsen as disagreements and annoyances continue to go unaddressed.
One of the most effective ways to prevent this excruciating situation is to take action yourself and ask your roommate frankly and regularly what you can be doing better as a roommate. In encouraging your roommate to be as honest and proactive as possible in their criticism, tension will inevitably wind down as you are opening yourself up as a resident who cares about their living partner’s wants and needs and a dialogue where everyone can address their issues is far more likely once one person takes the big leap.
Respect and accept each other’s differences
Everyone hopes for a living situation, either within or outside of University Housing, where you and your roommates become close friends immediately, can help each other with homework, host huge parties together or just play Smash Bros. on a lazy night. However, in many cases, this harmony and closeness just won’t be there, and that’s OK. Especially if you’re in a situation where one roommate was brought in by another or you were introduced through a Facebook group for fellow apartment seekers, it’s completely plausible that personalities, preferences and habits won’t clash but won’t necessarily mesh perfectly either. Going into your first roommate experience, it’s important to keep your expectations at a manageable level and not expect unrealistic perfection, but instead work towards mutual comfort, personal compatibility and communication with your living partners.
Clare is a sophomore in Media.