You can be civil with your roommate
August 17, 2020
For most students moving into a dorm, this is the first time you will have a roommate that is not a part of your family. A good chunk of students will have a random roommate or be will rooming with someone they met through a Facebook group, but some will live with a friend from high school, which people typically advise against. However, no matter who your roommate is or how well you know them, it can be easy to become enemies quickly if boundaries and expectations aren’t set and/or respected.
Living in a small room with another person or multiple people can be very challenging and create unwanted tension. Hopefully, you have already discussed what each roommate is bringing to the dorm like a microwave, rug, futon, mini-fridge, etc. After coordinating the room specifics, it’s best to discuss how you want to arrange the room — lofted beds, desks against the back wall, stacked dressers or whatever the setup may be. Arranging the room to fit both your needs is a very important step to starting off on the right foot this fall. But, that’s still the easy part.
The hard part is setting boundaries and learning how to respect one’s privacy. If you are already friends with your roommate, it’ll be easier to know what they expect and they should know what you expect.
If you aren’t already friends, here are some tips:
- Be willing to compromise. Bend but don’t break; make sure you aren’t the only one making compromises each time a problem arises.
- Don’t suppress your emotions. If something upsets or irritates you, let your roommate know that right away so they can stop doing it or you guys can have a discussion about it. Holding in those feelings will only make tension worse.
- Be forgiving. Everyone will slip up eventually and push past a boundary or do something the other doesn’t like on accident.
- In light of COVID-19, set expectations on who to allow in the room. Do you both expect visitors to be tested before coming? Should visitors from outside campus be allowed?
- Discuss late-night activities. Do you both like going out? How late is too late to have a friend or significant other over? How late should the TV be on?
- Do we share clothes? If you are close enough, borrowing each other’s clothes or shoes can be really fun. But, that needs to be established before you take your roommate’s favorite jacket without her approving it.
- Split costs of communal items. Sharing cleaning supplies, plates, cups or even food can make life easier. Switch off paying for those items to avoid a fight about money.
- Split up room chores. No one wants to take out the garbage or vacuum the floor every time. Discuss how to split up chores and do your part of keeping the room clean.
Sharing a small, confined space with anyone is a tough task, but it becomes even tougher with roommate tension or arguments over small things every day. Be sure to set boundaries on day one and remind each other to respect those as the year goes on. Having a roommate should be a fun experience, so be sure to treat that person and their space how you would want to be treated.