How to Live with Roommates
Five years ago, I worked as a resident advisor at my university. It’s a job I recommend to all students, especially when learning how to handle problems among your peers.
One of my biggest tasks was solving roommate issues. Two weeks after move-in day, the fights would begin: the passive-aggressive comments, the sharing problems, the “I want her to know how much she annoys me, but I don’t want to be the bad guy and tell her” deal.
In all relationships, communication is key. I made my entire floor fill out a list for their room. The list included what was off-limits to use, what they agreed to share, and how to manage their time. Whether your roommate is from college, your sorority, a family member, or a significant other, these are some quick tips to stop the fights before they start:
Ask Before You Take Things
We all get comfortable quickly. Sometimes you're in a pinch and don't have time to check with your roommate before borrowing a dress for a party. Regardless, you should ask before you grab and go.
Be Mindful of Time
You love your boyfriend, but your roommate doesn’t. He doesn’t need to be over every hour of the day. Don’t bring visitors late at night when everyone has an early morning the next day. And while you share the room, make sure to give your roommate some time of their own. Just like you crave personal space, they need theirs too.
Don’t Room With Friends
Perhaps you and your best friend have never had an argument. If you room with them, that will change. Every friend group seems to think they’re the exception to this rule. I saw more silent treatments than ever as a result of "best friends for life" becoming sworn enemies after rooming together. Every relationship needs a healthy dose of separation. Keep your friends out of your roommate choices.
Just Talk to Them
Yes, it’s really that simple. If you’re mad at someone for taking your pink scarf or for eating your leftovers, open your mouth and say something. Passive-aggressiveness is not going to magically communicate for you. Say what you mean and mean what you say, but avoid being mean about it.
Your schedule and your time are the most important to you. If you need lots of sleep the night before a meeting or an 8 AM lab, vocalize that. You share the space with your roommate, so be firm about your needs. Remember to be the same way when your roommate approaches you about their needs.
Leave Others Out
The fight you had with your sorority sister won’t be improved by telling a mutual friend about how angry you are. Venting is helpful, but forcing friends to pick sides is awkward and unfair. If you need to talk to someone, try an unbiased friend, parent, or RA.
Treat others how you want to be treated. Kindness, respect, and communication all start with you.