Finding a roommate you like can be tricky. Here’s the secret: you don’t need to be friends, but you do need to be friendly. Millions of adults show up to work and get the job done. They might not always like their colleagues, but they figure out how to work with them. While your roommate may indeed become your best friend, it’s more likely that you’ll develop a colleague relationship: professional and respectful. College life can be difficult at times, but your room should be a sanctuary. So, before showing up to college, consider what your temple really needs. Here are few good tips for creating a brilliant roommate experience.
1. Do Unto Others
The golden rule in any relationship is to do unto others as you would have done unto you. In college, this means respecting your roommate’s stuff as well as their needs in the room. While this tip is common sense, it can be difficult to remember when you’re out of snacks and your roommate is not. This golden rule boils down to consideration. Be considerate of your roommate in regards to stuff and space. Remember: ask before using anything that isn’t yours!
- Ask before using electronics.
- Ask before borrowing clothes.
- Ask before consuming food that you didn’t buy.
- Ask before answering their cell phone if they’re not around.
- Consider your roommate’s bedtime preferences.
- Consider your roommate’s social preferences.
- Consider your roommate’s cleanliness preferences.
2. Nothing But the Truth
College life can be simple if you tell the truth. Be yourself when meeting your roommate for the first time online or in person. Be honest about what you like and dislike. Such honesty about your habits and preferences early will help establish guidelines that work for you both that first year. Many studies support honesty as the best policy when beginning your roommate experience; creating a positive first interaction can determine the rest of the year!
- Discuss your feelings about overnight guests.
- Discuss your preferences on sharing things in the room.
- Discuss your expectations for studying.
- Discuss your privacy preferences.
- Discuss your personal quirks.
- Discuss specific things that annoy you.
- Discuss any triggers you may have.
3. Define Room Courtesies
After you’ve each outlined expectations, it’s time to agree upon room courtesies. These should be issues that help your relationship run smoothly, just like an office code of conduct. While there are many courtesies to discuss, here are some of the most important.
- The last one out always locks the door—even if the trip is just to the bathroom.
- The last one asleep always locks the door for the evening.
- Studying trumps hanging out in the room with friends.
- What music decibel is too loud.
- When, if ever, guests can spend the night.
4. Set Up a Communication Station
A simple whiteboard is ideal for reminding each other of important dates and can help each other plan. For example, the whiteboard can state when one roommate needs the room quiet to study for an upcoming test, or when another roommate needs to host a study group for an afternoon. A communication station can also alert roommates when one will be leaving for a weekend, as well. This type of communication is visible and allows roommates to plan accordingly.
5. Agree to Address Issues Promptly
When living with another person, you’re bound to get on each other’s nerves. Perhaps it will be the takeout containers left in the room too long or loud music. It might be about friends staying too late or trying to sleep with lights while the roommate studies late at night. Maybe you need to address always tripping over your roommate’s shoes. Many studies show that roommates with similar styles of communication experience less conflict during their college experience. Whatever the issue, address it as it arises instead of letting it snowball into a bigger argument.
- Be proactive and address the issue early.
- Use “I” statements instead putting your roommate on the defensive with “you” statements.
- Discuss the issue in person rather than in an email or by text to avoid misunderstandings.
- Address the specific behavior that needs to change.
- Propose a solution if appropriate.
6. Let It Go
While roommates should address some issues promptly to maintain sanitary and sane living conditions, other problems may need to be ignored. Remember: no one’s perfect. If your roommate always takes off his hoodie and throws it anywhere, just toss it to his side of the room and move on. Address those dirty tissues, though. Living in such close quarters can be hard, so pick the issues you want to be resolved. If it’s something small, just take the good karma points when you can.
7. Appreciate Your Roommate Differences
No one likes a carbon copy of themselves! Odds are if you and your roommate were identical you’d get on each other’s nerves. Appreciate the differences you and your roommate bring to college life. Spend some time together and try new things. Maybe you’ll discover a love of curry and she’ll find one or two country songs she loves. Share different food, music, and hobbies. Invite your roommate to go to a few events with you; even if he or she declines, extending an invitation is important. Be open to exploring new things—you just may find a perfect fit for you.
- Try to see value in different music genres.
- Explore new foods.
- Attend an event you might not otherwise go to.
- Offer your roommate a new experience to them—rock climbing, manicures, yoga.
- Enjoy an event new to both of you such as a paint night or local ghost tour.
Remember: your roommate has dreams and struggles just like you. College life requires efforts like everything else. The first few weeks may be tough as you figure out a system that works for both of you. Have hope! Research confirms that the first two weeks can be difficult, but as time progresses, the ability of roommates to effectively communicate rises, creating polite and even friendly college experience.