The key to a successful relationship with your roommate(s) is early communication. Make time to talk about habits, preferences, moods, and values. Whether your roommate is a new acquaintance or good friend, you will be surprised to find out some things you did not know about him/her. If something is bothering you, the sooner you talk about it, the sooner it can be resolved. Below are some questions that can help roommates get to know one another:
- What are your hobbies/interests?
- What is your major and goals for the semester?
- What are your expectations for the year academically and/or personally?
- What are your personal values?
- Describe your ideal study environment. Can you study with noise or distractions in the room?
- What are your attitudes toward alcohol/drug use?
- What are your expectations regarding room cleanliness? How will we divide basic housekeeping?
- How do you deal with gripes or conflict?
Many incoming students have never shared a living space before and are unsure of how to approach a new living arrangement. Consider your roommate’s needs for time alone and establish your own quiet time also. Be realistic: don’t expect your roommate to be your best friend and constant companion. Too much time together can strain even the best friendships.
Roommates should establish ground rules regarding the use of each other’s belongings, room cleaning, entertaining guests, and study environment. Speak up from the start and collaborate to determine a living plan that suits each of you. Knowing where the other(s) stands on these matters prevents future disagreements.
- Be open to compromises.
- Agree to disagree on some matters and respect differences.
- If your roommate is doing something you don’t like, don’t repress your feelings. It’s usually better to air gripes rather than to store up a lot of petty grievances, which lead to a major blow-up.
- Be considerate of your roommate’s privacy. Never assume your roommate is just like you. You are both individuals.
- Always ask permission. Don’t just use the iron or eat the cookies, even if you think it might be O.K.
- Appreciate your roommate. Understanding, respect and courtesy are the foundations for any positive relationship.
- Avoid being judgmental. You are not your roommate’s keeper.
- Be honest, assertive and stand up for yourself.
- Ask your Resident Assistant (RA) or Area Coordinator (AC) for advice. They are trained to help mediate conflicts.
Not every roommate conflict can be resolved without outside advice. If you’ve tried the suggestions above and still need to help, don’t hesitate to reach out to your Resident Assistant. If you find that a solution cannot be reached between you and your roommate, you can discuss your options with your buildings Area Coordinator.