Getting along with your roommates can be difficult whether you’ve known them all your life or you meet them the day you move in. The trouble is that no matter how well two people get along on a regular basis, everything changes when they have to share the same living space. Here’s a guide on how to get along with any roommate and maintain a working friendship (or at least a basic civility until the semester ends).
Step #1: Realize That You Are Annoying Too
Everyone has different habits, schedules, and ways of doing things. No two lifestyles are the same. Yes, your roommate’s quirks and habits can be obnoxious at times but, you have to realize that they think you can be annoying sometimes too. So, when you’re facing a problem with one of your roommate’s special little idiosyncrasies that drives you up the wall, pause and realize they’re thinking the same thing about you.
Step #2: Set Clear Boundaries From the Beginning
The first day you all move in, sit down in your kitchen or living room and talk about boundaries. Everyone has boundaries that they don’t want people to cross. For some people, they want their bed to be a sacred space only for them, while other people are fine if you plop on their bed, but they hate it if you move their backpack without telling them. Find out what everyone’s boundaries are and make a goal for everyone to respect them.
Step #3: Talk About Dorm Maintenance
From day one of dorm life, discuss dorm maintenance with your roommates. Talk about food sharing or not sharing, cleaning habits and responsibilities, keeping toilet paper stalked, and other maintenance issues. If need be, write down a schedule and put it somewhere it’s easy to find and reference.
Step #4: Be Friendly
Approach your roommates with friendship in mind. Smile, chat, listen and get to know them on a personal level. Everyone will be happier if you can all stay friends. This rule also includes avoiding gossip, being sincere, and working out problems with the goal of maintaining a relationship.
Step #5: Respect Everything and Everyone All the Time
You may not be besties with your roommates. In fact, you may not like any of them at all. However, you should still show them respect. Avoid slinging personal insults, messing with their stuff, or saying unkind things about them to other dormmates. In your interactions, keep things civil, speak in an even tone, and work out your problems as kindly and as efficiently as possible.
Step #6: Face Conflict When It Arises
Conflict avoidance is unhealthy and will cause more tension and challenges in the long run. Always face conflicts when they come up. Deal with all the little things as quickly as possible to keep them from becoming big things. Talk out your problems face-to-face like adults. Never leave passive aggressive notes, or say passive aggressive things. If you have a problem, face the other person and state your issue and invite the other person to talk it out with you. Keep your tone even, and stick to the issue at hand. Let the other person speak without interrupting them, and demand the same courtesy. Then, when the issue is resolved, let it go and move on.
Step #7: Be Proactive
Be the roommate who cleans up a mess when it isn’t even your turn. Be the one who follows the dorm rules, keeps their space tidy, respects other people’s things, and pays attention to other people’s needs. Don’t neglect your own needs but have a proactive attitude toward making sure things run smoothly. If everyone keeps that attitude, there will be far fewer problems down the road.
Step #8: Apologize When Necessary
Apologizing for the problems you cause is a significant step toward resolving and moving beyond issues. Even if you don’t feel responsible for the issue at hand, you can apologize for hurting someone’s feelings or upsetting another person. A simple apology goes a long way toward maintaining cohesion.
Step #9: Don’t Take Yourself Too Seriously
You are not the most important person in the dorms. Everyone is equal. So, before you fly off the handle or make demands, step back and realize that everyone is doing the best they can. You are not beneath taking your turn to clean or washing your dishes. Take a breath and do your part with a good attitude.
Step #10: Get Out
It’s a good idea to spend some time away from your dorm even if you don’t need to be somewhere else. Take a walk, go to the student union to study, or visit friends. Spending a little time out of your dorm and away from your roommates is healthy and helps everyone have some space. Not only will you feel refreshed, but it helps everyone stay out of each other’s hair.
Living in the dorms can be a great experience. Your roommates can turn into lifelong friends if you can follow this simple guide. So, before you dive into college, commit to these steps for a happy, healthy dorm life situaiton.