How NOT to kill your college roommate
If you’ve ever had to share a small space with one or more people, you’ll understand how easy it can be to go postal on your roommate(s). Don’t get me wrong, not all roommates are bad, but learning to live with a complete stranger can be tricky sometimes. Even if you are an easy-going person, you might experience some turbulence. Sometimes you get paired with someone who doesn’t understand boundaries (my clothes are not for rent!) or simply refuses to keep his/her side of the room clean (have you ever seen spaghetti after it’s been in a bowl for a week?). The good news is that there are some things you can do to ease the transition and diffuse many conflicts that may arise.
1. Try to set some ground rules
In the beginning of the semester, you and your roommate may have been a little more conscience of each other’s space, but as time wears on, those boundaries might start to blur. If you aren’t comfortable sharing your clothes or food, let your roomy know before he/she eats your favorite bag of chips. Also, if you have settled in to studying, but your roommate is still embracing his/her freedom (party time!), discuss ways to ensure you both can enjoy your space without making the other one feel unwelcome. Sometimes a simple schedule will do the trick. Giving your roomy a "heads up" via text or leaving a note on the door can also help eliminate possible embarrassing situations.
2. Don’t sweat the small stuff
Living with another person can get on anyone’s nerves; just ask any married couple. The trick is knowing when to pick your battles and when to let it go. Unless your roommate’s bad habits may cause you physical pain or pose a threat to your health (remember the spaghetti in the bowl?), you may have to resign yourself with learning how to live with them. I’m quite sure there are things you do that drive your roommate batty too, so try not to pick an argument over something petty like leaving the TV on or forgetting to put the cap back on the toothpaste. You have better things to do with your time than to get worked up over small details.
3. Don’t go public
One of the quickest ways to upset a roommate is to air your disagreements or issues on social media. Although you may find it humorous to post a YouTube video of your roommate’s messy room or loud snoring, he/she won’t be amused. It can be tempting to vent your frustrations publicly, but sharing your angst with the world will probably make it worse. Your roommate might see this as an attack or your way of embarrassing him/her. Instead, try sitting down with your roomy and discussing your issues. If you find that he/she is unwilling to compromise, seek advice from your Resident Advisor (RA).
4. Move on or move out
If you find you just cannot work out a compromise with your roommate and the relationship is negatively affecting your school work, it might be time to request a change of venue. Just keep in mind that your next roommate could be worse. Discuss your options with your RA before making any rash decisions. Sometimes staying with the hemorrhoid you know is better than learning how to live with a new one!
It’s important to keep the lines of communication open with your college roommate and not let small disagreements escalate into full-blown wars. Remember, your time together is limited, so try to make the best of it.