Living with a Roommate: 10 Tips for a Good Roommate Relationship

It's a source of anxiety for most new college students: what if my roommate and I don't get along? It's a challenging situation, to be sure, to meet someone for the first time and then live in close quarters with that person for a whole school year. However, having a roommate can be a very rewarding and pleasant experience. In fact, many college roommates choose to share rooms for years, and even become life-long friends!

Here are a few tips to make your roommate relationship as enjoyable and supportive as possible:

1) Clear Communication from the Get-Go: Probably the most important tip for any relationship of any kind! As roommates, you'll be sharing a small space for a long time, and you'll need to respect each other's needs and preferences. What do you know about yourself already? Maybe you expect things to be cleaner than your roommate does. Maybe you like to play music while you study, but your roommate can't concentrate with it on. Maybe you need some quiet time each morning before starting your day. Don't assume that your roommate will just figure all this out; communicate these needs, preferences, and expectations as soon as possible! This will save you both a lot of conflict.

2) Nip It in the Bud: Solve problems while they're still small; don't wait until the problems are enormous! Is your roommate doing something that's bothering you? Borrowing your things without asking? Leaving the room a mess too often? Address these issues as soon as you notice them. It will be easier to address them in a calm and friendly manner this way. After all, your roommate may not even be aware that there's a problem. It's much easier to solve a problem when it's small than when it's become a big, entrenched habit.

3) Don't Wait - Solve Big Problems Immediately: Maybe you tried to follow step #2 and solve the problem when it was small, or maybe a huge problem just seemed to explode out of nowhere. Whatever the case, don't procrastinate, don't wait to see if it'll just go away. Address the situation immediately.

4) Your Roommate's Stuff is Your Roommate's Stuff: It seems obvious, but this is probably the most common problem that arises between roommates. Don't just assume he won't mind if you finish off his leftovers; he probably will. Always ask for permission before borrowing or using anything that belongs to your roommate!

5) Be Cautious About Inviting People Over: You might be an extroverted socialite who thrives in a group, but that might not be true of your roommate. Your roommate may need some quiet time to study, and bringing a group of friends or classmates into your room may be very irritating. Perhaps you can alternate who gets the room and who goes to the library. Talk to your roommate about this, and make sure you don't overstep any boundaries when inviting others over.

6) Lock Up: Imagine your roommate steps out for a moment to grab a snack, and forgets to lock the door. You come home to find your laptop and stereo have vanished mysteriously. How do you think you'll feel about your roommate after that? Locking the doors and windows is important for keeping you and your property safe. Remember: it's not just your own stuff that you're protecting, it's your roommate's as well.

7) You Might Not Be BEST Friends, and That's Okay: Be pleasant and friendly with your roommate, but respect each other's space. Trying to force a best-friend relationship will only cause strain and discomfort for both of you. Be friendly, but make sure you each have your own life and your own social circles.

8) Keep an Open Mind: Your roommate may have a background VERY different from yours. He or she may be from another culture, and may have an entirely different lifestyle, ideology, and perspective than yours. Be open to this new perspective, and respect the differences between you. If you do, you'll find the diversity this experience brings into your life to be very rewarding.

9) The One Constant is Change: College is a time for learning and growth, and both you and your roommate will likely change a lot during your time together. Be aware of the changes as they come, and don't cling to the past. New challenges will arise, and you may need to address new issues or come to new agreements. You may start out close and slowly grow apart, or the opposite may be true. Be open to this change, and go with the flow!

10) Treat Your Roommate How You Want to Be Treated: Having a roommate can certainly be challenging, and you may sometimes be unsure how to solve a problem between you. When in doubt, follow the Golden Rule, and treat your roommate how you would hope to be treated. That way, no matter what happens, you'll know that you treated your roommate respectfully, and you'll have no regrets.

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