We’ve all heard the college roommate horror stories of extreme party animals and those who live in their own filth. Let’s face it: roommates may not exactly be destined to become life-long friends, but a peaceful, yearlong coexistence can be doable by creating a roommate agreement.
Whether you’re with a best friend or an assigned roomie, both should lay out a mutual set of agreements to avoid a year of conflict and bitter resentment toward one another’s habits. After all, you never truly know someone until you live with them.
1. Get personable
An attempt to befriend the other seems fairly obvious, but a lack of communication immediately eliminates the potential for a new pal. Writing off your roommate based on first impressions instantly turns your relationship down an awkward and sometimes disastrous path.
“If the roommates can agree on having semi-regular conversations (not even about their relationship or their room, but just in general) that are face-to-face and in which the roommates legitimately listen to each other, their year will go much smoother,” said Miami of Ohio University RA Kathleen Innis.
Before it’s too late, both should invest the time to discover each other’s personalities and interests. You may have more in common than you think.
2. What’s mine isn’t necessarily yours
Most of us mastered the art of sharing as youngsters, but college life presents a line that cannot always be crossed. Personal space, toiletries, and valuables represent the most commonly used and abused possessions by guilty roommates.
“The most common issue that I see with roommates is that one roommate views the room as a social and relaxation space, while the other views it as a study room. You should try and find out what your roommate plans to do most in the room, and make sure you understand the other's perspective,” said Kristyn Blodgett, an RA at Miami of Ohio University.
Rather than endure this person’s communal attitude, refer to the first pact and communicate. Simply state, “I don’t feel comfortable with you drinking in our room,” or “Can you please purchase your own toothpaste?”
3. Lights out means lights out
Intense classes and packed social calendars result in unpredictable sleeping patterns for all. A “dimming” schedule makes the transition easier by agreeing on a weekday lights-out policy.
Start by turning off all ceiling lights and sticking with floor and desk lamps until you establish comfortable sleeping conditions. Above all, use your judgment and move to a lounge or library if you plan to work into the early morning hours.
4. Friend time vs. alone time
With dorm life comes constant social interaction, making alone time even more desirable. Make sure to take advantage of the empty room while your roommate is out and vice versa. You’ll be spending every waking hour in the presence of this person in such a confined space that time apart can only improve your relationship. Remember, this is your room too.
5. When in doubt, talk it out
Avoid bottling up any concerns or averting issues with your roomie by giving them the cold shoulder. Clear the air by addressing any problems before the iron curtain is drawn.
Chances are they’ll be equally as relieved that you spoke up and it shows that you care enough about their feelings to remedy the situation.
“Present a few compromises that you have prepared so that you can possibly come to a resolution. If you are afraid to confront conflict with your roommate alone, ask your RA to come mediate,” Blodgett added. “That is what we are here for, and we can be a great resource so that you are not alone.”
Photo: Tulane Public Relations at flickr.com