Thursday, August 21, 2014

How To Be A Decent Roommate

Fall semester for Universities are starting very soon, if they haven't already.  For a lot of students, they'll be living with their first roommate or are returning and want a better experience than last year.  I have had four roommates total over the past two years and most of my friends have been roommates themselves.  I have stories and they've told me some of their horror stories about their worst roommates.  I don't claim to be the world's most perfect roommate, but if you're just entering college or getting into a situation where you have a roommate, this list is for you.  I think you'll have a better experience with your roommate.***
This sounds a little dysfunctional to me....
1. Make a Roommate Agreement and Follow it.  It sounds stupid and it'll feel stupid when you're doing it, but it's actually a really helpful tool.  If you're attending college, they'll might give you a contract to go through with your roommate(s).  If there is no pre-made contract for you, make sure to say what's really important to you.  Is it okay if your roommate uses your dishes?  Say so.  Would you be really bothered if they borrowed clothes from your closet?  Say that.  Do you have a particular time of day when you really need it quiet?  Get it out in the open.  This is a space to say what's okay and what's not and to inform the other of your major habits before they find out the hard way.  It's a worthwhile courtesy.

2. Use Your Words, Not Your Fists (Or Other Assorted Weapons).  Things aren't always going to be hunky-dory in your dorm or apartment.  Sometimes you'll say stupid things to each other and you'll get offended.  Sometimes you'll be doing something that's really bothersome.  Instead of getting really mad and possibly resorting to physical violence, talk.  If your roommate really needs to wash their dishes due to lack of space or a mysterious odor, tell them.  If you really offended each other, take a break, but then come back and talk about it.  Write down what you want to say if you have to.  You don't have to be best friends with your roommate, but you do need to make a valiant effort towards living with them.  You might as well make your time together bearable.  On the other hand, maybe you're the perpetrator as opposed to the victim in this situation.  Your job is to hear your roommate.  Hear what they're saying and do your best to fix whatever behavior is causing trouble.  The worst thing you could do is ignore your roommate's concerns.

3. Take care of yourself.  I mean this in two ways.  The first way is literal-- shower, brush your teeth, etc.  Your roommate(s) have to live with you.  If you're not taking care of yourself, they're going to suffer just as much as you.  Plus, you're putting your roommates in the position to act as your parent, which they never signed up to do.  Your roommate's job is not to tell you to take a shower or put some deodorant on.  They're there to sleep and possibly to go to school.  They have better things to do with their day.

The second way is to take stock of yourself.  Is this living situation working well for you?  Is your roommate giving you space to get the things that need to be finished done?  Can you afford to be in this living situation, roommates aside?  If you and your roommate just can't get along no matter how many times you've talked and no matter what either of you has done to fix it, it's time to move on.  If you can't afford your part of the rent or utilities, that's a problem and you need to find a way to work that out too.  If you are having trouble doing your work in your living space, you need to address the problem or find somewhere to go where you can get work done.

4. Don't Let Just One Person Buy Everything.  I didn't have too much of a problem with this, but one of my former roommates had bad roommates that would take advantage of her and expect her to buy things like toilet paper, cleaning supplies, and other things that one would regularly need.  This depends a little bit on what kind of living situation you have.  If you're living in a dorm, you probably don't have to split up those daily things, but things like furniture and common decorations will need to be discussed.  If you're living in a suite or an apartment (on or off campus) you'll need to figure out some furniture and these daily things.  If just one person is buying a majority or all of the things you both need/want, you're going to have some tension and a potentially angry roommate.  Figure out what you absolutely need and split it up as evenly as possible.

5. To A Certain Extent, Be Flexible and Understanding.  Be open to experience and different lifestyles.  If you don't, you're going to cause a rift between you and your roommate, which is super uncomfortable.  If you have a Muslim roommate who needs to pray five times a day, don't demand that they stop or adjust their schedule because it's an inconvenience to you.  If your roommate is Wiccan and is performing rituals that are different and foreign to you, don't treat them like they're crazy or need an exorcism via the nearest Catholic priest-- ask questions and make an effort to understand.  If your roommate likes to exercise at night, ask them about it or try joining in instead of staring and wondering when they're going to stop.  No matter what situation you're in, I have one BIG or overarching piece of advice: Never assume that your roommate is trying to change or affect you in any way.  They're living their life just like you.  Make an effort to understand what is important to your roommate and respect them.  Respect will probably be returned to you.

These are some important things to think about if you're getting into a situation where you'll live with a roommate.  I hope this helps!

Do you have any roommate horror stories?  What did you learn from having a roommate?

Thanks for Reading!


***Disclaimer: this post does not guarantee that you will be best friends with your roommate or even that you will function well together.  These are just some challenges that I or some of my friends have encountered while being roommates ourselves and is not a prediction or a definite fact of what your roommate experience will be like.

No comments:

Post a Comment

I love your comments! Comment away!