Tips For Living With A Roommate For The First Time
Tips For Living With A Roommate For The First Time, Whisper R Menil
If you have ever shared a room with a sibling or perhaps a family member during the holidays, having a roommate in college won’t take that much getting used to. If you have never shared a room before, it’ll be a new experience for sure, but given that you have an open mind you shouldn’t have that much trouble. But don’t worry, having a roommate in college is supposed to be fun!
The most important thing about having a roommate is to understand your own living habits. If you’re not sure, the best people to ask are your family. Are you a little bit chaotic or clean and very organized? Are you very outgoing or do you tend to keep to yourself? These kinds of things your family can tell you. But first, how do you feel about someone else in – what some people like to call – your private space, or even sharing your things? Do you have your own friends or are you open to befriending new people? These are all very important questions to ask yourself before you even consider a roommate because some people are better off living in their own space.
After you figure out how you are personally in your home, there are other “outside” factors to consider, such as: a boyfriend or girlfriend, the social activities of you and your friends, which involve how much time you actually spend in the house. These 3 things can either make or break anyone’s living situation because while two people can be friends, it’s possible that they can’t live together and vice versa. If you do have a boyfriend or girlfriend, it’s important that you and your roommate establish boundaries.
First of all, are they okay with you and your significant other spending significant time there? (Sorry for the pun.) Are they okay with your significant other in the room or would they rather you keep your business to the common room? It’s important to understand that having a roommate may or may not put restrictions on a relationship and that you should not take it personally. After all, it’s your roommate’s room too and you need to respect their feelings about privacy. Once that’s established, another important question to ask is if it is okay for your significant other to spend the night. This is a pretty big factor for more serious relationships. My roommate and I did have this issue. As I’ve been in a relationship for two years my boyfriend tends to spend a lot of time with me in the house so my roommate and I established that only on certain nights of the week it was okay for him to spend the night and that we should keep our relationship “business” to the downstairs living room. The next most important thing is that your significant other understands these rules as well.
Secondly, when I say the “social activities” of you and your friends, I do mean partying. If you like to party a lot and your roommate doesn’t, you should make sure that your roommate doesn’t mind you stumbling at 4am or hosting parties when they’re trying to sleep. To avoid arguments and embarrassing scenes and to save yourself some respect, you should know if your roommate has anything going on the next morning like work or an exam before you think about bringing the party home with you. If they do have something going on, you should be considerate and respectful by going out instead of inviting friends over and also waiting to sober up before you go home. If it’s the other way around, you should lay down guidelines with your roommate and let your thoughts be made known if you have concerns.
Finally, there’s “sharing” – for example, the sharing of food or the sharing of chores. Do you mind your roommate borrowing from you or do they mind you borrowing from them? How will you keep the room clean (i.e. vacuuming)? Generally, when you’re in college everybody shares and you’ll be glad of it when the time comes that you need to borrow too. However, in certain situations, people can cross the line. Addressing this topic upfront can bristle a few hairs so it’s better to address it as it comes in order to avoid any pre-judgments. If you notice that your roommate borrows excessively from you (i.e. uses something you’ve barely touched), you should confront them about it. In most situations you can just ask that they buy you a new one when this happens. Also when it comes to shared space, you can negotiate. For example, they can use your bookshelf if you can use one of their drawers. As for cleaning, it’s always best for everyone to be held accountable on paper by marking whose turn it is to vacuum on a sheet of paper each week.
In conclusion, it’s important to address all aspects of your living style before you even decide that having a roommate is the best decision, because for some people it really isn’t. Once you decide what the key aspects are you should address them promptly. The worst thing you can do is keep your frustrations to yourself. By following these guidelines, you can essentially eliminate those “legendary” disagreeable roommate issues. But most important, you need to be considerate and respectful because someone else is in your living space and you must remember that whatever you do, it’s their room too.
In case you’re already in a bad roommate situation, you should follow these 3 steps:
1. Set up a time for you and your roommate to discuss the situation.
2. If you have multiple things you would like to address, write them down and make sure you have specific examples of when your roommate has done something that rubbed you the wrong way.
3. Be able to offer solutions to these problems and be open-minded if your roommate has suggestions of their own.
Sometimes things can get prickly in bad roommate situations, but you MUST REMEMBER to be calm and to be the bigger person by talking things out and to NEVER let things gets too out of hand. If things don’t improve and they begin to affect other aspects of your life, I suggest moving out because you are the one who is really losing.
*Whisper is currently in her junior year at The University of California-San Diego majoring in Accounting. Whisper on Unigo