A good roommate may be the single most important thing to have when one is away at school.
― Barbara Dana
Sound familiar? Well, in these brutal financial times when more and more people are moving towards the cities in search of better educational prospects, you are bound to find yourself with an annoying roommate. Roommates can be challenging and it is up to us to cope with them and try to live harmoniously. We may have grown up living with siblings and tons of relatives, but when it comes to sharing our space with a stranger, it a hard bargain, especially when everyone comes from a different background, has different tastes and even more so, different habits. Sometimes these habits might irritate and we may be on the verge of pulling our hair out, but the best solution would be to try and adjust ourselves and then see if the other person is willing to do the same. If they don’t, then maybe its time to look for a new roommate. Here are some tips to start a successful roommate relationship.
There’s nothing worse than a roommate poking and prodding around your things, going through your stuff. Well, right from the beginning set boundaries, you are not to touch any of your roommate’s things without permission and your roommate cannot touch your personal stuff without your permission. This goes for food too as well as personal space. It’s very annoying to come home tired and famished, just to discover your roommate seems to have cleaned out your lunch or dinner. It’s always nice to prepare your own meals. Some roommates share staples but that should be discussed beforehand. If you use something up of your roommate make sure to replace it ASAP. Boundaries also mean no drugs or illegal substances of any kind.
We’ve all heard horror stories about dirty roommates, clothes and magazines littered on the floor, piles of filthy dishes in the sink, toothpaste gelled to the sink, bathtub clogged with hair. It’s just gross. Being a good roommate means cleaning up after yourself, being considerate. No one likes a filthy room so get busy doing your part. Make sure to clean your room, or if you are a messy person or just hate cleaning, cleaning your room at least once a week goes a long way. Wash your dishes; don’t just leave them for someone else. Even in the bathroom, make sure to keep everything clean and proper. Dirty bathrooms are major pet peeves. It’s definitely a good habit to get into and it will make you a better roommate. Maybe once you start keeping clean, your roommate might be inclined to do so too.
8. Establishing ground rules
It’s better to set ground rules right from the beginning. The best thing you can do to get along with your roommate is to sit down with him/her the first day you move in together to discuss the rules. Be nice and make your roommate comfortable. Don’t be defensive and uptight. You want everyone to be as open and frank as possible. You can begin by saying something like, “Just so we make it clear with each other to avoid any conflicts or fights in the future, can we lay down some ground rules for the apartment or dorm or whatever room you are sharing ?”
What sort of rules should you establish? Here’s a list of a few questions you might consider bringing up in your conversation with your roommate:
Who cleans what and when? What are the rules on dishes? Do dirty dishes get put in the dishwasher or can you leave them in the sink? Who unloads the dishes?Is smoking allowed? What are everyone’s drinking habits?How will we share expenses for stuff like cleaning supplies? Garbage bags? Toilet paper? Any shared food expenses like coffee and milk? Etc.etc.
It’s always nice to be flexible if you’re living with a roommate. Sharing your space with someone else always means making a few compromises. For instance if your roommate wishes to sleep peacefully or doesn’t like loud noise, keep it down for a while. If S/he’s trying to rest, give them some peace and quiet. Many of our roommates work night shifts, so it’s best to allow them to sleep peacefully during the day time. If you’re having some friends over, be sure to keep things calm and quiet. No one likes a rampaging roommate going about their business yelling and talking loudly. Keep the television to a normal volume, even if you’re listening to music, keep it to appropriate levels.
6. Know your roommate
It’s always better to know certain details about your roommate in advance. While we may be inclined to choose a roommate on the basis of how friendly they are, but you’re better of judging them on a day to day living compatibility. You can make sure whether the roommate has enough money to cover half of the bills, is he an early riser or a night owl? How much TV do they watch? What kind of noise levels do they prefer? What are your roommate’s religious or political views? Are they allergic to certain food stuffs like milk or peanuts or perfume? Do they smoke or do drugs? Do they drink on a regular basis? What kind of personality does your roommate have? Is this person messy?
It’s very disrespectful to enter your roommate’s room without permission or going through his private belongings. Be respectful of each other’s space. Do not sit on your roommate’s bed without permission. Women are particularly vocal about these things, like using your roommate’s makeup without permission especially the brushes and creams. It’s not only wrong, it’s also unhygienic. Also borrowing clothes without asking is another bad habit. If you do wish to borrow something, ask your roommate if it is okay. Some people just don’t like other people using their stuff. Don’t rummage through their drawers or bags. It’s Disrespectful. Respecting your roommate means respecting their stuff. So make sure you ask permission before using any of your roommate’s things.
4. Guests or Intimate Visitors
This is one of the most common causes of roommate disagreements. Especially if you have a guest who is living with you and that too without paying any rent becomes a major problem after a few days. If you have a guest with you, tell them to respect the rules. If you have someone of special interest with you, you need to remember that the room belongs to two people. Try a post-it note, drawing a shape or some other symbol that will clue in your roommate that they probably do not want to walk into the room. Include a time limit. It shouldn’t take you more than an hour. Check with your roommate if they’re comfortable with your lover or guest spending a night with you. If they’re not, then respect their wish. Tell your guest or boyfriend/girlfriend not to leave their things lying around.
3. Be friendly and open
Being friendly however will not guarantee a best friend or a close friend. But be open and honest with your roommate. If they’re new to the town or city, help them get to know things better. You can help them with their stuff like if they’re experiencing difficulty with a certain thing, help them out. If they’re confused about a college project or even homework, help them out. However be aware that everyone has times or days when they don’t want to talk. Respect that. If your roommate prefers his own space then don’t try to intrude. While you should invite your roommate to a party or a get together but don’t get offended if S/he declines.
2. Deal with it
No matter how much you do, sometimes a roommate will drive you crazy. If cleaning, being friendly and flexible does not work then the best thing is to deal with it. Have an open and honest conversation with your roommate. Be vocal. If there is anything that is annoying or irritating about your roommate like certain habits, tell them about it. Be friendly and calm. Don’t nitpick or start getting mean. This will only make each other angry and the situation will not get solved. If nothing else works, then it’s best to get an outside party involved. Better still, if your roommate is around and doing something that annoys you, leave the room. Go out for a walk or to the local library.
This is the golden rule. RESPECT. Living with a roommate means respecting their stuff, personal and private belongings. It might be hard but when you’re sharing a small space with another person, if you don’t respect them, they will not respect you either. If you damage your roommate’s property, replace it at once. If your roommate doesn’t’ like loud music or TV then respect that. Use headphones and watch TV when your roommate isn’t around. Be prepared to compromise. Not everyone has the same ideas about day to day living and don’t expect your roommate to change. Get to know the person you live with. Say hello and goodbye, ask them how their day was and show interest in their life. Most of all do something nice for your roommate once in a while.