10 Things to Talk to Your Roommate About
A happy college experience has everything to do with the people you associate yourselves with during college, and the person(s) you spend a lot of time in college with is your roommate. Your roommate could become your BFF and then continue to be your lifelong friend or be a nightmare on two feet. This article will hopefully shed some light on how to get a good roomie and keep them. We also hope that it will enlighten you on how to keep the bad ones at bay.
If you have shared a home with a sibling you may already know the common causes of potential conflicts that arise between two people with different personalities living under the same roof. But, unfortunately your parents aren’t going to be around to referee the bad behavior. So the best thing to do before (or quickly after) deciding to cohabit with your roommate is to set GROUND RULES, that are acceptable to both of you. Sit together and decide what is acceptable to do in your room.
A few topics to consider are:
- Having guests over, including significant others. Can your relatives/friends stay overnight?
- Chore charts, who does what around the house and how frequently
- Fridge rules, do you share food?
- Alcohol and Smoking : most dorms prohibit these and controlled substances but if you are off campus and do not wish your roommate to bring these items into your home it will be better to talk about it before becoming roommates.
- When is it too late to return home? Depending on the size of your habitation, coming in late after your roomie is asleep might likely cause conflict so decide with them what would be appropriate for your situation.
- Bills: How are they shared? Make sure that you have your part of the money ready in time. Keep in mind this person lives with you, they will know what you are eating (especially if it is at expensive restaurants), they will also know what clothes and purchases you made that month. So if you have money to do all these other things, but no money to cover your part of the bills, problems will occur
- Pets: Establish rules on any pet even if it’s just a hamster or turtle. Your roommate could be allergic, or just plain not like pets.
- Bathroom Rules: Believe it or not a lot of roommates end up hating each other over who gets to shower when. Depending on your class schedules and routines, be considerate not to hog the bathroom when your roommate would need it. It is better to talk about this and have an idea of your schedules, before throwing in the towel.
- Media: TV, Movies, Music. If your likes on these things are significantly different there could be minor resentments. But this is one of the easiest things to resolve. If both your favorite shows air at the same time, you may want to take turns with the TV every other week. If all else fails there is always hulu.
- Faith: Even if your beliefs do not align, treat your roommate with dignity and respect. But before you room together seek to understand their belief system, culture and moral code so you do not offend them in any way. For example, if your roommate is Hindu, chomping down on a cheeseburger (cow is a sacred animal in Hinduism) in front of them may not be the smartest thing to do.
When a Bad Roommate Happens to you: 4 T’s to get you out of the mess.
Sometimes you end up with a bad roommate, even after establishing Ground Rules, and keeping up your end of the deal. When this happens, here are 4T’s to help you with the situation.
- Talk : Talk to your roommate at the first sign of trouble. Chances are if you discuss it just as the problem occurs, you wouldn’t harbor unbearable long term resentment. Talk directly about the cause of concern without beating around the bush. Don’t Complain. Instead share a concern and see if they will volunteer to change their behavior
- Tolerate: If your roommate is generally good but is having a bad week, give them a break. Students, including you, don’t have the time to tidy up after themselves, around exams, break ups, new jobs and a horde of other stressful situations that they are dealing with for the very first time. So try to let the small things slide.
- Try the RA: If your roommate is truly one of the most difficult people to deal with, and you have tried to talking to them with no attitude or behavior modification, go to the RA. Do not do this before talking to your roommate first. Give them plenty of opportunity to change. Also re-evaluate your standards before you talk to the RA, are you really being reasonable or are you demanding something a college student cannot legitimately keep up with.
- Take Off: As much as the room is your sanctuary, and your home away from home. When situations get unbearable with your roommate and you cannot trade them in for a better roommate, take off, leave the room. Go to the library, or a friend’s room. Take a breather and get back when you know your roommate is asleep or out of your room. Minimizing contact and sitting the month out can help your morale. If you break it down you’re stuck with this person for 16 weeks. They probably turn unbearable to you at around 6 weeks. You could probably tolerate them for 10 more weeks, and hopefully next semester, your reward will show up in the form of a new roommate who was worth all the heartache of this semester.
Also don’t forget, the Chi Alpha staff is here to help you. Get in touch with one of us, we are here to serve you and would only be too glad to offer you some advice and guidance on the specific situation you are facing.
Do you have a roommate horror or success story of your own? Let’s hear how you dealt with it in the comments.