Communication is key with new roommates

By Kent Aubry

It seems everyone knows someone who didn’t get along with their roommate. Whether randomly selected or a best friend, two completely different people in one space can be a recipe for disaster. Being a roommate isn’t an easy task for anyone, but having a roommate is an important experience which can help develop problem-solving abilities. Whether it’s because they are self-centered, messy or just because they’re too weird, there is always someone hard to tolerate. Although it may not seem like it at the time, living with a person like this provides a great learning lesson that cannot be taught in a classroom. Cooperation skills, generosity and patience can be learned by living side-by-side with an intolerable person. Even more importantly, it teaches a person how to take the high road when they would much rather commit murder. Learning how to deal with clashing personalities will inevitably help in the future when stuck with the intolerable co-worker, supervisor or parent-in-law. The random roommate process normally takes place the freshman year of incoming students. Colleges now try to match roommates by interests, habits and majors to better match people. Though this is better than a completely random pairing, it still doesn’t ensure that there is enough in common to live together while maintaining sanity. In order to ensure an easy transition to living together, people should avoid certain practices. Don’t be the roommate that takes over the entire place. Just because one roommate got there first doesn’t entitle them to transform the entire place. It also doesn’t entitle them to take the best room with the best window on the best side of the place. Transforming a room without the input of the other roommate makes the space only comfortable for one person. The best way to avoid a clash within the first ten minutes is to wait until all roommates are present before hanging posters, decorations, etc. Sharing a room requires an effort on both sides in order to build a bond between each other. Just because roommates live together doesn’t mean they have to do everything together. The roommate that sticks like a leech following everything the other does can get annoying in a hurry. Sharing friends is fine, but it is important to have a separate friend group in order to keep space between each other. A boundary on borrowing is another essential aspect in regards to getting along with a roommate. Not everyone follows the “what’s yours is mine” philosophy and it is important to set ground rules at the beginning. It is crucial that both roommates feel their belongings are safe and each roommate should discuss what things are off limits. Don’t be a pig. Piles of old clothes, dirty dishes and bacteria-ridden trash can turn a living space into a dump quickly. Set up guidelines on whose turn it is to do which chores and stick to it. Whatever it may be, a dorm room, an apartment or a house, it is important to keep it functionally clean. It doesn’t have to be showroom-ready at all times but it should, at a bare minimum, be tolerable. If living in a small apartment or dorm room, don’t take up all the space. Keep the room comfortable for everyone and respect boundaries. Try not to invite people over the nights a roommate is studying. Don’t wake up and start blasting music while a roommate is sleeping. Be considerate toward your roommate, and expect they be considerate toward you. No one wants to be intolerable as a person. No one wants to live with an intolerable person, either. Maintain good communication between each other and avoid driving each other insane. Set up guidelines and let each other know if something is irritating. Sharing a space with another person isn’t easy to do, but with the correct amount of give and take, it can work.