Roommate Rivalry: 4 Tips to Keepin’ the Peace

If life were like a rerun of A Different World, soon after meeting, you and your new college roommate would become lifelong BFFs. You’d help each other survive all-nighters, comfort each other with ice cream during hard times, and be the godmother to the other’s firstborn. While this can definitely happen, the opposite is sometimes true, too. If you find yourself sharing your space with someone you don’t quite gel with, use these tips to help resolve your issues — and  avoid any undue stress. You don’t have to be besties to find a way to live peacefully.

Problem #1: Your Roommate Doesn’t Respect Your Space

She might call dibs on the bed by the window before you even arrive. Or, she might have a problem with you hanging your jacket in her side of the closet. The fact is, most dorm rooms are tiny and having a space to decorate, store things, and relax can be the difference between a successful year and a stressful, unhappy semester.

Start off in a good place by discussing what you are and are not comfortable with before moving in. If that’s not possible, aim to have the conversation before going to bed on the first night. Things to discuss are what items, if any, you’re willing to share and what the guidelines are for borrowing.  If you’re okay with your roommate helping herself, or would prefer to be asked beforehand, let her know up front. The same thing goes for your feelings on people sitting/sleeping in your bed or utilizing your electronic devices when you’re not home.

One thing you should never do is to agree to terms you aren’t comfortable with. If you just don’t like the idea of an open wardrobe or resent the fact that her Drake poster is over your bed, tell her straight up instead of holding a secret grudge.

Problem #2: Your Roommate Broadcasts Your Personal Life

It’s hard to keep things private when living in such close quarters, and whether you like it or not, the person sleeping across from you may learn things you rather she didn’t. However, it is never OK for her to divulge your business to anyone else in any way without your permission.

If some sensitive information does leak to the rest of the campus, approach your roommate with the issue. Instead of giving in to the urge to repay the favor, tell her what was said and why you’re upset about it. Make sure to establish that, in the future, you would like her to double-check before giving out any information about you.

Again, never retaliate by gossiping about your roommate. That would just make the situation a lot more awkward, and make you just as guilty.

Problem #3: Your Roommate is Rude/Loud/ Nude/ Etc.

Besides prepping you for the future, college can also be the first place where many people are exposed to different cultures and viewpoints.  You might be paired with someone who isn’t very open-minded, and that can become extremely frustrating. She might say stereotypical or otherwise disrespectful things about people of different ethnicities, religions, and other backgrounds. If this happens, ignore the urge to go off on her, and instead, try to connect with her on a personal level by explaining how and why her comments are hurtful. If she’s receptive to that, then try educating her and helping her expand her thinking. If she’s not willing to understand and continues to make such comments in your presence, call in a mediator.  Ask your RA for help with talking to the roommate or, if need be, for help with finding a new room.

Problem #4: Your Roommate is Someone You Just Don’t Like

You’ve tried talking, hanging out, and swapping playlists. However, the two of you can’t seem to find anything in common. If this happens , accept that you are never going to be BFFS. That’s okay. No one says you and your roommate have to be attached at the hip. However, you do have to be civil and respectful toward each other. Keep an open line of communication even if only for the sake of living in peace.

Have you ever lived with someone you didn’t get along with? How did you handle it? Tell us below!

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