Everyone goes into each academic year thinking that this will be the year that they will not have any arguments with their roommate or roommates. Well, that is not always realistic. Living in close quarters the way that college students do, there is bound to be at least one or two small arguments; whether it be about how to arrange the room, who is eating who’s food, or whether or not a significant other is cleared to be around for a certain amount of time.
Here are some suggestions on how to solve a roommate disagreement.
The first thing that you need to do is take the roommate agreement seriously. Your RA (resident assistant) is not handing out the agreement form for themselves. It is a reference point and an opportunity for you and your roommate to discuss what your expectations for the room, suite, or apartment are. By being honest about what you are comfortable with and what your boundaries are, you can solve some problems before they start.
Be honest about who you are from the beginning. If you do not like to share your food or clothes, do not try to be overly nice and share. Tell your roommate that your stuff, is your stuff. Or if you are a someone who likes to party and your roommate is not, maybe find the boundary on what is expected when it is 2am and you come back and are too noisy.
When it comes to significant others, do not just expect your roommate to accept that your significant other is sleeping over every night. Set a time when you can have them over and if there is alone time needed, set a code word or ask for some time. It may seem awkward at first, but it is better than the argument that will happen if you do not.
If you need help communicating your ideas and boundaries to your roommate, suggest having a mutual conversation at a set time where the RA of your floor is there and can help communicate both sides or ask your RA for some ideas on how to approach the subject. That is why they are there - to help.
Being honest and communicating your vision of how you want to live are two important aspects of living with others. But being honest is not always the easiest task. Some key things to remember when communicating are to not yell or to be demanding. You should have a calm tone and be ready to compromise on certain aspects like taking turns vacuuming, who is going to clean the microwave that week, taking out the trash, etc.
Be able to put yourself in your roommate’s shoes and see where they may be coming from and be patient. Everyone has a different story and comes from different backgrounds. Being placed in such close living quarters with someone who may be completely different can be difficult, but it is definitely doable and often times winds up being a great experience.