So you’re two very different people in one small dorm room. You need a full eight hours of sleep to function, while they blast music and staying up until 2:00 am with their friends. You’re trying to study for midterms, and they decide they’re starting spring break early, so you’re banished to the library (again). You and your roomie just aren't BFFs. It may have taken a few weeks—or maybe a few hours—to realize it, but you won't have that roommate love story that many of your high school friends post about on social media. Here are some tips that should help you spend the rest of the school year in better spirits and not wishing you were living somewhere else.
1. Even when they frustrate you, be respectful
Do they leave their breakfast dishes dirty for the better part of the day? Do they have long, loud phone conversations in the room while you’re trying to study? Check in with yourself. What is really a big deal? If they leave their plates to clean at the end of the day because it works better for their class schedule, let them do their thing. If your grades are slipping because you can’t focus with the phone calls going on, ask them to take a call outside or plan for nights when you don’t have a big test coming up.
2. Face your problems head-on
If it is a real issue, talk to your roommate face to face. Passive-aggressive behavior is never a strategy that works. As awkward as it seems, respectfully addressing your roommate when there is a problem is better than furiously hoping the problem disappears on its own or huffing and knocking shoulders into each other on your way to and from the bathrooms.
3. If there is conflict, stand your ground
Don't shy away from addressing real issues just because you want to avoid an uncomfortable situation. Remember that you pay for half of the space too, and you have an equal right to a happy, calm room. If your roommate is doing something that is seriously making you uncomfortable or infringing on your day-to-day life, speak up. And if you can’t handle it yourself, the next tip has you covered.
4. Don't hesitate to talk to your RA
RAs are trained in conflict management, and they know how to handle from seemingly mundane situations to absolutely outrageous ones, providing a third-party point of view to ensure a fair and just outcome. “We are trained to be the ‘go-to’ person for everything,” says Kathryn Brunner, a former Temple University RA. “We’re trained in conflict mediation as well, which is what we see the most with roommate conflicts and everyday tiffs people tend to get into...Conflicts between roommates are very common and completely normal, considering you’re sharing a space with a new person you don’t know!”
5. Plan ahead for problems
Many universities and colleges offer roommate agreements you can sign, where both roomies sit together and agree on guidelines for the year like when overnight guests are allowed, whether you can share certain personal belongings, and how late is “too late” for Netflix without headphones. “Take these seriously!” Brunner says. “With open lines of communication, there isn’t much room for conflict to begin.” Even if your school doesn’t collect these documents formally, talk to your roommate about it around move-in time and find sample agreements online. This will save you a serious amount of stress later!
6. When in doubt, get out
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by your roommate, take a breath and just leave your room. Yes, it’s your space too, but sometimes the best way to defuse a situation is to walk away for a while and enjoy your campus life. Spend time with friends, work on an extracurricular project you’re excited about, or do a little exercise. Giving yourself this time out of the room will allow you to put these conflicts in perspective and come back to resolve them with a clear head.
It’s okay if you don’t love your roommate—it's not a requirement. It won’t make or break your college experience. If you just aren’t clicking, that’s fine, but that doesn’t mean there has to be animosity. If their behavior is consistently disruptive, then face your problem head on so you can both move on and just enjoy the wonderful time that is college.
Don't let your roommate problems weigh on you! Try to implement these 12 Great Ways to Have a Stress-Free College Life to boost your mood and experience.