How to Avoid Fighting With Your College Roommate

Learning to live with your college roommate can be a trying experience. Here are a few tips to help you keep the peace.

She leaves her dirty clothes on the floor every day and never cleans them up. You hate how cluttered your room is because of it. You wish she would just grow up a little and clean up after herself—after all, she’s in college, for heaven’s sake, and you’re not her mom. You’re incredibly irritated but don’t want to say anything for fear of causing a fight.

Fear not: you don’t have to feel aggravated whenever you’re in your dorm. In fact, there are three simple strategies for preventing feuds and frustrated feelings between you and your roommate.

Establish ground rules from the get-go

Learn from the mistake I made as a freshman: if you don’t set up rules with your roommates at the beginning, you’re at risk for serious clashes throughout the school year. Avoid this by setting up a time with your roommate early on in the semester to sit down and hash out your expectations for the year. You might even fill out a college roommate agreement form or write your "house rules" down on a big poster and hang them up in your dorm room. Examples of these rules could include who cleans up when, quiet hours, when can guests come over, and who will be buying basic dorm necessities (such as tissues and cleaning supplies).

Speak up

This is seemingly obvious, but many people keep mum when they’re upset about something and instead hash it out with their roommates via passive-aggressive methods. If something is bothering you, say something! If you’re kind and respectful (and never sarcastic), you’re creating a tension-free, open environment. “Hey, Kayla, do you think you could pick up your clothes when you have a sec? I would really appreciate it, because the clean room makes feel so much more focused and calm, especially with midterms coming up!”

Learn what bugs your roommate

By knowing what annoys your roommate, you can avoid disputes and hostility. If she hates toothpaste in the sink, make sure you wash out the sink. If wrappers on the floor get on her nerves, clean ’em up pronto. If she simply can’t stand when you leave your coat on the couch, get in the habit of hanging it up. You can’t expect your roommate to abide by your rules if you don’t abide by hers. Make sure you’re being considerate (this works in all aspects of life, too—not just dorm situations) and you’re likely to make a good friend out of your roommate and experience minimal fighting.

Agree to disagree

Learning about different and opposing viewpoints is a big part of what makes college so great. You can learn a lot about yourself and the world that way. It's also okay to disagree with someone—even a friend—as long as you're being respectful and, hopefully, open minded. But, sometimes, you're just not going to see eye-to-eye with your roomie, whether it's a touchy political subject or you have a simple difference of opinion. That's okay too. Just agree to disagree, shake it off, and let it go.

Follow the Golden Rule

Do you want to know the secret to not fighting with your college roommate? Here it is: follow the Golden Rule. AKA, treat others the way you want to be treated. One more time for good measure: Treat. Others. The. Way. You. Want. To. Be. Treated. If you do that, you really can't go wrong (unless you're a room-trashing sociopath hell-bent on breaking your college roommate's spirit...but don't be that guy. Nobody likes that guy).

Next time you feel your blood boiling because of a mistake on your roommate’s part, be sure to remember these tips. Your college experience is shorter than you’d expect, and you don’t want to waste your years on petty roommate drama that can be easily averted.

What have you learned (maybe the hard way) about avoiding college roommate fights? Leave your tips in the comments.

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