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 jump
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 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).
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! “Hey, do you think you could pick up your clothes when you have a second? I would really appreciate it because a clean room makes me feel more focused and calm with midterms coming up!” That's a completely reasonable request. If you’re kind and respectful (and never sarcastic), you’re creating a tension-free, open environment.
Learn what bugs your roommate
By knowing what annoys your roommate, you can avoid disputes and hostility. If they hate toothpaste in the sink, make sure you wash out the sink. If wrappers on the floor get on their nerves, clean them up pronto. If they 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 accommodate theirs. Make sure you’re being considerate (in all aspects of life—not just dorm situations), and you’re likely to make a good friend out of your roommate and fight minimally.
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 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 a simple difference of opinion. Just agree to disagree, shake it off, and let it go. You still have to live together after all.
Follow the Golden Rule
Do you want to know the real secret to not fighting with your college roommate? Follow the Golden Rule you've known since childhood: Treat others the way you want to be treated. If you do that, you really can't go wrong. (Unless you're a Grinch hell-bent on breaking your college roommate's spirit, but don't be that person. Nobody likes that person.)
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 avoided.
The art of clearly expressing your feelings can be tough to master. Check out our article Living the Sweet Dorm Life: 8 Roommate Communication Tips to help you refine your interpersonal skills.