Tess Frame is a freelance journalist, a mom, and a home-and-family blogger based in sunny San Diego, Calif. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in English from BYU-Idaho and has been writing for various websites since 2009.
It can be difficult to learn how to live with a stranger. Their habits are different than you’re used to. They cook smelly food. They play music really loud. Whatever the personality clash may be, there are ways to improve the relationship and make cohabitating easier.
Be clear about your boundaries.
If you aren’t ok with your roommate borrowing your movies, eating your food, or playing loud music, say so. Sit down and talk about what you each need, and try to make arrangements that work for both of you.
Don’t assume that your roommate is being difficult because he/she doesn’t like you. Most of the time, inconsiderate roommates just don’t know that they’re bothering you. Learn to let unimportant things go. Disturbing your study time actually affects you, but watching your movies doesn’t. Realistically decide what matters and what doesn’t, and forgive your roommate for his shortcomings. Chances are, you’ve bugged him, too.
If dishes are piling up in the sink and it’s your roommates turn to do them, or if there’s laundry everywhere or her bike has a flat tire that keeps going unfixed, try to help out. There may be something going on in your roommate’s life that is distracting or affecting her, and she may really benefit from a little service. She’ll notice the effort you make to help, and she’ll likely be more helpful in turn.
A tough breakup, a family death, or struggling grades can put a lot of pressure on your roommate, making things tense in the home. Instead of getting frustrated at his distraction or attitude, offer your friendship. Take him out for drinks and let him talk. Offer advice (if solicited). Being sensitive to his personal issues can strengthen the relationship.
If you’re already close with some of your roommates, it can be hard for anyone new to feel included. Breaking into cliques is difficult, and your roommate may feel alienated and distant, which may cause tension, arguments, or general bad feelings. If you’re going to the movies with your friends, invite your roommate. Even if you just made a pot of coffee in the morning, offer some to your roommate. Get to know her and she may become one of your closest friends.