Creating positive roommate relationships

Emily Doran

It seems that one of the common concerns shared by incoming college students is the fear of being paired with an incompatible roommate. Everybody wants to be matched with someone who shares similar views regarding study habits, bedtimes and tidiness. One thing that I think students frequently forget to take into account, however, is whether or not they themselves are “ideal” roommates.

Indeed, I would argue that at least half the battle of creating a harmonious living environment, even with someone whose priorities are different than your own, is being a good roommate yourself. With that in mind, here’s what I’ve learned so far about creating a successful and balanced living situation with your roommate.

First, it’s important to be considerate. If you want your roommate to treat you with respect and consideration, you should be willing to do the same for them. For example, I try to implement this by keeping the shared living spaces of my apartment clean and by treating my roommate’s personal space and belongings with respect.

I’ve found that effective communication is also a key component in creating a successful living situation with your roommate. It’s important to work together from the start, clearly establishing any rules or personal preferences that you each might have, such as whether or not you’re okay with entertaining overnights visitors or what time you think the room needs to be quiet for studying.

It’s also helpful to be able to talk directly to each other if either of you has issues that need to be addressed. My roommate and I are clear on what behaviors and habits we think are okay and which ones cross the proverbial line, and if we do encounter a problem, we know that we can talk it out with each other directly.

On that note, I believe it’s also crucial to engage in compromise. Even when you’re matched with a very compatible roommate, there are still bound to be differences in your lifestyles that you’ll have to address and be willing to compromise on. I think the key to making this work is to adopt a relaxed attitude. For example, if my roommate and I are studying for big exams or have multiple classes in a day, and we don’t have time to wash a sink full of dishes, we don’t get upset and point fingers. Instead, we realize that dirty dishes aren’t a big deal, and we’ll get to them soon enough.

The golden rule of doing unto others as you would have them do unto you is always a good law to live by, and roommate relationships are no exception. I’ve found that if you want to create a successful living situation, you have to be willing to do your share to make it work. Great roommate relationships require commitment on both ends. My roommate and I get along very well, and that’s because we both strive to create a harmonious environment where we can live and succeed together. The reward is certainly worth the effort.

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