Navigating roommate relationships

Amy McNeel

Having a roommate is an inevitable part of college. Whether you’re an incoming freshman or a fifth-year senior, one thing holds true: Roommates can either enhance your life or aggravate it.

Many students make the mistake of creating advanced expectations for their living situation. They go in believing that they will be perfectly compatible with their roommate and that everything will be marvelous sunshine and daisies. They expect to not only find a roommate, but also a best friend.

While this hope is honorable, it is quite unrealistic. There is much more to having a roommate than having someone to watch movies and go to football games with. Having a roommate means having responsibility and respect for not only you and your space, but for another person and their space as well. In all honesty, living with another human being in a confined space can be really hard, so don’t be crushed when you run into arguments and conflicts and realize that having a roommate isn’t as glorious at it seems.

Each person is different. Some people are compatible, and some people aren’t. When expectations and/or personalities don’t match up, conflicts arise. It is important to understand that conflicts are unavoidable when living with another person. The truth is, living with a roommate has its pros and cons, and depending on the living situation, the pros will either outweigh the cons or vice versa. Either way, it is important to go into the relationship with an open mind. If you’re compatible with your roommate, that’s great. If you’re not, make the best of it.

I went into my freshman dorm room expecting a roommate, while my roommate was expecting a best friend. The thing is, sometimes people don’t match up, and with the expectations of a best friend, one is very likely to be disappointed by the reality of things. When you have a roommate, you are required to live with them, not do everything with them and share the exact same interests.

Now, don’t get me wrong: As I said before, having a roommate can very well enhance your life. Last year, I met two girls who went in blind freshman year, and three years later, they were still rooming together. This blew me away because I had never heard of roommates staying together for all four years. That’s because, contrary to the title of this article, roommates can double as best friends; however, it is extremely uncommon.

College is all about learning and growing as a person and as an intellectual, and living with a roommate is a learning experience in itself. It can be difficult and frustrating, but it can also be fun and rewarding. My advice to you is this: Do not go into your living situation expecting something terrible, but do not go in expecting something perfect, either. If you can be friends with your roommate, that’s great, but if you can’t, at least be acquaintances. Be respectful of your roommate’s time and space and realize that not being best friends is not the end of the world. I promise, it is okay to not be best friends with your roommate. Actually, it’s more than okay. It’ normal.