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Communicating with Your Roommate

In no roommate agreement anywhere does it state that a close and eternal friendship with your roommate is necessary.

Jamie Vincent

November 19, 2014

Communicating with Your Roommate
Living with a roommate is a uniquely collegiate experience which comes with its own set of challenges. You may have shared a room with your sister back home, but your relationship with your college roommate is not likely to be as immediately comfortable as your relationship with your sister. Unfortunately, it’s less acceptable to yell at your roommate to turn off her alarm than it is to yell at your sibling.

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So how do you let your roommate know what you need without offending them? Here are some tips to establishing and sustaining a successful roommate relationship:
1. The Roommate Agreement
During my freshman orientation, my roommate and I were given a roommate agreement to fill out collaboratively. This sheet of questions was meant to spark conversation between my roommate and I about what we needed in order to feel safe and comfortable in our shared room. The questions included our tolerance for noise when studying and sleeping, our thoughts on guests—even whether we preferred conversation or silence in the early morning.

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It is important to establish these “rules” early on and to write them down in clear terms; what you may take for granted as common courtesy may be news for your roomie, and vice versa. A quick Google search can provide you with more detailed lists of topics to broach with your roommate.

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2. Approaching Your Roommate with a Concern
Do not be afraid to voice your concerns if a habit of your roommate’s is making you feel uncomfortable. It’s your room, too, and you have a say in what goes on in that room. At the same time, keep it friendly and non-accusatory; it’s likely your roommate didn't realize their actions were bothering you. The exchange may be awkward, but it’s likely better than letting a roommate’s habit aggravate you throughout the school year. Make sure your roommate knows that they are welcome to approach you with their concerns as well.
3. Respecting Property
Unfortunately, there is no real way to ascertain that your roommate will respect your possessions while you out of the room; but that is only more reason to respect your roommate’s property and hope that they do the same. Of course, relationships differ, but my personal rule is that I touch my roommate’s possessions as little as possible. I would feel terrible if something ended up damaged or lost!
4. Being Friends with Your Roommate—Or Not
Again, roommate relationships differ. Some college students are best friends with their roommates from day one; others maintain relationships that are polite but distant. Either is fine; in no roommate agreement anywhere does it state that a close and eternal friendship with your roommate is necessary. The only necessity is that you both feel comfortable within your room.
5. The Bad Roommate
Everyone has heard the horror story about the wicked roommate; sadly, it could happen to you, too. It’s okay to change roommates if your relationship with your current roommate is not working out. You should never feel unsafe or uncomfortable within your own room. If the issue cannot be fixed through conversation, switching roommates is likely your best option.

What have you found is the best way to approach communication with a roommate?

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