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Residence Life

Tips for living with Roommates

Living in the halls is an important and exciting part of college life. Whether you know your roommate or are meeting for the first time, living with another person is difficult at times. Open, honest and constant communication is the key to successful roommate relationships. Often it is difficult to talk about differences when you and your roommate are first trying to get to know each other. If you intend to live together happily, you need to realize and resolve your personal difference early in the fall semester. The first step is to begin talking about the things you value and about your lifestyles, so that you can find out where differences exist.

After sharing some background information, you and your roommate should begin to get to know each other and feel more comfortable about discussing more sensitive subjects. Take some time to talk about the things you like and dislike, and those things about you that he or she needs to know. Be sure to listen to you roommate carefully.

  • The way I feel about dating is…
  • When it comes to smoking, I'd rather…
  • The kinds of grades I would like to get this semester are…
  • The amount of sleep I like to get each night is…
  • The types of foods I like to eat are…
  • The things I do for fun are…
  • Can I sleep with the lights on or do I need total darkness?…
  • Do I study with music playing in the background or do I need complete silence?…
  • What I like to do when I need some exercise is…
  • The things I like to do in my spare time are…
  • The way I feel about religion is…
  • The way I feel about loaning things is…
  • The way I would like to decorate our room is…

An important part of understanding your roommate is learning how he or she feels in certain situations. Roommates who enjoy living with each other typically "read" each other's feeling fairly accurately, and are able to respond to one another accordingly. If you can share your feelings and reactions in some of the following situations, you will be ahead of the game in understanding and empathizing with your roommate during the ups and downs of college life.

  • The way I react when I'm happy is…
  • The way I react when working under pressure is…
  • When I'm depressed I act like…
  • When I'd rather be alone I…
  • The way I react when I meet people for the first time is…
  • Something that will usually cheer me up when I'm down is…
  • I usually let people know I'm angry by…
  • Some things that make me tense or uptight are…
  • I become easily annoyed by…
  • The way I let people know what I'm feeling or what I need is…

Quite often roommates have different ideas of just how clean and neat the place should be. Let your feelings be known early, and take the time to find out the attitudes and preferences of your roommate. Some of the duties you need to discuss are:

  • Vacuuming
  • Making beds (probably a pact to do it individually)
  • Dusting
  • Washing dirty dishes
  • Taking out the trash

Watch out for becoming too dependent on your roommate for friendship. Doing so may result in hurt feelings on your part and resentment on his/hers. As the school year gets underway, remember that it is natural for good friendships to develop between students who are not roommates.

Perhaps the most sensitive issue that can arise conflict is also the one that can be the most uncomfortable to discuss. When a roommate brings home an intimate guest, it may create an awkward situation. Feelings about this situation are difficult to discuss. We encourage you to be honest with your roommate about your feelings and expectations in this area. Anything you or your roommate do that might affect the other should be discussed an agreed upon beforehand. You both have a right to privacy and room use, but you each have a responsibility to the other, as well.

If you talk your way through these areas you and your roommate should be well on the way to a good relationship. Remember that none of us are perfect. If problems develop between you and your roommate that you can't seem to solve, see your resident advisor or house director. These students have training and experience dealing with such situations. They will be glad to work with you and your roommate on a solution.