It's official: You’re moving out, and if you're planning to share space with someone, it's time to think of some ways to get along with your roommate! It's time to pack up and head off to school, or maybe its time to for you to spread your wings and leave the nest. Whatever the case may be, you’re looking at sharing a space for the first time with someone other than Mom and Dad and the thought is conjuring up images stills from the movie "Single White Female." We’re sure you’ve heard horror stories about roommates from hell but know that getting a roommate doesn’t have to be a nightmare. Here are 7 ways to get along with your roommate.
1. Introduce Yourself
One of the best ways to get along with your roommate is by taking the initiate to introduce yourself. We live in the information age and there is no reason you can’t capitalize on that when it comes to your roommate. No, I’m not saying run a credit report or a background check on her (that’s more than a little invasive and your university or landlord has already done that!) however touching bases now can help you feel that much more at ease before the big move in. Drop her a Facebook message or make plans to meet up for coffee; these would be great ways to get to know her a bit before you’re forced into an awkward living situation.
2. Talk It out
It’s silly to think that you and your roommate are going to get along 100% of the time from now until the semester (or your lease) ends. So when an issue does come up (she used your $12 razor!) try talking it out. NO it is NOT a good idea to wake her up at 6 a.m. when you discover the slight, or leave her a nasty post it note on her door that can be uploaded to passiveagressivenotes.com; doing something like that will make your roommate feel attacked and can lead to a screaming match or worse, any of which are counter productive to your cause. Wait until you are calm and have collected your thoughts, approaching her in a respectful manner (even if you feel you’ve been disrespected). Voice your concerns, don’t snarl them, and explain why what she did bothered you (you’ve been low on cash and you REALLY can’t afford more!), reminding her that she wouldn’t appreciate it if you had done the same. Keeping lines of communication open and addressing issues as they come up and not weeks or months later after you’ve had time to sit silently stewing over them can help prevent a minor tiff from turning into a knock down drag out. Also, refrain from venting all your issues to your friends or your RA. The first person who should be hearing about any issues you have with your roommate is your roommate.
I know this one may seem simple and a little clichéd, but really, you should treat your roommate the same way you want them to treat you. Don’t help yourself to her things if you haven’t asked. Respect her, her space and her things because after all, it’s HER space too and any guests you bring into your room need to be following this as well. Don’t assume she’ll be okay with you letting your drunken friend pass out in her bed while she’s away for the weekend just because you wouldn’t mind. Remember, when in doubt, don’t. If you absolutely cannot avoid a potential misunderstanding (your sugar dropped dangerously low and her Snickers bar was the only thing you could see before everything started getting dark!) be the first to not only apologize but make amends (yes that means replacing her Snickers). Be sure to thank her for her understanding, and reassure her that you will be more careful in the future to ensure it doesn't happen again. She’s more likely to appreciate the honesty and is less likely to flip her lid.
4. Be Realistic
Even the best and most ideal roommates can have issues come up from time to time, but that doesn’t mean that they have to come between them. Remember that no one gets along all of the time (oh come on, like you and your best friend have NEVER had an argument) and this is NORMAL. You don’t HAVE to be best friends; you JUST have to coexist with one another for a small time. Going into a new roommate relationship with the idea of being the best of friends is setting yourself up for disappointment and disaster. Be open to the possibility but don’t be surprised or offended if it doesn’t happen. Remember, outside of the basics (open communication, respecting each other, etc.) anything else is a bonus, not a requirement.
5. Make Compromises, Not Commandments
Let’s face it, not many of us want to go into a new living situation and be told what we can or can’t do. If you wanted rules to follow you might as well have moved back in with your parents or enlisted in the army! Consider instead some compromises that you can share with your roommate rather than strict regulations. If she’s a night owl and you’re more of an early bird, try meeting in the middle when it comes to lights out or quiet time should be. Establishing a few guidelines that you both offered a little give and take on will give you both more peace of mind and help your have a more cohesive and ideal living arrangement.
6. Safety First
Believe it or not, a lot of issues that come up between roommates tend to deal with security issues, and while this one should be a no brainer, it wouldn’t have made the list if it didn’t need to be said. Honestly, no one wants to wake up to find a strange guy they have never seen before asleep on their couch, or discovering their iPod missing because someone forgot to lock a door while they made a quick run. Take the same preventative measures you would anywhere else (keep your valuables carefully stowed away, lock your doors and windows, be careful of whom you let in your space, etc.) and you could be preventing a major issue with your roommate.
7. Have an Open Mind
Don’t be intimidated by your new living arrangements, rather, think of it as a new and exciting learning opportunity. Maybe your roommate is a foreign exchange student and can make a mean lasagna that’s just as good (if not better than) your mom's. Or maybe shes not so talkative, but knows her "Sex and the City" trivia like the back of her hand. You can learn a lot from her if you take the opportunity and try. Approach your new arrangement with an open mind and a positive attitude and you are more likely to have a happier living situation. No, you don’t have to bust out the banjo and sing kumbaya over your soy candles, but it couldn’t hurt to be open to new experiences as they are a part of life and can help you grow to be a better person. Give it the good old college try and you’ll be happier you did.
Whether you are striking out on your own for the first time or heading back to school, having a roommate doesn’t have to turn into a nightmare. Use these tips and tricks to start off on the right foot with whomever you end up sharing your space with. I’ve shared 7 ways for you to get along with your roommate... what are some other ways you can think of?