When you arrive at college, one person who can make or break your experience is your roommate. If you get along great, you’ll always have a friend to chat with before passing out at night. If you don’t get along, you may need to deal with a monster for the rest of the year or go through the awkward process of a room change.
Because roommate dynamics can be complicated, it’s important to lay down some ground rules early in the semester to avoid stress and confusion. Assuming that your roommate plans on living up to your standards is a gamble. Important subjects should be brought up and discussed.
If your roommate bugs you and you don’t say anything, you may only be allowing long-term stress and resentment to build up. It’s best to speak up early rather than let bad habits hurt your relationship. Here are three rules that you should discuss with your roommate early on to avoid the awkwardness that will accompany two unaccommodating lifestyles.
1. Personal Opinions and Beliefs
Some of you arriving at college will hold different beliefs or opinions than those of your roommates. Some things they do may make you uncomfortable. It is important to bring these subjects up earlier so that they understand how you feel about certain issues.
You may be uncomfortable with some of your roommate’s more “recreational” activities. Even though you think it may be “uncool” to say so, make sure they know that you don’t like them partaking when you are around. Though it may be awkward to mention this, if you say nothing it could lead to confusion down the road.
If you hold religious beliefs and feel that your roommate is participating in something they shouldn’t, it is a good idea to tell them how you feel. You will need to respect their actions as their own choices, but being open about your opinions on certain activities is important for having a working relationship.
You and your roommate need to be on the same page when it comes to keeping your dorm room clean. Sure, the overflowing trashcan is on his side of the room, but it stinks on your side as well!
Some roommates are much too relaxed when it comes to cleanliness. This becomes even more of an issue in later years when your dorm room contains a kitchen and bathroom. Agreeing on baseline levels of cleanliness is important to both of you enjoying your room. If the banana peels are getting to you, don’t assume your roommate will catch on and clean up his mess on his own.
3. Habits from Home
Your roommate may do some things that make the hair stand up on the back of your neck. Habits like spitting can induce stress faster than anything when it comes to living with another person. If your roommate has a habit that bothers you, let them know immediately.
Keeping your disgust hidden won’t help. It will just keep them in the dark about the effects their habit is having on your cortisol levels.
Anther habit that can be very annoying is the habit of playing music while studying. Some people don’t mind the noise but music can ruin focus for some people. If you need silence when studying, don’t let your roommate force you into the library to get some work done. Maybe make a 50% on 50% off rule, but don’t feel like you are being rude by asking them to turn it off.