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Culture > News

How to Deal When You & Your Roommate Don’t Agree on Politics

Nothing is worse than fighting with a friend. Imagine living with a roommate, who also happens your friend, and you two fall on opposing sides of the political spectrum. She’s liberal and you’re a conversative, or she doesn’t believe in the political party system at all and you know exactly who you’re going to vote for.

Situations like these can create tensions in your own living space, or friction with a very good friend. Politics is a personal and subjective topic that many people go out of their way to avoid bringing up during conversation. Additionally, there are so many varying opinions that very rarely match your own, no matter the age, the race, or the demographic.

So, what can you do when you find yourself in a fight with your roommate when your political opinions aren’t identical? Here are four ways to find common ground when you and your roomate just aren’t seeing eye to eye.       

a man and a woman sit on a park bench looking frustrated
Vera Arsic | Pexels

Find a safe space

If you feel uncomfortable voicing your beliefs because of the potential drama it might start with your roommate, then seek out a place on campus where you know you will be able to speak freely. Most schools are filled with students who take enjoyment in having thought-provoking and stimulating conversations surrounding politics. Consider joining clubs that value your political opinion – several campuses have clubs for student Democrats and Republicans respectively. If not, then simply venturing out into your dorm’s lounge to watch the debate on television or even the daily news could be the difference between a bickering roommate and a lifelong friend.

With this solution, not only are you satisfying your political needs but also, you won’t have to deal with the negative after effects from your roommate.

Practice calm and respectful speech

Different opinions are expected in any type of disagreement – that’s literally what makes it a dispute. However, this is not a valid excuse to be rude to someone who doesn’t think like you.

Before having these difficult conversations with your roommate, make sure the discussion is coming from a genuinely calm place and not an agressive one. Do not ignore your feelings of anger before talking with your roommate, if you know that you end goal is to yell in the hopes that they’ll agree with your point, then you’ve failed before you even began speaking. Doing so won’t help validate your point and will only make you look bad.

Consider how it makes you feel to hear someone talking distastefully about your opinions, even when it isn’t directed at you. Yeah, I think Taylor Swift’s music is overrated. No, I don’t think college should be free. This new wave of voters are so naive to the world’s problem. You see? Having respect furthers the conversation along. Be aware that there are millions of varying opinions to have, and it’s inevitable that to disagree with anyone – this includes your mom and dad

Consider their background

It’s extremely important to keep in mind that not everyone was raised in the same way – most of us realized this once we came to college. Some people wake at 2 p.m. while others are up at the crack of dawn. Some people were raised around multiple siblings in a full household and for others, this is the first that they’ve has to share a room.

Your roommate might have grown up in a diverse area, or in one that was really sheltered. So for people who have never practiced independence before, their first year of college is the perfect oppportunity to be autonomous. All of these factors, have an prominent affect on their political. Growing up in the south doesn’t automatically mean align with the right. Check your preconceived notions at the door before starting a conversation, and try to understand why your roommate feels the way they do. Once you identify this, that can be your ticket to educating them on a different perspective rather than fighting!

Avoid hanging any political items in your shared space

This one might seem a little self-explanatory, but nevertheless, make sure in order to avoid decorating your room with political items. I know what you’re thinking: it’s my room and I can decorate it however I want. But remember, it’s just your room, it’s a shared room with someone else. I understand that most people want to make their values clear by hanging flags and pictures endorsing particular president/candidates. But, if the ultimate goal is to get along with your roommate for the duration of the semester, it’s definitely best to refrain from actions like this. Not only does it have great potential to spark a fight, but it could be misleading to those who visit your room.

If we’re being honest, roommate situations can make or break your college experience. So, if their opinions are really that different to the point where you feel the need to say something, say it respectfully or don’t engage at all. Soon enough (hopefully) your roommate will get the clue, and stop talking about it. One thing that both you and your roommate should have in common, is that you’re both voting in the upcoming election – no matter who it’s for.

Julia is currently a junior at the University of New Hampshire and joined the Her Campus team in the spring of 2019.