You’re going to fight with your roommate. Plain and simple. Not only are you living with a complete stranger – you are confined to a shoebox sized space and will be spending tons of time in those close quarters. Within the first couple weeks, you are bound to witness her annoying mannerisms, the habits she can’t seem to break, and notice which of her lifestyle choices make your stomach turn.
Usually, these small annoyances can be overlooked with time and her traits can be chalked up to her personality type. Most things are forgivable and easily forgotten, but not all problems can be overlooked. Gum smacking may be tolerable, but smacking a big fat one on your boyfriend certainly is not.
What happens when your relationship with your roommate starts complicating your relationships with the opposite sex? Drama. Lots of drama. Considering no collegiette™ wants to rehash Mean Girls every day for four years, Her Campus has mapped out some simple directions to navigate the rough
terrain of love in the college dorm.
Roadblock #1: You come home to your room a two a.m. and see the too familiar srcunchie on your doorknob – you’ve been “sexiled.”
After a marathon study session at the library, you want nothing more than to crash in your comfy bed, but that would involve walking into a nauseatingly awkward situation. Being “sexiled” from your own room after a late night is never an ideal situation. What should you do when your roomie asks for this incredibly inconvenient favor?
Detour: Take a deep breath. Text your roommate and let her know that you would like to sleep in the room and will be back in a half hour. No response? Go crash at a friend’s for the night. The next day, instead of lashing out, explain your feelings to your roommate in a calm manner over breakfast or while you are both getting ready. If that’s too uncomfortable, write her a note letting her know that you would like to discuss the situation later.
Directions: Unfortunately, this is the classic dorm room gripe. “It’s the logical extension of new-found freedom, limited space, and hormones,” says Kathryn
- Talk during the week not weekend: This is a situation that should ideally be talked about beforehand. Setting some rules for how often, if at all, you can bring someone back to the room will avoid issues down the road. Before the weekend, designate which nights of the weekend either of you can bring back guests, so no one has to come home to a srunchie surprise.
- Set rules for time and space: If you are not willing to sacrifice a whole night of your private space, then specify hours of the night that she can have a boy over. If you do not have plans for the night, plan ahead to spend this time studying in the library/common room or with a friend.
- Defend your space: Remind her that these boys have their own rooms too, so if she needs more time than the amount you are willing to compromise, suggest she spend more time at their places.
Roadblock #2: Your roommate’s boyfriend practically lives with you.
When you wake up in the morning, you roll over to see your roomie’s half naked boyfriend, not to mention that half eaten bag of chips by his side, your chips. Where is your roommate? Nowhere in sight.
Whether you met your roomie online, in high school or on the first day of move-in, you were agreeing to live with her, not her significant other as well. So what if you end up seeing more of your roomie’s beau than her?
Detour: Instead of lashing out on the slovenly boyfriend, remember that this is a problem between you and your roommate. Calmly tell the boyfriend that you feel uncomfortable when he is in the room without your roommate and that you would appreciate if it didn’t happen very often. He should be understanding and take the hint and leave. If he doesn’t, no worries, this problem can and should be worked out between the actual residents of the room.
- Set a schedule: Arranging times beforehand with your roommate can solve this problem. If you have a lot of studying or would like to get to bed early one night, inform your roommate of this and ask ahead of time that her boyfriend be out of the room at a reasonable hour.
- Lay out limits: Tell your roommate that you don’t mind if he spends the day or the night there, but not both. If you are in a dorm room with very limited space, this is probably not a good situation and they may need to find another common area to spend their time.
- Place responsibility: If you are in an apartment, you could write the boyfriend’s name on your chore board or ask him to take out the trash every so often. That way he is not totally freeloading on your space, and he may even decide to come over less frequently, considering her has to do chores.
- Defend your space: If the boyfriend starts coming around even when your roommate is gone, you need to calmly and kindly ask your roommate and the boyfriend to remind him that this is your space too, and you did not sign up for a third roommate.
Roadblock #3: Your roommate does not like your boyfriend.
Whenever he is around she pretends that he doesn’t exist and shoots hate stares in your direction.
Both your boyfriend and roommate are extremely important relationships. The guy you care about and the girl you’re living with are bound to cross paths more than once, so how do you deal with it when your roommate is disapproving of your choice in boyfriends?
Detour: Never pick a fight when your boyfriend is over, because that would result in an unfair 2 v 1 advantage. If your roommate feels ganged up on, she will never approve of your boyfriend. Plan to discuss this problem with your roommate and only your roommate.
Talk to your roommate: “Firstly, you need to look at your relationship with your roommate. If you are good friends and agree on a lot of things, you need to talk to her and find out why she does not like him,” says Irene Levine,
PhDand creator of The Friendship Blog, because there may be some things your love-goggles have caused you to overlook.
- Exploit common interests: Find something they have in common and run with it! Order in food they both love or rent a movie they both can’t get enough of and spend some time with both of them, encouraging the friendship.
- Respect common space & time: Make sure you are being respectful of her space too, because she may not actually have a problem with your boy, just the amount of time he spends in your shared space. Try not to hog the TV to cuddle up and watch The Notebook while she watches reruns of Glee on her computer.
- Go to his place: You may need to start spending more time out with your boyfriend or at his place because while your relationship with him is important, you have made a commitment to living with your roommate and you don’t want to jeopardize that relationship either!
Roadblock #4: Your roommate flirts with all the guys you bring over.
You bring home the guy you have been seeing for some popcorn and a movie and everything seems to be going according to plan when all of a sudden your roomie comes in wearing a skimpy night gown, plops on the couch and begins to give your guy a back rub. Your first instinct may be to shove her off the couch and call her a bad name, but what is the right way to handle this situation?
Detour: Bring the guy into a space away from your roommate, whether that means your bedroom or out to the dining hall. Your night may not go as planned, but at least you won’t be clenching your fists and sweating in anger.
- Remember the Specifics: It is very important when this happens to notice specific things she does so that you can bring up exact examples when you confront her.
- Warn the Guy: If she doesn’t take the criticism well or is in denial then warn the guy before you bring him back to your place and ask him to tell her that it makes him feel uncomfortable. She may not listen to you, but getting shut down by the guy himself is a very good way to get your point across.
- Dump the Guy: If the guy is unwilling to do this and makes excuses about “not wanting to get involved,” then he is probably secretly hoping to score a little action from your roommate too and is definitely not the guy for you.
Living with a roommate is often one of the biggest adjustments of college, and also a very important one. Learning to compromise and communicate will get you past most of these love-related problems. Keep in mind that preventing a problem is much easier than solving one, so if you haven’t come across any of these problems with your roommate yet, you might want to consider talking about them now so you don’t wind up studying in the hallway while your roommate gets some hands-on learning of her own in your room.