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The Fault in My Roommate: How to Have a Healthy Roommate Relationship

Welcome to college, where you will live with a complete stranger for the first time, and will have to  very quickly learn how to survive with them. Sometimes you get lucky and your roommate will be someone that works with you, and you both are able to live together without problems, discuss problems when they do arise, and provide a place to live where you feel welcome and happy. Sometimes, you and your roommate simply coexist in the same living quarters, seeing each other only in passing as someone wakes up and goes to class. Other times, you and your roommate have disagreements and they are not easily solved. Here are some tips on how to have a healthy roommate relationship, and how to solve problems when they arise.

Take your roommate agreement seriously

It’s especially important the first semester with your new roommate to do the roommate agreement together and talk about the answers each of you put for each answer. Little things, like allergies, sleep schedules, having phone calls in the room, cleaning, and general things about how you’d like to live in the room together are super important to go over. Don’t try and make it seem like homework, try to discuss the answers as if you’re just having a conversation with each other, it’ll make it easier to communicate.

Be open about what you’re thinking

If you have a concern about your roommate, a problem with something, or anything that bothers you, it’s better you tell them. Even if they’ve just left rotten food in the fridge for too long, every problem can be solved so much faster if you talk to each other about it. If you don’t know how to do it in person, send them a text when you’re not in the room together and let them know, or if it’s something serious and you don’t know how to tell them, get your RA to help you out.

Ask before you take/borrow anything!

Now just because I said you can address problems you have with your roommate, doesn’t mean your roommate won’t have problems with you. Don’t just assume that you two are sharing appliances, like a fridge, microwave, or TV, make sure to ask before you start using them. Same goes with small things, like tissues, a phone charger, table space, video games, a pen, whatever. Just ask them first. If you’re convinced that they wouldn’t have a problem with it, then ask them once, and you’re good to go.  

Don’t take over the room

Not everyone is really neat, and in college you sure don’t have to be. Even if your clothes are sitting in your laundry hamper, your desk is covered in stuff, and your bed is a mess, keep it all on your side of the room. Especially whoever lives closer to the door, because your roommate needs room to get in and out of the dorm. And again, if you want to use their furniture to put things on or spread your furniture out a bit, ask them first.


Some problems can’t be resolved, and you can’t let your differences with your roommate dictate your relationship with them. Sometimes you just gotta agree to disagree. So if your roommate makes decisions you would never, you two have totally opposite lives, and you just don’t seem to connect, you still have to treat them respectfully. Don’t bully them, don’t ruin any of their stuff. Worse comes to worse and you won’t be friends, but you can still have a healthy, safe room to live in together.

If you have any problems with your roommate that you can’t seem to solve, like them breaking the roommate agreement, them kicking you out, or them being disrespectful, tell your RA. Complaining to your friends isn’t going to solve anything. Your RA is trained to know how to solve conflict, so let them. It’s gonna be a long year, and you’re gonna live with this person the whole time, so make the best of it.

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Darby Keller


Class of 2020: Social Work Major; Women and Gender Studies and International Relations Minors Vice President and Digital Organizing Captain for It's On Us Elizabethtown
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