How to Have a Healthy Relationship with Your Roommate(s)

Having a roommate can be a super positive and memorable experience; you might even end up with a friend you wouldn’t have otherwise had. However, this unfortunately is not always the case for many university students. Although you and your roommate(s) may not be exactly like the F.R.I.E.N.D.S. characters, there’s still hope! Whether you are best friends with your roommate or have yet to speak a full sentence to them, here are a few tips that can help improve your relationship with your roommate(s).

  1. 1. Respect and kindness. 

    How close you get with your roommate is entirely up to you. Some people may prefer to just be “roommates,” while others may hope to become good friends. Regardless of what you want from your relationship with your roommate, it’s important to be kind and have respect for one another. Not being close is no excuse to not say hi when you see them or not thank them for doing something helpful or nice. You don’t have to be best friends, but you do have to be a decent person.

  2. 2. Communicate with them. 

    When you live with someone, it’s easy for small things to build up and annoy you like there’s no tomorrow. Address problems right away instead of letting them fester like that ancient pot that’s been chilling in the sink for the past month. If you’re annoyed that your roommate runs around the house with their shoes on, TELL THEM. They can’t read your mind, and you can’t expect them to change without knowing there was something to change. Similarly, if your roommate tells you they can’t stand seeing hair clumps in the bathroom after a shower, be receptive to what they’re saying. Although you most likely won’t be able to change a person’s fundamental living habits in your time together, the least you can do is voice your concerns and hopefully reach a compromise. If you live with a lot of people, group chats are the way to go to keep everyone in the loop. When in doubt, ask before doing something that might affect or upset someone else. Remember that it’s a shared living space: as much as it’s your home, it is also theirs. Treat others as you want to be treated and be considerate of their needs and spaces too.  

  3. 3. Check in on each other. 

    Having regular, casual check-ins with your roommates can be extremely helpful for understanding where they’re coming from. You can do this by simply asking them how their day is going or how their date went. Showing interest in their life is a great first step at getting to know them better. If you see that they’re having a bad day, maybe ask what’s up and see if you can do anything to help. 

    Bonus: if you’re close with them or have gotten to know them well, you might know what will make them feel better when they’re feeling down. Going the extra mile to help out or show that someone’s there for them can make all the difference and mean a lot.

    This can also be helpful for your own sake. For example, if you spoke to your roommate and they told you they were having a super hectic week in terms of papers and midterms, you might cut them a little more slack  when it comes to leaving dirty dishes around for that week. 

  4. 4. Set boundaries.

    Being roommates does not mean you have to spend all of your time together. This is especially important to remember when you are friends with your roommate. It’s perfectly okay to let your roommate know you’re feeling tired and would rather be alone. Just because someone is home does not necessarily mean they always want to hang out. You wouldn’t barge into your friend’s house and insist that they hang out with you 24/7 if you didn’t live together. Everyone is different when it comes to how much “personal” time they need or prefer. Some people need much more time alone to recharge, while others can spend hours and hours with other people and feel great. Although it’s great to get to know your roommate, it’s important to remember that living with someone doesn’t mean you’re entitled to know everything about their life and always spend time with them, and vice versa. 

  5. 5. Enjoy the little moments together.

    This could be anything from evenings spent watching TV together on the couch, chatting in each other’s rooms until the early hours of the morning, getting ready and pre-ing for parties together, to simply having a nice conversation about how something funny happened that day. Remember to pick your battles–don’t get too caught up on the small things and let them ruin your time with your roommate. This might be the only time you can have these moments with this person or people, so make the most of them while you can. 

Although roommate situations are rarely perfect, there’s usually something positive you can take away from your experience. Even if you don’t end up being a huge fan of your roommate, the experience itself is a great way to work on your people-skills and your abilities at handling interpersonal conflicts. It’s okay if you aren’t best friends with your roommate(s)–the important part is that you can co-exist peacefully during the time you have together. 

P.S. Thank you to one of my roommates, Julie, for helping me edit this (one of the many perks of having a roommate)!

Images obtained from:

https://www.theodysseyonline.com/friends-characters-bar-crawled-southside

https://www.cnbc.com/2018/09/21/5-ways-to-deal-with-a-bad-roommate-.html

https://www.brightontheday.com/how-to-be-a-good-roommate/

https://www.thebalance.com/dont-let-a-roommate-ruin-your-credit-960988

https://www.niche.com/blog/5-surprising-things-about-living-in-a-dorm/