ASK ANDI: My Roommate Is So Quiet And I Don't Know How To Get To Know Her

Dear Andi,

I wrongfully decided to sign up for a random roommate. I know a lot of people who go here so I wanted to spend my first year gaining new experiences and meeting new people. But my roommate and I are already not getting along. She is so quiet and unfriendly. She doesn’t ever talk to me and when I try to strike up a conversation she just gives monotonous one word answers. When my friends visit she just sits there. I know I don’t have to be best friends with the girl I live with—but it stinks to already be on the wrong foot with her. How can I deal with this?

Tension in Tubman

Dear Tension in Tubman,

One of the first of the hardest things you encounter in college is adjusting to a new living situation. Whether it’s being on your own for the first time ever, or having to deal with sharing a bedroom and bathroom—easing into college room and board isn’t always, well, easy.

You have a great outlook—to have new experiences—but it isn’t working out so far. The up side to this is it is only the first week of your first semester. You can’t force a friendship but there are ways to ease the tension. It seems like you have tied to be outgoing and forward with your roomie but she isn’t responsive. So ask yourself why that may be.

That whole adjusting thing I mentioned earlier is different for everyone and it presents its difficulties in different ways. Maybe she is uncomfortable in a new situation, maybe this is her first time away from home, maybe she’s nervous, or maybe she feels alienated and does not know many people here. There’s no saying as to what it is that is holding her back but that doesn’t mean it is a lost cause.

But how can you bridge this widening gap with someone whom you know nothing about?

It can be easier than it seems. Try to pay attention to her interests—maybe she has a poster of a movie or a band, or a photo of her doing something, or maybe she’s from a certain area. Ask away- despite the one-word answers she’s been dishing out, because maybe all that you need to lubricate a conversation is to bring it into her comfort zone. People feel more comfortable talking about what they find familiar; especially in an unfamiliar situation with unfamiliar people in an unfamiliar place.

If that seems to fail, you can try engaging her more. When your friends visit, have them speak to her too and maybe she’ll join in. Ask her to grab lunch with you all, or go on a roomie date to Jamba Juice. Campus is full of activities for new freshman that are perfect to bring a roommate along with you. These next few weeks will also be full of events and activities that you RA will host to help facilitate this awkward phase.

If you prefer a direct approach, tackle the issue head on and let her know you would love to get to know her better. If she seems uneasy tell her how it’s difficult to be in an unfamiliar place and it would make it easier for both of you to gain a familiar friend in each other.

The important thing to remember is that there will be common ground between you two. Maybe you’ll be best friends, or maybe you’ll just be great roommates. It is too early to tell but if you allow the tension to take precedent then you may never get the chance to find common ground and could miss out on a friendship.

Xoxo Andi