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4 Mistakes All Roommates Make & How To Fix Them

Maybe you’ve never lived with a roommate. Maybe you’re moving in with someone new. No matter what your situation is, there are bound to be moments of tension in every roomie relationship. You’ll probably make a lot of mistakes. But don’t worry, we got the fix.

Mistake #1: You don’t communicate face-to-face.

Moving in with another person (or people) can be intimidating. No one wants to upset anyone, and confrontation, especially with someone you have to live with, can be frightening. You might have a pet peeve and never tell your roommate about it; instead, you let it build up inside until it explodes and the relationship turns sour.

The Fix

Start your roommate relationship by using a roommate agreement. It doesn’t have to be anything formal, but establishing the ground rules right away is a must! Who does dishes? Can you have people spend the night? Who pays for what? Conversation can open up difficult topics and make talking about things more comfortable. Texting is a good way to communicate generally, but not all the time. Tone can get lost in a text; important matters should be handled in person. Make your space a safe place to talk, complain, celebrate and speak your mind.

Mistake #2: You don’t share.

Let’s face it: you’re in college and probably have to share a smallish space with more people than desired. While it’s understandable to want to have your privacy, being overly private can be an issue. Being too possessive of your stuff and too closed off for conversation can make your roomie feel unwanted and disrespected.

The Fix

You have shared space, so share it! Try not to spend all your time in one part of your room, apartment or house. Invite your roommates into your space and talk about your days; share space and stories. Set boundaries for what can be shared and what shouldn’t be. Setting clear, appropriate boundaries is a key step to a positive relationship with roommates. 

Mistake #3: You don’t spend time together outside of your space.

You live with the person, why do you need to spend more time with them outside the house? Truth is, college rooms and apartments don’t always offer a place for people to be completely themselves. Spending time scrolling through Instagram on your phones together in the living room day and night can become extremely boring and can lead to tension.

The Fix

Make time to debrief about your day together outside of your dorm, apartment or house. Go on a walk, grab some food or see a movie together. Doing activities together is a surefire way to beat boredom and reinforce a positive home environment.

Mistake #4: You don’t respect each other’s stuff.

As roommates, you will spend a lot of time together and share a lot of stuff. When people overstep their boundaries when it comes to another person’s personal possessions or privacy, things can become tense and even awkward.

The Fix

Take a step back and try to see things from your roommate’s point of view. Are you infringing on their time, space or finances? Are you using something of theirs that they would rather keep to themselves? Talk about what is important to you and what is off limits for others; be courteous and treat others’ things like you would like yours to be treated.

Overall, honest communication and respect are keys in every situation. You and your roommate(s) don’t have to be besties, but cultivating a positive living environment will make your school year much easier.


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McKenzie Story is from Algonquin, Illinois and is studying Journalism and Marketing at the University of Iowa. She is a captain of the UIowa Dance Club and keeps busy by teaching strength training along with dance classes. McKenzie enjoys being surrounded by family and friends and is always up for new adventures. She is excited to be a part of Her Campus and is thankful that her university has such an amazing chapter.
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