The sudden transformation from teen to (almost) independent young adult makes moving away to college an exciting and dynamic time. While many teens may have friends they can live with at their new schools, others may be moving to a college where they won’t know anyone. Though most people will be assigned relatively pleasant roommates, there is always a risk that you could be paired with The Roommate from Hell. I know. I was paired with one.
Between the time that she tried to dine and ditch (leaving yours truly with the bill), the time she came at me with knives and the mess she left in the kitchen when they moved out I wasn’t ever sure I was going to make it out of there alive. Living through this experience has left me with a few tips and tricks for dealing with difficult roommates.
Separate the Space
A dorm room is not a big area and you’re going to be on top of each other when you’re in the room together. Physically dividing the space by using curtains or foldable room dividers won’t offer you total privacy but it will at least give you a chance to feel like you have space that is your own. Being able to hide out beyond the gaze of a roommate you don’t like can go a long way towards easing the stress of living in a confined space.
If you have a problem, make sure you tell your roommate about it in simple, non-emotional language. Using “I” statements, such as, “I feel ______ when you leave your things all over the floor,” helps keep the conversation from becoming an attack. The earlier you talk about things, the better chance that your roommate will be able to change their behaviors. If you let something become a habit, it may be harder for your roommate make an adjustment on your behalf. Of course, communication does not guarantee that things will get better but if you don’t ask you can just about guarantee that things will stay just the way they are.
Be Prepared to Compromise
If you want your roommate to change some of their behaviors, be prepared to listen to reasonable requests to change yours as well. When listening to your roommate, don’t get defensive. Agree to help if the request is something you can do.
Set Reasonable Rules as a Team
This one may require a lot of compromise for both of you. Your roommate may want to keep all her papers neat and tidy while a little disorder doesn’t bother you at all. You may want to go to bed at 9:30 while your roommate would like to stay up until midnight listening to music and chatting on the phone. There are many creative solutions that can help the both of you feel that your needs are being met, so it may take some planning and maybe even some help from neutral third parties to find solutions that work for both of you.
Find a New Roommate
Of course, if you feel like you are in a dangerous situation, it is always possible to request a change of roommates. Unless there is a serious problem, however, you’re likely to come up against issues with your new roommate as well, so it may be in your best interest to try to work things out with the roommate you’ve already got. You can always choose to live with someone you get along with better in the next school year.
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