How to Handle Roommate Drama Like a Pro
While getting out of your parents' home might seem like a dream come true, you'll still have to deal with new challenges whether you live on-campus or in an off-campus apartment. The good news is there are some steps you can take to handle any issues that come up to make sure roommate drama doesn't get in the way of a happy living environment.
By Jessica Lyons
It doesn't matter if you're living with friends, acquaintances or complete strangers. There can always be problems when living in close quarters with other people. While you're certainly going to have to deal with various issues, it's how you handle them, and even try to prevent them, that will make the biggest difference in whether you have a happy or tension-filled home.
Set ground rules when you first move in.
Many problems can arise when roommates just make assumptions about things like cleaning responsibilities or when it's too late to have company over. When you first move into a dorm or apartment, have all the roommates sit down to get on the same page with everything. Discuss a cleaning schedule, bathroom schedule for getting ready in the morning, when it should be quiet because of people sleeping and any other special considerations. If you can all agree on some things in advance, you might not have to argue about them later on.
Create an open line of communication.
You and your roommates need to acknowledge right from the start that you're going to have disagreements to deal with. But what you also need to realize is that it's important to feel comfortable coming to each other to have adult discussions to resolve these disagreements. Make a pact that if anything comes up you'll sit down and have a conversation about it to see what middle ground can be reached.
Don't keep everything bottled up.
Very few people actually enjoy confrontations, especially when it's in their home. But you can address problems without letting it get that far. If something is bothering you, don't let it fester until you eventually blow up at your roommate. Instead, deal with it head on. Even if your roommate isn't happy about you calling them out on a possibly bad behavior or habit, they'll most likely deal better with a calm conversation about it instead of an angrier one.
Remember that you're not perfect either.
Don't just tell your roommates all the things they're doing wrong while thinking that they couldn't possibly have anything negative to say about you. You're sure to also have some bad habits that can get under their skin. Being open to any criticisms your roommates have will go a long way in getting them to be open to the criticisms you have to give. In fact, when approaching your roommate with a problem, it can be good to ask them if anything is bothering them that they want to also talk about.
Be willing to compromise.
The bad part about living with others is you can't have everything exactly the way you want it. For instance, maybe you would typically prefer to have all dishes washed, dried and put away immediately, whereas your roommates might tend to wash them and put them in a dish rack to dry. Compromise in situations like this where, even if a little irritating, it won't be the end of the world.
Don't sweat the small stuff.
Particularly after a long day of classes and homework, it can be easy to get irritated about the smallest thing, like a roommate using up the toilet paper and not changing the roll. But if it's just a once in a while incident, there's no point in blowing up about it. Do you really want to make a big deal out of something that took you less than a minute to take care of? It is always important to pick your battles.
Get to know your roommates.
Getting to know your roommates can help in a couple of ways. First, if you have a better idea of what their schedules are like, it can help you be more considerate since you'll know the days they have early classes and the nights they go to bed early so you can be quiet. In addition, the better you know each other and the more comfortable you are, the easier it will be to work through any issues that come up.
Be an active listener.
Whenever having discussions with roommates, really listen to what they have to say. Tensions will only get worse if they feel like you're not listening and don't care about what they have to say. Things will be much smoother if everyone genuinely pays attention to what's being said.
Don't keep making the same mistakes.
If, for example, your roommate kindly asks you not to leave your dirty clothes on the bathroom floor, then make a concerted effort not to do it again. If you do keep doing it over and over again, your roommate is sure to become incredibly frustrated. On top of that, it might make him or her less likely to make any changes you want to see happen.
Always be considerate.
Being considerate can make a huge difference in any living situation. Think about the respect and consideration you'd like extended to you and do the same for the others in your home. This could mean giving them a heads up about an overnight guest or turning down the volume on the TV when it gets later at night.
Treat it all as a learning experience.
Living with other people can give you a chance for personal growth. In part this will be through recognizing your imperfections and working to correct them, or at least make them less of an issue for those around you. Additionally, it can help you improve your interactions with other people as you learn how to communicate, problem solve and compromise.
Even if you do have to deal with the occasional roommate problem, there are plenty of benefits to living on campus.