Top Tips for a Healthy Roommate Relationship

by Breanna Beers

When you first walked into your dorm and met your roommate, you may have had many initial reactions: “I really have to fit all my stuff into that?” “At least he/she smells OK.” “I wonder how hard it would really be to live out of my car?” Whether you knew your roommate before arriving at Cedarville or not, living in the same (very small) space as someone else requires an additional skill set beyond typical friendship. Every roommate relationship is different, but here are some general guidelines that certainly don’t hurt, and could help reduce some small part of your personal chaos this semester. Classes are more than enough to deal with on their own.

1. Be respectful.

Odds are, you and your roommate will have your differences. You’re always up until 2 a.m.; she wants to be asleep by 11. He has a peanut allergy; you’re addicted to Reese’s. Whatever it is, both your lives will be greatly improved if you can agree to respect one another’s stuff, space and schedule. Don’t “borrow” your roommate’s snacks or clothes (at all, if possible; certainly not without asking nicely). Take care of your own messes and share the responsibility for keeping the room clean. Go elsewhere to finish studying if he or she is ready for bed. It’s essential to be adaptable and ready to listen — you have to be willing to make sacrifices if you expect him or her to do the same for you.

2. Be honest.

This doesn’t come naturally to all personalities, but it’s crucial if you want to have a relationship with your roommate that lasts beyond the first few weeks. It’s unavoidable that your roommate will have at least a few ticks and habits that rub you the wrong way, and while accepting and adapting to your differences is key, you must also be wary of building up simmering frustration and irritation. Ask questions rather than make assumptions. Your roommate may not realize what is bothering you; sometimes all it takes is saying something to cause a tiny change that makes a big difference. Equally, if not more essential, is your ability to take it with grace when your roommate turns the tables on you. Accept your roommate’s honesty with humility and appreciation rather than hostility and defensiveness, even when it stings.

3. Be friendly.

Even if you don’t hang out at all outside the room, you and your roommate are still going to have to at least coexist. Being a decent human being will help make your year as painless as possible. It can be as simple as asking how his or her day was and being willing to pause long enough to listen to the answer. If that develops into a genuine friendship, even better — your constant proximity can push your natural enjoyment of one another to an even deeper level of relationship. The more comfortable you are around your roommate, the more your dorm room will begin to feel like home.

4. Be realistic.

That said, it’s also OK if your first roommate doesn’t end up as your maid of honor or best man. While proximity and time can strengthen some relationships, it can weaken others. You don’t have to be best friends to live together well; in fact, some students find it helpful to have a degree of separation between their social lives and their living space. Ideally, you and your roommate will find a way to help each other thrive that works best for each of you. Don’t feel pressured to force a relationship in a way that doesn’t fit your unique situation and personalities.

5. Be kind.

Whether you and your roommate click instantly, can barely stand each other, or — most likely —  lie somewhere in between, you’re still living together for a quarter of your 1,000 days here at Cedarville. So give your roommate a little grace, because by the end of your first finals week, you’ll probably be needing some yourself.

Breanna Beers is a sophomore molecular and cellular biology major and an off-campus news editor for Cedars. She loves exercising curiosity, hiking new trails, and quoting “The Princess Bride” whether it’s relevant or not.

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