Living on Campus for the first time can be a great experience; however many students underestimate the challenges that may face them when having to live with a roommate. Even if you are the best of friends, living together is the start of a brand new relationship that can test the breaking point of roommate relations. For most first time college students, living with a roommate is a new experience and sooner or later you’ll probably have to deal with a conflict. For students who have never had to live with a roommate, dealing with conflict can be difficult. Every student who has had the opportunity to live with a roommate has had some type of disagreement or conflict, but what should you do if those differences start driving you up a wall 24-7?
If your roommate’s behavior is persistently obnoxious but not illegal, you may have to rely on your best communication skills. If you’re a communications major, this should give you great practice. The best medicine is to talk to your roommate in question before the situation gets out of hand. Try to solve the situation between the two of you. Do not involve outside parties at this time. If you live in a cluster or group, talk to the other cluster mates and find out if they feel the same way or are having similar problems with your roommate. The faster you attempt to work out the problem, the less chance you will have to rely on outside measures. Remember, the point is to try and resolve the conflict, not to humiliate your roommate or make him feel that he is a jerk.
If there is a violation of housing code, lease agreement, or other illegal activities, consult your Resident Assistant and/or Resident Director. If the problem persists, you may want to contact your department of resident housing. If you do not have such resources you may want to call your Landlord. If Illegal activity is persistently going on and you feel that you have no where to turn or that you feel that illegal activities going on in the house may get you into trouble, call the Police. But try to use this as a last resort.
Loud music until 3am on a weeknight, dirty cloths lying on the floor, friends in and out all hours of the night, food not placed in the trash, these are some problems that you may encounter with your roommate. Whatever the conflict, good communication is the key. Here are some pointers:
Passive Aggression is OUT!: Do not let this hostility build up inside without addressing the issue. This only leads to hostility and resentment toward your roommate.
Accentuate the Positive: Make a list of the positive attributes that your roommate brings to this relationship. Think about what your liked about him/her when you first met. When you talk, bring out some of these traits to your roommate.
Be Prepared: Write an imaginary script of how you picture your conversation going. If you think your roommate may get defensive or nasty, think about what your responses may be in return.
Location: Pick a comfortable location and a time when you’re both likely to be relaxed. If he/she is unavailable, have them suggest a time and place.
Be Tactful: be tactful and even tempered, but also be clear and to the point. Do not jump around the issue. Avoid being vague. Be clear and concise about your problem and be concrete on what you would like to see changed. It is very important to let your roommate know how you feel, rather than telling him/her what they are doing wrong. This is not a blame game session.
Remember that you are looking for a solution. Try to feel and sound hopeful about the situation. Talk to your roommate as you would want to be treated. Also think about how you may be contributing to the situation. You are about to ask your roommate to make some changes, chances are he/she may not be thrilled about it. Be willing to meet your roommate halfway on a solution with some of your own compromises. This will go a long way.
Lastly, before you take any action, think about what’s at stake and how far you are willing to go to fix the problem. If you have tried everything in your power and your roommate continues to annoy you, but is not doing anything illegal, you may have to think about tolerating your differences until the end of the semester, or until you reach the end of your lease. You may not end up as close friends, but sometimes you may have to just “get along” the best that you can until the opportunity comes up that you or your roommate can leave.