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Tuesday, May 28
The Indiana Daily Student

campus student life

How to live with roommates


Living with roommates is a central part of the college experience for many students, whether it be in a first-year dorm hall, apartment or house. You may be sharing everything from a room to a kitchen and bathroom, and this sharing does not come without its challenges.  

Prioritizing communication, honesty and respect are important to maintaining a healthy or at least tolerable relationship with your co-habitants. Try these tips to keep your living situation harmonious this semester. 

Communicate frequently  

If there is something you would like your roommate to know, whether it be you want to have guests over or you have problem with the way they are doing something, communication is central to mutual understanding and respect. For more difficult or emotional conversations, having these in person can be a lot more productive than over text. Texts can often come across passive aggressive and tone can easily be misread. Keeping bigger conversations in person will make coming to a resolution easier and ensure there are fewer negative emotions arising as a byproduct of miscommunication and misunderstandings. However, having a text group chat is a helpful way to stay in touch with roommates throughout the day and share any urgent updates or ideas. 

Be honest 

If something your roommate is doing is bothering you, it is more respectful to you and them to honestly share the way you feel than to allow your emotions to fester. I have found that when I let such feelings accumulate inside of me, smaller and smaller things begin to bother me  that normally wouldn’t. Making honesty a natural part of the relationship between you and your roommates will set you up for fewer long-lasting or emotionally charged conflicts. 

Be courteous 

Whenever you are doing something that may affect your roommates — using communal spaces, inviting guests over, purchasing items for your space — consider how you would want to be treated and act accordingly. If your roommate leaving dirty dishes in the sink or playing loud music would bother you, try not to do those things or at least ask before doing so to show that you care. Even if a particular action would not bother you, try to find out the kinds of things that are important to your roommate in order to respect their boundaries.  

Planning ahead 

Before the semester begins, consider setting aside some time to meet with your roommates to discuss expectations for living together. Students living in IU residence halls are asked to draft and sign roommate agreements at the start of the year. Although this may seem extreme, taking the time at the beginning of the school year to ensure you’re on the same page as someone you’re living with before conflict arises can pay off in the future.   

Pick your battles and adapt 

While it is important to be honest if something your roommate is doing that is bothering you, you should exercise some degree of tolerance and respect for the differences of others. It is often not worth dwelling on the fact that you dislike the way your roommate hangs their towels or the smell of the food they cook, as we are all raised differently and have our own preferences. Living with other people will always require some compromise, so be wise about the hill you want to die on rather than criticizing everything someone does. You likely wouldn’t appreciate that treatment from them.  

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