October 18th, 2007 Jamie
Dorm rooms (and even apartments) can be pretty close quarters, and even roommates who start off close can wear on each other’s nerves. Sooner or later, one of you is going to get grumpy, irritated, or downright angry—and how you handle that could make or break your friendship.
I lived with my roommate, Karly* (*I changed her name here, obviously), all the way through our junior year of college. We got along pretty well for the most part, but from time to time we bugged each other. I wish I could say that everything worked out perfectly, but I didn’t exactly have the perfect roommate problem experience. Hopefully you can learn from what happened to me:
- Don’t Trash Talk Your Roommate
Karly didn’t really know how to cope when she was annoyed with me. Sometimes she would leave away messages on AIM about how I was bugging her. Other times she would have a gripe-fest about me on her blog, (which she linked to from her instant messaging profile so all our mutual friends could read it!). That was both embarrassing and hurtful. While I did my best to be a good roommate, I was always worried that I would accidentally do something that would end up on Karly’s blog for everyone to read.
- Don’t Avoid the Issue
Aside from telling other people how much I bugged her, Karly didn’t make much of an effort to fix the problem. Sometimes she sighed loudly or refused to talk to me. The one thing she never really did was mention any of this to me face to face. That made it really difficult for me to even approach the subject, because Karly was pretending there was no problem.
- Don’t be Accusing
I made every effort to be a good roommate, because I knew I had to get through a year with whomever I ended up with. Mostly Karly and I got along well—as evidenced by the fact that we lived together for 3 years—but we came from different backgrounds. The point is, your roommate probably isn’t trying to bug you, and accusations are more likely to make people defensive than to fix a problem. So be careful how you word the “can we fix this” conversation, and offer to be part of the solution. Instead of saying, “It is so obnoxious how you always have your stupid music on so loud. Would you cut it out?” you could try, “I think we both have a hard time studying with each others’ music on. Is it okay if we agree to wear headphones?”
Do you have any awkward roommate stories or tips about how you get along with your roomie? I’d love to hear them!
Entry Filed under: roommates