Most people will live with a roommate at some point in their lives, whether it’s a sibling, a roommate in college, or even a good friend. As one might expect, sharing such close proximity with other people practically guarantees that some issues will arise. It can be difficult to share your home, and especially your room, with almost anyone. Imagine having to share your personal space with someone you already dislike. Not only will you grow to dislike them more, but there will be a lot of tension and disagreements. Although you may never find the perfect candidate to be your roommate, there are several steps you can take to ensure that your experience living with roommates is bearable.
1) Set personal boundaries
Setting boundaries is very important when it comes to roommates. Let them know if you need some personal time to get things done or if they have crossed any lines. If you are not comfortable with your roommates using some of your belongings, then make sure they are aware that these items are off limits or require your permission. Establishing personal boundaries as early as you can will prevent your roommates from falling into annoying habits. From wearing your clothes to borrowing your phone charger, your roommates will be more likely to act on their own if you have not set clear boundaries.
2) Set house rules
This goes hand-in-hand with setting boundaries, but make sure that all your roommates are in agreement from the beginning about how to handle food, romantic partners, cleaning duties, noise, or any other potential problems. You will not be able to predict all of them, but having a general set of rules can give you something to refer to during disagreements. Preferably, you can make a written contract outlining the rules and get all of your roommates to sign it. Using headphones can also help you tune out any undesired distractions and avoid annoying anyone else. I would recommend the SoundPal wireless headphones.
3) Be friendly
Apart from creating an unpleasant atmosphere, ignoring your roommates or acting dismissive can motivate them to do the same. Roommates tend to feed off each other’s emotions, so acting hostile towards them might cause them to mirror the response. Even if you aren’t in the best mood, try to smile and greet your roommates whenever you encounter them. A brief acknowledgement is better than nothing and can keep things light and pleasant. You don’t have to be best friends, but being somewhat friendly can reduce tension and make talking about any issues a lot less confrontational.
4) Be cleanly
Assuming you would desire the same of them, it is important to clean up after yourself. This not only keeps your roommates from being upset with you, but you can also use it to set a precedent. If you always clean your dishes right after using them, then your roommates might just follow your example and do it as well. Nothing is more frustrating than having a roommate that you have to constantly clean up after.
5) Try to schedule
Figure out when your roommates are typically away from home and try to schedule things like showering, cooking, playing instruments, doing laundry, or other events that could create conflicts. Ideally, you can work with them to set up a schedule for any tasks that might interfere with each other’s routines.
6) Confront problems
The longer you wait to discuss an issue you have with your roommates, the more it will start to bother you. Your roommates cannot read minds, so let them know what you would like for them to change as soon as possible. It will prevent things from getting out of control and allow you to reach an acceptable compromise.
7) Let it go
As tempting as it may be to seek retribution against a difficult roommate, it is usually more beneficial to just move on with your life. Whether your roommate just annoys you or actually fights with you, there are several reasons why you may want to hold a grudge. It is important, however, to pick your battles and just let the small things go. It will alleviate stress for everyone and save you a lot of time and energy.
8) Leave / Kick them out
Unfortunately, many people end up having to turn to this as a last resort. When you feel as though you have exhausted all of your other options, it may be time to find new roommates. If one of your roommates is truly unbearable and unwilling to compromise, then you can kick them out and try somebody new. If you are not in a position to make them leave, then you could try moving out and finding a new living situation.
Have you ever dealt with a difficult roommate? Let us know about your experiences and any tips you may have.