Roommate conflicts are an inevitable part of the college experience. Whether it’s about loud music, dirty dishes or late night parties, everybody has an argument with their roommate at some point. The key to success here is how you handle conflicts with your roommate, so here are a few tips that might help:
First Things First
Most conflicts can be prevented. So before an issue arises, try following these steps:
- Communicate - Communication is the key to any successful relationship and roommates are no different. You can’t let things simmer or snowball to the point where you have an outburst. Not only is it not an effective way to communicate, it is a sure way to put your roommate on the defense and escalate the situation.
- Respect boundaries - Be courteous of your roommates and respect their boundaries. You should also establish boundaries of your own. For example, if you don’t like your roommate having parties every night, let him or her know before it becomes a problem.
- Clean up - Everybody enjoys a clean living space so make sure you are keeping the common areas clean. Nobody likes cleaning up after their roommates and constantly leaving your things lying around is a sure way to get on their nerves.
When Conflicts Arise
When the inevitable conflict does arise, you can take these actions toward a successful resolution:
- Speak up - Don’t let things fester. Be sure to let your roommate know if something is bothering you so it can be fixed. If you don’t speak up, nothing will change.
- Compromise - Conflict resolution is a two-way street. Both parties need to be willing to negotiate with each other and reach a compromise. If nobody is willing to compromise, the situation will never be resolved and the conflict will continue indefinitely.
- Keep an open mind- You need to stay open minded and be willing to change your behavior if you want to reach a resolution. For example, if your roommate complains that you are too messy, make an honest effort to pick up after yourself.
After a conflict has arisen and you have come up with a solution with your roommate, these tips can help keep things peaceful between you and your roommate:
- Create an agreement - After having a discussion with your roommate, it is always a good idea to create an agreement for moving forward. How long is too long when it comes to dishes in the sink? What is a fair time for cutting off music and calling it a night? This is your chance to establish some sort of household rules for the apartment.
- Make new friends - Conflicts often arise when two or more people are spending too much time together. It is always a good idea to have at least one friend that you don’t have to live with. This gives you a way to escape for awhile when you are feeling frustrated with your living situation.
- Pick your battles - You can’t fight over every little thing. Pick your battles and make sure you are only focused on the things that NEED to be addressed. If you are losing sleep, can’t study or your quality of life is slipping because of your roommate's behavior, this should be addressed. Don’t pick a fight just because your roommate likes to watch “Friends” and you don’t.
Getting to know your roommate and living successfully together is one of the greatest challenges you will face in college. Knowing how to prevent and resolve these conflicts is key knowledge that every student should have.
Looking for more college advice? Check out our favorite tips for Adjusting to College Life.