Roommate Problems

It’s tough to see how problems WOULDN’T arise with roommates in college. Think about it: there are two people, likely completely unknown to one another before this point, who are suddenly getting thrust together in a sometimes arbitrary fashion, and forced to share the same small space.

Yes, how could that POSSIBLY go wrong?

There are plenty of reasons why college roomies might not get along. Some are reconcilable; others may not be. In the end, most boil down to differences in personality and method, and hopefully the problems these cause won’t leave one party or the other perpetually tortured. Here are a few key difficulties between roommates that are likely to cause problems, and tips to get around them.

– Problems are most likely to stem from clashing ideals. One roommate may be a studious, quiet learner, while the other is a gregarious party-goer. The party-goer probably won’t care that much about their silent roomie, but the one who’s trying to study will probably take exception to being exposed to constant parties and visits from friends. Loud noises and whopping aren’t that conducive to studying. To get around this, try to put yourself in the other person’s shoes and figure out what most bothers them, then try to limit or avoid those things altogether.

– Differing schedules can also be a problem. Yes, this may not seem like a bad thing at first since this ensures certain parts of the day to be roomie-free. But a night owl who is up having fun at night while the other person is trying to sleep is almost certainly going to disturb the sleeper. If such is the case, either try to be quiet or leave the dorm behind. Respect the other person’s right to sleep, rest in general or do whatever it is they’re doing in their room in peace.

– It’s been hinted at already, but socializing can be a problem as well. Some roomies will allow their friends to come into their dorms whenever they want – sometimes uninvited, and if they start eating food or making a lot of noise, well, that’s not likely to jive with the other roomie. Either friends need to be discussed between roomies or the estranged roomie may want to get to know any constant guests, reducing the friction they cause during their visits.

– And, along the food lines, the constant stealing of another person’s food can also cause some friction. Early on, establish firm boundaries between your food and theirs if you’re not willing to share. If in doubt, simply rely on the meal plan for most meals and keep other food in your room.

– But what if the other person likes to simply wander into your room and look through your things? This is a distinct possibility, and another source of contention. The roomies need to understand that their rooms are off limits, at least unless an invitation is made, and simply walking into the other room and doing as you please is not allowed.

– And finally, religious differences, or even just differences of ideology, can cause some major problems. These differences should not be allowed to fester – get them out of the way early, if you perceive them to be a problem, and talk your way through the conflicts. Open arguments later on about belief and faith can lead to a semester-long schism, and you may not be able to repair the gulfs. Keep an open mind regarding the beliefs of others.

Yes, these problems can’t always be reconciled. It’s perhaps inevitable that you and your roomie will find something over which you’ll clash, and when you do unpleasantness will ensue. Do everything you can to keep the atmosphere pleasant, however, or you may be in for several hellish months.