Living with your roommate/conflict

Follow these easy tips to create a healthy living environment and avoid unnecessary conflicts:

Remember the Golden Rule.

  • Being a good roommate is not only about being a good person, it’s key to creating peace in your home.
  • If you do unto your roommate as you would have them do unto you, your odds for happiness automatically increase.
  • By doing small favors, clearing up misunderstandings, and treating them with respect, you’ll create an environment where it’s easy for you roommate to do the same.

Decide on the rules from the beginning.

  • It’s not going to be fun, but if you don’t have this conversation at the beginning, it will be much, much worse later on.
  • You don’t have to legislate every aspect of your lives together, but it’s good to set some boundaries from the beginning.
  • Are you going to buy your groceries together? Who is in charge of taking out the trash? What about guests? These are important questions.
  • Take some time before this discussion to think through your preferences. Come up with a list of questions so that you can set the rules together.
  • But also remember: life is short, so decide what is truly important. (Is a broken plate worth ruining a friendship over?)

Be prepared to compromise and stay flexible.

  • Not everyone has the same ideas about day to day living as you do. You can’t ask your roommate to change him- or herself if you are not willing to do the same.
  • Understand what is going on in your roommate’s life and try to be accommodating.
  • If your roommate has a big test coming up, be more conscious of the noise you make and let them study.
  • If your roommate is busy and stressed, give them some time and space to relax and unwind.

Wash your own dishes – and the others in the sink.

  • If your apartment has a dishwasher, thank your lucky stars and don’t forget to use it.
  • After you cook a meal, make sure to put your dishes in the dishwasher or wash them by hand.
  • If there are other dishes in the sink, wash them as well.
  • It’s exhausting to keep a mental tally of how many times your roommate does or doesn’t do the dishes. He or she probably has a good reason for leaving them and if you’ve arranged the rules ahead of time, they know their responsibilities.
  • Instead of getting frustrated or leaving nasty notes, the easier solution is to simply wash them.
  • Hopefully, when you have to run off to a class, work, or a hot date, you roommate won’t mind a little washing up.

Respect each other’s privacy and personal space.

  • This is especially important if you share a small living area.
  • Make a clear delineation between your stuff and your roommate’s stuff. That way you are only responsible for your things.
  • Always ask before borrowing anything, no matter if it’s trivial. Definitely take good care of any borrowed items.

Own your own.

  • It might seem like a great idea to go in halfsies on that cool sofa or flat screen TV. It may even work for a while, but what do you do when it’s time to move?
  • No roommate relationship last forever and if you’re fighting over who gets what, you may end up wishing for a good divorce attorney.
  • If you buy the sofa and your roommate buys the TV, you’ll respect each other’s stuff while you’re together and you’ll know how to split up the furniture when you move out.

Ask permission before rearranging things.

  • Would you rather the couch or TV be facing the other wall? Ask your roommate first.
  • Even if you know they don’t care, won’t be home, or “it is none of their business,” asking makes a huge difference.
  • By discussing plans that affect the two of you, you are saying that you value their opinion.
  • People need to feel comfortable in their own space and by altering it without their permission; you’re saying that you don’t want them to feel any sort of ownership.

Use proper phone etiquette.

  • Not everyone wants to hear one side of a conversation.
  • You might love to watch Law & Order while talking to your mom, but it may not be the best way to score points with your criminology student of a roommate.
  • If you have a long-distance boyfriend or girlfriend, phone conversations may be the best way to keep your relationship going, but believe me, three or four hours of baby talk will drive your roommate nuts.
  • If you have to talk on the phone, be respectful of your roommate. If you know you’re going to have a lengthy call, go outside or make it from your bedroom (if you have a single).

Always communicate and don’t be afraid to discuss problems.

  • As in any relationship, living with someone requires a great deal of work and communication is key.
  • If a problem comes up it’s better to talk about it right away than to try and ignore it and let it get worse.
  • If you’ve followed all the rules to this point and things still aren’t working out, it’s time to talk. Make sure you choose the right time. You don’t want to jump your roommate on the worst day of their lives, but you also shouldn’t put it off forever.
  • Avoid yelling or screaming.
  • Gently explain the source of the conflict and always come prepared with possible solutions or compromises.
  • If you can’t work out your differences on your own, it may be time to bring in an impartial mediator. Your RA and RC are here as a resource for you – use them.
  • It is important to be flexible and accommodating, but don’t let someone take advantage of you, so be assertive about what you want.
  • If you simply cannot communicate openly and there is tension all the time, it may be time to find a new roommate.

Need Help? See your RA or RC

(For Off-Campus Students: Contact Assistant Dean Amy Hector at

hectora@uncw.edu or 910-962-3119)

Sources:

Lee, Calee. “How to be a Good Roommate” www.googobits.com/print/printer.php?article=1640

wikiHow. “How to be a Good Roommate” www.wikihow.com/Be-a-Good-Roommate


UNC Wilmington | 601 S. College Road, Wilmington NC 28403 | 910.962.3000 | About this Site | Copyright Notice | Feedback | Page maintained by:  A. Hector [ hectora AT uncw DOT edu ]