Most people live with roommates at one point or another throughout their lives and the situation usually tends to go one of two ways. Either your relationship is strengthened by living together and you have an absolute blast living with the other person (or people)… Or the cohabitation can be the beginning of the end of your relationship.
Let’s face it, a bad roommate situation is the worst. It’s stressful, draining and unstable. But if approached in the correct way, living with roommates can lead to stronger bonds and lifelong friendships. It can be a time in your life you reflect on and think, “Man, I miss those good ol’ days!”. But how do you ensure that you get that positive working relationship with the person you’ve decided to share a home with? Read below for tidbits of advice on how to make your roommate relationship a happy and healthy one.
- Before moving in with your potential roommate, create a ‘Roommate Agreement’ of sorts. Talk about what your expectations look like and make sure you agree on them. Things to talk about: how often the dishes need to be done, what your idea of clean looks like, how you feel about keeping the doors locked, etc. Talking about these things in advance can save you a lot of headache and miscommunication down the road.
- Speaking of communication.. It is KEY. Communicate often and openly. If something bothers you, confront it right away. DO NOT let things fester – This will turn your small problem into a very large and unnecessary one. Communication also leads to trust, which is essential in a healthy relationship.
- Although communication is key, remember to try to let the little things go. If you are annoyed by something, take a deep breath and ask yourself, “Is this really worth getting into an argument or fight over?” Petty arguments can lead to resentment which can lead to the demise of a friendship. Learn to pick your battles and practice taking the high road.
- Compromising is also very important. You live with another human being now and not everything can be exactly as you would have it if you lived alone. Be open to doing things differently. Hey, you may even learn a few things if you’re open to compromise.
- Show the utmost respect for your roommate. This is important as it will be set an undertone for your whole relationship. Don’t steal their food, or clothes or toothpaste (Hint: they know you’re the one doing it). Don’t leave post-it notes around the house pointing negative things out, like not replacing the roll of toilet paper. And don’t invite friends over without giving your roommate enough notice to put some pants on. Treat your roommate like you want him or her to treat you. They will appreciate it and you’ll both be happier because of it.
- Don’t forget to hang out! Make time for each other. The more you hang out the stronger your bond will be. You don’t have to do everything together, but if you hang out on a regular or even semi-regular basis, then talking about more difficult things (like finances or whose turn it is to buy tp) will happen organically and you can avoid those forced awkward chats with someone you barely know. Enjoy getting to know each other better and take an interest in each other’s lives.
The two of you will have to work to find that sweet spot of what works for you. It will be a learning process but if you follow the ground rules above, you’re sure to succeed and make memories that will last a lifetime.