Peacefully Sharing Space With Roommates
Love them or hate them, just about every student lives with at least a roommate or two during their college career. Roommates are just part of the college experience. And a college roommate can make or break your college experience. A good roommate experience makes your time at school happier, easier, less stressful, and more successful. A bad roommate experience, well… you can see why finding ways to coexist happily with a roommate is so important.
If you are not sure how to move forward with a roommate or want some more strategies to help ensure that your roommate experiences are positive, then read on to learn more about peacefully sharing space with roommates!
Communicate, Communicate, Communicate
Pretty much the most important thing that you can do to uphold your relationship with your roommate is to communicate, communicate, communicate. Honestly, this is one of the most important things you should do in every relationship. But it is especially important in a roommate situation because this is a person that shares such an intimate part of your life.
You split bills and finances with your roommate. You share belongings, like furniture and sundries, with your roommate. You share a living space with a roommate, something very humbling and intimate. Your roommate is the one who sees you stumble into the house after a long and crazy day and is the one to see you stumble back out after a long night of little sleep and lots of studying.
You want to communicate from the outset, you want to communicate to both avoid and resolve conflict, you want to communicate over the course of time. Basically, you want to always be in communication. This does not mean that you have to overshare or constantly have meaningless chatter with your roommate. But you should talk about important things, like creating boundaries and checking in with each other.
If something your roommate is doing is bothering or upsetting you, you need to communicate that. Without communication, the problem will 1) fester, leaving you upset with rising tension, and 2) remain unresolved because even though it may be clear that there is a problem to you, it might not be so clear to your roommate.
In order to both avoid and solve problems, you have to be willing to communicate with your roommate so your time together will be peaceful.
Part of communicating with your roommate is creating boundaries. But what is a personal boundary, and how can you create them with your roommate?
The University of Kentucky describes it like this: “Personal boundaries, just like the ‘No Trespassing’ sign, define where you end and others begin and are determined by the amount of physical and emotional space you allow between yourself and others. Personal boundaries help you decide what types of communication, behavior, and interaction are acceptable.”
For example, if you do not like other people, even your roommate entering your private spaces, like your bedroom, without your permission/knowledge, you can communicate this to your roommate and make that a personal boundary. If your roommate having guests over that you do not know makes you uncomfortable (especially in the time of coronavirus), you need to communicate that and then be willing to work with your roommate to create a system that works for both of you while still respecting your personal boundaries.
Personal boundaries are different for each person and while creating them, you have to be willing to communicate with your roommate and make sure you are accommodating and meeting the needs of their personal boundaries as well, not just your own. You both deserve to feel safe and respected in the sanctity of your own home and your wellbeing does not come at the price of your roommates.
Stick to Your Commitments
The pièce de resistance to peacefully sharing a space using the two strategies listed above is after communicating and creating boundaries, to then stick to your commitments. Creating shared boundaries is making a set of shared commitments, and communicating and setting the boundaries does nothing if you then do not follow them.
Do the things you say you are going to do. Come through on your commitments, just as you would like your roommate to do. And if for some reason you are unable to or feel that these commitments need to shift, refer back to the previous two strategies and communicate how you are feeling, and then create new boundaries, AKA commitments.
It may take some work (and it needs to be from both sides, not just your own) but it is certainly preferable and definitely possible to peacefully share space with a roommate in college as long as you try and implement these strategies, in whatever way applies to your situation.
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