How To Resolve Roommate Conflicts

Being the awesome rebel and loner/desperado I truly am, I went into the dorms my freshman year blind, that is without knowing who it would be I was going to be sharing a tiny little room with for an entire school year. The summer leading up to that first day and night in the dorm itself caused some anxiety, some doubts, and a lot of ‘what if’ questions. What if they’re a complete slob? What if they’re a neat freak? What if they hate me on sight? What if they worship the devil? In this post, I’ll share some things I learned about how to resolve roommate conflicts.

From the banal to the absurd, I think everyone going in blind has these types of questions in mind leading up to meeting the person for the first time and getting to know them. So here are some things that might help ease you into that transition.

Contact the Other Person Ahead of Time

This may seem like a no-brainer, but I’ve talked to friends that just showed up to the dorm without even speaking to the other person first. There’s a lot of things to divvy up getting before you move in: microwave, rugs, fridge, awesome Bob Marley posters, etc. And expecting the other person to bring it all is cheap and not to mention, rude. Call the other person, try not to text or email. Have an actual conversation with them.

Not only will this allow you to get a good list going of what each has and what each should bring, it will also allow you to get a measure of the type of person they are. Are they well spoken? Polite? Dismissive? Egotistical? Energetic? You’ll be able to get a sense beforehand of how well your personality might mesh with theirs. This is the first step in learning how to resolve roommate conflicts. Odds are they will be nothing but pleasant and accommodating, but you never know till you talk to them.

Be Easy Going

I got to my room and moved all my stuff in a few hours before the other guy showed up. As such, I had the luxury of picking the top or bottom bunk (bottom), which desk I wanted (the one near the window, obviously) and the drawers of the one dresser we had to put my clothes in.

Now, looking back I realize I made a lot of decisions without considering what he might want. But I was nervous and excited and alone for the first time and wasn’t really thinking clearly. But, when he got there he was so relaxed and understanding, he didn’t care about the bunk or desk or whatever. He was friendly and nice and it set the tone for our relationship perfectly.

Making things a big deal when they don’t need to be is only exacerbated by being forced into a small space with the other person. So the moral of this tip on how to resolve roommate conflicts is to let the little things go, be accommodating, and things will go so much smoother.

Be Open About Your Feelings

It sounds a bit touchy/feely, but if something is bothering you, don’t be afraid to bring it up. But do it nicely and politely. Starting a screaming match never got anyone anywhere. Odds are if you tell the other person that, hey, it would really be a huge favor to me if you pick up your dirty clothes and put them in the hamper instead of on the floor, they will get the message and work on whatever it is that’s in the middle of you two. This is my last suggestion on how to resolve roommate conflicts. If all else fails, talk to your RA about being a mediator in certain situations.

Living with a stranger is a scary prospect. But with a little foresight and some empathy things will go smoother than you would’ve thought.

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Jared Gerling

Jared Gerling

Jared Gerling earned his BA from Michigan State University. Jared has been writing since he was eleven when all his characters had swords and magic spells and bad attitudes. When not writing or studying, he can be found watching Spartan football and basketball games, reading, or working out. Jared currently lives in Chicago pursuing his MA in Writing in Publishing from DePaul University.
Jared Gerling

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