We’ve all experienced that crazy anxiety before meeting our roommates prior to our freshman year of college. Will they be awesome? Will they be completely different from what we’re used to? Will they spend every night studying or partying? Do they listen to ’80s hair metal all the time? Do they live a double life as a computer hacker for the government? Are they incredibly passionate about building a pillow fort in opposition to the blanket fort of your dreams?
Despite all of our anxieties in the summer before freshman year, most of those fears are erased before starting our sophomore year. Chances are, by the time our second year of college rolls around, we’ll be living with our friends, right?
The truth is, living with a roommate who is your best friend can be even more terrifying than living with someone new. Sure, you already know your roommate, but if things don’t work out when you live together, you’re not just risking a living space – you’re risking a friendship.
Like any shared living space, the key to a positive living environment is consistent communication and compromise. However, like that five-page paper you didn’t write last night, it’s easy to forget something that seems so crucial.
Communication Is Key:
When you get into disagreements with your freshman year roommate, it’s easy to brush it off and use it as an excuse to not like them. After all, what’s easier: having an honest conversation about your feelings regarding your roommate eating all of your mac & cheese, or telling yourself, “Oh, he just took my food because he’s a bad person”?
When you live with your best friend, little disagreements can’t be resolved by telling yourself that your roommate is just a food-thieving sociopath. As a result, it becomes even more necessary to work out your issues through that crazy thing called “conversation” that Facebook helped eradicate a few years ago.
Nevertheless, communicating any issues with your new roommate shouldn’t be reserved for only when something is wrong. The excitement of living with your best friend can sometimes trick you into thinking that every interaction has to be a positive one, and if you’re the kind of person who likes to avoid confrontation, tiny issues can seemingly bubble over and become more problematic simply due to lack of communication.
Many people recommend setting a list of roommate rules and guidelines beforehand, but I actually disagree with this, especially if you’re living with a close friend. Setting specific “dos and don’ts” for your living situation can create more pressure for you; rules can create an even more hostile living environment if you’re constantly walking on eggshells.
Instead, it’s best to talk about these types of things naturally; for instance, instead of writing “No leaving your dirty towels on the floor” in bold, capitalized letters on some piece of loose-leaf tacked up above your bed, it’s more productive to simply speak casually about how used towels gross you out and hey, maybe we should consider purchasing a towel rack for the far corner of the room if that’s cool?
Be Open To Compromise:
Compromise is the other major component of creating positive roommate relations. Regardless of how much you have in common with your friend, you’re bound to have some minor differences, such as the way you choose to decorate your room or how often you keep it clean or what sub-genre of porn to watch at night.
If communicating an issue is one half of resolving roommate problems, cooperating with your roommate’s requests is the second half. You have to be able to put yourself in your roommate’s shoes in order to approach a solution. For instance, if you’re reading in your room at night and your friend is trying to sleep, it would make the most sense for you to move to a different room – after all, you can read anywhere there’s light, but your roommate only has one bed.
These tips may seem obvious at first, but it’s easy to forget these basic components of roommate relations when you’re living with someone you already know. Communication and compromise are obviously important for all roommate scenarios, whether they’re a close friend or a potential new one, but they are especially important in building and maintaining your already-established relationships. Living with your best friend can be even more difficult than living with a stranger because there is no easy way to resolve any roommate issues, but as long as you remember to talk honestly and be open-minded to change, you’ll get along just fine.