1. Set boundaries early on.
Is sharing clothes on the table, but sharing snacks not even a possibility? When can friends come over? When should the room be quiet? Determining the answers to these questions could prevent problems later on.
2. Acknowledge your own expectations and if they are realistic.
Some people come into college with the expectation that their roommate will be their best friend and want to spend every minute of the experience together. Although it is fun to dream, make sure that it doesn’t create mental expectations that will lead to disappointment and frustration if they’re not met. Lasting friendships take time, so let the relationship naturally progress without pressure.
3. Be aware of the other person’s natural tendencies.
Maybe you wake up every morning bright and chipper, but your roommate doesn’t want to speak to anyone until noon. Don’t force the situation, be aware of the other person’s wants and needs and adjust accordingly. Healthy compromise is essential, so maybe some mornings your roommate graciously lets you ramble about the dream you had the night before, and other mornings a peaceful silence is enjoyed.
4. If you have an issue, take it straight to your roommate.
If you have an issue with your roommate, go straight to the source before going to anyone else. If you go to an RA before you give your roommate the chance to fix the problem and your roommate finds out, feelings of betrayal will naturally start to arise.
5. Ask before you act.
Ask your roommate before you eat any of their snacks, use their TV, borrow their clothes, etc. even if they previously said it was okay. Asking before you act shows a degree of respect for the other person’s space. This rule also applies to having guests in the room. Even if your friends are great guests, you have to remember that another person lives in that room too, and they might feel as if unwarranted guests are an intrusion (no matter how polite they are).
6. Embrace silence.
Being quiet around another person you’re not completely comfortable around yet can be awkward. There seems to be a strange pressure to make conversation. Taking time to talk with your roommate is great, but don’t cave into the idea that silence is “awkward”.
7. Be nice when it comes to turning on lights.
If you have an 8a.m., don’t turn all the lights on if you know your roommate doesn’t have to be up until later. If you come in late at night, don’t just flick the light-switch on when you walk in. Use your phone flashlight (or a smaller light) to avoid waking up the other person. Laying out your clothes the night before is helpful when there is a difference in sleep schedule.