OPINION BY JOE HERBA AND VICTORIA TRAMP
JOE: It doesn’t matter if they are your best friend, your mortal enemy or just some random townie; adjusting to living with a roommate is difficult.
Last year, I decided to room with some random person, and it was one of the most interesting experiences of my life. The dynamic you have with your roommate can be the most unique relationship you’ll ever have. Coming in, I just assumed that you and your roommate became best friends and that was that. You did everything together because you lived together.
Boy, was I wrong. My freshman year roommate was a much different person than me, and that’s okay! He enjoyed the arts, records, fresh tea and basically being a badass hipster. That being said, we weren’t into the same things, so hanging out as “besties” just wasn’t something that we did.
But what this did provide was a great roommate relationship. We weren’t afraid to ask each other things or call each other out on our different problems because we didn’t have to worry about putting strain on our “bestie” relationship. We were also able to say things like, “Hey, can I have the room until whenever?” without worrying about all of our friends finding out that I had a movie night with someone and hear about it from the entire friend group. After all was said and done, it was a great year, and we still hug it out every time we see each other around campus.
But don’t make things weird with your roommate if they’re not your best friend. Don’t force it and don’t get upset when they don’t want to come with you to the events you invite them too.
Sophomore year is very different because living with your best friend is something totally new. You don’t really want to call out your best friend for being messy, or eating your food or anything like that because you don’t want them to hate you. But I have one piece of advice: DO IT.
If your friend is really your friend, they will understand where you are coming from. Sometimes they will snap back with things that you are doing wrong. Don’t get upset. Fix it. This dynamic is something that many people don’t understand. My roommate and I do that this year, and it works out great. I call him out, he calls me out, and you know what? For the first time in our lives, our room is actually clean. We’re not used to it, but I think we both like it.
If there is something going on with your roommate, tell them. If they don’t respond well, guess what? Leave. There are some people that aren’t meant to room together because their values don’t meet up, and that’s okay. Don’t force it if it’s not working! But the most important part is to be flexible. Don’t blow up on every little thing, and ALWAYS remember the golden rule of rooming: don’t eat whatever is on the floor… oh, and always treat them how you want to be treated!
VICTORIA: Throughout college, social situations can be stressful, awkward and uncomfortable. The first-years get dumped into an entirely new school with people they’ve never seen or met before, and their dorm room should be a place where they can escape from the intense atmosphere—even with a roommate.
In order to sustain a relationship with anyone, communication is necessary. Communication can be as much as asking each other how their day was, how their test went or if they want to go to dinner. Communication may prevent arguments over a variety of topics—warning each other when visitors may be coming over, discussion over cleaning up after oneself or doing the dishes. Precautionary conversations that prevent conflict with roommate(s) are key.
College is not high school. When there is a problem, confront the person. Acting like everything is fine around your roommate, but complaining to other people can lead to a shady rooming situation and a lack of stability and unity.
The most important communication lies beneath the shallow surface. The emotional support needs to be there in order to survive with a roommate. Most college students do not have the opportunity to go home whenever they desire, nor do they have the ability to receive the love and care they used to get from home.
Deeper communication is necessary to have because college is hard. It’s not always easy to know right from wrong without a parent looming around. It’s not always easy figuring out which friends have been good ones and which ones don’t have your best interest in mind. A roommate that can give emotional support will be the most stable type of relationship—not someone who will judge and critique, but one that is able to give hope, love, positivity and maybe even a kick in the butt when it’s needed.
This emotional communication can come in many forms. The most common is through nonverbal communication. Nonverbal communication can be as much as them being off of their phone or genuinely paying attention to conversation without the necessity of scrolling through Twitter. Nonverbal communication that promotes emotional support could simply be being around. Investing time and love into roommates is the best way to build trust for that emotional support.
Communication creates a successful environment within any relationship. However, living situations may be compromised and become more intense if communication isn’t properly distributed. In order to survive with a roommate, it’s necessary to lead by example. Roommates should share feelings when there may be confusion or dissatisfied emotions. By effectively doing so, roommates can build trust among one another.