Live with a College Roommate Who Is Your Total Opposite
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Whatever your differences (and there are bound to be a few), here's what you can do to get along.
- Talk. Don't be afraid to speak your mind. If something's bugging you, bring it up in a non-defensive way. Don't assume that your roommate can read your mind. Nothing can change unless you acknowledge it. It's possible that your roommate may not even be aware of the problem.
- Focus on behavior, not personality. It's not reasonable to ask people to change who they are, but you can ask them to tone down how they express themselves, especially when it's invading your turf. So, you can't criticize someone for being "perky," but you can ask someone not to talk so much while you're studying.
- Stay flexible. It's not your job to fix anybody else, and it helps to recognize that no one is perfect. Be willing to look at your own behavior. Consider what you could do differently to help the situation instead of only blaming your roommate.
- Start with one pet peeve. What can you absolutely not deal with? What do you find extremely irritating, but could live with if you had to? There are probably tons of things your roommate does that get on your nerves. However, nothing kills a relationship faster than listing dozens of reasons why you don't like a person. Instead, both of you need to list your number one pet peeve and focus your energy on solving that first.
- Consider the positives. Before you decide that life would be better with a roommate exactly like you, think of what you could gain by living with your opposite. We're often attracted to people who are different from us because they represent qualities we wish we possessed. If you're shy, maybe being around a more outgoing person will force you out of your shell. When one person's strength makes up for the other's weakness, being opposites is an advantage.
- Know the residence hall policies. Make sure to understand the residence hall policies regarding roommate conflicts and changes. Some colleges will require you to go through the steps of mediation before requesting a roommate change, and others have trained students who will help you through the process.
- Accept them for who they are. If you are total opposites, it may be difficult to understand where they are coming from in many situations. If you accept things about their personality, interests, taste, etc. you are much less likely to come into conflict.
Here are some great tips that may help you to get along with your college roommate.
- Setting up a roommate contract at the beginning of the year that addresses different issues that might come up like sharing clothes, when music can be played, overnight visitors among other things can be helpful in settling disputes.
- Resident/Community Assistants can be useful mediators if roommates cannot solve their differences, but do not expect them to magically fix things. They need both parties to work together to come to an amiable solution.
- Helpful books to read are
- A Roommate Survival Guide and
- My Roommate Is Driving Me Crazy! Solve Conflicts, Set Boundaries, and Survive the College Roommate From Hell (Adams Media).
- Find a place that is your place. This could be in your dorm or somewhere else on campus. Find a spot where you can be alone and that feels like your own private spot. Stairwells can be good for this. The tops of stairwells may not lead to floors, so it's easy to take some alone time. Find a quiet corner at the end of the hallway or in the laundry room or an empty lounge. It's important to know that you have a space you can escape to for a bit if things get to be too much with your roommate.
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