Dear Highlander: Dealing with my Roommate

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Dear Highlander,

I’m not getting along with my roommate. She’s too loud, she comes back to the room after I’m already asleep and wakes me up, she invites friends over without asking, and she leaves her dirty clothes everywhere! I know it’s only been a week, but I’m 100% sure that we will never get along. I’m already stressed out enough from my classes, and it sucks that I can’t feel comfortable in my own room. I’m fed up… what are my options? Is this situation normal?

From, Sleep-Deprived in Cypress

Dear Sleep-Deprived in Cypress,

Moving to a new room with a complete stranger doesn’t always work out, and it may be one of the most common problems that new college residents have. You’re not alone! There are many ways that you could approach your situation, but before you do anything, you should talk to your RA as soon as possible. You’ve probably already met your floor’s RA’s during move-in or your floor meeting, so pick whoever you feel more comfortable with. The RA’s have been specifically trained to help students in exactly the situation that you are in right now, so the best advice will come from them.

You probably filled out your roommate agreement already, so try using those guidelines to start a conversation with your roomie. If she’s clearly breaking a rule that you agreed on, your RA will be able to help enforce your agreement. However, if you weren’t being very honest with your preferences and didn’t work together to fill it out, you may want to approach your roommate with the idea to revisit the document with an RA to reach some middle ground. Remember that it’s important to put time and effort into that agreement. It’s given out to all roommates as a way to break the ice about addressing how you can learn to adapt to each other’s very unique lifestyles, so talk about each section thoroughly instead of rushing through it to leave the floor meeting earlier.

Knowing how to approach your roomie to talk to her about how her habits affect you is the hard part, of course. Waking you up late at night when you’re already asleep is a huge problem, because you can’t concentrate well during the day if you’re always tired. When talking about what’s working and what’s not working for you, be polite and be sure to let her know how her actions affect you. Try to show her that you’re willing to reach a compromise and that you’re not just asking her to change. For example, you can ask her to let you know through a simple text if she’ll be back late from now on, and buy a pair of earplugs to wear to sleep on these nights. By showing an effort to adjust to her habits, you make her more likely to be willing to adjust to yours. As for the dirty clothes and unannounced guests, it’s best to honest about how you feel, but being a good example for her to follow may help! Keep your own area tidy, and start making it a practice to let her know when you will be having your friends over. At the end of the day, communicating with your roomie is your best bet. It’s easy to accidentally let your frustrations translate into passive aggressiveness instead, but this will only make your situation harder. Talk about your wants and needs and be sure listen to her’s.

Finally, if your roommate doesn’t seem to want to cooperate even after an RA intervention, revisiting the roommate agreement, and having productive conversations with her, it may be time to start looking for a new roommate. Here again, you have an advantage – there will be other girls who are in the same situation as you, hoping to move into a cleaner, quieter room. Your RA may be able to help you find a few potential new roommates, or you may find someone on your own. One of your suitemates may be interested in switching with you, or there may even be an open spot in a room just waiting for someone like you to move in. This opportunity will come up within the next week or two, and an email about room changes will be sent out for you to learn what steps you should take next.

Whatever you end up deciding to do, make sure you keep your RA involved at all times. Keep in mind that a good roommate is only as hard to come by as your willingness to be flexible to another person’s differences. We are all still learning to adapt each other, and these things take time and patience. Good luck talking to your roommate, and I hope that you two will be able to work something out!

-A fellow Highlander

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