Three tips for getting along with your roommate

We have all heard stories of terrible roommates and while they are gold, we would never want these to happen to us.

Natasha Kwek

Published: 27 May 2015, 12:00 AM

Getting along with a stranger is never easy, let alone attempting to live with them. While some roommates may be angels, others see you planning to execute them with the butter knife or greasy pot they have left on the counter for days.

You may be living on campus for the first time as you enter university, or going overseas for an exchange programme. Either way, here are some tips to get along with your roommates, in the hopes of sparing you from a potential manslaughter charge.


Expectation: Besties forever
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1. Communicate

The reality is that awkward situations can be averted by being open in the beginning. Draw up a roommate agreement and discuss certain logistical stuff like the hours you keep (whether you are a night owl or a morning person), your threshold towards clutter, and how active your social life is.

Keep the lines of communication open. If your roommate’s laptop glow keeps you up at night, let them know casually. You could go about this is in a number of ways:

The “kthanksbye”: If you are one to shy away from confrontation, muster all the assertiveness you possibly have, say what you have to, then escape before they can argue or reject your request. For example:  “Hey could you lower your laptop brightness please? Kthanksbye!”

The “manipulative manner”: Make your roommate feel bad for what they did by saying things like: “Oh man I’m so sorry I need total darkness to sleep. Don’t worry, I’ll camp in the kitchen tonight if you really need to use your laptop.”


Reality: What a mess
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2. Compromise

I was fortunate enough to be roomies with my best friend in university. We had a great roommate relationship because we were both willing to compromise. While she was a light sleeper, I was a procrastinating snoozer, so having multiple alarms ring every five minutes in the morning was absolutely torturous for her.

I thus slept with headphones on, and woke up to Taylor Swift blasting in my ears. In such situations, work out a plan where you meet the other person halfway; mutual respect is key when it comes to compromise.

3. Confront

Remember, you can be a lamb, but not a pushover. If going out of your way to be the bigger person only reduces your roommate to a disrespectful slob that takes advantage of your kindness, revisit the roommate agreement and confront your roommate. Target the behaviour at hand, not your roommate’s personality.


The passive aggressive approach
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Meeting your new roommate is naturally a cause for social anxiety, but the chances of you getting someone unreasonable and utterly disrespectful is pretty low, so try not to expect the worst case scenario before meeting them.

However, if Lady Fortune does decide to throw you a curveball, console yourself with the fact that this is only temporary, and you will have something to look back on and laugh at in the future.

If all else fails, try lowering your expectations, and you may find your roommate nothing but pleasant.


Roommate philosophy 101
Photo credit: Pinterest

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