- Your living environment greatly affects other aspects of your life.
- That's why it's important to have a good relationship with your roommate.
- Some things you can do to help include communicating, being considerate, and dividing responsibilities.
For many of us, there comes a time when we just have to live with a roommate. It may be in a college dorm or as a way to save money as we set out into adulthood in a new city.
Emotions are "contagious" according to many different surveys and studies, so it's best to maintain a happy living environment.
Whether you're living with your best friend or a random online roomie, sometimes the best thing you can do is reflect and grow from within.
Here are seven ways that you can be a better roommate.
Communication is vital.
Communication is key in any living situation, whether you're with a random roommate, a significant other, your best friend, or all of the above.
Before you even move in together, communication is vital, let alone once you're occupying the same space. Discuss what you're bringing, what you expect, how you hope overnight visitors will be handled, and all of the other things you might feel are important. As issues arise during your time together, chat about those as well.
According to one study of college roommates, those who demonstrated positive communication skills had a smoother psychological transition into school, which proves the impact of healthy, open communication in a home or space.
This seems like a no-brainer, but here's the thing: everyone's definition of considerate differs. For some, it might mean playing music at a normal level, while for others it could mean turning down the music to a quieter setting. Just because you consider yourself to be considerate doesn't mean that your roommate will interpret your behavior the same way.
A Minnesota State University survey of students found that cleaning up messes, having guests, and noise were among the largest sources of conflict between roommates. These issues all stem from being inconsiderate, and they can be solved with communication.
Think from different perspectives. Should you leave those dishes out? Is it a good idea to blast your music or have an overnight guest before your roommate's early morning meeting at work? Sometimes it's common sense, but other times, the most considerate thing you can do is just ask.
It's not fair for one person to pick up all the slack while the other makes a mess or does whatever they please. Conflict is pretty much inevitable when responsibilities aren't equally divided.
It's not fun to feel like someone's babysitter or to remind someone to do their chores, but there are some resources that can help. Apps like Homey or OurHome allow roommates or families cohabiting to equally divide and discuss chores without the patronizing implications of a chore chart.
Don't force friendship.
Ideally, you and your roomie will get along. But it's good to keep in mind that getting along with someone doesn't have to mean that you're best friends or even friends at all. Sometimes the most peaceful, comfortable living situations are ideal because they lack the complexities and politics of friendship.
There are many reasons not to live with friends, but whether or not you live with someone close to you, just remember that it's important to respect other people's privacy and need for some alone time. You and your roommate already live together, so there's no need to constantly hang out outside the apartment. We all need a break.
Listen to each other.
Even if you and your roommate aren't BFFs, everyone does need someone to listen sometimes. Your roommate might come to you looking for advice or simply a listening ear.
According to a study from the Harvard Business Review, good listeners attempt to gain insight by asking questions, participating in cooperative conversation, building a person's self-esteem through positive interactions, and making suggestions.
Doing all of these things not only makes you good listener, but it also helps you maintain a peaceful, open, and healthy relationship with your roommate. Not to mention, if it's reciprocal, it allows both of you to have someone at home to rely on.
Don't expect perfection.
You know this by now, but nobody's perfect.
Stuff happens. Sometimes your roommate might forget to grab the trash on their way out the door. You might skip doing the dishes before a big date. They might not thank you for vacuuming the kitchen.
Don't expect anyone to be completely together all the time. Sometimes the best roommates will make mistakes and that's alright. As long as these things aren't constant habits then you should retain some sense of empathy.
Be prepared for tough conversations.
Being around someone at many different times means having weird, awkward conversations.
Who was over last night? Did you pay the electric bill? Living with someone tends to bring out everything, even the most taboo of topics like sex, money, or religion. But these discussions don't always have to lead to a fight.
Some conversations can be avoided thanks to apps — like SplitWise, which eases the pain of bill talk — or texts, but others need to be faced in person, calmly and maturely.
Be ready to discuss those things as necessary, because though they're not fun, they can tell you a lot about a person and may be necessary if they affect your living space.