Opposites Can Attract: Dealing with Roommate Differences

For most of us, moving into our required on-campus residence hall freshman year was the very first time we experienced a roommate. If you’re lucky, you and your new roomie hit it off immediately, having much in common with little to no speed bumps down the road. But if you’re not so lucky, there are obvious troublesome differences from the get-go, in your attitudes, hobbies, cleanliness or even sleep schedules. It can be intimidating, to know you’re sharing a space with someone who you don’t share interests with, however, do not fear! VALLEY is here to give you some ideas of how to deal with your roomie despite any differences.


Say it with me, folks! Respect is very important in any relationship, and not just the romantic ones. Establishing a basic boundary of respect with your new roommate can make the biggest difference in your experience living with them. Even if you can’t find one single thing you have in common with this person, show them anyways that you appreciate their passions. Ask them to talk about the bands or sports or subject areas that they like. Listen attentively to their interests, ask questions and be encouraging. More often than not, the respect you gave them will reflect right back your way. Your roomie will acknowledge your effort and probably ask you about what you like, too. Having this initial conversation at the beginning of your semester together creates a mutual respect, which is vital to a healthy living situation. Even if you guys like opposite sides of a sports rivalry, or have completely contrasting fashion senses, show each other that the differences are bearable. This can change an awkward, constantly quiet relationship into a situation that is way more comfortable for both of you.

Chore Charts

Keeping up all-around cleanliness while living with a roommate can be a lot more difficult than it needs to be, especially for us college students with varying schedules and energy levels. It can be even more challenging if you and your roomie aren’t close. So VALLEY recommends that you create a chore chart, or some kind of schedule that evenly divides responsibilities around the house. This is a great way to ensure things are kept clean on a regular basis, and to fairly distribute chores so there’s no drama about whose turn it is to take out the trash. Nobody likes to be forced to do work, but you’ll thank us later. Even if you and your roomie don’t hang out outside of your place, maintaining neatness inside in an arguement-free way can make all the difference in your relationship.

Communication and Compromise

There’s no way to deny the fact that some disagreements may arise when you’re sharing a space with someone you don’t have much in common with. The best solution is communication. Address it sooner rather than later, and you’ll save yourself months of frustration and tense situations. You’ll regret having to eventually have that awkward, overdue conversation about whatever the problem was if you don’t take care of it right then and there when it happens. Try to think together about what the best solution is for both of you, because compromise is very important and strengthens the mutual respect between you guys. And even if the disagreement escalates, try to consult with someone who can mediate, like a mutual friend or your R.A. before you give up. As long as you address problems as soon as they pop up, you can usually ensure that a solution can be found without having to go through any weird tension or stiff conversations.

Do you have any skills for dealing with roommate differences? Let us know on Twitter @VALLEYmag!


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