Whether you've known your roommates for years, or you're all still pretty new to each other, living with other people can be a struggle at times. So as you get ready to start another semester at college, it's important that you know how to set boundaries with your roommates early on. I don't want to scare you — after all, living with roommates definitely has its upsides. It's cheaper, you don't have to be freaked out about living alone, and — if you get along most of the time — it can be incredibly fun. But no matter how close you are with your roommates, those fun moments will inevitably be punctuated with at least some drama and a few disagreements. Having those awkward conversations about boundaries right off the bat can save you many heated arguments and headaches down the road.
My freshman year of college, I lived with one randomly assigned female roommate. After that, I shared a house with three guys. Yes, you read that correctly. Both situations were absolutely awesome. But, that doesn't mean they didn't involve their fair share of discussions and disagreements.
Setting boundaries with your roommates is crucial, but not necessarily easy. Lost as to how to start the conversation about rules that are important to you? Have no fear! Here are some tips for laying down some ground rules with your roommates from the get-go.
1. Schedule Something
You probably don't want to spring a serious conversation on your roommate(s) without warning. So, take the time to set up a special time to talk. Whether you head out for a coffee date or go for a long walk, pick a specific date and time for your conversation. This will give you some time to prepare for anything you want to talk about. Plus, you're more likely to say everything you need, rather than just glossing over things during a casual conversation.
2. Be Honest
This should be a no-brainer. Obviously, honesty is incredibly important when setting boundaries with your roommates. How can they know something bothers you if you don't ever actually tell them?
Strive to always be completely open with your roommates. It might not always be easy, but it will be a heck of a lot easier than constantly dealing with things that make you crazy, because you were too afraid to tell them the truth.
3. Be Willing to Compromise
I totally understand that you have some guidelines in mind that are absolutely non-negotiable. Perhaps nobody can enter your room without permission, or you're not alright with everybody borrowing your groceries. But, you need to be somewhat flexible. Not every one of your rules can be non-negotiable. Compromise is inevitable when you're living with others, and you'll need to find some creative ways to reach a middle ground.
4. Don't Bottle Your Emotions
This one goes right along with being honest. Hiding your emotions until you reach one huge blowup isn't good for anybody. Most often, this is when your huge — sometimes unrepairable — disagreements will occur.
To avoid that dramatic "straw that broke the camel's back" situation, always be forthcoming about things that irritate you. I know you don't want to constantly seem like a nag, but being upfront in the moment will save you from a heated argument further down the road.
5. Be Reasonable
Maybe you need to go to sleep early in order to wake up at 5 a.m. each morning, but that doesn't mean you can expect your roommates to be home and silent by 8 p.m. each night. You need to be reasonable in your expectations of the people you're living with. It's important to understand that both of you have separate lives and routines, and that they don't need to be identical in order to be compatible.
6. Be Understanding of Slip-Ups
I hate to break the news to you, but you're going to have arguments. Your roommates won't always respect your rules, and you won't always respect theirs. You're going to do things that irritate each other. It's just the way it goes.
So, take a deep breath, and remember that you're all only human. Mistakes and missteps are going to happen. When they do, kindly remind your roommates of your requests. It doesn't need to turn into a screaming match. A simple reminder with a friendly tone should do the trick.