How To Set Boundaries With Your Roommates

by Chelsey Grasso

It can be difficult to have a roommate, but that doesn't mean that there aren't ways to make it easier. In order to set boundaries with your roommates, you only need to follow a few guidelines. Establishing boundaries early on is key to having a healthy and happy relationship with your roomies, so make sure you get to it as soon as you can.

When setting boundaries, the last thing you want to do is offend anybody. Unfortunately, however, the entire topic can be a little awkward, making that difficult. The solution to this problem? Handle things as strategically and professionally as you can. Yup, that's right. You're about to get all diplomatic about living in a dorm room.

I've outlined five very simple steps below. They may not seem like anything that revolutionary, but I promise you that if you stick to them, you'll end up in a lot better shape come the first conflict that arises — and trust me, one will arise. From setting aside a special time to discuss the living situation to getting everybody's signature on a list of established rules, these steps will end up saving you from a lot of drama later on, as well as a lot of awkwardness at the moment of move-in.

1. Set a specific time to talk.

If you want the boundaries you're setting to be taken seriously, then you have to treat them seriously. Don't try to have a conversation on the fly. Instead, set an exact time and date to talk with your roommates uninterrupted.

2. Don't have anybody in attendance who doesn't live there.

Too many cooks in the kitchen is never a good thing. Make sure that the only people invited to your boundaries meeting are those who are actually living in the space being discussed. You don't need anybody speaking for anybody else.

3. Acknowledge everybody's perspective.

Some people have a tendency to overpower others. In this case, don't let that happen. Make sure everybody has a chance to voice their opinion. If need be, set up your meeting so that you go around the circle getting feedback from everybody.

4. Write out your decisions, and leave them in a place to be seen.

Once you've decided on boundaries that everybody finds fair, make sure you write them out. You don't want anybody going back on what they said. Additionally, leave the piece of paper in an area that you and your roommates can see daily to be reminded of what you agreed on.

5. Sign the paper, and respect the set boundaries.

Finally, have every roommate give a signature at the bottom of the paper. This establishes their promise to cooperate, and makes the whole discussion seem more official. Once the rules are set, make sure you respect them.

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