Tips That Will Save Your Relationship With Your Roommate

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Every relationship guru will tell you that the most important thing in a romantic relationship is communicating with your partner. Well, you should apply that same logic to your relationship with your roommate because by the end of it, they might know more about you than your actual girlfriend or boyfriend. This is the person who you live with, will likely spend the most time with, who knows your daily routine like the back of her hand. They will know all of your pet peeves, gross habits and quirks. Everyone who says, “you won’t be friends after living together” is just doing it wrong. Here are some tips to ensure things with your roommate go smoothly and stay civil:


The best thing you can do to get along with your roommate is to just keep the lines of communication open. If you don’t like something they’re doing, you have to speak up. If they’re messy and it bugs you, you have to tell them. They won’t know that what they’re doing is bothering you unless you say something. At first, I tried the passive aggressive route. My roommate would leave her dishes in the sink which really bothered me so I decided I would do the same thing until to get my point across. It turns out she didn’t really care so by the end of the week the dishes were stacked up in the sink and I ended up doing all of them, secretly fuming about it. So rather than quietly hold a grudge, speak up and talk to them about whatever it is that’s bugging you. Just make sure you approach it in a nice way. All I had to do was say, hey I would really appreciate it if you could just rinse out your dishes and put them in the dishwasher instead of the sink and it started happening. You would be surprised at how easy it is to resolve a problem by just speaking up.

Delegate the cleaning

Maybe you switch off on the chores every other week. No one wants to be on bathroom/trash/kitchen duty all year. So just pull your weight around the place and make sure your roommate is too. Nothing is worse than having to deal with the messy roommate you’re constantly picking up after so establish a schedule and delegate responsibilities so everyone can do their part in keeping the place clean. That way, no one is off the hook and no one has to do it all. I’ve found that when everyone has to do the cleaning, everyone works harder to keep the place tidy because they realize how little fun it is to do the work. It puts everything in perspective.

Have a master calendar

My roommate and I had a master calendar on a bulletin board in our kitchen where we would write our work, social and travel schedules so the other one of us knew what was going on with them throughout the day. This way your roommate will know when you’ll be out, when you’ll be having people over and when you’re going away for a weekend. Having a master calendar provides a nice way to stay organized.

Just ASK before borrowing anything

Just ask. Likely, your roommate will say yes. But nothing is worse than feeling like your roommate is stealing from you. So just always ask to avoid awkward situations. You wouldn’t want someone just taking your stuff. The golden rule here is to treat other peoples stuff like you would want your own to be treated.

Your significant other is not your roommate

Okay well they might actually be your roommate. But if they don’t live there and aren’t paying rent.. don’t let your boyfriend or girlfriend become an additional roommate. Your actual roommate likely won’t be too happy about it. Especially if they’re eating your food, adding to the water bill and taking up space. Sure, have them over, it’s your place too after all, but just limit it so you’re roommate isn’t uncomfortable or annoyed. Last year, I was the one with the boyfriend and my roommate made him earn his keep around the place by killing the occasional spider, cooking the occasional dinner and taking out the trash every once in a while. It was a fair trade and at times was pretty entertaining.

Share the TV

Luckily with the technology we have today, overlapping shows and fighting over prime time TV viewing is no longer too much of a problem. Just remember that after your 5 episode Netflix binge, maybe you’re roomie would like a turn with the TV. Just be courteous. My roommate and I found that the best thing to do was to watch a show together. Our show was House of Cards and we wouldn’t watch it unless we were both at home so we could enjoy it together. That meant TV time was shared which was great. Just make sure you aren’t the couch potato roommate who is always hogging the TV.

Let them know if you’re having people over

Just let your roommate know if you plan to have people over. That way they aren’t studying or sitting on the couch in their pajamas with zit cream on their face when a huge group of people walks through the door. That can be really frustrating and annoying. It’s just the respectful thing to do if you’re sharing a living space with someone. That way your roommate can plan ahead to go somewhere else if they need to get things done.

Have other places you can go to get away

In any kind of relationship, whether it be romantic or just a friendship, space is always a good thing at times. Just make sure you have some place to go to relax, get away, and cool down if things get tense at home. While you may love your roommate, too much time spent with anyone can drive you crazy so it’s good to take a break from one another. My roommate and I were definitely getting sick of each other towards the end of the year. But now with summer upon us, we miss each other a lot.

These tips, of course, are derived from a year of experience as I’m the one who committed most of the above mentioned crimes against my roommate. (Shoutout to you, Mel, for still putting up with me and loving me after a year of living with me #P201forever.)

Profile photo of Julianne Smith
Junior business student at Washington State University. Go Cougs!

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