How to Be a Courteous Roommate 

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Your college roommates usually fall into one of two camps: lifelong friends who give toasts at your wedding and those who you nearly clobber with overpriced textbooks. Sometimes the problem is a random pairing of roommates gone awry. Sometimes these rifts develop between friends – the rules and norms of a friendship simply change when you share an address.

When you’re living with other people, you have to bring a certain level of communication, respect and maturity. These things may be often recited Wikihow facts, but it is crucially important that you apply them. This means letting your roommate know when you have a problem, and hearing them out when they indicate something you are doing is grinding their gears. This means setting boundaries, putting on your big gender-neutral pants, having an adult conversation and doing your own damn dishes in a timely fashion. Most importantly, it means basic courtesy – checking yourself on noise, cleanliness, how you use the communal space and honor established shared responsibilities. If you are having people over or going to be making noise, especially during regular sleeping hours, your roommates would appreciate it if you let them know. Violating these terms are by far the biggest sources of contention I’ve heard, because they are all violations of respect.

Given the fact that some people grew up without siblings and college roommates are basically the training wheels of adult domesticity, you are bound to experience a bit of messiness. This is normal. College is not typically a rough time, and people naturally slip up. With that in mind, though, there are certain lines you must be careful not to cross.

Food, sex, and personal space are danger zones. For one, if you’re sharing a room, it’s probably best not to bring a partner home while your roommate is in the midst of their REM cycle. You’d think avoiding this would be intuitive, as I did my first year of school, but as it happens, it is a fairly common horror story – one that I’ve happened to experience first hand. No one wants to have their already limited sleep disrupted, especially by unwittingly being alerted that they’re a participating member in your sex life.

If one of your roommates purchases a pack of Oreos, you should also probably avoid eating them. Unfortunately, college homes don’t usually abide by Oreo socialism.

Not everyone is going to be best buds with their roommates, even if they abide by these courteous steps. However, something that will win you huge brownie points is checking in on how they’re doing from time to time. If they’re stressed or struggling with something, ask them what you can do to help. This will not only make your house operate as a more well-oiled machine, but it is also the kind thing to do. Depending on their response, be prepared to give them either space or support. If you are reading this, you’re probably already aware that life in college can sometimes feel like extracting teeth with needle-nose pliers. When you’re going through it or simply overwhelmed, having someone taking the time to ask about your well-being can be the difference between having and forgoing anesthesia.

Generally, start by considering your roommate a real person, and you should manage to avoid most murder attempts. Mind your business, be clean and do your part. Your year should be fine. If you can’t remember the last time you bought toilet paper, then you might want to run to the store.

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