Practical Ways to Avoid Roommate Drama

Issues with roommates can be just as stressful as university coursework and exams – if not more so. Drama is distracting, uncomfortable, and in some cases, scary. A tense living environment can make it impossible to study and complete assignments. Fortunately, there are some practical ways to avoid common roommate annoyances. Discover some of the most effective strategies below.

Learn to Communicate Well

As with any relationship, ongoing communication is the key to getting along well with your roommates. Strong communication has a few key elements, including:

  • Respecting oneself, others, their belongings, and your living environment
  • Setting ground rules for everyone to follow
  • Practicing kindness in your words and actions, as well as apologizing when needed (appropriately and sincerely)
  • Being open about behaviors that bother you or about your own lifestyle preferences (i.e. cooking, cleaning, and noise levels during certain times)
  • Talking about issues in a concise, firm, and kind manner
  • Showing appreciation when you’re listened to or when issues are resolved, as well as saying “please” and “thank you”
  • Understanding cultural and lifestyle differences
  • Expressing a willingness to talk about issues, listen to others’ complaints about you, and find fair, reasonable solutions
  • Avoiding yelling, blaming, accusing, gossiping, demanding, and passive aggressive behaviors (i.e. leaving a mean note after a roommate eats your food)
  • Asking for privacy and space at certain times (i.e. when you need to study)

With these strategies, there should be little to no conflict that goes unresolved. Of course, you’ll also need to lead by example. If you approach a situation with openness, understanding and kindness, it’s likely you’ll receive a similar reaction in return. Taking the time to navigate differences thoughtfully should reduce or eliminate anger, frustration, and stress.

Set Some Ground Rules

While it may seem like extra work, establishing a “roommate contract” can actually be a wise step to take if you’re sharing an apartment. While it doesn’t have to be super formal and can always be altered down the road, this agreement will clearly define everyone’s expectations upfront. It could include preferences, plans, or charts for:

  • Using and sharing communal spaces
  • Cooking, cleaning, and doing household shopping
  • Having guests over (especially overnight guests)
  • Borrowing, sharing, or using each other’s things
  • Entering or hanging out in each other’s rooms
  • Studying or sharing study space, especially for major exams or assignments
  • Storing and sharing food
  • Noise levels and time frames for playing music, video games, and so forth
  • Handling conflict

Knowing what to expect and what is expected of you could facilitate respect and understanding from the beginning. Since you likely won’t know your roommates, a contract could serve as an introduction to their lifestyle preferences and outline your possible compatibility. It could also help you avoid grievances and arguments. Plus, if there’s ever an issue, you can refer to this agreement to find a reasonable resolution.

Don’t Spend Too Much Time Together

When you move into uOttawa off-campus housing, you may find yourself wanting to get to know your new roommates as quickly as possible. Yet, spending too much time together could quickly lead to annoyances and frustration. Thus, you should aim to spend a healthy amount of time together — and apart.

Spending time away from a person can foster appreciation for them and their place in your life. Additionally, if there is an issue, it can give you time to vent, calm down, reflect and alleviate stress. So, you’ll be better equipped to talk about and resolve conflict, as well as avoid drama.

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