Keep in mind that both you and your roommate are learning valuable skills in sharing space with another person. Rather than suffer through a downgrade to the space and privacy you’ve been used to, learn to look at your roommate as training wheels for the shared spaces you’ll be inhabiting as you grow into your adult life. The communication techniques you craft with a roommate are very similar to those you’ll use when you share an office with a co-worker or your home with a spouse or children. Make this time work for you and practice developing the communication and compromise skills that you’ll use for life.
Here are the 5 agreements to roommate peace:
“We will respect our food agreement.”
Some roommates run their kitchens like an office fridge on the simple rule that if you bought it, it’s yours. Others have shared common items like coffee creamer, butter, etc., but the big ticket items aren’t communal property. Some grocery shop together and split the bill. Most roommates do a combination of these. It’s easier if you’re just sharing a space with one person, but if you’re sharing a house or larger apartment with several people, it becomes impractical for the fridge to contain duplicates of everything. So what do you do? Have a conversation with your roommate about your food feelings. If walking in on your roommate with a mouthful of your snacks is going to send you into a rage, mention it before it becomes an issue. If you are cool with a roommate helping him or herself to your food every now and then, but finding yourself out of coffee creamer in the morning ruins your whole day, speak up! It’s better to let it be known directly than address it later on when it comes attached to resentments.
“We will have a plan for cleaning.”
“Roommates have a greater say and priority than guests.”
Have a candid conversation with your roommate about how he or she feels about having guests over. If you’re both social animals, cool! But if your roommate wants your space to be a haven of study and solitude, be respectful of it. Keep in mind that you have countless places to socialize, but your roommate only has one place to go home to. It’s courteous to work out a way for your roommate to let you know if he or she wants people to leave without needing to come across rude. Work this out ahead of time and be prepared to respect it when the time comes. This includes a plan of exile when one of you meets someone special and needs a little private time. It’s a bit of an awkward conversation now, but when the time comes, you’ll be glad you addressed it.
“We will be transparent and open about bills.”
“We will communicate like adults and communicate privately.”
The tradition of roommates leaving passive-aggressive notes may be a tradition as old as the written word, but it’s a terrible idea. You might feel a cathartic release as you craft the perfectly scathing Post-It Note to tape above the garbage bin, but the instances of your nasty note having a positive effect is exactly zero. The same goes for confronting your roommate in front of an audience. It’s childish and will put both of you on the defensive. Your goal isn’t to win– it’s to compromise and find a solution together. Face-to-face private conversations are usually the best way to handle this, but a diplomatically-worded email or text can give you both time to cool off before responding if it’s likely to be an emotional issue.