How-To: Coexist with a roommate
Published: Sunday, February 24, 2013
Updated: Sunday, February 24, 2013 22:02
Let me preface this column by saying that I have been very blessed to be spared roommate drama in my four years at Boston College. While I still have four-ish months to stir up the pot and hurt some feelings, I am hopeful that I will finish my career at BC with good memories and no pending lawsuits. Some people say I’m like a therapy guru, holding all of the secrets to amiable and non-awkward relationships with roommates. Others say I’m living in denial of the drama that surrounds me. I say ignorance is bliss, so I choose to listen to the former. Regardless, roommate drama is a problem that plagues every student, from the freshmen on Newton to the best friends living in the Mods. Now, as we head into the home stretch, you probably are counting down the days until you can return home to your own room and walk around naked whenever you want. But, until then, it can’t hurt to deal with roommate drama with a little bit of understanding and a lot of imagination. Here are some tips to make it through May with the least amount of drama and possible renewed friendships:
Communicate with each other. You don’t have to become best friends or hash out all of your issues in one sitting, but it might be a good idea to clear the air before you embark on this journey of restoration. A simple, “It kind of bothers me when you prank call my parents,” will suffice. Your roommate might not even know that what they’re doing bothers you and a simple conversation could be all it takes to get you guys back on track.
Neither a borrower nor a lender be. Okay, obviously this rule isn’t always applicable, but Polonius was onto something with this little ditty. If you get frustrated when you’re missing printing paper, but feel no shame in helping yourself to your roommate’s closet, you’re being a tad hypocritical. If you all are okay with an open door policy when it comes to borrowing each other’s things, then great. But one of the major sources of conflict in your room could be you getting a little too grabby with their stuff. I say, paws off—at least until you have settled everything else that’s causing the drama and can establish limits.
Clean it up. Speaking as one of the many people who lied on their freshman roommate survey about their cleanliness, I can sympathize with the people who came to realize their roommate was actually a bit of a slob. As much as I hate to admit it, cleaning up a double room is actually quite easy. Pick up your socks, shirts, empty glasses, and trash and dispose of them accordingly. If being messy is just “the way you are,” then try talking to your roommate about it. If you say that you’ve always been messy but are trying your best to work on it, they might actually appreciate your efforts to change much more.
Never go to bed angry. Marriage advice is roommate advice 10 years later and totally applicable here. If you have a heated argument with your roommate or have pent up anger about something they did earlier, resolve it before you go to bed. Either confront them up front or take a walk around the Res to collect your thoughts. You might realize that what you’re so upset about isn’t so important after all. Or you could realize that it is something you absolutely have to talk about with your roommate. It might seem awkward, but your roommate will much prefer going to bed a bit later than a week of passive aggressive “nothings” and “fines.”
Spend time elsewhere. Maybe you and your roommates are suffering from extreme cabin fever and could benefit from some well-spent time apart. Spend time with a new group of friends, go on a retreat, head down to Boston, or try your hand at roulette at Foxwoods for the weekend (only bingo if you’re under 21). Whoever said “absence makes the heart grow fonder” was no fool. Time away might be exactly what you need to resolve the issues you’ve been having.
If you’ve followed this advice and your conflict remains unsolved, maybe you guys are just incompatible as roommates. Who knows? You might be best friends if it weren’t for that half-eaten peanut butter sandwich you left under your bed for three weeks or the straightener she left on by accident. Whatever the case, there are only a few months left of school, and if you’ve gotten this far, I am certain you can make it through the rest of the year with a smile and a character-building experience under your belt. Just remember to keep a positive attitude. And remember that there are classrooms open all night that you can sleep in.