Tips for Reducing Roommate Stress

p>Learning to get along with a roommate is one of the best skills you can pick up in college. Forget trig or sentence diagramming; living with a total stranger, and doing it happily, is a trait that will serve you well in your post-graduate years. It doesn’t matter if you’re living with a friend from home or were assigned a random roommate; it doesn’t matter if you talked with them before moving in or never saw them before orientation. You will, guaranteed, have moments of tension and stress in your relationship. Ignoring them is pointless and counterproductive. The best way to reduce stress is, simply, to work to avoid it.

How do you do that? The first step is open, honest, and regular communication. Most typical fights can be avoided if the roommates involved were up-front about their needs. For instance: If you like having a quiet room to study in at night, but your roommate wants to watch movies or listen to music, you’re going to have to compromise. Gritting your teeth and putting up with the noise just leads to resentment, which gets bottled up and then explodes. Try talking about the conflict instead. Maybe your roommate can wear headphones and watch a movie on his or her computer. Or maybe you can wear headphones and listen to white noise, or just find a different place to study. Don’t let your roommate’s behavior — or your own — lead to needless fighting.

It’s also a good idea to spend some time away from your roommate. Don’t always travel in the same social circles. You already live together, so spending every moment of every day together will only lead to an extreme familiarity that can easily turn to boredom or sniping. Being friends with a roommate doesn’t mean being best friends, or even doing everything together. Enjoy your time apart. It will wind up strengthening your relationship as you bond in the evenings over what happened to you that day. Enjoy moments with your roommate when you can just hang out.

If you find that you and your roommate just aren’t clicking, or that certain stressful situations never seem to get resolved, it’s a good idea to talk to a counselor. Your R.A. can help with this, and he or she can also put you in touch with campus counselors who are trained in the art of mediation. Sometimes two people just don’t get along, and rather than ignore the issue and let it get worse, you should talk openly about it in hopes of making it better. It might be more awkward at first than just letting it go, but it’s much healthier in the long run to get things out in the open. Communication, as always, is the key.

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