By Michal Shvimer
Living with another person is a very significant part of college. Sharing a space with a non-family member teaches you communication, cooperation and understanding.
I’ve been very lucky to live with one of my closest friends, something that many recommend not doing as it may add tension to the friendship. And while that may be true for some, my roommate and I have found a way to strengthen our friendship through living together.
Here are some pro-tips we have for a happy room:
- Check in
My roommate and I check in with each other daily to see where the other’s headspace is. The two of us both have very different schedules, so we don’t see each other apart from the mornings and the evenings.
We take advantage of this time to run through each others’ days — favorite parts, funny stories, frustrations. We take the time to give feedback and catch each other up, which shows that we care about how the other is doing.
Not everyone can share everything, but we’re all capable of sharing something or other. The act of sharing is valuable to relationship-building. It shows that your friendship is more important than whatever material possessions are being passed between the two of you.
At the same time, it’s important to set boundaries, so you’re both comfortable. My roommate and I inherited a room with only one closet — we had no other choice but to share. But other things we choose to share, such as body wash, toothpaste, tea and, occasionally, clothes.
But we always let one another know and update if our boundaries have changed. Things shouldn’t get in-between us, so we make sure they don’t.
If you thought sharing was important for relationship-building, 3 a.m. breakdowns are another level entirely. We all have hard times, and no matter when they happen, you should show your support — however that support is given or received.
If you’re in the same space as someone who is letting their feelings out, ask what would make them feel better: privacy or conversation, a hug or a pat on the back. Living in the same room means that emotions will be out in the open, and being there when they do shows that your roommate’s well-being matters just as much as yours.
Not all rooming situations are perfect. I could never live with some of my friends, and I could never be friends with some roommates. But being a good roommate and a good friend requires work that we should be willing to put in if we want to come home to a good environment. I hope you try some of these things out with your current or future roommates.