How Do I Resolve A Conflict with my College Roommate?

A college student with their books and backpack

College life is one of the most transformative periods in a person’s life. I mean, how could it not be? You’re meeting new people, in a new city (maybe even New York City?!) and you’re away from the comfort of your home! It’s kind of like an adulthood version of throwing yourself into the deep-end of the pool, and waiting to see if you sink or swim. Of course, it’s not all scary. You’ll make lifelong friends, have profound experiences and a whole lot of memories! And one of these profound experiences is the one that involves you living with a stranger. Y’know, your roommate? Your college roommate, conflict and all, will always hold a special meaning for you. And as fun as it is to have someone to share this whole new experience with, roommate problems are bound to arise.

So, today, we thought we’d talk about how to deal with conflicts that arise when you’re living with a college roommate for the very first time. Don’t worry, most problems are fixable if you both have the right tools. And that’s what we’re here to help with!

Related: How to Resolve Conflicts When You Share an Apartment

Resolve any conflict with your college roommate with an agreement

We know agreement sounds like such a formal word. I mean, that’s something you sign when you’re an adult adult and want to buy a New York City penthouse or something. But you’d be surprised by how much this helps. Of course, this document is not legally binding, but that doesn’t mean it’s not effective! Writing down your wants, needs and expectations from your roommate (and vice versa) can really set the right tone for your relationship. Trust us, you’ll feel like you know your new roommate a lot better after reading this agreement. And when conflict inevitably arises with your college roommate, you can just refer back to this agreement. This is how you deal with roommate problems in a healthy way!

Communication is key when dealing with college roommate conflict

We know, confronting a new college roommate might seem like a bad idea. After all, you want to be friends with your roommate, not accuse them of causing problems. But that’s just it, honest communication isn’t confrontation (Of course, if you decide to scream all your problems in their face, it won’t help). But if you (kindly and gently) let your roommate know when they do something you don’t like, they’ll try to accommodate you. They probably didn’t mean to piss you off on purpose.

Not to sound too much like a marriage counselor, but communication really is the key to most of your problems. A conflict with your college roommate will only escalate if you don’t communicate with them. What is a mild annoyance today, will become unbearable when you’re both stressed out about final exams later in the semester. So, nip it in the bud and your dorm room will be a safe haven for both of you!

Don’t point fingers at them

We’re just going to keep the marriage counselor vibe going for just a second longer and give you this one advice: don’t put all the blame on them. When you start pointing fingers at them and blame them for all your problems, they will get defensive. This is actually advice that doesn’t just help you deal with your roommate problems, but problems with every other person. The moment people get defensive, they start (verbally) attacking back and that just doesn’t lead to anything good. And if your opponent is an 18 year old New York City college student, oh boy. So, maybe you should try telling them how their actions made you feel instead of telling them they’re irritating and a bad roommate. Sensitivity is key when dealing with a conflict with your college roommate!

Related: 6 Shared Apps for Roommates to Help Keep Your Apartment A Conflict-Free Zone

If nothing else works, it’s time to call in the RA

Your Resident Advisor (or RA) might seem annoying when they’re enforcing “quiet hours” and telling you all the different ways in which you’re breaking University rules. But when it comes to mediating a conflict with your college roommate, they’re godsent. If your roommate problems persist and nothing seems to solve it, it may be time to call in your RA. Shoot them an email, or text (or snapchat, if y’all are cool) and let them know of the situation.

From there you can decide what action to take. Maybe the RA can meet with both of you one-on-one or perhaps a group session might be helpful. Whatever it is, an outside mediation can really put things into perspective.  In the rare cases where nothing seems to work and you just can’t live with your roommate anymore, they might even help you switch rooms. Though this is a lot harder to do once the semester is already half-way done.

College life will throw you in a lot of situations that are less than ideal. That includes unpleasant roommates, but don’t let that ruin the whole experience for you. Honestly it actually might be good practice for if you ever move to New York City. Just remember, your roommate is only part of the college experience. And if you just can’t get along with them, there’s always a next semester!

D’you know what else Roomi does outside of helping its readers resolve conflicts with their college roommate? With our ever-increasing lists of rooms and roommates across the world, we help you find your perfect match! Download the app here and hop on the easiest ride home, ever!