Let’s face it – unless you graduate school and immediately begin working for a crime ring that gets busted, you may never have to learn to get along with another person with so few square feet between you than your dorm roommate.
Colleges are doing much more these days to match roommates by interests and habits, but don’t be surprised if you and your new roomie won't be instant friends. Even for people with many similar interests and habits, it still requires extra tolerance, communication skills and a willingness to learn about people to make this new living arrangement work.
Understand that even in the best of circumstances, it will be a challenge. In reality, it’s going to be the little things that pile up and create stress. Endurance is the key here. Living with a best buddy from high school? As strange as it sounds, this won’t make things that much easier for many partners in crime.
The fundamental tool that you absolutely have to exercise is communication. Communication helps defuse potentially problematic situations from getting out of control. Keep this healthy and the other issues will seem like mere trifles. Speaking frankly with your roommate about what you like or dislike about how they’re acting, without being aggressive, will keep things open and honest.
Begin talking about things that interest you.
People get interested in people who are interesting. Your roommate is the person who will hear you snore every night and has to deal with you when you’re sick. It’s a good policy to break up the embarrassing monotony with some quick conversation about movies and music or the upcoming game. Talk, but move past “small talk.” Chatting about how cold it was yesterday for 5 minutes does not equal conversation.
Find ways to admire and appreciate this person.
So he might have a dumb haircut. So she might have a big gap in her teeth. Get beyond appearances. Everyone has at least one thing interesting about them. Figure out what it is and observe it, ask about it, talk about it. Generally people love talking about themselves or something they like. This is your chance to bond and let them cultivate a comfort zone with you.
Assume good will.
Politics within the dorm room shouldn’t be built on a pre-emptive strike policy. Sometimes your new roommate will do something that they don’t realize is annoying, but this may well be just a habit or a holdover from the way things are in his or her home. There’s a good chance that any quirks they display won’t be specifically designed to annoy you. A little respect goes a long way, but if you can’t take it anymore…
Got a problem? No one says you can’t call a meeting and see if you can work it out. Remember, you've got to be reasonable if you want the other person to listen to reason. Simmering in resentment will only make it more difficult to get along, plus the added stress may begin to affect your grade average.
Don’t sweat the little stuff and have fun.
Happy people make those around them happy. Most of the time, people tend to reflect the attitudes of who they interact with. Having a roommate isn't a problem. It's an opportunity to learn social skills that help you for life and, perhaps, to make a friend.