How To Manage College Roommate Conflict

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College roommate conflict is draining. In fact, honestly, it’s probably one of the worst parts of college life.

If you ever had conflict in High School, you’re maybe thinking you are equipped to manage college roommate conflict. However, that’s not entirely true.

You see, in High School, you don’t have to share a living space with this person. So, the old High School way of handling conflict goes out the window just on this premise.

So, How Do You Manage College Roommate Conflict?

When dealing with college roommate conflict, you can’t let your emotions get the best of you, even when you believe you have been wronged.

Remember, fortune favors those with their emotions in check.

Secondly, if you and your college roommate share the same group of college friends, tread lightly.

Since the last thing you want your friends to do is to pick sides. This can negatively impact the dynamics of the group, or worst destroy the group completely.

Thirdly, be respectful. More can be achieved through respectful communication and behavior.

On the other hand, being disrespectful will only serve as a tool to build a wall in a college roommate relationship.

How To Address College Roommate Problems Before It Escalates

Now, while some college roommate conflicts can be handled through respectful open dialogue, some college roommate conflicts may require mediation assistance from a hall Resident Advisor.

However, before the conflict escalates, there are other ways you can address college roommate problems, including:

  1. Accept your roommate for who they are
  2. Establish or reestablish boundaries
  3. Communicate respectfully and directly
  4. Behave respectfully
  5. Give your roommate a fair opportunity to change
  6. Avoid addressing college roommate problems on social media platforms
  7. Be mature about the situation, not petty

1. Accept your roommate for who they are

Sometimes we unconsciously try to change people and that can evoke drama in our relationships.

Therefore, be mindful and avoid trying to change your roommate. Instead, fully accept them for who they are.

So for instance, if your roommate is disorganized, then with the help of your roommate, find simple ways to organize the space you both share.

If after giving your roommate sufficient time to adjust, they are still too disorganized for your likely, maybe it’s time to ask for a transfer.

One thing, I have learned over the years, is you can’t force people to change, they must be willing to make changes for themselves first, not you.

Thus, accept your roommate fully, and if it’s too much then consider transferring.

2. Establish or reestablish boundaries

Sometimes we don’t set boundaries, or we set them, but then people get a little too comfortable.

So what do you do when you believe someone has crossed the line?

Well, the best way to deal with the situation is to establish boundaries if you never hard them or reestablish them.

For example, if you and your roommate agreed to no visitors after 10 pm Monday to Thursday then suddenly your roommate started having friends over past the agreed time, then it’s time to reestablish these boundaries.

That may include possibly adjusting the time a bit if it’s necessary, or going back to the original agreement.

Remember, while it’s okay to compromise, don’t let your college roommate take advantage of you, especially if there was an original agreement – stand up for yourself.

3. Communicate respectfully and directly

Don’t be mean, instead treat others how you would like to be treated.

Thus, even when you strongly believe you are right, always communicate respectfully and directly.

Remember, your roommate has feelings and actions and words can’t be taken back once they have been done and said.

Plus, you can achieve more by being respectful and confronting the situation directly.

4. Behave respectfully

They say actions speak louder than words, and I couldn’t agree more.

Someone might forget what you said, but they will rarely forget what you did.

So, before you let your emotions control your actions, breathe take a step back then confront the situation only when you have calmed down and not before.

Who knows, maybe after, you had some time to think about the situation, you might have a totally different outlook or at least have the ability to deal with the situation respectfully.

5. Give your roommate a fair opportunity to change

Give them time to change – don’t rush it.

Remember, while you may have been trained at home to behave a certain way or do things a certain way, that does not automatically mean your way is the right way or your roommate was given the same opportunity at home.

Remember, people, come from different backgrounds therefore they have different experiences.

So be patient with them and guide them if more guidance is needed.

6. Avoid addressing college roommate problems on social media platforms

Don’t share your problems on social media!

It’s a recipe for disaster, especially if your roommate sees the post before you can directly address or confront them.

Posting your problems on social media is almost guaranteed to make the situation ten times worst.

So be careful – don’t give in to your emotions.

7. Be mature about the situation, not petty

Lastly, be mature about the situation. You nor your roommate have them time to be petty.

Remember, a 4.0 GPA doesn’t magically appear on transcripts. So you both really don’t have the time to deal with petty conflict.

So grow up and deal with the situation head-on, and if that doesn’t work, then consider using these strategies below to resolve college roommate conflict.

Tips For Resolving College Roommate Conflicts

Sometimes your attempts to address college roommate problems directly will fail, unfortunately – that’s life.

Thankfully, at this point, there are a few strategies you can use to resolve conflict with a college roommate, and these include:

  1. Seek guidance from an established roommate agreement
  2. Get Your Resident Advisor involved
  3. Request a Room Transfer
  4. Live alone

1. Seek guidance from an established roommate agreement

Roommate agreements established at the beginning of each semester can significantly help resolve college roommate conflicts.

Therefore, while roommate agreements are not generally legally binding, it’s generally recommended to create one with your roommate at the beginning of the semester just to ensure you all are on the same page.

Thus, if you and your roommate have a college roommate agreement, then seek guidance from it to resolve your conflict.

If you don’t have one in place, then consider tip number 2.

2. Get your resident advisor involved

Bringing a third party in to help resolve a conflict has its advantages and disadvantages.

However, in a situation where a roommate agreement isn’t available or the one available didn’t help resolve the conflict, a resident advisor is your best bet.

A resident advisor acts as a mediator in this situation. They help both parties come to an agreement and provide guidance on how to forward.

Now, while resident advisors will try their best to resolve the conflict and in most cases they usually do, realize they are not miracle workers.

In fact, depending on the gravity of the conflict, their help might not be enough and your best option might just be requesting a room transfer or living alone.

3. Request a room transfer

Okay, so maybe you and your roommate didn’t mesh well and that’s unfortunate, but that’s life.

If addressing the problem with your roommate didn’t work, nor did the guidance from the resident advisor, it’s time to request a room transfer – don’t procrastinate.

The sooner you get the process started, the sooner you will get out of that uncomfortable situation.

4. Live alone

Now, sometimes your room transfer doesn’t work either.

Surprised? Not me.

Sometimes a college roommate conflict is really about the unwillingness to share space with someone else.

Thus, it doesn’t matter who the roommate is, so at this point, requesting another room transfer is pointless.

Instead, request a single or private dorm room.

In general, living alone is the best way to resolve college roommate conflict when everything else fails.

But before you take the plunge, understand single dorm rooms or private dorm rooms cost more.

Plus, not every school offers single or private dorm rooms in their residential housing.

However, if single or private rooms aren’t available in residential housing, you can request permission to leave off-campus.

Now, depending on your age, without proper cause, your request will certainly be denied, and you will have no choice but to stay on campus until you’re of age to move off.

However, if age isn’t an issue before you decide to move off-campus, ensure you can afford the cost and responsibility associated with that kind of living arrangement.

So when it’s all said and done, should you just live in a single dorm room or private dorm room or live off-campus to avoid roommate conflict altogether?

It depends.

However, personally, I think that part of college life, even if it’s just for one semester or one year, should be experienced by every college student.

That kind of experience teaches and enforces social skills that are required for personal growth and development.

So before you decide to live in a single dorm room or private dorm room or live off-campus, make sure you are completely satisfied with your decision.

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