Remember freshman year when you were so nervous about having to find a roommate but then it turned out that everything was fine, and you became besties with your roommate and lived happily ever after?
No? Oh yeah, that’s because it rarely happens. Some lucky ones get their fairy tale roommate story, but for the most part having a roommate is like starring in a poorly written horror story - and every horror story has a monster.
Well, perhaps, monster is too harsh a word to describe your roommate, no matter how accurate it may feel sometimes. Sharing a living space with someone is a lot harder than it seems. Everyone has a perfectly valid living style, the problem is that not everyone’s styles mesh.
The seven [deadly] types of roommates
There’s messy and then there’s messy. The slob thrives on mess. Clothes, trash and dirty dishes everywhere, an odorous cloud floating around that never seems to go away - these are signs that you are living with a slob. Do they even have a bed? Maybe that’s what’s under the mountain of clothes in the corner. The slob prefers to live in filth, which can be an issue if your ideal living situation includes actually being able to see the floor.
The slob’s natural enemy, the neat-freak, believes that everything has a place and cannot function until everything is in its place. Their room is spotless and they wish everywhere else could be the same. Don’t even bother trying to clean up, because they’ll probably find fault in your work and want to do it again themselves.
If you are constantly being sexiled from your room [meaning you have to leave because your roommate is doing the nasty], then you are living with a sexiler. The sexiler is especially difficult to live with in the dorms. You might feel like you have two rooms because you’re forced to spend so much time in the lounges.
THE PASSIVE-AGGRESSIVE GHOST
The ghost is rarely around, but you know they have an issue with you via the passive-aggressive notes they leave lying around. Occasionally, you’ll find your items in a new place without any explanation. When confronted they will claim everything is fine, but it’s not and you’ll find that out when you find the next sticky note.
The hermit’s habitat is its room. It’s where they feel most safe, it’s where they belong. They’ve designed their room specifically so that they rarely have to leave it. The hermit entertains themselves with video games, reading or binge-watching TV shows or Netflix. Their other friends are probably hermits too.
THE PARTY ANIMAL
The party animal is just as its name describes: an animal. If they are not in their constant state of partying, they are most definitely talking about it. The party animal travels in herds, so chances are if you live with one, there’ll be more hanging around.
THE WORST OF THEM ALL
The worst of all these monsters is the person who does not communicate. In order to have a living situation in which you and your roommates are all able to live happily, you have to have open communication about the issues that you all have or nothing is going to get better.
How to make it work
Former Mathes Resident Advisor Emma Burgeson sheds some light on how to deal with common roommate issues:
What advice would you give someone who lives with a roommate who has a different living style?
Differences in lifestyle can potentially be a difficult thing to overcome, but open communication is the best way to go. In general, roommate conflicts are best solved when faced head on.
Sometimes it can be scary to confront the person you live with, but as long as you do it without attacking them, the issues can typically be resolved. Both people are entitled to choose the way they’d like to live their lives, as long as it doesn’t impede on the other’s comfort.
Party Animal vs. Non-partier?
Discussing how you want to spend your nights and how often you want to have people over is something that is best covered before deciding to move in together, but if, for example, you’re paired with a random person, compromise is key.
Slob vs. Neat-freak?
Living with a roommate who’s a lot messier than you can be a source of stress, but it’s generally an easy fix. Talking to them about why messes make you uncomfortable is the first step, but some simple solutions can include creating chore charts and setting aside time just for cleaning! Cleaning together makes it more fair and is a better motivator than a piece of paper that constantly stares at you.
Introvert vs. Extrovert?
If your roommate doesn’t leave the room much, the first step is to ask why. Introverted people need to spend time alone to recharge and it sometimes comes off as being anti-social when it’s really just an energy saver. If it’s a problem of not knowing how to meet people, encourage them to join a club that interests them or invite them with you. Remember though that while it’s not your responsibility to make friends for your roommate, it can be nice to show them that you care.