When I was a university student, I had a number of roommates. Sometimes, they were pretty good roommates. Most times, though, they were absolutely terrible. However, I can`t put the blame entirely on them. At times, I wasn`t the best roommate myself. So what happened? What made our relationships as roommates less than ideal? I think the number one problem was that we didn`t communicate well. I would say that good communication is not only important between roommates, but in all relationships, whether it be between friends, coworkers, family members, couples, or spouses.
What does it mean to communicate well, though? By this point, it`s a cliché to say that communication is key for a good relationship, so it`s important to talk about what good communication looks like. First of all, both people in the relationship need to inform the other of what is important to them. Along with this comes the need to explain when what is important to them is being infringed upon, neglected, or ignored. Unfortunately, in many relationships it`s common for at least one party to be passive aggressive. The reasons for this are various. It could be that the person is shy or wants to avoid confrontation. It could also be because the person isn`t sure what they want. Either way, a lot of problems can be avoided simply by saying what it is that you want and what you don`t want.
Another important aspect of communication is to keep talking even when you get upset. This can be tricky to do because when you get upset with someone, talking to them is probably the last thing that you want to do. However, if you don`t keep the channel of communication open, it can lead to resentment and your bad feelings can fester. When this happens, your relationship will have a really hard time recovering. If it`s too hard to talk to the other person face to face, you can leave them notes, use LINE or other messaging apps, send emails, or even talk to a mutual friend who can act as an intermediary between the two of you. This might seem a bit passive aggressive, but it`s better than nothing. Whatever you do, just keep talking to the other person!
Of course, there are simpler and possibly more obvious ways to maintain a good relationship between roommates. For one, you should keep the place clean, including all shared areas and your room to prevent pests from invading your home. For another, you should set some ground rules in terms of when guests are welcome to come over and when they are not. A lot of the roommate problems that I`ve seen have come from people inviting other people over for a party or a date when other people living there just wanted to study or sleep. Finally, the most important thing (besides communication) is to be flexible and adaptable to the needs of other people, while also maintaining boundaries and staying firm to what you hold most dear.
cliché (n) – something that is said often so it is no longer a new, interesting or original idea
infringe upon (phr. v) – to take away someone’s rights or freedoms
passive aggressive (adj.) – indirectly expressing dislike for something
fester (v) – to increase bad feelings over time
intermediary (n) – a person who relays information or messages between two people or groups