It doesn't matter if you're living with friends, acquaintances or complete strangers. There can always be problems when living in close quarters with other people. While you'll certainly have to deal with various issues, it's how you handle them, and even try to prevent them, that will make the biggest difference in whether you have a happy or tension-filled home.
Set Ground Rules
Many problems can arise when roommates just make assumptions about things, like cleaning responsibilities or when it's too late to have company over. When you first move into a dorm or apartment, have all the roommates sit down to get on the same page with day-to-day activities. Discuss a cleaning schedule, bathroom schedule for getting ready in the morning, how late visitors can stay and whether or not you will share food. Setting ground rules is a great way to avoid misunderstandings later on.
Create Open Lines of Communication
Acknowledge right from the start that disagreements are inevitable. It's important to feel comfortable coming to each other to have adult discussions in order to resolve disagreements. Make a pact that if anything comes up, you'll sit down and have a conversation about it to see what middle ground can be reached. Keeping your feelings bottled up will just result in resentment and make it difficult to get along.
Be Self Aware
Part of communication with roommates includes knowing what kind of person you are. Are you a night owl or a late sleeper? What kind of music do you like? Do you prefer to study at home in complete silence? Make sure you bring up some of your personality traits when you set ground rules at the beginning. Also, be aware that you're sure to have some bad habits that get under your roommate's skin. Be open to any criticisms your roommate has of your behavior, and he or she will be more likely to understand criticisms you have to give.
Be Willing to Compromise
When living with others, you can't have everything exactly the way you want it. For instance, maybe you typically prefer to have all dishes washed, dried and put away immediately, whereas your roommates might wash them and put them in a dish rack to dry. Compromise in situations like this where, even if a little irritating, it will maintain the peace. And, at the end of the day, remember that at least the dishes are getting washed!
Positive Communication Is Essential
When having discussions with roommates, actively listen. Any discussion will go much smoother if everyone genuinely pays attention to what's being said. Take responsibility for your feelings by using 'I feel' statements. Have a solution to propose when you bring up any issues. Say what's bothering you and what you want to happen, rather than just dwelling on the problem.
Don't Sweat the Small Stuff
Particularly after a long day of classes and homework, it can be easy to get irritated about the smallest thing, like a roommate using up the toilet paper and not changing the roll. But if it's an infrequent incident, there's no point in blowing up about it. Do you really want to make a big deal out of something that took you less than a minute to take care of? It's always important to pick your battles.
Get to Know Your Roommates
Learning about your roommates may help you understand the way they operate in daily life. If you're perfect strangers to begin with, you might find you have some common interests that make your time together more fun. The better you know each other and the more comfortable you are, the easier it will be to work through any issues that come up.
Being considerate can make a huge difference in any living situation. Extend respect and consideration to others and you will find the same respect and consideration returned to you. This could mean giving roommates a heads up about an overnight guest, or turning down the volume on the TV late at night. It also means respecting common space by wiping up toothpaste messes in the bathroom sink, even if you don't think it's necessary.
Living with other people can lead to personal growth. If you keep a positive outlook, you're more likely to get through any drama with ease. Treat your time sharing a dorm or apartment as a learning opportunity and a chance to make great friends!
Even if you do have to deal with the occasional roommate problem, there are plenty of benefits to living on campus.