First, let me say that this is NOT an attack on any of my previous roommates! They were all great people who I was lucky to live with. However, there were things they did that I didn’t like, and by identifying the issues I had with them, I can ensure that I (and hopefully you!) will never become a bad roommate who causes these same problems for anyone else.
I once shared a room with a girl who was a good friend of mine, but she had a crazy-busy schedule. After burning the candle at both ends for a few weeks, she started resenting my free time. She would make passive-aggressive comments about how I was always “sitting around doing nothing,” or that I slept too much, or that I was lazy and didn’t involve myself in anything important. Eventually, I sat her down and told her how her comments upset me. She apologized and found better outlets for her stress, but it took quite the toll on our friendship.
The lesson: Make sure you aren’t taking out your stress on your roommate! It’s definitely frustrating when you’re struggling with something and the person you live with isn’t, but remember that it’s not their fault, so don’t blame them.
I’m not a person who stays up late. My roommate was a dedicated night-owl and partier. This difference in itself wasn’t a problem. The problem was that she would come home at all hours of the night and continue with her activities as if she lived alone. She would turn on all the lights, slam doors, and even play her guitar while I was trying to sleep.
The lesson: Sleep matters. If you and your roommate live different schedules, be considerate of that! It’s not unreasonable for you to ask your roommate if they think earplugs or a noise machine would help them sleep better, but this isn’t a one-way deal—don’t slam doors (be it the front door, the microwave door, or the cabinet door), and wear headphones to watch Netflix or listen to music.
My roommate’s boyfriend was constantly visiting and sleeping over, which I didn’t actually mind, because he was a good guy and we all had established rules about what was appropriate during his visits and what wasn’t. What I did mind, however, was when they started breaking those rules. I had said that I was comfortable with overnight visits so long as nothing sexual occurred while I was in the room. When I woke up to the sound of them having sex in the next bed (we shared a bedroom!) that was the last straw.
The lesson: Establish rules with your roommate and abide by them! Whether it’s rules about overnight guests, house parties, or when to do the dishes, if you’ve agreed to something, stick with it. I can’t stress this part enough—If it was important enough to your roommate that you guys set rules about it, respect them enough to honor your word.
The Inconsiderate Sharer.
When I shared a kitchen with three other people, we were always borrowing dishes and cookware from each other. This system worked well for three of us; our fourth roommate, however, would never clean or return the items she used. One of my bowls sat, unwashed, in her bedroom for days. She would leave other people’s plates sitting in the sink for days, only bothering to clean the items she personally had purchased.
The lesson: Respect your roommate’s things. One of the great things about having a roommate is getting to borrow the things you don’t own, but you need to remember that the things you borrow aren’t actually yours, so don’t treat them like they are.
What lessons have you learned from your roommates’ mistakes? Tell us in the comments below!