In an article about a thriving roommate relationship, two roommates with opposing styles stare at one another from across a line drawn in the middle of their dorm room.

Roommate Relationships: How To Make Them Thrive

Setting healthy boundaries with your roomies is essential.
March 30, 2023
6 mins read

Depending on the situation, community living can be difficult. This is especially true when someone transitions from a spacious bedroom they have all to themselves into a cramped room they must share with another person. While sharing personal space is not for the faint of heart, it also provides an opportunity for personal growth. Here are a few tips on making the college dorm roommate experience less painful.

Get in Touch

Universities send out roommate assignments a month or two before classes begin and post social media handles for you and your roommate to contact each other. Don’t hesitate to connect with your roommate then. If your roommate already lives close to you, schedule a coffee date and get to know them. If they live further away, set up a video call and do the same. Getting to know your roommate before sharing a room for an entire school year provides an open line of communication and makes the process of living with a complete stranger a little easier.


Once you’ve moved on campus, communication is an important practice when living with a roommate. Whether it’s asking if a friend can come over to study or if they want the light out so they can sleep, honest disclosure keeps a steady balance between the two of you. Plus, if a problem arises, there is now an open line of communication to discuss it. However, don’t rely on texting to solve issues; talking face-to-face is the way to go to avoid conflict and miscommunication.



Being willing to compromise will save the day when it comes to living with a roommate. This goes for where to place decorations or how many people can come over to visit and when. It is also essential to remember that you will only sometimes get your way. Since there are two people living in the space, you each have an equal say in where something goes or who can come over. It’s best if you don’t try to overpower each other; remember, you are equals.

Keep Your Space Clean

While it may seem like there is never time to clean your room, your roommate will be thankful when you do. As a sign of respect, complete small tasks like making your bed, clearing off your desk and picking up your dirty gym clothes off the floor. This will help you to maintain a clean environment for both of you. Not to mention, it would be awkward and a little embarrassing if your roommate had to ask you to pick your dirty clothes up off the floor.

Share the Load

You should do your best to be clean, but don’t be the one who does all of the chores in the shared spaces. If you have common areas like a kitchen or a living room, you should not be the only one cleaning those spaces. This is especially true if you’re not the one who made the mess to begin with. To make sure that everyone does their part, compromise on a chore chart. Better yet, come to a basic understanding of who will take care of which portion of your living area so you don’t step on each other’s toes and you both can hold yourselves accountable.

Keep Significant Others Out of Your Room

Going away to college and leaving your parents’ home gives you a sense of newfound freedom. While it may be tempting, bringing your significant other into your dorm room can make your roommate feel uncomfortable, or even violated. Speaking from experience, having an unannounced guest in your shared space is not a vibe. Keep in mind that there are ways to communicate boundaries so that it is a win-win situation for everyone. However, do your best to plan activities with your partner outside of your dorm room to avoid a potential rift.

Find A Place To Be Outside of Your Room

Being in your room all the time may be comforting, but having another place to go when you’re trying to study or when you just want some alone time can benefit both you and your roommate. Sometimes, having another person in your space while you’re trying to study can be motivating. There will also be times when it’s easier to work alone. Finding places like the student union or the quad will give you the degree of separation you may need to get your work done.

While living with a roommate may be challenging at first, you can find ways to make it work. This will make the school year much more bearable for both of you. Never forget the potential upside if you end up liking your roommate; you now have a new friend with whom you can request to live again. Not only will you already be familiar with each other’s schedules and habits, but you may end up making a friend for life.

Katie Koenig, George Fox University

Writer Profile

Katie Koenig

George Fox University
English and Journalism


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Don't Miss