Sam Zezena, a senior fashion merchandising major, moved into the dorm with a friend from high school in August 2016. The two got along great in high school, but Zezena had a small amount of doubt moving in with her roommate because she knew they had dissimilar outlooks on life.
“My roommate and I were very unalike and had different opinions on various situations,” Zezena said. “This caused a lot of petty fights to come about.”
Zezena’s not the only one. With one in three adults now living with a roommate, roommate drama is more common than you think.
Prior to the start of the semester, Zezena and her roommate set boundaries in a roommate agreement form, but those boundaries were consistently overlooked, which led to them parting ways.
“My roommate took the first steps to moving out and posted on the Kent State roommate page stating she was looking for a new roommate,” Zezena said. “From there, I met with my Residence Hall director and requested a room change.”
Zezena wasn’t just upset about the disagreements she had with her roommate, but also about how living together made it impossible to get away from the problems. With limited space in the dorm, Zezena felt trapped due to her roommate always being so close to her.
At the time Zezena requested a room change, her relationship with her roommate was unhealthy, but after they spent some time apart, the two rekindled their friendship after talking through their differences.
“My advice is to be honest with how you are feeling,” Zezena said. “Instead of waiting until the situation gets to its breaking point, tell your roommate that you still think they’re a great person and want to remain friends; you just aren’t compatible living together.”
In an article from Vice, Amy Canevello, associate psychology professor who studies the tactics people bring to conflict at the University of North Carolina Charlotte, supports Zezena’s statement. Canevello suggests that being honest from the jump could limit future arguments.
Canevello said discussing problems right away with your roommate prevents those problems from fermenting and helps identify the root cause.
Ariana Zinagles, a senior advertising major, took Canevello’s advice when disputes with her roommates arose.
Zingales moved into an apartment with three random roommates she met online in August 2018 and addressed problems with her roommates right away. This limited recurring issues, but she still felt unwelcome in her own home.
“Everyone put on a good front at first,” Zinagles said. “But as time went on true colors started to bleed through, and I didn’t feel comfortable staying in that environment, which led me to seek other housing arrangements.”
Zingales went to the resident services at her apartment complex to explore other housing options. Once she was confirmed to move, she talked to her roommates.
“I had an open and honest conversation with all three of my roommates separately addressing how I felt,” Zingales said. “I felt telling them individually was best because they couldn’t feed off each other’s energies, which helped the conversations to be more personal and meaningful.”
Although Zingales feels it is important to talk to your roommate in person, this route may not be for everyone. If you feel uncomfortable addressing problems with your roommate face-to-face, there are ways around it.
Moving in with a close friend made it difficult to bring up problems, because I value our friendship, said junior nursing major Jacob Chassis.
“I didn’t have a conversation with my roommate because I wanted to avoid confrontation,” Chassis said. “I started to hang out with new people and expand my friendship group. At the time I felt consumed by my roommate because he only wanted to hangout with me, and I wanted my space.”
Thinking through all problems before bringing them up was important to Chassis because he felt that only important issues needed to be addressed.
“Depending on the situation, it may not always be worth talking about,” Chassis said. “My advice is to pick and choose your battles, because not everything has to be a conversation.”
Chassis and his roommate both valued their friendship, and letting things play out on their own was best to keep the tension between them limited.
“At first, I wrote out how I was feeling,” Chassis said. “But I decided to let most things go, which made moving out less awkward. Months later we decided to talk things through and that helped clear the air between us.”
If you live in the dorm and signed the roommate agreement form, but are still experiencing issues, you can talk to your resident assistant. If your situation continues to worsen, you can meet with your Residence Hall director and submit a room change request.
Andriana Ruscitto covers relationships. Contact her at email@example.com.