Reviving Your Roommate Relationship


This blog was written by Laura Neubauer ('13).

Last August, over 1700 freshmen moved into Duke’s East Campus. The vast majority of them were suddenly living with a total stranger (or 2) for the first time in their lives. If you were one of those lucky freshmen, you probably rolled your eyes when your RA had you fill out that pesky “Roommate Agreement” during orientation. Your roommate seemed great, right? Right…for the first few weeks. But somewhere along the line, they started doing something that really annoys you—maybe they refuse to take out the trash, or leave their dirty laundry wherever it lands, or “sexile” you every single weekend. Now that you’ve lived with this stranger for an entire semester, there are probably things you wish you had discussed with them before. Great news—it’s not too late! The new semester is a great time to start over with your roommate. Here are some tips for improving your roommate relationship:

  • Talk to your roommate as soon as a problem arises. Even if you set ground rules at the beginning of the semester, something may happen during the semester that you didn’t anticipate. It’s easy to let something slide a few times, but talking to your roommate about their obnoxious habit is far easier before it becomes just that—a habit. Don’t let things spiral out of control! Your roommate is more likely to be cooperative if you deal with the problem early on.
  • Be willing to compromise. If your roommate has a habit that annoys you, you probably have one that annoys them as well. Be open to change if your roommate has a problem with your behavior—they are equally entitled to a comfortable living space!
  • Resist the urge to talk to other people about your roommate’s annoying habits. Addressing the problem with your roommate directly will make both of you happier in the long run. If you only talk about it with other people, your roommate’s habit will continue to annoy you and you run the risk of your roommate finding out you’ve been talking about them behind their back.
  • If the situation doesn’t improve, talk to your RA about intervening or moving to a different room. Seriously, it’s what they are there for, and it can be very helpful to use an outside resource, especially if your living situation is seriously impacting other areas of your life, as well.