The Untold Truth About Rooming with Friends
BY JESSICA COLBY
This is an example of one roommate issue, but some are not as comical. (Courtesy of TBS.)
Finishing your first year of college, you and your best friends dumped the dorms. The minute you sign the apartment lease 24/7 fun with friends begins: Netflix nights, cookouts, and mall marathons. Little did you know, you’ll probably hate each other by the end of the year..
The first three months are the best. You have “family dinners” together, do the dishes together, have movies and game nights. You decided, “why would we need a roommate agreement? We are all best friends. Nothing could go wrong.” As innocent as you are, you are completely wrong.
After three months, the little things start to bother you.
The dishes start to pile up. There are random people in your apartment at random hours. A horrible stench surrounds your roommate’s room. Let’s not forget the living room looks like a tornado went through it.
You have two choices at this point: Ask your roommates to help you clean, or just let everything fester in the hope you don’t create new mold in the pile of dishes.
FACT: Research by Boise State shows 25 precent of students reported roommate issues in the months preceding the study.
It Starts to Get Ugly
Choose to talk to your roommates. It’s less passive-aggressive that way. Talking can prevent a looming explosion, or at least bring down the collateral damage.
You talk to your roommates and say, “Hey, it’s getting kind of messy. Let’s try to keep this place clean.” And, “Let’s ask before we have people over.” They all respond with nods of what you think is agreement and understanding.
Apparently not. It gets worse.
The entry way turns into a foot locker. The dirty dishes are now overflowing onto the counter. Food is left all over the counter and left on the stove for two or more days. Everywhere you step feels like sand.
The living room smells like alcohol because your under-age roommate decides to throw parties on a weeknight without asking anyone. There are random stains on the walls from who-knows-what and you don’t want to know. Every day you get a text saying something new of yours was broken, but it was “the cat” at fault … again.
The only safe haven you have now is your bedroom. You can’t even enter the kitchen without creating more hatred for your dumb decision of not creating a roommate agreement.
You finally ask for another meeting with your roommates because you can’t stand it anymore. You ask, “Can we please ask before we have friends over on weekdays?” And, “We really need to keep this place clean.” One of your roommates completely understands and starts to change her/his attitude. The other one, not so much.
It keeps getting even worse. Your roommate sends you a text saying she’s having all kinds of people over every night of the week, and you don’t even want to go back to your own home. You call friends and start to stay at their place. You avoid your place like it’s the new plague.
FACT: One type of roommate is the “Extracurricular Studies Roommate;” the roommate who has frequent “overnight visitors.” Tip for handling this type is to agree beforehand how often you and your roommates may have guests who stay … overnight … again. Draw up a schedule if you need to do so.
Screaming, Accusations and Hatred Become the Norm
You come home after a very long day and open the door. Drunk people — everywhere in your apartment — and it’s a weeknight. Your body starts to shake with anger. You look at your roommate who obviously did not get the message. You finally lose it.
You scream at your roommate to get out. The drunk people suddenly look like deer in headlights, and this ranting is their first impression of you. Your roommate freaks out and rushes everyone out, leaving with them.
Now you look like the psycho roommate, when all you wanted was to have a clean place and enjoy it with your best friends. Your best friends turned into people who you never want to see again. You think, “What could I have changed?” You wonder, “What did I do wrong?”
After many tears and calling your mother saying you want to move back home, you finally make a decision. You look at your roommates as just roommates. They are no longer your best friends. You do everything on your own. You don’t acknowledge them and you remove “the poison” from your stressful life.
Once the lease ends you may become friends again. Or you may never speak to them again.
Many of us have experienced some type of roommate horror story. It’s sad to lose friendships because of a living situation turned sour. Some friends can live with each other and some cannot. Some lifestyles are not made to mesh with others. If you want to test a friendship, live with each other and see if you both can work through any argument.
FACT: There’s a 67 percent reduction in roommate transfer requests after implementing Roomsync, a questionnaire plug-in for Facebook that students fill out and then choose roommates based on Roomsync-generated suggestions. Above is an example of a roommate agreement. (Courtesy of sampleforms.com.)
(Jessica Colby is majoring in exercise science and multimedia journalism with three minors at MSUM. She is from Anoka, Minnesota, and is the head coach of the Red Dragons swim club in Moorhead. Contact her by email at email@example.com)