College roommates naturally spend most of their time together, and because of that, it is important that clear boundaries are set and maintained. Without rules, the chances for stepping on each other’s toes are rather significant. As you approach the move-in date, consider getting together to set some ground rules to ensure that both of you feel comfortable moving forward.
1. Don’t Borrow Without Asking First
Just because you live together doesn’t mean that what’s yours is theirs or vice versa. Establish that you don’t mind your roommate borrowing or using your stuff if that is the case, but be sure he or she asks before doing so. Or, if it’s an extreme emergency you can simply request that he or she sends a text to let you know first. This avoids you going to use something and finding it gone or dirty.
If you don’t want to share, say so. Your college roommate might not have the same ideas about sharing as you do. In fact, that is an especially important point to make. Just because your roommate is comfortable sharing , doesn’t mean you have to be. And the reverse is true too. Just because you’re generous with sharing your stuff, doesn’t mean you can disregard your roommate’s feelings.
As a general rule, just ask first no matter what. It will seriously make things a lot better for both of you.
2. Keep Personal Items Separate
Although you live in a shared space, try to keep your possessions separate. Having separate space in the closet for your books and for your other belongings is important so that, at the very least, you feel like you have a private space for yourself, even if it is only 10 feet away from your roommate. When you’re busy, stressed, frustrated, or angry, those 10 feet can seem like a mile.
It is also important to keep anything truly personal or sentimental in a special spot where it is safe. For example, don’t keep your baby blanket on the couch where something could spill on it. Make sure it is tucked away safely for those days when you’re feeling a bit nostalgic.
3. Keep Shared Space Clean
Even if you’re not the neatest person, college dorm rooms force you to be cleaner by their sheer smallness. Try to be as neat as you can, and if you absolutely have to be messy, keep the mess to your space. Remember, the preciousness of private space extends to everyone sharing the space, not just you.
If you cannot clean up your mess, at least be open and honest about when you believe you’ll be able to get to it. This will go a long way, as your roommate will likely appreciate knowing that you are aware of the state of your room and not just completely oblivious to it.
Tip: Create a cleaning schedule for all roommates to stick to so that responsibilities are shared and the space is comfortable for everyone’s mess-tolerance level. This is particularly important for kitchens and bathrooms.