What You Can Ask of Your Roommate
Two of my best friends are moving in together—which is very exciting for myself, because it makes all future hang outs a 2-birds-1-stone situation. [What could possibly go wrong?!] As we all sat around drinking and talking about the arrangement, one of the soon to be roommates blurted out, “Ok, but you can’t judge me, or tell people about my weird tendencies, or…“
Now, if my friend wasn’t the queen of pointing out that humans are autonomous, I would’ve watched this conversation from the sidelines and let it not affect my beer. But with the circumstances at hand, I had to call her out: because you can’t tell anyone what they can’t do.
This isn’t to say you should let your roommate walk all over you, but understanding the core of this concept will open doors to: better communication, setting healthy boundaries, and building respect in one another. It will also—ideally—keep your Mac & Cheese from being drunkenly eaten and not replaced when you go home for the weekend.
The first thing to understand is that you are allowed to have preferences—but coming in hot on your introduction with a list of “Do’s & Don’t’s” is immediately going to put your roommate on the defense, and they’ll write you off as controlling—if not psychotic. Let your pet peeves and specific quirks reveal themselves through a conversation, or through a calm roommate agreement.
A roommate agreement allows both of you to openly discuss things you are personally not comfortable with. In this exchange of information you can make requests, which will be heard so much louder than placing “rules” on another human. It will also give you the opportunity to hear what your roommate would like to see out of you. Remember: the best way to have a good roommate, is to be a good roommate.
So before you shake your roommate’s hand on move-in day and then interject that they are not allowed to talk about you behind your back or make eye contact with you before 7 AM, take a second and think about what realistic and reasonable requests you make. Such as, “I’ve been told I’m a nightmare in the early morning, I’m working on it, but I’m sorry if I snap at you for any questions before my ritual Pumpkin Spice Latte.” Another pro-tip: telling people not to speak about you while you’re not around will guarantee that it will happen. We’re only human!