I've lived with a few people over the last five years and each experience brought about its own challenges, but it taught me how to handle different personalities and dynamics of living with strangers. And it also made me realize how imperfect of a roommate I was at times. I think we all feel like we're the best person to live with and we're the cleanliest and the most understanding, but that's not always the case, and as long as you're able to reflect on your weaknesses as a roommate, the next time you live with someone new for the first time, you'll be able to be a better roommate all around.
Communicate Without Passive-Aggressiveness
I once lived with a girl who used sticky-notes to convey things like "dishes are clean or dirty," a not so subtle hint that it was either my turn to empty or fill the dishwasher. I would much rather hear it directly than from a note on a counter. It's not going to upset me if you remind me to do something, especially if chores like that have already been divided up.
I'm not a confrontational person, myself but I don't appreciate and I don't think others do, when a person goes about communicating in a very indirect way. Speaking up will go a long way into giving and receiving respect from your roommate. I remember living with guys and the nice thing about them is the lack of fear when it comes to speaking your mind. If something was dirty, I had no problem telling them and vice versa. I think females in general, we're afraid to hurt each other's feelings, so we try to not rock the boat.
Be Mindful of Shared Spaces
I used to stay in my bedroom and would only leave if I was hungry, so staying out of shared areas wasn't a big problem when I first lived with a roommate. Later on, I realized I didn't have to stay holed up in my room all day if there was something I wanted to watch on TV in the living room. I also struggled with shared quarters toward the end of my roommate days because I spent a lot of time in the living room since I wasn't as busy as I normally was.
This also includes shared spaces like the kitchen and laundry room. Keep the kitchen clean when you're done cooking and making a mess. Try to remember to clear out your clothes out of the dryer when they're done, which is nearly impossible, I know. One minute you're reminding yourself to get your clothes out of the dryer and the next thing you know, you're caught up doing other things. It happens. It's not a huge deal, but to keep yourself and your roommates from sleeping on dirty sheets, try setting an alarm on your phone.
Take Noise Level Into Consideration
I'm definitely guilty of this 100 percent. A lot of the time I forget how loud my voice is and or how loud the TV is when I'm watching it. If I could go back, I would make sure to think about my roommate before my selfish tendencies because no one else wants to hear someone being obnoxious or blaring the TV when she's trying to sleep. That goes the same for when either you or your roommates have friends over. Sure, fun times can mean more noise, but things don't have to get too hectic.
Talk With Your Roommate
Even if it's just chatting now and again, talking with your roommate will not only allow them to get to know you better, but also it helps keeps things from feeling weird. I'm not saying you have to be best friends with your roommate, but that doesn't mean you can't hang out once in a while. You may be surprised what you find out about your roommate and what you have in common with each other.
Don't Be Petty About Little Things
It's hard enough as it is to live with strangers and even friends, but if there's one thing I've learned it's to let the small things go. Being petty may be fun in memes on Twitter, but shake it off when it comes to your roommate. So maybe your roommate forgot to put a new trash bag in, move on, and just put a clean one in yourself. It takes barely 15 seconds.
The next time you're living with a friend or a stranger, I hope you remember that no one is the perfect roommate, but that doesn't mean you can't live in harmony together. Learn from my mistakes and enjoy the time you have before you're living on your own and paying the rent solo!