Late August is just around the corner, which means move-in day with your BFF. You couldn’t be happier. From the day you signed your housing agreement, you knew your roommate horror stories of freshman year were over.
While this may be true, don’t jump to conclusions just yet. Living with your BFF might not be as effortless as hanging out with her. If you don’t take the time to set boundaries and outline a few rules now, your roommate-BFF could become your roommate-ex-BFF–and fast.
To strengthen your friendship and lock in a great school year, it’s important to set some roomie guidelines and stick to them. But don’t worry––HC’s got your back. When it comes to college roommate situations, we’ve heard it all, like roommate horror stories. Follow our steps and living with your bestie will be smooth sailing this year.
Set Ground Rules
When you live with your best friend, you will always learn new things about her, no matter how well you knew her before. Maybe she cuts her toenails in the middle of the living room floor. Maybe she’s a stickler when it comes to washing dishes. Maybe she sings “Time After Time” whenever she cooks. And believe me, listening to a girl sing to her eggs when you’re trying to cram on the morning of a big exam can take some adjusting to. Unfortunately, there is no way to put this adjusting process in slow-mo; like it or not, from move-in day on you will be bombarded with your BFF-turned-roommate’s habits, and she with yours.
Living with your bestie is going to bring on almost as many surprises as living with a stranger would. But unlike moving in with a rando, moving in with your BFF gives you a head start on communication. So even though your roommate is your best friend and you get along great, take the time to set ground rules before the semester begins—it’ll be so much easier to make concessions with her than it would be with a total stranger. Trust me: later in the semester when you see your friends struggling with their roommates’ weird habits, you will think to yourself, Well, they should’ve talked about these issues beforehand!
How to Initiate the “Ground Rules” Conversation
After you’ve moved your boxes in to your new place, take a look around and say to your BFF:“Hey, I think it’d be great if we could sit down for ten minutes and chat about our expectations for this place, and set a few ground rules. This way we can avoid having minor conflicts blow up into huge fights!”
Here are some good points to bring up:
- Will we borrowing each other’s clothes? Do we have open closets or should we ask first?
- Will we be sharing food, or using separate shelves?
- Who will clean what?
- How will we handle visitors (especially boys)?
- What does your course load look like this semester?
- How will I know when you need some alone time?
While having this conversation will not prevent ALL conflicts, it gives you and your BFF an idea of how to be respectful of each other’s needs. Just remember: while these rules are a way to ease yourselves into your new living situation, they aren’t set in stone. Prepare to be flexible throughout the year, and adjust them (pending a discussion with your roommate) if your habits begin to get on each other’s nerves.
Communicate (Out Loud)
One way to minimize tensions that arise in your living space is to communicate, vocally. If you feel your toes are being stepped on, don’t be afraid to reach out (respectfully) to your bestie. And no matter how uncomfortable you feel telling your BFF that something she does bothers you (you never had problems before!), you need to talk to her, out loud. This means no angry texts and no nasty messages on the wipe-off board! Even though your roommate knows you well, she won’t be able to read your passive-aggressive messages much better than any other person.
Why is communicating well so important when you room with your BFF? Poor communication between you and your bestie can mess with your social life, both inside and outside your apartment. Rooming with your best friend usually means rooming with someone from your main group of friends, and drama with her could mean drama with everyone. Take it from one anonymous Her Campus contributing writer: “I used to live with three of my besties. We always had typical roommate issues, like arguing over dirty dishes, but one day one of my roommates, and I got in an argument and stopped talking. It put our other two roommates in the awkward position of middlemen. After that argument we four could never go out food shopping together, let alone go out for dinner like we used to.”
So please, future BFF-roommate, always keep these words in the back of your mind: I will not internalize my roommate grievances. I will not leave angry messages on Post-it notes. I will not give my roommate the cold shoulder. I will tell her, calmly, what bothers me. Later, when we’re old ladies, we will laugh about this!
Learn to Take Criticism
Just as important as voicing your concerns over your roommate’s habits is listening to your roommate’s grievances about yours. Sure, it’s human nature to feel offended or hurt that she’s annoyed by something you do. But the sting will fade away. Remember, your roommate is not attacking you personally—she just wants you to make minor changes to better suit you both.
Sobe attentive. If your roommate suddenly stops speaking to you or seems distant, find a quiet moment when you know she’s not studying and ask her if you’ve done anything to bother her.
Grow Separately Without Growing Apart
A famous quote says, “The most beautiful discovery true friends make is that they can grow separately without growing apart.” College is a major point in your life where you and your bestie may do just as this quote suggests: grow separately. But how do you make sure you don’t grow apart? There are two things you need to do to make sure you and your BFF stick to each other like glue, but without all the sticky mess: lead separate lives while making time to bond.
Expand Your Circle of Friends
And I’m not talking about Google+, here; I’m talking about getting out and doing things with people besides your roommate, even though she’s your best friend. Susan Fee, author of My College Roommate is Driving Me Crazy! writes on her website, “Hanging out with your best friend can hold both of you back. All it takes is one, ‘You didn't used to be that way,’ to feel trapped.” Your roommate best friend can quickly become your only friend if you don’t put in the effort to branch out. One Her Campus campus correspondent who chose to remain anonymous says, “My roommate and I did completely different things and were very busy, so when we came home at night, we loved seeing each other and appreciated each other's company. We could talk about our days and have fun, and cook dinner.” So join a club your roommate’s uninterested in or start playing Ultimate while you’re roomie’s at crew practice; you’ll only have more to talk about when you get home.
Plan special roomie sessions with your BFF, like Sunday dinners or movie nights. This way, no matter how busy your individual plans keep you, there will always be room for each other in your schedules. This worked great for us and our BFF roommates: we used to clear our schedules one night a week to cook dinner together. There were no complaints on our end, because not only did we get to chat with our chemical engineering roomies during one of their rare study breaks, but we also got to fuel up on food I never would have been able to cook for myself.
Coming home to your BFF’s familiar face can be comforting, but it takes hard work to maintain this comfort. By laying your expectations on the table in the first place, accepting the fact that conflict is inevitable, employing direct, respectful communication and making time for both personal growth and bonding, you, my friend, have become the best BFF roommate you can be. Let the late-night study sessions and pizza runs begin!