One of the new experiences in college that is the most jarring for new freshmen is that they have to live with someone who they don’t know at all. Getting used to your roommate can sometimes be a challenge, and sometimes be a breeze. Either way, setting ground rules is a good way to get along peacefully with your roommate, and it’s very important that you set these ground rules early.
Why is it important to set ground rules early?
It’s important to set ground rules with your college roommate early because if you wait too long, your roommate will not be accustomed to following the rules. If following your rules isn’t in their routine, they’re going to be more likely to forget them, or worse, ignore them.
Also, if you set ground rules early on, that conversation can be part of the semi-awkward getting-to-know-each-other phase, and be written off as such. If you wait too long to set ground rules, your roommate may take the fact that you’re trying to set rules as a slight to their character, or they may assume that you’re angry at them for something.
Waiting to set ground rules until they’re “needed” is like waiting to buckle your seat belt until you get into a car accident. By the time you realize you need it, it’s already too late. If you wait to set ground rules until you need them, it means you’re probably already fighting with your roommate or at least annoyed by them.
How can I set ground rules?
Setting ground rules does not have to be awkward. If you don’t treat it as though it is awkward, your roommate likely won’t feel that it is. The key is that you don’t sound bossy or condescending. Make sure that you ask (and listen to) your roommate for input. If you don’t want your roommate to do something, don’t phrase it as “Don’t eat my food.” That almost sounds like an accusation. Instead, use a softer phrase, like “I’d prefer if we each bought our own food for the fridge.”
What ground rules should I set?
The ground rules you set with your roommate will really depend on what’s important to you. Some common rules include boundaries concerning boyfriend/girlfriend visitations, whether you will share your food, who will take the garbage out when, and regulations about keeping each side of the room clean.
By taking time to set ground rules early, you will be off to the start of a healthy relationship with your roommate right from the beginning.