What to Do if Your Roommate is Shy?

Last updated on November 27, 2017

Going to college is an exciting time. You may well be leaving home for the first time and you have a world of opportunities opening up before you.

If you are prepared to make the most of life, it can be very frustrating to have a shy roommate, who doesn’t seem to want to do anything without you. However, there is no need to start avoiding him or her or be deliberately unkind; instead, follow these tips for handling a shy roommate.

Be patient

You may find yourself becoming angry and frustrated with your roommate, particularly if you feel as though he or she is holding you back. However, this will only result in damaging your relationship and, as you probably have to share with him or her for a whole year, that is not advisable.

In addition, you could actually make your roommate even shyer, particularly if she thinks that you despise her for her timidity. Instead, take some deep breaths when you realize you are becoming annoyed and think before you speak.

Try and understand

If you are not shy yourself, it can seem incomprehensible that someone else could dislike making new friends and being in the limelight.

Use your shy roommate as an opportunity to learn what makes other people tick. It will help your relationship, but it will also stand you in good stead for the future, when you come across other shy people.

Don’t pry unnecessarily, but talk to your roommate about how she is feeling and offer suggestions for how she can overcome any issues. Of course, you need to be careful not to seem patronizing.

Introduce them to people

Be sensitive and realize that your roommate is not deliberately trying to ruin your life; she is simply shy and struggles to make friends. Of course, in the long run, you cannot make friends for her. However, you can make an effort to introduce her to other people.

Look around you at the people with whom you eat meals and who live nearby. There are probably people with whom you don’t feel a connection yourself, but who could be a friend to your roommate. Stay around for long enough to initiate a conversation and then take a back seat.

Set boundaries

Unless you want your roommate attached to you like a leech for the entire school year, you are going to need to set some boundaries.

Make it clear that you are happy to spend some time with her, but that you want to have the freedom to go off and do your own thing when you feel like it. Perhaps you can arrange to meet up once a day for a meal, or for a drink in the bar.

Do whatever you think is right – you may feel obliged to take your roommate with you when you go out to begin with, but if it starts to feel like a chore, start to loosen the grip.

Make them feel at home in your room

A shy roommate needs to know that she can return to her room when life gets difficult and be able to relax. Respect her feelings and make the room as comfortable as possible.

If you have friends round to visit, include your roommate in your conversations, because if she comes into her own room and feels as though she shouldn’t be there, it isn’t going to help with confidence.

Always make an effort to have a friendly conversation, even if you are in a rush and just want to get out before your roommate suggests tagging along.

Get on with your own life

You cannot be responsible for someone else’s life, so if you try to help your roommate, but she does not respond or take the opportunities that you are offering, then eventually you are going to make the decision to get on with your own life. That doesn’t mean you should ignore your roommate, but you should make it clear that you are not going to be at her beck and call every minute of the day.

There are so many opportunities for you at college, and you need to grab them while you can, so that you can look back on your time in college with fond memories.

Don’t despair if you have a shy roommate

Most people get over their shyness in time, at least to the extent that they can make friends, even if they never become the most confident of people. You may even find that you and your roommate build a friendship that lasts way beyond your room-sharing days.


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