What things are to be kept in mind while sharing a room with a roommate? originally appeared on Quora - the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world.
Answer by Stephanie Vardavas, who has had many roommates:
Congratulations! This is a huge step in your development as a human being. It was weird for me, too, when I went away to college and had to share a bedroom (with bunk beds!) for the first time (not counting Girls State and student council camp).
- Don't make assumptions. Communicate. This is vital. Don't assume your roommate would rather have X or Y, ask her. Don't be afraid to swap preferences. If you are afraid of heights and really need the lower bunk, let her have her first choice of dresser drawers. Whatever. Have conversations about things like hours, noise levels, when friends can be invited in, etc.
- Respect each other's space. This is also very important. You will each have some areas that are your own. Respect hers, and if she violates yours, say something polite about it right away; don't let your annoyance fester until it explodes in anger. Chances are she has no bad intentions, but was just thoughtless or defaulting to the way things were done at her parents' home (see item 1).
- Assume good faith until proven otherwise. She is probably as new to room-sharing as you are, and is finding her way just as you are. Don't assume she is trying to take advantage of you unless she proves it conclusively.
- Don't be a doormat. But you have to stand up for your rights if she does not respect them. My freshman year in college I shared a four drawer dresser with my roommate. I had the top two drawers. It was an old dresser and the drawers stuck slightly open sometimes. My roommate thought nothing of trimming her bangs over my open drawer of sweaters. It was gross. I should have pushed back directly against her, instead of contenting myself with mocking her to everyone I knew.
- Respect each other's sleeping time and privacy. Don't come barreling in late at night if you know she went to bed at 10 pm. Don't stare at her while she is getting dressed. You are each entitled to as much privacy as a shared room will allow. Don't feel you have to engage in conversation the whole time you are both in the room. Sometimes people want to be quiet, to read or just think. Don't bring people home with you if you have reason to think she will be there and/or would object. It is her home too.
- Be generous and kind. Set your default at "generous." If there is an odd number of hangers in the closet, offer her the last one. If you buy food, offer some to her.
- But don't be stupid. Don't take anything too valuable or irreplaceable into this shared room. Don't let your guard down too much. Remember that your roommate may be bringing friends into the room too, from time to time, and you won't know anything about them. Also, sometimes young people are careless, leave doors unlocked or open, etc. Better to leave the valuables at home.
- Don't assume that s/he is your new best friend. It's good to have a friendly relationship with your roommate, and it's great if you become close friends over time, but don't push or rush that. It may also be that the two of you will never really be friends. That doesn't mean that you can't live together in harmony and mutual respect.
- Enjoy yourself. This is a huge step forward for you. You are reinventing yourself as a social creature. Have fun!