How to set boundaries for a healthy relationship with your roommate

Many millennials are moving back home with their parents, moving in faster with their partners or getting a roommate. It's almost a great accomplishment when someone in our age group lives alone in their own house or apartment. But now that most millennials are living with a roommate, learning how to deal with difficult ones is truly a valuable skill. A report issued by Zillow shows that the amount of doubled up household among adults have increased by a third since 2000.

Places where the cost of living is more expensive like California and New York are especially filled with millennials living with roommates but besides the financial benefits of having someone to share bills with, it isn't without it's challenges. Even if you’re living with friends, your friendship can be tested if you aren’t on the same page.

Image: Huffington Post 

Image: Huffington Post 

Here’s four tips for developing a healthy relationship with your roommate:

Communicate. There are noisy roommates, those with bad habits, and those who always have unwanted guests over. The key to dealing with this is communication. Speak up about what is bothering you and  do it sooner rather than later. If you have a problem with waking up (or going to sleep) always hearing their noisy guests, have a conversation as soon as you can to resolve the issue and do it in person.

Sending a text about it or even text saying you want to talk about it can be miss-interrupted and lead to even more conflict.

"There's less anxiety tied to a text than an in-person conversation, but successful resolutions really require a face-to-face discussion. Too much can be read into a text,” Jennifer Samp PhD, communications studies professor at University of Georgia, tells Cosmopolitan.

Separate. Setting clear boundaries is what can make or break a living situation. Just because you’re living together, doesn’t mean everything has to be mixed or you have to share everything you own. Set boundaries for cabinet and refrigerator space and be clear on what items you’re willing to share. No one should have to feel obligated to share their things or feel insulted when someone takes without asking. Be clear about these things right from the beginning and you’ll even feel less guilty about saying no or speaking up for yourself.

Set an example. With living arrangements, besides having a conversation with someone, the clearest way to get your point across is to set the example.  If you want to keep a clean kitchen, always wash your dishes after cooking. Your behavior can dictate the way others behave as well. If you want respect, you have to give it. Don’t get mad that your roommate isn’t cleaning or behaving the way you’d like if you aren’t behaving that yourself. This will help a lot when you do have “the talk”, you can make it clear that you’ve been doing your part, and are just asking for them to meet you halfway.

Understand your needs. If you’re a student and need peace and quiet quite often, make that clear. If you are a neat freak and cannot sleep if there are dirty dishes in the sink, tell them. Understanding your needs will help when it comes to picking a roommate too. Don’t move in with your friend who you know loves to party throughout the week if that isn’t your personality. Compatible roommates have similar goals and interests do well, so if you work, go to school and only go out on the weekends – try to find someone who has the same lifestyle.

Image: New York Times 

Image: New York Times 


Don’t forget to be realistic and understand that things will not change overnight if there is a problem. Give it some time and even if you have to revisit the issue and remind them of the conversation, that’s okay too. Living with others, especially if they aren’t family, can be rough adjustment. If it’s hard for you, chances are it’s hard for your roommate as well.