Managing Dorm Conflicts
College is a time of new experiences and new habits. You are living with new people and have very little personal space. You are trying new things and discovering yourself in unimaginable and unanticipated ways. You are building a new self-image. All the while, you are accumulating debt, undertaking a lot of coursework, and looking forward to uncertain job prospects. Family issues don’t put themselves on hold, and you are managing your time under entirely unfamiliar circumstances. Stress accumulates, and there isn’t always something you can take to quickly remediate it.
Everyone has their own personal narrative. When living with others in college, know that each of your dorm mates is experiencing similar things in different ways. And, sometimes, these ways can clash and dorm conflicts arise. This is especially true when your roommate is opposite than you.
Communicate and See Their Perspective
In the case of conflict among dorm mates, the first advice is to be understanding. Know that no one (most likely) is trying to upset you. Communicate—speak it through. Take care of each other. What is annoying you might be the result of your dorm mate’s recklessness or carelessness because they are overwhelmed and don’t realize that their actions are upsetting from your perspective. Level with them. Help each other. Be there for one another. In brief: don’t be quick to take up arms. Breathe, quench your frustration, and talk it out.
If the dorm conflict ceases and they respond affectionately, perfect. It is a great skill to be able to settle differences and work together. But sometimes, this ideal situation is unobtainable. In this case, you have to be practical. You are also under stress and have to manage your time, making it unreasonable to invest time and energy that could be spent elsewhere–like classes, partying, and the likes.
Accept What You Can’t Change
In this case, you might have to cut your losses. It is definitely a skill to be diplomatic, but there is no negotiating if both parties are unwilling to engage in discussion at the same table—or are unreasonable to the point of confrontation being more detrimental and exhausting than accepting the burden of conflict. This could mean sucking it up until the end of the term and minimizing or downplaying the conflict and tension with said dorm mate. You could avoid each other, or, for the time that you are living together, overlook the conflict and focus on positive aspects that do not expend your valuable energy.
You will not always connect with a given person, and you don’t have to cater to another person to be agreeable at your own detriment. But you do have to continue your life regardless of these external circumstances if you don’t want them to weigh you down. Start by talking to each other. It takes time to develop strong relationships, and communication will always be critical. If anything, your relationship can mature from overcoming these conflicts. But, if the burden of overcoming dorm conflict is insurmountable, or at least retaining this dorm mate as a friend is not worth the time and energy necessary to address the issues at hand, embrace your inner-zen and curb the issue in your mind, then find new accommodations the following term or semester.
If the current semester needs to be addressed, than its time to bring in your resident advisor to act as a facilitator for your discussion.