Living with a roommate can be challenging and frustrating unless you both work together in ensuring a harmonious relationship. To help understand common reasons roommates get into a conflict and what roommates can do to get along, I have interviewed therapist Dr. Aaron Turpeau.
Tell me a little bit about yourself.
“I am a Licensed Professional Counselor in private practice in Atlanta, Georgia. I have a Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology from The University of Georgia. I worked for eight years at Morehouse College where I had a great deal of experience working with people around roommate issues.”
“I currently specialize in working with people on relationship and marriage issues. I am also the author of the ESSENCE magazine best seller: “The Harmonious Way: A Success Guide to Selecting a Compatible Mate.”
What are common reasons that roommates get into conflict?
“Room neatness: People have varying degrees of cleanliness and this inevitably shows up when we move in with someone. This classic conflict was the basis for a television show in he seventies known as “The Odd Couple.” It is possible to accept this difference and live together but you need to agree to keep at least the common area clean out of respect for your roommate. You may assign certain chores to each other and alternate days or weeks to make sure everything is fair.”
“Loud noises: We need to feel comfortable to express ourselves. However if the noise is disturbing your roommate then you need to turn the music down or eliminate the noise all together by either using headphones or simply turning the music off. Visual noise can also be very irritating such as lights and television or computer screens. Do what you want to do in your place, but if your roommate is disturbed, go somewhere else.”
“Sexual Activity: Sexual activity is okay in your own separate room. However, if you are sharing the same room then sexual activity is inappropriate in the presence of your roommate.”
What are some tips you can give to help roommates to get along?
“First do your homework: Make you sure you make a good choice for a roommate. You want to find someone who is compatible with you. Don’t just accept anyone because they are readily available or have the money. You could very well regret it. I think this is the most important thing you could do. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”
“Second communicate: Share your expectations, needs and desires. Talk about money, chores, guest and anything you can think of that may cause conflict. Hash it out up front and then be flexible for changes later, rather than stubbornly holding to the original agreement. Respect the other person’s diversity as just “different” not necessarily “bad” or ‘good.'”
“Third be flexible. Do your best to communicate and come to some type of compromise or agreement. Remember, everything is not worth fighting about, and if something doesn’t matter to you as much as it does your roommate then give in sometimes. If all else fails and it just won’t work find another roommate. Sometimes it is worth breaking your lease to have your sanity.”
What last advice would you like to leave for roommates who are having a difficult time getting along?
“To loosely quote WC Fields,’ If at first you don’t succeed, try again. If it still doesn’t work, quit. No sense being a damn fool about it.'”
Thank you Dr. Turpeau for doing the interview on how to get along with a roommate. For more information on Dr. Turpeau you can check out his website on DRTURPEAU.COM.
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