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It's All Relative: Roommate Rules

 by Stephanie Berger  published on Thursday, February 23, 2006

Berger/issues/arts/695914
Berger
 

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Maybe it was your freshman-year roommate whose sweaty gym socks grew mold in the corner. Perhaps it was that friend from high school who you thought would be your perfect roomie match and ended up being a psycho.

Regardless of the specific situation, one thing's for sure: no college student has ever lived in peaceful, perfect roommate bliss for all four (or more) years of their university life.

However, as the years go by and living environments and roommates change, it's nice to think that we can all learn valuable lessons from our experiences.

Case in point: I thought I became a savvy roommate after dealing with my freshman-year roommie's live-in, anime and video game-addicted boyfriend.

Then I heard about a friend who learned survival techniques from a roommate who, when inebriated, liked to play with his butterfly knife.

Perhaps you're shaking your head in disbelief right now. Maybe as a freshman, you haven't yet discovered your Manzanita buddies' evil tendencies. It's even possible that as an upperclassman, after several tries, you think you've found your perfect match.

Well, think again.

Don't get me wrong, I love my roommates. My quirky, ultra-liberal household has brought me much joy. But I won't even try to convince you that my life is perfect.

There are the half-empty Diet Coke cans that are always left on the kitchen counter, just inches away from the garbage can. There's the early-morning shower schedule that is never followed, leaving me perpetually late to my internship. And then there was that time that the Tivo-ed episode of my favorite show, Grey's Anatomy, in which it was finally revealed whether the star-crossed lovers were going to stay together, mysteriously got deleted.

The hardest, and yet most important, task for roommates is to set boundaries. Especially if you're sharing a room or are in a particularly small dorm or cheap apartment-sized quarters, at some point rules must be established.

Often, these rules have something to do with your roommate's significant other. While I've heard horror stories about bumping and grinding going on in the bed across the room, it shouldn't be that difficult to create a respectful environment that everyone can agree upon.

In the case of my videogame aficionado nemesis, I never did get up the courage to ask the couple, in a friendly manner, if they could just leave every once in awhile, for the love of God.

But now I've learned to hold my ground. When the noises from my one roommate's bedroom get a little too intense, the remaining three of us have a strategy: We stand outside his room and mimic them at a magnified volume.

I'll be honest, it's never actually worked as far as quieting them down. But it is pretty hilarious.

In addition to exposing your roommate to your intimate moments, there's always the chance that he or she and your significant other might just not get along. In order to avoid the awkward glances exchanged when the two cross paths on the way to the bathroom, try to establish some common ground between them.

Bring up their shared major, favorite music genre or that friend that you discovered they both have in common on Facebook.

After all, you are the common thread between the two of them. You have to live with one and you have to keep the other one happy in order to preserve your own sanity.

Through it all, just keep in mind that as long as the good times outweigh the bad, you sometimes just have to grin and say, "At least my roommate doesn't play with knives."

Reach the reporter at stephanie.m.berger@asu.edu.



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