Susan Fee

Article Summary:

Tips on how to live with your total opposite.

College Roommates: Living With Your Opposite

Are you living with your total opposite? It's amazing how different two people sharing the same (tiny) room can be. Even the littlest things can drive us crazy after awhile! You eat Big Macs and chicken wings while your roommate swears by tofu and beans; you like Coldplay and your roommate cranks up Tim McGraw. You're East Coast; your roommate is West Coast. Whatever your differences (and there are bound to be a few), you need to figure out what you're willing to live with and what's fair to ask your roommate to change.

Your roommate may have an accent that grates on your nerves, but that's not something you can ask a person to change. It's also not fair to expect someone to change his entire personality to suit you. It would be great if we could snap our fingers, and BAM, instant personality makeover! Not gonna happen. So, you need to separate her personality from her irritating habits. You won't transform your roommate into your new best friend, but you can make things a lot more bearable.  Here are a few tips;

  If something's bugging you, bring it up in a non-defensive way rather than assume your roommate can read your mind.  Nothing can change unless you acknowledge it.  It's possible that your roommate may not even be aware of the problem.
Focus on behavior, not personality. It's not reasonable to ask people to change who they are, but you can ask them to tone down how they express themselves, especially when it's invading your turf.  So, you can't criticize someone for being "perky," but you can ask for someone not to talk so much while you're studying.    

Stay flexible.  It's not your job to fix anybody else, and it helps to recognize that no one is perfect.  Be willing to look at your own behavior.  Consider what you could do differently to help the situation instead of only blaming your roommate.

Start with one pet peeve.  What can you absolutely not deal with? What do you find extremely irritating, but could live with if you had to? There are probably tons of things your roommate does that get on your nerves. But nothing kills a relationship faster than listing dozens of reasons why you don't like a person.  Instead, both of you need to list your number one pet peeve and focus your energy on solving that first.

Consider the positives.  Before you decide that life would be better with a roommate exactly like you, think of what you could gain by living with your opposite. We're often attracted to people who are different from us because they represent qualities we wish we possessed. If you're shy, maybe being around a more outgoing person will force you out of your shell. When one person's strength makes up for the other's weakness, being opposites is an advantage.

Susan Fee is a licensed counselor, life coach, and corporate trainer. She is the author of two communication tips booklets that may be ordered through her Website, She is also the author of the college survival book, "My Roommate is Driving Me Crazy! Solve Conflicts, Set Boundaries, and Survive the College Roommate from Hell"(Adams Media). Visit the website for free college survival tips. Susan also conducts one-on-one executive coaching in interpersonal and public speaking skills and teaches individuals how to identify and reach their personal goals. Past clients include Disney, Motorola, and United Airlines.

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