Roommates can be tough. Unless you arrange to live with a friend from high school, you will be paired with any "Joe" or "Cathleen" from around the state of Wyoming, neighboring states like Colorado or Montana, or states as far as Hawaii, Alaska, and Maine. The possibility of meeting a life-long friend is just as high as meeting a life-long enemy and the outcome will be decided by how both of you handle the friction that naturally comes with dorm life.
You're bound to encounter many saddening, infuriating, and downright awkward moments with your roommate that will make you question if you will be able to survive nine months living with them. Here are some ways for you to deal with those moments of your domestic relationship that might feel like deal breakers.
When they get strip down to their skivvies... right in front of you
When you share a room with another person you are bound to see them in their birthday suit. After all, it is their room too and where else do people typically get dressed for the day? That being said, there is a fine line between changing clothes and pretending you are on a nudist beach. If you find your roommate is excessively walking around in all their naked glory, try to come to a compromise where they, at the very least, wear a pair of boxers or, even better, a pair of sweatpants. If nothing else you can come to an agreement where plastic is placed over all of your furniture and you get to sleep on the top bunk to avoid seeing their bare body :)
When they refuse to clean up after themselves
The messy roommate is one of the worst. Their personal hygiene aside, they will leave their clothes in massive piles all across the room, leave their garbage anywhere except the trash can, and seem to be unaccustomed to picking up after themselves. The best form of communication is direct and this is how you handle the messy roommate. Confront them about their messes and explain why it is a problem. With any luck, and decency, they will happily oblige!
If they don't respect your wishes to live in beautiful cleanliness, you can gently remind them that the residence contract they signed to move into the residence halls states that you must keep your room clean. They are obligated to keep your shared living space habitable and if they break this rule you can contact your RA to help you sort it out.
When they steal your stuff
Whether it is food, school supplies, or even clothing, there are certain types of roommates who will think your possessions are there to use as they need. The simplest way to stop them is to confront them. Let them know that you don't like them eating your snacks without your permission or that you are not comfortable with them wearing your clothes (trust me, it happens). Worst case scenario you can actively label or even hide your items so your roommate does not have access to them.
When they are your best friend
The biggest mistake I ever made was moving in with my best friend. In high school, you have a lot of time away from your close-knit group of pals when you go home. If you have any conflicts with each other you have your separate houses to go to and decompress. If you live together in college there is no place to get your space because your friend's bed is right next to yours!
If you find yourself living with a close friend and want to remain friends, find some new ones. I don't mean to outright abandon your best friend, but having people in your life besides your roommate will give you the opportunity to get out of each other's space for a while. After going out with these new friends, you'll return and be able to enjoy each other's company because you haven't been around them all day.
You can make these other friends by interacting with your classmates and setting up study sessions together and making small talk with them before lecture begins or you can join one of the many RSO's on the University of Wyoming campus.
When they are in need
Suicide is one of the leading causes of college student deaths in America, even more than alcohol related deaths. When first time students are away from home for an extended amount of time, they might start feeling lonely or uncomfortable in their new environment, or might even start questioning their identity. Compound all of these with the regular stress of college life and it is possible for students to develop some form of mental illness.
Some signs of depression, for example, include irritability, loss of interest in hobbies they used to enjoy, over and under eating, and decreased energy.
If you notice that your roommate is beginning to exhibit some of these signs, talk to them. Ask them how they are doing, what they are feeling, or if anything is seriously bothering them. You can also recommend them to University Counseling that has staff who can help sort out their concerns. If issues continue to escalate let your RA know and they will get in touch with the appropriate resources.
When they are LGBT
College can be a time for students to discover who they are and what they want to be. This is usually thought to reference career fields, majors, activities, and the like, but this idea extends out to sexual orientation and gender identity as well.
The University of Wyoming takes a very strong stance in support of LGBT persons and the vast majority of our generation supports the idea of equal rights for our lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, and queer contempories. So there clearly shouldn't be any big problem if your roommate is LGBT, but if you do feel uncomfortable with it there is a very simple way to alleviate any tension: talk to them.
Explain your situation, like how you've never met a gay person or how you grew up in a very homophobic environment and was never surrounded by supportive ideas, and ask if there is anything they want you to know or if they could share their story growing up gay. This gives you the opportunity to get to know the person you will be sharing a room with, but also a great bonding experience for the two of you. That being said, do not feel offended if they decline to share any personal information because it can be a very sensitive topic for some people who had any kind of traumatic coming out experience or other negative situations in their past.
If you find yourself wanting to ask something along the lines of, "Will I turn gay by living with you?" I'm going to save you the embarrassment and answer it right now: No. You will not magically turn gay being around a gay person. That isn't how sexual orientation works. Now let's finally put this question to ground.
If you are an LGBT person in need of resources or support you can visit the Rainbow Resource Room in the Student Union.
When you are the problem
If you find that your roommate is confronting you about anything from this list or beyond, listen to them. Don't be dismissive or arrogant and say "Oh, that's not that big of a deal" or "You're just overreacting" because that will just add fuel to the fire and likely make your conflict infinitely worse. Swallow your pride and say "Alright. I'm sorry. I'll stop [insert source of conflict here]." Open up communication and listen to what your roommate has to say. Being able to work with others to reach a compromise is a valuable skill and one that will work wonders during your time living together. Put yourself in their shoes and think about what you would want them to do if you had a problem and then do that yourself.
If you take nothing else from this post, let it be this: if there is a problem, address it. Much of altercations and conflict with your roommate can be avoided just by having a conversation with them.
For more information about how to be a good roommate check out these tips!