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10 Types of Roommates You Have in College

By Alicia Geigel 

Having one or multiple roommates is a standard part of the college experience. Whether it is during your freshman year in a dorm or post-college in an apartment, living with your new roommates may be either a dream or a nightmare, depending on the kind of person they are and how well you click together.

Everyone knows of at least one horror story involving a roommate, whether they were too messy, partied too much, or never left the dorm room. There are so many types of roommates out there, and if you’re not sure what to expect, you can become overwhelmed fast.

Are you about to move in with a roommate? Nervous about what to expect? Here are 10 types of roommates you can meet in college and how to deal with them!

1. The Neat Freak: Everyone typically likes their space tidy. The word ‘tidy’ may mean something different to someone depending on who you talk to, but generally, most people like a space that isn’t overwhelmed with trash or clutter. Then, there is the neat freak. As a roommate, the neat freak cannot stand to see a sign of dirt, trash, or clutter anywhere. They are constantly cleaning surfaces, Swiffer-mopping the floor, and might even ask you to take off your shoes at the door. Neat freak roommates can leave you feeling like you can’t keep up, do enough to satisfy them, or like you’re the embodiment of a mess.

Solution: Try your best to compromise with your roommate on tidiness, after all, it is the both of you that share the space and therefore you get a say as well. Establish a basic set of guidelines for cleanliness of the room, and abide by them. If your roommate wants to spend their time meticulously cleaning their side of the room, let them! Ensure that if you have a mess, it doesn’t encroach their space and give them the freedom to clean the shared spaces of your dorm if their heart deems it necessary.

2. The Slob: The polar opposite of the ‘Neat Freak’ roommate is the slob. For the slob, cleanliness is out the window. Tidiness? Never heard of it. As a roommate, the slob will generally not care about the state of the dorm room, leaving old graded papers, McDonald’s wrappers, and any kind of trash on the floor, in their bed, on their desk, in practically any space that can be occupied. Additionally, they don’t clean, so you can expect dirt and grime to build up on the floor, strands of hair on the floor or in the sink, etc. No one is absolutely perfect when it comes to having a clean space, but the slob throws that concept out of the window.

Solution: Living with someone is all about compromise. Similar to the ‘Neat Freak’ situation, try to compromise with your roommate on tidiness. Establish a basic set of guidelines for the cleanliness of the room, and ensure that you both abide by them. To make things simpler, you can alternate between who cleans what, and when. Set up a schedule where you and your roommate can clean certain areas of the room on a weekly basis. This way, the work gets divided up and your roommate doesn’t feel like they’re doing all of the work.

3. The Invisible Roomie: Part of what is so great about having a roommate is getting to know them, forming a friendship, and ultimately having them be someone special in your life for years down the line. For some roommates, however, forming relationships and being social is not something they are interested in. The invisible roommate is someone you know you live with, you’ve definitely talked to them and seen them before, but on a daily basis, you hardly ever come across them. Perhaps your schedules are that different, or maybe they really just aren’t interested in getting to know you. Either way, this type of roommate can be a bit of a head-scratcher.

Solution: If you appreciate your alone time and don’t mind being by yourself in your dorm most of the time, the invisible roommate isn’t too bad. But if you’re someone who likes to be social, make new friends, and get close to others, this might be hurtful and make you feel lonely. Ultimately there is nothing you can do in terms of changing your roommate’s habits or personality, but you can change what you do in the meantime! Try to visit your friends more, get out of your dorm, and go on adventures across campus, do things that get your mind off of the fact that your roommate is ghosting you.

4. The Hermit Homebody: After a long day of classes, work, and extracurriculars, there is nothing better than coming back to your dorm and unwinding with some TV or a good book. Enjoying time in your dorm is normal, but when it becomes a lifestyle, that’s when you are a certified hermit. This type of roommate rarely attends class, binges every series on Netflix, and is probably behind on all of their assignments. You wake up? They’re there. You come back from class? Yeah, they’re there. Coming back from a party at 1 am? You guessed it, they’re there. Hermit roommates never leave the room and rarely socialize with others, whether be in class or on your dorm floor.

Solution: Unless you are in desperate need of some privacy, the Hermit roommate isn’t too bad. Sure, sometimes you want the dorm to yourself, but at least they keep to themselves and don’t bother you! Try inviting your roommate to the cafeteria to have lunch or dinner with you, or invite them out to a small get together with some of your other friends to get them out of the dorm and socialize a little. Check up on your roommate routinely to make sure they’re ok and not struggling with depression or anxiety, which could keep them from wanting to go out or go to class.

5. The Party Animal: One of the best parts of going to college is socializing and having fun by going to parties. After a week of mountains of assignments, essays, quizzes, work, and other obligations, it's fun to let loose, hang out with friends, and go to a couple of parties! Unless, you’ve already done that multiple times, Monday through Friday. Yes, the Party Animal roommate doesn’t wait until the weekend to have fun, they do it at 11 am on a Tuesday or 4 pm on a Thursday, it doesn’t matter. Whenever you turn around, they’re either coming back from a party or trying to start a party of their own in the dorm. For someone who is focused on getting work done, getting decent sleep, and not trying to clean up your roommate’s drunk messes, this can be a bit of a problem.

Solution: Listen, no one wants to be labeled as a ‘party pooper’, but there is a line that has to be drawn when the fun antics of your roommate interfere with your lifestyle and your academic work. Like everything else in terms of conflict with a roommate, try and compromise. Establish some rules regarding partying, having people over, and drinking. Maybe you can set hours in the morning or nighttime that are reserved for being quiet. Set boundaries on the times they invite friends over, and the number of friends they invite as well. If push comes to shove, talk to an RA, or look for another roommate situation!

 

6. The Catty Roommate: No one really likes confrontation, but some definitely deal with it better than others. Being in college, you are considered an adult, which means you are expected (and should) handle things with maturity and dignity. This can be for something as small as a piece of trash left on your roommate’s side of the room or forgetting to turn off the light because you were studying late. While this is not a big deal to handle for most people, the catty roommate will deal with things of this matter passive-aggressively. You never really know what is going to bother them today, but you can expect to find post-it notes telling you what you did to annoy them. Words are never spoken and tension always exists because there’s no verbal communication.

Solution: At the beginning of the semester or whenever you move in with your roommate, establish specific rules and guidelines as to how you both want to live and what you expect from each other. Mention or include things like study/work schedules, cleanliness, when to have friends over, what to share vs. what not to share, etc. Doing so at the beginning should make things a lot easier in terms of knowing what to expect from your roommate. If a passive-aggressive note floats around your dorm, ask your roommate about it and talk it out.

7. The Roommate with a Boyfriend/Girlfriend: When in college, it is expected that you will date a few people. Given that you are socializing with others, meeting new people in classes, etc., dating and/or having a significant other isn’t something that anyone doesn’t expect. When you start to lose your sense of privacy and space because your roommate can’t seem to get enough of their significant other, then you are in for a unique situation. The roommate with the significant other is usually so obsessed with them that your roommate is around them 24 hours a day, seven days a week. There isn’t a time when you can’t catch them staring deeply into each other's eyes, kissing, or going on about how much the other means to them. Love is fine, but when it suffocates you all the time, it gets exhausting.

Solution: You don’t want to see your roommate break up with their significant other, but you do want your space back. Kindly ask your roommate to consider alternating between your dorm and their significant others, so that you can have some space but aren’t kicking them out completely. Stress the idea that the room is also yours, and you have to study, work, or want to unwind without having to worry about what is going on between the two of them. Trust me, I think your roommate will understand.

8. The Borrower: Are you ever chilling in your dorm when you realize you’re missing your favorite sweatshirt? Or searching through your drawers you notice your box of cereal is half gone? I hate to break it to you, but there’s a strong probability that you’re living with the Borrower roommate. Their intentions may be good, but the Borrower roommate has no concept of personal space or belongings, and has the “what’s mine is yours, what’s yours is mine” attitude about nearly everything in your room. From clothes to food to shampoo, your roommate will use or borrow anything without asking, because that’s what roommates do right? Though it can be frustrating to deal with them, there are a few ways to get them to quit it.

Solution: All it takes to break through to a Borrower roommate is to have a conversation. Set clear boundaries as to what is yours and yours only, such as the food you buy, your clothes, toiletries, etc. Once you tell your roommate that there are certain things they can’t borrow or use, they will lay off and get the picture.

9. The Late Night Owl: Everyone has different schedules for the day since none of us are the same, we all handle the day differently. In college, most everyone runs on a similar schedule, as classes take up the morning to mid-afternoon. Because of this, going to bed at a decent hour and waking up on the early-end of the morning is a must, unless you’re the Night Owl roommate. When you’re falling asleep at midnight so you can get up early to study for an exam the next day, the Night Owl roommate is just starting their night. While they aren’t partying, they are most likely microwaving food, listening to music, taking a shower, chatting with friends, or wandering aimlessly around the dorm. All of this can put a strain on your sleep and make you want to pull your hair out.

Solution: Try compromising with your roommate and be vocal about what is bothersome to you at night. Is their music too loud? Are the lights too bright? All of these are important concerns to bring up to them. Additionally, a sleeping mask and earplugs can help too!


10. The Soul Mate: If you’re lucky, you can find the perfect roommate that clicks with you on everything. Your personalities mesh together, and its a win-win situation. My freshman year, after my first roommate moved out, a girl that I was friends with moved in with me, and it was the best roommate experience ever! We were on the same page, had fun, understood each other's habits and boundaries, and had an awesome roommate relationship, so much so that we are best friends to this day, far after we got our diploma!

Dealing with roommate problems isn’t always easy, but if you communicate effectively by vocalizing what bothers you and can find a middle ground, nearly all of your problems can be solved! As always, good luck!


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