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Residential Life

Roommate relationships

roommates chatting

A helpful guide to avoiding, handling and resolving roommate conflict

Starting college can be pretty overwhelming no matter how well you prepare. From living on campus and studying for exams to exploring the many activities offered at UMKC, there's sure to be a lot on your mind. But you shouldn't have to worry about your roommate. Here are a few guidelines to help you approach your new living arrangements with the right attitude and to make the best of your experience on campus.


Roommate relationships begin first and foremost with the choices YOU make. Regardless of how dissimilar you and your new roommate may be, you hold the power to make your living situation successful.


Tips

We've created a list of useful tips you can use while getting to know your new roommate.

You have to make the decision to get along or not.

That is the first step. If you can't make the decision to get along, all of the advice in the world will be useless when a conflict arises. So, open up your mind and prepare for a new experience. Make the best of your living situation and experience campus living with a fresh start. Who knows, you might actually enjoy it!


Share the space.

Many incoming first-year students have never shared a living space before and are used to having things their own way when it comes to their living environment. It is imperative that you acknowledge how important it is to know and respect your roommate, just as you would like her or him to respect you. Your roommate is working to share the space, just like you are. So, be respectful of your roommate's belongings and area of the room and try to work out a living arrangement that is suitable for you both.


Ask questions.

A good way for you and your new roommate to get to know one another is to simply ask questions. Of course, this might seem somewhat intrusive and uncomfortable at first, but in the long run you'll see that doing so proves worthwhile. Facebook can also be a good way to informally get to know and talk to one another before actually moving in together; however, don't form opinions of your roommate based solely on the information provided on these sites.


Acknowledge your differences and similarities in the beginning and don't be afraid to speak up.

This is the time to lay it all out. Maintaining open communication is imperative. Establishing the similarities and differences in your living styles, habits, and interests is the basis for creating an enjoyable living environment.


Lay down the rules beforehand.

Create some ground rules from the start and don't be afraid to speak up for yourself. When developing friendships, people generally try to be extra considerate, but as the newness wears off of being roommates, it is important to have a mutual understanding of one another. Speak up from the start and don't just find a compromise. Collaborate and come up with a living plan to suit you both.


Creating guidelines in the beginning will be much easier than doing so after you have already developed a relationship with your roommate. The longer you wait, the more difficult it is to give your opinion and state your views without the possibility of offending your roommate. Agree on some basic rules in the beginning and save yourselves an argument later on. Feel free to refer back to them periodically and make modifications if necessary.


Regardless of how close you and your new roommate are or may become, conflict will arise.

Conflict is perfectly normal, but knowing how to deal with the conflict can sometimes be a pretty challenging task. When a conflict does surface, you have yet another choice to make. You can choose to constructively confront the situation(s) at hand or you can choose to ignore it. In general, ignoring a problem often makes the problem worse, and it doesn't really seem to just disappear like we might hope. Try to work it out as best you can.


Try to devise a conflict resolution plan.

Decide together how you will confront one another if an issue does come up, so you will feel comfortable in discussing the situation. Set up a meeting in a neutral place rather than diving into immediate confrontation and be very straight forward. Say "When you do x in situation y, I feel z." Be honest about your needs, thoughts and feelings. If you find that you just need space away from one another, try making the room unavailable at certain times, get involved in the activities on campus and develop a life away from your room. This will not only give you and your roommate time apart, but it will help you to meet other people as well.


Student staff is here to help.

Not every conflict can be solved without outside advice. So if all else fails, don't be afraid to involve your Resident Assistant and take advice from an unbiased third party. That's what they're here for.


If you find that a solution cannot be reached between you and your roommate, you do have the option of speaking with your Residential Life Coordinator. This process does not happen overnight though, so it is in your best interest to try and work things out.