The typical scatterbrain roommate usually lives among mountains of clothes that span across the floor and bed, consisting of indistinguishably clean and dirty laundry. These individuals seem to thrive in living conditions similar to the aftermath of a bomb, and will usually throw on whatever clothing is nearest to the edge of their bed in the morning.
Another sign that your roommate is a scatterbrain is their work space. If their desk is a forest of textbooks, party fliers, empty food containers and loose papers, you are living with a textbook scatterbrain. Constantly staring at the warzone with a gaze that could disintegrate the mess on its own is a solution that very often is not explicit enough to make your roommate change their ways. The best solution in this instance is to become confrontational, carefully avoiding the fine line between confrontation and hostility, and to ask for a compromise. It is important to keep the saying “a leopard never changes its spots” in mind because a scatterbrain cannot be expected to make the transition from beat to neat after a single confrontation.
It can, however, be expected that the roommate in question could meet the compromise by restricting the disaster area to their half of the room and practising better hygiene by throwing away rubbish.
Remember that a blanket request to “be cleaner” is an ineffective way of communicating with a scatterbrain. Instead, make sure to give clear and specific suggestions and requests to your roommate, such as saying, “Please put your dirty clothes into the laundry bin after wearing them and not onto the floor.” In this way a scatterbrain roommate can be successfully managed.
A loudspeaker roommate is known for their blatant disregard for silence. A typical loudspeaker is a very talkative person who will spend their time constantly talking on the phone, blaring their music, singing incessantly and throwing a pre-drinks bash every Thursday night. However tempting they may seem, locking the door or throwing your roommate’s speakers out of the window are not suitable solutions to this problem.
This is the time when ground rules must be established regarding when the appropriate times are for the noise levels to be allowed to rise. While many of us pity Leonard from The Big Bang Theory for the strict set of rules he has to live by, the essence of Dr Sheldon Cooper’s Roommate Agreement is a wise tool which can be used to regulate noisy roommates.
Remember that it is not unreasonable for you to request a respite from the audio assault when trying to sleep or study. It is, however, unreasonable to prevent your roommate from socialising altogether. This is where communication is vital among roommates. Also, suggest headphones to your roommate when listening to music, and invest in a pair of noise-cancelling headphones for your own sanity.
The eager beaver
The eager beaver is a person who can easily forget boundaries and can become a constant disruption or bother in their attempt to be friendly. This person is persistently seeking your attention and is always looking to talk and bond, especially during times when you need solitude. While having a good relationship with your roommate is very important, the relationship must not interfere with your wellbeing, especially when your roommate’s eagerness to know every single thing about you has the potential to create unpleasant tension in your sanctum.
This situation is a delicate one, because your roommate has an honest and overall good intention while trying to get to know you, and asking them to back down will create an awkward energy for the rest of the year. Employ visual clues in such situations, such as putting headphones on when you are in need of quiet time. These subtle gestures should do the trick in establishing some boundaries between you and your roommate.
These are roommates who, unintentionally or deliberately, take things without returning them. They tend to pillage your wardrobe or fridge without permission or, in extreme cases, help themselves to your jewellery. This can cause extreme distrust and discomfort among roommates and is one of the more difficult situations that can arise from having a roommate, especially when accusations begin to surface.
The first thing to do in a situation like this is to invest in a lock. Once this has been taken care of, it is time for confrontation. Avoid putting the confrontation off, because the longer you do, the worse the situation will get. Begin by letting the person know that they are welcome to borrow things as long as they ask permission. This then places the ball back into your court, because it is now up to you to answer when your roommate asks. By saying “no” a few times your roommate will eventually stop asking for things. Remember that many people have grown up in homes where borrowing from siblings without asking for permission was acceptable and they may accept this as the norm. If the confrontation doesn’t do the trick, then take your problem to higher authority because living in a crime zone is not acceptable.
Mean girls (or boys)
If you are unfortunate enough to be paired with Regina George do not be discouraged. While some roommates can be cold, abrupt or rude, remember that there are other people in your corridor to make friends with, and hopefully you will spend more time hanging out with them and will barely see your sour companion.
Some people have a difficult time adjusting to having to share space. Do not attempt to warm a cold or abrupt roommate, but rather accept that you will not be thick as thieves all the time. If the situation becomes worse do not hesitate to ask your roommate what is bothering them. It might be a family situation, the stress of passing their course or even something you are doing, such as bothering them with your alarm ringtone or another habit.
By keeping these five types of roommates in mind, you will be able to identify and approach your troublesome roommate appropriately, which could significantly improve the relations between the two of you. Communication in these cases is vital to maintaining a healthy roommate relationship. After all, if you are living in a comfortable environment it is a lot easier to focus on your degree.
Photo: Anele Mkungelwa