Having just finished my second year, and very much looking forward to my third, I’m all too aware of something that happens to almost every university student at some point within their degree – housemate drama.
Any experience I’ve had with housemate drama has rarely started with an event that can be pinpointed as the beginning of the tension. Usually, misunderstandings are built up until suddenly, one person isn’t talking to another, and even they aren’t sure what happened. Part of this, I’m convinced, is because there is always the infamous house group chat. Always talking over message can get confusing and things are often misconstrued. My first tip would be to never be passive-aggressive through text – apart from looking petty, it often causes far more aggro than you need. Rather than reply, or initiate the conversation through text, go to them and talk about it. It will save a lot of hassle.
Another thing that will help you out during housemate drama is to remember your own mind. Often, it can be very easy to get caught up in someone else’s argument and pick a side. This isn’t necessary and it’s important to remember your relationship with people is your business – you shouldn’t have to choose sides to feel more connected to someone in the house, nor should anyone be asking you to choose a side. This isn’t primary school.
Making ground rules at the start of the year will really help. It may seem boring and go against that wild student life everyone’s after, but honestly, it will save so many arguments in the future! Starting a cleaning rota within the first few weeks and establishing boundaries will help everyone know where they stand. None of you will know what’s okay and what isn’t unless someone verbalises it, and everyone deserves to feel comfortable in their own home.
Adding to my previous point – compromise is key. There can’t be a dictator of the house – this will only breed resentment and bitterness, eventually leading into a full blown argument, which could have been stopped if only someone asked to compromise on something which was annoying them. Similarly, don’t take everything to heart. People have a lot of stress at university, not just from their degrees, but outside pressures such as relationships, parental expectations and even financial issues. Don’t seethe over a comment made offhand – either move on or talk to them about it. Chances are, they didn’t realise it affected you.
Try and organise a weekly or fortnightly house night. Whether it’s going out to a favourite club night, or just making a meal to share and watching TV, it’s important to check in with each other and keep that house bond. Realistically, these people will be who you spend most of your time with at uni – don’t become strangers!
Finally, remember – everyone in that house or flat is in the same position as you! It takes time to get used to living with friends and learning each other’s schedules and boundaries. It takes time to get used to some aspects of someone’s personality that you haven’t really seen before, and that’s okay. Inevitably, there will be clashes, but it all matters in how you handle it. Don’t let pettiness get in the way, or let hurt feelings take over. Always try to be the bigger person and sort issues out face to face – you’ll be glad you did when everyone is laughing about it all over a few drinks that night.