Coping with a Roommate

Having a roommate can be a wonderful experience for some, but we’ve all heard an anecdotal tale about a terrible roommate. As we reach the semester’s middle, you may feel emotionally and physically exhausted with both classes and dorm life. However, learning to grow and adapt to communicate efficiently with others is just as important as growing in the classroom. Being a roommate can help people expand their patience, increase cooperation and generosity. It means learning active listening, effective communication, and compromise. Here are our four biggest tips to help you get through the semester and cope with your roommate.

Communicate Effectively

Communication is everything when it comes to sharing a home space. Your roommate is most likely going to have habits you find annoying. And more likely than not, you have some characteristics that your roommate will find annoying with you. If something is bothering you, you need to have an open conversation with your roommate to discuss it. They are not mind readers. And they aren’t going to know you have an issue unless you bring it up.

Communication is essentially another way of practicing expectation management. When you and your roommate are made aware of each other’s expectations, it’s easier to meet them. You can’t really reach an expectation you aren’t aware of, right?

Learn to Compromise

Compromise is another wonderful tool to have in your roommate coping arsenal. Part of interacting with others is being open and compromise when appropriate. An example of this would be how clean the dorm room should be kept. Your standards of cleanliness, for the most part, will not be the same as your roommate. You are both going to have to compromise one way or another – as you will each need to reset your standards.

Now at the same time, you also cannot allow yourself to be taken advantage of. Compromise should happen at both ends of the agreement. If you’re the only one compromising, it’s not a compromise.

You Don’t Have to Be Best Friends

Many people forget that a roommate doesn’t have to be your best friend. Sure, you may have been matched because you share similar qualities. But that does not mean you have to do everything together. Don’t feel pressured to do what your roommate does, and don’t pressure them to do what you do either. An unforced, but respected relationship will be much healthier than the smothered alternative.

Set Boundaries when Necessary

It is extremely important to begin learning how to take care of yourself during college. Part of learning to take care of yourself is through setting boundaries. Does your roommate take your things without asking? Invite people over without telling you? Sharing space means you have to each be respectful of the other. Boundaries help you both stay accountable while still be clear and upfront. Again, the clearer you can communicate, and the earlier expectations are set, the happier you both are going to be.

Coping with a Roommate with CPA

With finals, papers, and projects, the rest of the semester might be tough for you. We know you need a toolbox full of skills to cope with the challenges life throws at us. At CPA, we always encourage patients to explore coping mechanisms that work best for them. However, we also know that a number of those skills come from counseling and different therapy methods. If you need help and support, know we are here to do just that. Cristina Panaccione and Associates Counseling has locations in the South Hills of Pittsburgh and Robinson Township. We also offer Virtual Therapy Sessions. We are currently accepting a limited number of new patients. Check out our services pages to learn how we can help you.

* This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Please contact a medical professional for advice.


Toni Contestabile – M.Ed, LCSW

Hi! I’m Toni and thanks for reading my bio— I like long walks on the beach, deep conversations..etc.. I am not your typical therapist. And I’m incredibly easy to talk to and very relatable. It’s not easy to bear your soul to a stranger, but I’m told that with me it’s easier than most. I hold a bachelor’s degree from Penn State, a master of special education from Pitt, and a master of social work from the University of Southern California. I’m particularly skilled at working with trauma, mood disorders, veterans and their families, depression, and ADHD. I operate from a neuropsychological perspective and will help you to understand the origins of your concerns, and will work to give you the tools to mitigate them as well.  I’m open to working with children, couples, and adults of all ages.


When was the last time someone listened to you?  Really listened and provided active feedback.

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