Setting Boundaries When Living with Roommates

By Alyssa Laffitte on November 25, 2017

When you live with a roommate or roommates, there need to be some boundaries so that you can all have your own space. Setting boundaries makes it easier for people to live together respectfully and in harmony. So, what is the best way for you and roommate to set boundaries? Keep reading to find out!


Decide What Your Boundaries Will Be

The first step in setting boundaries when living with roommates is to figure out what your boundaries are. Take some time to consider the boundaries of respect that you wouldn’t want your roommate to cross. Remember: don’t do something you wouldn’t want someone else to do to you. Write these things down so you can refer to them later.

Things to Consider

Here are some specific things to consider when deciding which boundaries are the most important to you.

  • Borrowing stuff. One of the biggest problems between roommates is not respecting each other’s stuff. For this reason, it’s so important to decide what the boundaries will be when it comes to letting your roommate borrow your stuff. What, if any, of your belongings would you be okay with letting your roommate borrow?
  • Food. Another important boundary to consider is boundaries on food, especially if you share a refrigerator. Will you and your roommate share food? Will any specific foods be off-limits?
  • Shared property. If you do decide that you want to share some items, within what bounds? (For example, if you want the TV at a certain time period each week and you would appreciate it if your roommate would let you have it at that time.)
  • Private time in the room. Everyone appreciates some private time in their rooms, whether it’s to take a nap or to FaceTime someone back home. Set some boundaries so that both you and your roommate can get some time in the room for themselves.
  • Guests, including overnight guests. Remember that the room is your roommate’s just as much as it is yours, so your roommate has the right to know if anyone will be staying in their room. (This doesn’t have to be a big thing, just shoot your roommate a text a few hours before you have guests over so that they won’t be surprised when they get home and find other people in their room.)
  • Quiet hours. Another great conflict source for college students is quiet hours. If someone has classes early in the morning, they would not appreciate their roommate making noise late into the night. Similarly, if someone wants to sleep in, they would not appreciate their roommate making noise as they are getting ready for the day.

Communicate Them to Your Roommate

Now that you have decided on your boundaries and written them down, you can approach your roommate and have a conversation about boundaries. It’s important for you and your roommate to communicate your boundaries to each other so that you both know what you should and shouldn’t do. This conversation might be hard to initiate, but it’s a very important one to have to avoid any future conflict. How can you expect your roommate to know that they can’t borrow your stuff if you haven’t told them you don’t want them to borrow your stuff? An easy way to prevent this is to discuss your boundaries together.

Remember Your Roommate’s Boundaries and Don’t Step Over Them

Just as you would like your boundaries to be respected, please respect your roommate’s boundaries. For example, if they want you to ask before you eat their food, please do not eat their food without asking. If it helps, write down each other’s boundaries so that you won’t forget them and accidentally cross them.

Living peacefully with someone else, especially someone you just met, is easier when you two have clear boundaries set. This way, there are no misunderstandings and you know how to respect each other’s space and privacy.

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