College can be a challenging time in a number of ways. Sometimes students struggle with the academic, social, and practical problems of living as they adjust to more independence and responsibility. At Meadows Crossing when we see our residents have communication problems with others, we want to help. Good communication really is the key to solving roommate problems. Here are some of the recent issues we have seen our residents deal with as well as the ways they have used to solve them.
The last two years have been crazy for everyone, not just students, but young people took the brunt of the blow from COVID and the lockdowns because their lives were completely disrupted for long periods of time when schools closed. The COVID pandemic was frightening in so many ways, and it had an overwhelming effect on public mental health. During the first year of the pandemic there was a 25% increase in anxiety and depression in the general population. Many people still do not feel they are back to their pre-COVID selves in terms of mental health or general wellbeing, and that’s understandable.
Common Roommate Problems
Unfortunately, life carries on regardless. This means that many conflicts will arise, large or small, and they still have to be resolved. Sometimes roommates cannot seem to find a solution for problems they have with the people around them. We often see our residents upset because of disagreements about:
- Cleanliness levels in common areas
- Roommates being too loud
- Roommates having too many people over
- Having to share kitchen or laundry facilities
- Personal clashes with their roommates
- Animal behavior problems
These problems can be very annoying, especially when you need sleep or quiet time to study or you find yourself living with someone you don’t like very much. Sometimes residents also have problems with their roommates’ emotional support animals (ESA). We’ve seen people anxious or even frightened because of the way pets sometimes behave which is distressing because the animals are there to offer emotional support, not create emotional stress.
All of these problems do have solutions, though. The Meadows Crossing community has been here off campus near Grand Valley State University, for a long time now, and we have helped many of our student residents to be proactive in solving their problems with understanding, compromise, and communication.
3 Steps to Conflict Resolution
It may seem simplistic, but many of the difficulties we have with other people can be resolved with a little effort and empathy.
Understanding – The first step to take is to recognize that everyone has their own emotional or mental health issues. Even the most stable, unbothered people have their own buttons that can be pushed or triggers that set them off. You can’t get to adulthood without some painful experiences or traumas. So give space and patience both to yourself and to the people around you. Everyone comes from a different place. This can be frustrating as you figure out how to handle people with different triggers, but it’s also what makes life so interesting and college so eye opening!
Compromise – Another important piece of conflict resolution is compromise. It’s very difficult to deal with people who have the “My way or the highway” mindset. If that’s you or even just a little bit you, remember that for so many problems there isn’t just one solution. The other person may be right or partly right. If this is not a life-or-death situation, what can you give or concede to make the other people in your apartment feel respected and comfortable? How can they compromise with you?
Communication – Finally, the previous two steps can only be effective if you communicate openly and honestly with your roommates or neighbors. You may think you know what your roommate is thinking, but unless they actually tell you, you don’t. And they can’t read your mind either. Make time in your schedule to talk to the people you have problems with and explain your needs as well as you can without getting angry or making accusations. Listen when your roommates tell you their needs too. It’s normal to have needs. The goal in keeping the peace with roommates is to make sure everyone understands each others’ needs, and making sure as many of those needs as possible get met, without others’ needs being ignored.
Yes, this can be tricky, and, yes, we’ve all spent the past few years socializing less and forgetting the complexities of getting along. This is a real impact of the COVID isolation and lockdown policies. The good news is, we can learn or relearn how to be kind and respectful to the people around us so we can all live peacefully and accomplish our goals.
As always, the management of Meadows Crossing wants our student residents to know that we are here to help if they need assistance within our housing community. We genuinely care about our residents’ wellbeing and their success at GVSU.