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Dear Heartbeat,

I’m having trouble bonding with my roommate. I came into school hoping that we’d become closer friends, but even after more than a month we still rarely talk. He doesn’t spend much time in our room, and when he does, things feel really tense. I’m worried that I’m using too much of the room. Last weekend, I had some friends over, and at one point he came in, saw us and left really quickly.  He seemed upset, but he hasn’t mentioned anything since.  I want to say something to him, and see what he thinks about our relationship as roommates, but I’m not sure what to say.  Help me out?

–Feeling Guilty

 

First of all, let me say you are far from the only one dealing with this sort of situation. Roommates can be a tricky thing.

It’s understandable you came to campus this year with a hope for how the dynamic between you and your roommate would be, but turning that hope into an expectation won’t help the situation.  Your relationship is different than you expected it to be and that’s just how it is. However, this doesn’t mean you two can’t bond.

Let’s start with the fact that he’s out of the room often.  Things may seem tense, but if he’s unwilling to approach you with any issues he has with you, that’s his fault.  On the other hand, it’s possible he prefers to stay out of the room as well, and the tension you feel is a non-issue that you’ve created for yourself. There’s really only one way to be certain of this – you just have to ask. Be honest with your roommate. Work through your JC/RA if you need to.  It’s as easy as saying something like this:

“Listen, we don’t talk very much, but I wanted to let you know that I like having you as a roommate. If you ever have any problems with me, I would appreciate your full transparency. I hope that we can become friends over the course of this school year.”

That way, the ball’s in his court, not yours. You’ve reached out and you can continue to let him know that you want to become closer. If he doesn’t follow through, then I’m sure he’s dealing with his own things that keep him from responding.  Or he’s just a bad roommate.  And neither of those things are your fault. 

If things don’t improve over the course of the next year, then you have an opportunity to switch roommates.  There are opportunities to change rooms during the school year as well. Since you seem willing to go the extra mile to make a new friend, I think you should give it a shot. Some relationships are just a slow burn at first.

-Jonathan Pine


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