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    What To Do If You Aren’t Best Friends With Your College Roommate

    August 2, 2017 Amanda Cross 9 min read
    Note: This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my disclosure for more details. Thanks for supporting the brands that make The Happy Arkansan possible!

    So many students go off to college with the expectations that their random roomie will become their long lost best friend. The truth of the matter is, that's probably not going to happen. You don't have to try to push your roommate into becoming your best friend, that just doesn't make sense. Instead, let's read this post to figure out what we should do next.

    What To Do If You Aren't Best Friends With Your College Roommate | We all want to be best friends with our college roommates, but sometimes it's just not possible. Today on the blog, I am sharing my best advice for how to survive dorm life even if you aren't great friends with your roommate. Just because you don't have an excellent relationship, doesn't mean you can't have a decent one.

    1. Come To Terms With The Fact That Your Random Roommate May Not Become Your Bestie

    Dorm life is not like the movies. Those little questionnaires that you fill out don't help all that much when it comes to matching roommates. The surveys can only account for so much of your personality, and the amount of your personality it accounts for is very tiny.

    Don't cry over spilled milk, most roommate relationships aren't fantastic. You are not bound to only find friendship in your dorm room.

    It doesn't mean you can't grow to love your roommate, or that all of your roommate relationships are bound to fail from the start. Sometimes the surveys do work, but don't depend on them to.

    The surveys can't make you tell the truth about your actual thoughts. Surveys don't account for just how much people change during the first semester of college. With so many outside variables, you just have to see what happens. It could work, but don't be upset if it doesn't.

    I survived my freshman year without a scratch even though I found my best friends outside of my college dorm room. You can do the exact same thing.

    2. Make An Actual Effort To Be Friends

    Just because it's not likely that you will become friends, doesn't mean you shouldn't try to become friends. You can still make an effort to get to know them as long as you aren't spending all your time trying to be friends with only them.

    • Get to know their likes, dislikes, and interests.
    • Study with them.
    • Make plans with them outside of the dorm room.
    • Make an effort to get back to your room at a reasonable hour to spend time with them.

    Before you write off your friendship completely, you need to make an effort to be friends with them.

    One thing I regret most about my freshman year roommate relationship is that I didn't try, like at all. I found friends in other locations and I went about my own life. If I could go back and redo that experience I would have made a little more time in my schedule for that relationship to flourish more.

    Don't repeat my mistakes.

    Get to know your roommate before you write the situation off.

    3. Make Friends In Other Locations

    As you are determining whether or not friendship is a viable plan, you should focus your attention on other people. There are SO many people on college, it's just a matter of finding your true girl gang. With so many groups, people, and places to explore you are bound to find some cool friends in college.

    Related Reading: The Happy Guide To Finding Your People In College

    In Your Dorm

    Before I started branching out, one of the first places I found friends was in my dorm. It was easy to jump into getting involved. I ran for hall government, went to programs, etc. With my hall government position, I also did a couple of programs like watching A Charlie Brown Christmas and coloring Christmas trees in December and then doing a Bingo night with prizes around Valentine's Day. It was a fun way for me to connect with people in my dorm while also giving me event planning experience and so much more.

    If you can find a way to get involved with your dorm whether that's through serving on hall government, taking part in intramural sports for your dorm, or just leaving your dorm room open when you are inside for people to stop by, you can make friends easily in your dorm.

    In Your Classes

    One of the next places that I made friends on my college campus was in my classes. I noticed that a couple of my classmates were in multiple classes–so the obvious thing to do was to befriend them. It didn't work for everyone I had multiple classes with, but for a lot of the people I connected with in class, I made some good friendships.

    In my opinion, you should definitely take time on your first day of class to introduce yourself to classmates around you. It doesn't have to be anything crazy, just get to know them a little better. Compliment their top, ask them about their day, see if they are a freshman or upperclassman, etc.

    It's a small task but introducing yourself can lead to new friends, new study buddies, and so much more.

    In Student Organizations

    Last, but not least, make friends by joining student organizations!

    One of my favorite activities during undergrad was attending an event called Conway Daze during Welcome Week. Conway Daze was essentially a fair where organizations from within my school at the University of Central Arkansas and community organizations from Conway came together to greet and talk with incoming freshmen. It wasn't a registered student organization fair, but it was the earliest time we had to get to know organizations on campus.

    My advice to you is to come with a plan in mind for which organizations you want to join. When I first went to college my school had a list of campus organizations so I scrolled through that list to find some organizations I would be interested in joining. Later my undergraduate school switched to OrgSync which made it a million times easier to see which organizations I wanted to get involved with.

    Come with a plan of 5-10 organizations that you are at least mildly interested in. You WILL NOT join all of those organizations, just to be clear. Visit those organizations at involvement/RSO fairs and get a feel for the membership requirements. Then based on your classes and other commitments you can decide the best approach for how many organizations you should join. I recommend 1-2, especially for your first semester, but it does depend on the organization you join.

    For my first semester, I was only involved with hall government and one other student organization. My second semester I joined Tri Sigma and became involved with that and stayed involved with the other two things. Time management is a must if you want to balance a ton of organizations.

    4. Keep It Cordial

    As you are making friends outside of your roommate relationship, you have to keep coming back to the fact that you do have a roommate relationship. If you decide that friendship is not in the cards for you and your roommate, you still need to keep it cordial.

    Keep the relationship afloat and treat it as an acquaintanceship/basic friendship. You don't have to know EVERYTHING about a person, but try to keep the relationship moving forward as best you can.

    Close, a college sophomore from Texas and blogger behind Practically Close, knows the importance of keeping it cordial with your roommate. Close states that:

    “My freshman roommate and I were not friends! We didn’t have conflicts, but we just didn’t really have anything in common… we never talked! I would recommend that you make sure to still communicate, even if you’re not friends. It got to a point where I would feel awkward asking her to turn off the light! Not cool! If we had communicated more openly about our expectations from each other, it would have been easier to coexist later.”

    — Close of Practically Close

    I had a similar experience with my original freshman year roommate, which is why I am telling you, that you NEED to keep the relationship cordial. Find a way to keep your relationship at least somewhat consistent, even if you don't get along well at first.

    Here are some ideas on activities you can do to keep the relationship cordial.

    Talk To Them

    It's easy to go about your everyday life in college and not talk much. Trust me. You have to go out of your way even if you live with someone. We all have busy schedules, and more importantly, different schedules. Make sure you are taking the time every couple of days to have at least a surface level conversation. Acknowledge their existence.

    Have Roommate Dates

    Even if all you do is go to the caf, watch a movie in your dorm room, or go to a free show on campus make a point to invite your roommate to do things and keep it consistent. Maybe you want to hang out like that once a month or once every couple of weeks. This will give you time to forge a deeper bond, even though you have friends elsewhere.

    Set Up A Roommate Contract

    The worst thing you can do with any roommate is fail to set up a roommate contract. Do it from the very start, when it's the least awkward. Take this seriously, because this will save your booty if y'all don't talk much. Set up rules about cleaning, rules about guests, rules about things y'all didn't even think y'all would need. Once the year kicks off you can hold yourselves to your contract and lean on it when times get tough. So when things start to get dirty around the dorm or someone is inviting over too many friends you can point to the contract that you both signed at the beginning of the year.

    Her Campus has a great post all about roommate contracts which you can find here. This article also provides a template which you can use when drafting up your contract.

    Related Reading: College Question: Setting Up Boundaries

    Olivia Tennant, a Miami University college graduate and blogger behind Prep Essentials shares the following advice:

    “My freshman roommate and I started off best friends, and drifted apart in a very subtle but also very un-friendly way after sorority recruitment divided us into different houses second semester. There were a lot of other reasons behind us drifting apart, but all the same…things got awkward VERY fast. The biggest thing that helped me was learning how to be a “friendly” roommate without needing her to be my best friend! Whenever something roommate-related was involved, I acted as nice, polite and accommodating as I would to a best friend. Whenever it came to anything non roommate-related, I just did things on my own! It eased a ton of tension.”

    — Olivia

    Follow the advice in this section, and you are sure to at least create a relationship where you and your roommate can coexist.

    5. If It Becomes An Issue, Go To Your RA

    Okay, let's be serious here, sometimes this is not enough. This is when you need to make a decision that works best for both of you and go to your RA. Your RA is there for a reason. They are trained to handle roommate disputes and even if they cannot handle it, they are supported by a number of other RAs and housing personnel who can help handle the dispute.

    Set up a time to chat with your RA and let them know about your roommate issue and the steps that you have gone through to keep the situation cordial. With that information, more than likely they will chat with the other roommate and help you solve your issues or figure out another living situation for both of you.


    You do not have to be best friends with your roommate, but you do have to keep it classy and cordial with them. College is a great time to meet new people, live in interesting situations, and learn more about compromise. I hope that you have a great roommate relationship and I hope that you realize that you don't necessarily have to have an excellent relationship to have a great relationship.

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  • Rebecca @ Strength and Sunshine August 2, 2017 at 7:47 pm

    That roommate contract though, essential even if you ARE friends, haha!

  • Felly Bee August 3, 2017 at 6:00 pm

    Amanda, this post is so true!!! College is tough, and most times roommates aren’t everything we dreamt of. Thanks for sharing!

    Felly \

  • Smith October 25, 2017 at 9:09 am

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    About Amanda

    Hey Y’all!
    My name is Amanda Cross, and I am the blogger behind The Happy Arkansan. I am a blogger, freelance writer, and podcaster. When I am not creating content for any of my content online, I can usually be found baking, watching YouTube, or napping. I love helping millennials and young adults navigate the mess that is adult life. Keep reading for my thoughts and experiences.

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