Roommates don't have to be best friends
Last year, I experienced the best roommate. She never imposed any cleanliness expectations on me or our third roommate, but kept her space immaculate. She was silent in her comings and goings, slept through noise of all volumes, was happy to donate her space for my miscellaneous items — Windex, sippy cup, tool box, etc. — and never complained about the temperature even as her body was covered in a layer of frost between her thin sheets. The best roommate.
But not my best friend. My best friend is messy, late, has weird space phobias, sleeps at least nine hours per night and is probably the funniest girl I will ever know. She is the best friend I want to watch movies with, share my struggles with and laugh at awkward moments with. We could never live together permanently. Yet, we will be best friends for life.
I experience a deep joy when I find out that best friends are also best roommates. Some might argue that that makes for the best marriages, but I won’t make a claim one way or another on that particular topic. The best-roommate-and-friend combination holds a deep relational beauty. We secretly hope for that encounter when we graduate from high school, and look forward to the reality of a new social structure. Plus, those people always come out of college with the best stories — and really, what’s college if you study the whole time? Lame.
In learning the distinction between friendship and roommate relationships, I began to learn about myself. I learned my living habits, frustrations and needs. In a dorm room, I love setting the air-conditioning on high and leaving it there until I pack up for summer. I do not mind if my roommate is messy, or stays up late or has friends over or uses my DVDs. But I have found that in an apartment, I need the stove-top wiped off. We each have quirks, needs, habits and ways of communication specific to each family background, each fear and each love language. Learning the ways of the roommate allows for a new type of sanctification and spiritual, emotional, mental growth.
I see it as important to develop a certain level of self-awareness when it comes to healthy living. Healthy living in this context translates into cultivating a healthy communication climate. This means living with other people who are concerned for the emotional and physical well-being of each household member, valuing the recognition of needs for certain crazy individuals and working together to build a smaller community within the greater Biola community. Different people have different needs. There are different expectations in different relationships. When friendship doesn’t organically bleed into the perfect rooming scenario, adjust your expectations to fit your needs within that particular climate.
The climate for roommates and best friends can be different, which is often more healthy for all involved parties. This promises a path for growth, self-assessment and sanctification. That particular process of learning sanctification leads to learning the different types of love. I won’t quote Bernard of Clairvaux or C.S. Lewis for pretentious persuasion purposes, but rest assured that the love languages learned in living with others can give way to loving God in a richer capacity.