How to Deal With an Opposite Gender Roommate

As with any other roommate situation, negotiate issues up front.
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Since the turn of the 21st century, many U.S. colleges and universities have allowed opposite-gender friends to become roommates. Mixed-gender living situations are also common among young people early in their careers. In most respects, living with the opposite gender is no different from living with a same-sex roommate. If you are both straight, however, some issues can arise. Face them head-on before they become a problem.

1 Set Yourselves Up for Success

Living with someone new can be challenging. In most cases, opposite-gender roommates are already friends when they decide to move in together, but living with a friend is often far different from simply hanging out. MSN Real Estate’s Roommate Survival Guide notes that close friends sometimes take liberties that strangers would not. Clearly set out expectations for your living situation before you move in, and be prepared to negotiate.

2 Communicate Honestly

The University of Arizona Residence Life department stresses that honesty and open communication are the keys to success. Men and women often have different communication styles, so practice speaking in ways that you can both understand. Talk directly to each other when issues arise, rather than relying on third parties or social media. Separate the problem from the person and stick to the facts. Let your roommate know up front if anything arises that might significantly affect your mood or daily habits.

3 Negotiating Daily Life

Any roommate situation requires constant negotiation and compromise. Opposite-gender roommates face additional challenges. Discuss such issues as nudity or partial dress in common areas, whether guests must be approved in advance, and how to handle each other’s same-gender friends. Talk about gender role expectations, chore schedules and even quiet hours. If the guy expects the girl to cook or she expects him to do minor home repairs, it is better to let each other know up front. In addition, tell your roommate about your must-do routines, such as a 7 a.m. shower or Wednesday night TV shows.

4 Cope With Significant Others

Although opposite-gender living arrangements are relatively common, significant others do not always understand. In the Homescout Realty Chicago Real Estate Blog, writer Alex Wolf points out that it is best for everyone to meet early on. Sit down with your roommate and her significant other, and have an honest conversation about your friendship and living arrangements. Be prepared to answer questions or address concerns. If one of you starts to develop feelings for the other, it is important to address the situation right away. Set an appointment to talk openly at a time when neither of you is stressed or distracted. Make the friendship a priority and avoid making possibly unwanted declarations of undying love.

Lisa Fritscher is a freelance writer specializing in disabled adventure travel. She spent 15 years working for Central Florida theme parks and frequently travels with her disabled father. Fritscher's work can be found in both print and online mediums, including She holds a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from the University of South Florida.