My freshmen year, I roomed with my best friend from high school, Meg*. I assumed it would be the most epic match in the world. We already spent all of our time together; we had the most fun together. It made sense for this to translate to college and living together. Yeah, not so much. I learned that year that there is a giant difference between spending all your time together and actually living together.
What do I mean by this? Meg and I always had our problems and, being as close as we were, we both wrongly assumed we knew everything about each other. This put us in a tricky position because those tiny annoyances that were easy to live with when we lived a seven minute drive away from each other became exponentially harder to endure when our lofted beds were four feet across the room. Pet peeves we already recognized became gigantic, fueling monsters of hate when brand new annoyances were added. She'd loan out my DVDs to neighbors; I'd leave my books on the futon and the passive-aggressive WWIII continued until spring semester when she moved out. She literally snuck off in the middle of the night with all of her things (and the TV!) and moved in with a friend down the hall. I will be lying if I said I wasn't relieved.
Looking back now, I realize that a big part of our problems stemmed from our lack of communication. If the two of us had been open and honest about the way we felt, we probably wouldn't of had many of the problems that we had. We both assumed the other would just know our boundaries and it hurt/was enraging when that wasn't the case. It's easy to get coddled in the idea that because you know the person, living together will be a breeze. If anything, I feel it's more work. Living with a stranger allows for the opportunity to build a friendship as you're getting to know each other as roommates; living with friends takes conscious effort to recognize that you are still learning about this person despite prior years of friendship.
In all honesty, Meg and I should never have lived together and to this day we no longer speak. But still, the whole experience taught me a lot about myself. I learned to recognize the things that I can compromise and live with, while identifying the areas where I truly needed to grow as a person. Living with Meg allowed me to seek traits that would garner a healthy, living relationship for the future. My relationship with my current roommate is amazing and I truly think a big part of that has to do with all that I learned living with Meg that first year.
*Name has been changed