Roommate Confrontation

Communication is key to addressing problematic roommate situations. (Creative Commons)

Is there really such a thing as a perfect roommate?

It seems as if every person I’ve encountered has had more than a few complaints about their living situation. Swapping bad roommate stories is the college equivalent of making small talk about the weather.

So, how exactly do you address that one roommate who refuses to do their dishes or turn their music off before 2 a.m.?

Communication is key. Confrontation may seem like a scary idea when you’re new to dorm or apartment living, but nipping these kinds of habits in the bud is better than letting them go on for too long. It sets the tone of how you want the rest of the year to go.

Sometimes you get stuck with a roommate who you simply do not mesh with on a personal level. Opposites attract, until they don’t. It’s important to recognize your differences and find a dynamic that works for both of you.

For example, if you’re introverted and your ideal Saturday night consists of getting into pajamas and watching YouTube videos until you fall asleep, you might not appreciate having a roommate who throws parties every weekend without asking your permission first.

Be upfront about your needs. Again, effective communication works wonders when setting boundaries and ground rules with someone new. One way to accomplish this is meeting with your roommate once a month to discuss how things are going and what needs to change. Or, if you’d prefer something less formal, sending a text or leaving a sticky note can get a message across almost as effectively as meeting in person. Your roommate should hopefully respect your comfort zone and attempt to compromise with you in order to make a non-ideal living situation more bearable.

Sometimes, the amount of people sharing one space has a huge effect on your overall happiness at home. Many people live by the mantra ‘Two is company, three’s a crowd.’ If you live with more than one roommate, you’re probably aware of the extra problems that come up with this dynamic.

Living with more people means cheaper rent and less pressure to socialize every time you’re home, but the possibility of feeling ganged up on is also more prevalent in this situation. Picking sides with your roommates creates a toxic environment in which nobody feels comfortable. Instead of making everything a majority rules issue, try to go with the flow more than you normally would living on your own. Not everything is worth an argument.

One of the most common roommate complaints I hear around campus is that everyone thinks they live with a slob. Or maybe you’re the slob, and you’re tired of your roommates nagging you about every crumb they find on the stovetop.

Keep in mind that everyone is new to this whole living-on-your-own thing, and gentle reminders about cleaning are more effective than passive-aggressively making things worse. If you’re the slob, be aware that you now share a space with someone other than your family, and you need to treat it with respect.

It’s also important to remember that your mental health and happiness come first. If you’ve tried communicating with your roommate and things still aren’t changing, moving out is the right thing to do if it will improve your overall well-being.

College roommates can go on to be lifelong best friends if they know how to handle things properly. Try not to give into those pesky microaggressions, and speak your mind when the situation calls for it.