7 Tips for Dealing With Roommate Conflict

Whether you’re best friends with your roommate or hate each other’s guts, you’re going to get into a conflict (or many, many conflicts) at some point. And while it’s not essential that you and your roommate consider each other friends, it is necessary that you get along enough to live in a civil, stress-free environment. If you’re having issues with your roommate, try using these tips to resolve the conflict quickly and effectively.

  1. Don’t be passive-aggressive:

    If there’s any roommate behavior that breeds contempt, it’s passive-aggression. Instead of confronting a problem directly, passive-aggressors express their negative feelings indirectly; they might leave notes instead of talking to someone personally or use other actions instead of words. Passive-aggressive behavior is frustrating for those on the receiving end because they may feel insulted that the person wouldn’t come talk to them or may not understand the issue since it’s not being addressed directly. So if you’re considering leaving a note about your roommate’s dish-washing skills or even just leaving the dirty dish in their bed Godfather-style, don’t. You’ll only be hurting your situation further.

  2. Don’t wait until you’re ready to explode:

    Maybe when one of your roommate’s habits starts bothering you, you think it’s too trivial to point out. You cut him or her some slack — for now. But as time goes on, you start to go from being slightly annoyed to angry, and by the time the issue finally comes to the surface, you’re probably ready to scream at the top of your lungs every inconsiderate thing your roommate’s ever done. By addressing small grievances early on, you can avoid turning a small issue into a big issue. You’ll be in a much better position to discuss the problem calmly and come to an amicable agreement.

  3. Set a time to talk:

    If you spring your frustrations on your roommates out of the blue, they may feel attacked and respond defensively, creating more anger and drama than necessary. They also won’t be prepared to give their side of the situation or offer thoughtful solutions. Instead of piling on your complaints as soon as your roommate walks through the door, ask if he or she could set aside some time to talk in the next day or two. Say what you’d like to talk about and that you’d like your roommate to come with complaints and possible solutions, as well. This way, everyone knows they’ll be heard and can set themselves up for a calm, productive conversation.

  4. Listen to their complaints:

    For every complaint you have about your roommates, they probably have one about you. Living with other people is hard, especially when you come from different backgrounds and have different routines, so listening to each other is an essential part of living together peacefully. Your neat-freak habits might be just as annoying to them as their messy habits are to you. Listen as much as you talk when confronting issues with your roommate and you’ll both walk away happier.

  5. Make compromises:

    Whatever space you share with roommates, whether it’s a room or an apartment, belongs to both (or all) of you. Finding a way that you can both enjoy that space might mean making some compromises. Once you’ve listened to your roommate’s complaints and desires, you can come up with a plan together that you can both live with. You could both agree to keep common areas clean or take turns doing the dishes. You might set a curfew for significant others being over, but loosen it on the weekends. Whatever your problem, there’s a way to give in a little to make the situation work for everyone involved.

  6. Use a mediator:

    If, even after talking calmly and trying to come to a compromise, the two of you still aren’t seeing eye to eye, call in a neutral third party. If you live in a dorm, you’ve already got a mediator readily available for you (and trained for these kind of situations): your resident advisor. When you contact your RA, he or she will find a time that works for you and your roommate to sit down and talk things out. RAs can help you hear each other’s side of things and propose ideas that may be more fair than what the two of you could come up with. If you live in an apartment and want to use a mediator, try to find a mutual acquaintance you and your roommate can agree upon to do the job or make an appointment with a counselor at your school.

  7. Move out:

    In the end, you may just not be compatible with your roommate. The best solution might be to just move out and save both of you the headache. If you’re in a lease, consider avoiding your roommate until it’s up. If you live in a dorm, there is probably a procedure you can go through to change roommates or move to a new room if you’ve tried other solutions offered by your university. Just remember that you deserve a comfortable, stress-free environment to come home to and if you can’t get that with your roommate, it’s worth it to move out.

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