Back to blog

How to Confront Your Roommate About a Problem

How to Confront Your Roommate About a Problem
Your home is your castle, right? So what do you do when you feel like you're living with a fire-breathing dragon instead of a calm roommate? Don't let things escalate to that point. Solve differences of opinion early through these tips.

Don't Rely on a Note

Yes, you may have different schedules and rarely see one another, and notes seem like a convenient way to convey your message. Notes can lead to misunderstandings because tone cannot be inferred. You may think triple exclamation points are funny, while she sees it as an aggressive attack. Even leaving a note asking to talk later can allow emotions to fester and increase problems.

Catch Them at a Convenient Moment 

Do your best to speak with your roommate in person and do so at a time where you both have time. Don't catch her as she's running out the door, late for class. No productive conversation or solution will come from that. Try not to make a huge production out of a small problem that you could get to the bottom of while you're hanging out together. There's no reason to schedule a conversation over a small request that she buy milk next time. Don't make the issue bigger than it is by the way you treat the resolution or conversation surrounding it.

Don't React Emotionally

If you realize you have an issue to address, don't start on the attack when you're still emotionally reeling from whatever has upset you. Take a few steps back and think about your reaction. Does it fit the severity of the issue? Even if it does, don't bring it up to your roommate until you're able to talk about it and not just react.

On the other hand, don't wait so long to address the problem that it grows and compounds past the severity of the original offense. Be straightforward and honest about your concerns and propose a reasonable solution.

Don't Sweat the Small Stuff

It's easy to remain open-minded to causes, but not so easy to be open-minded to roommate's habits. Still, you need to see them for what they are and ask yourself: is this really a big thing or just a difference in how we live? For instance, if you share toothpaste and he always squeezes from the middle and not the bottom, is this worth bringing up? Does it put you or your items in jeopardy in any way? If not, let it go. If there is no ignoring it, perhaps consider what you can do to fix the problem. For example, if your space is messy and cluttered, offer to split the cost of student storage for the semester.

Your way. Their way. Neither is right, nor wrong in this example. They both just are. Get better at recognizing the difference between issues versus preferences and keep them between the two of you. You needn't involve other people in your squabbles to validate your opinion.

Having a roommate, no matter how difficult, is a growth opportunity. The things you learn from this relationship will help you navigate others in your life as well. Do your best to communicate in a mature, goal-oriented way. After all, you both want a solution that will make things better, not worse.

Image via Flickr by Gary Lerude