6 Ways to Deal With an Awful Roommate

by
Student, Temple University

You’re two very different people in one small dorm room.

You need to get a full eight hours of sleep to function, while she loves jamming without headphones on and staying up until 2:00 a.m. with her friends. You’re trying to study for midterms and he decides he’s starting spring break early, so you’re banished to the library (again).

Let’s face it: you and your roomie just aren't BFFs. It may have taken a few weeks—or maybe a few hours—to realize it, but you won't have that roommate love story that many of your high school friends constantly post about on social media.

First, it's okay if you don’t love your roommate; it's not a requirement. It also won’t make or break your college experience. But if their behavior is consistently disruptive, or if you just aren’t clicking, here are some tips that should help you spend the rest of the school year in good spirits . . . and not wishing you were living somewhere else.

1. Even if what they do infuriates you, be respectful

Does she leave her breakfast dishes on her desk for the better part of the day? Does he have long, loud phone conversations in the room while you’re trying to study? Check in with yourself. Is this really a big deal? Or just a byproduct of having your own room your whole life? If it is a real issue, talk to your roommate face to face.

2. Face your problems

Passive-aggressive behavior is never a strategy that actually works. As awkward as it seems, respectfully addressing your roommate is better than furiously hoping the problem disappears on its own (or leaving little notes around).

3. If there is conflict, stand your ground

Don't shy away from addressing real issues just because you want to avoid an uncomfortable situation. Remember that you pay for half of the space too, and you have an equal right to a happy, calm room.

4. And if it becomes serious, don't hesitate to talk to your RA or RD

These guys are trained in conflict management, and they have the know-how to handle even the most seemingly mundane situations, as well as provide a third party point of view that will ensure that the outcome is fair and just.

Kathryn Brunner, a former Temple University RA says, “We are trained to be the ‘go-to’ person for everything. We are trained in conflict mediation as well, which is what we see the most with roommate conflicts and everyday tiffs that people tend to get into. . . . Conflicts between roommates are very common and completely normal, considering you are sharing a space with a new person that you most likely do not know!” Use this fantastic resource to your advantage; your life may become seriously easier in result.

5. Plan ahead

Many universities and colleges offer “roommate agreements,” where both roomies sit together and agree on some guidelines for the year. These are things like when overnight guests are allowed, whether you can share certain personal belongings, and how late is “too late” for Netflix without headphones.

“Take these seriously!” Brunner says. “With open lines of communication, there is not much room for conflict to begin.” Even if your school does not collect these documents formally, talk to your roommate about it around move-in time. (You’ll find lots of sample agreements from schools online.) This will save you a serious amount of stress later!

6. Allow yourself some time out of your room

If you are feeling overwhelmed, take a breather and enjoy your campus life. Spend time with friends, work on an extracurricular project you’re excited about, do a little exercise. Giving yourself this time out of the room will allow you to put these conflicts in perspective.

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