By Amanda Ferrara, Student at New York University
So your roommate is driving you crazy? We’ve all had those days (or weeks) where you absolutely cannot stand your roommate for some reason: Maybe she left her dirty dishes unattended for far too long, maybe she plays her music too loudly or maybe her boyfriend has overstayed his welcome.
Whether this is the first time an issue has come up or the millionth time, here are some tips for dealing with a roommate who has gone too far.
Before you even begin to talk to your roommate, you should ask yourself some questions and keep these tips in mind:
- What is it exactly that bothers you? You have to be able to condense your thoughts into a clear and simple statement; you don’t want to overwhelm your roommate with an outburst of anger or frustration and you certainly do not want her to feel like you are attacking her.
- Will she take offense if you bring it up? Is it a personal issue or is it a basic roommate problem? There is a big difference between complaining about you roommate’s boyfriend and complaining about garbage duty. Approach all personal matters with a little more respect than you would other things. Remember that she might get defensive, so be prepared to be equally respectful as you are truthful with your thoughts.
- Is it something that you could potentially live with? If this issue is just an inconvenience, maybe you are better off leaving it alone. Of course, it is all up to you, but if you can live with it for a few months, is the potential drama really worth it?
So you have your initial thoughts in your head and you are ready to talk. Now what?
Start by talking it out one on one. Pick a time when you both have a while to actually sit and talk it over. Invite her to coffee or bring it up while you are both hanging lazily in your room and be sure to avoid a day where she is busy, exams are coming and stress is high.
Explain to her what it is that bothers you and ask her what she is willing to do or change to make it better. Not only will your roommate appreciate you coming to her first and expressing yourself honestly, but it opens up the floor for her to express her side as well. As long as you are both kind, understanding and willing to listen, this could end in a compromise that makes both of you happy and makes your living situation a lot more bearable.
If a compromise cannot be reached, you might want to bring in a mutual friend or your RA to help you sort out the issue. Having someone mediate is perfect for the roommates who do not have much of a friendship outside of their shared room. If you cannot talk to each other respectfully or cannot reach an agreement, this might be your best bet.
A way to avoid conflict and to help with arguments is to write a roommate agreement at the beginning of your time living together or when the first difference presents itself. Work together to write down agreements on everything: Who is in charge of what? Who cleans when? Who buys what? What happens when someone has a guest over? How quiet should the room be while one roommate is studying? If you address all of this at the start of your roommate-ship, you can work out differences early on and can always refer to the agreement later if something comes up.
The most important thing to remember when you get upset with your roommate is that people are different and compromise is the key. No matter how similar two people are or how close their friendship is, people live very differently. Talk it out and come up with a solution.
Remember, no roommates have the perfect relationship and disputes are normal! If you approach your roommate with things that bother you kindly (and before it’s too late), your roommate relationship will grow and you can both live happily (or at the very least, amicably).
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