Dorm Living: How to deal with a terrible roommate

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Living with a roommate for the first time can be chaotic and frustrating. If you’ve never had to share such a small, intimate space before, there’s a big learning curve that comes with living with a stranger. 

You could have the opposite schedule. Or you might be a night owl while your roommate is a morning person. Worse yet, you might be a neat freak living with a very messy person.

Whatever the case, learning how to communicate your frustrations productively can make all the difference when your roommate is exhibiting disrespectful behavior. If you’ve found yourself dealing with consistent annoyances, here are some things you can try to make the situation better for both of you.

Talk to your roommate

This is tough, and not everyone is comfortable with the possibility of confrontation. However, it’s better to talk to them before taking any other action that might make them resent you. In some cases, they might not be aware that they’re doing things that bother you.

After all, for most students, this is their first time living with a roommate. The things they do might be reasonable to them because nobody has mentioned it before.

Talk to them when you’re calm and ready to have an open conversation. Never in the heat of your anger when you might bite their head off. Tell them the things that they’re doing that are disrupting your quality of life, and ask if they can be more aware of it in the future.

If you can, set some ground rules. Like making sure they clean up food or turn the music off or put headphones on after 10PM.

Obviously, everyone should be allowed to enjoy their room and live in a way that is comfortable for them. So, try to find a good compromise between the two of you.

Use email or a text message

If having a conversation is really hard for you (this is definitely something you should work through), think about sending a text.

Layout some of the issues the same way you would in a conversation and ask if you can find a mutual compromise. At that point, offer to talk in person now that the subject is out there. It’s easier for people to mistake tone or intention in text, so if you can take the conversation offline, it’s probably better.

Try and get out of the dorm

If you’re a homebody, you might find yourself more annoyed than others would be because you’re in the space so often. If you can, head to the library to study or fill up your social schedule, so you’re not stuck thinking about all the annoyances.

The more you’re out of the dorm, the less likely you are to experience and get frustrated with the things your roommates are doing. However, if most of the disruptions come when you’re trying to sleep, it’s probably best to have that dreaded conversation. 

Not working? Here’s the next step

If you already spoke to your roommate and are not seeing any improvements, it might be time to talk to your RA. Bring up the issues and see if they can serve as a mediator in the situation. They could help you facilitate a conversation to set some ground rules. 

While they can’t force anyone to change their behavior, it’s always good to have a 3rd party to potentially help someone see that their behavior isn’t okay. 

Really fed up? It might be time to move off campus

Not having control over who you live with can be a deal-breaker for some people. If that’s the case, it might be time to look at other options. 

See if there’s any cost-saving for you to get an apartment where you can choose who you live with. Depending on where you live and your financial situation, you might be able to rent a studio apartment and live on your own. 

It’s important not to do anything that’s going to put both your education and financial future at risk. So, think through this option carefully. 

When can you request a new roommate? 

Unfortunately, in most cases, you’re stuck with your roommate until the year is over. After the first semester, you might be able to ask if there are any opportunities to switch, but don’t get your heart set on it. 

In severe cases, when you’re experiencing abuse of any kind, it’s time to take it to the school. They will be able to help you get out of the situation so that you feel safe and secure again.

If you’re having trouble with your roommate, the best thing to do is keep talking about it. If it doesn’t change, hopefully,  you can find the patience to stick it out until next year.