Roommate Survival Guide: What To Do When You Don't Get Along

It’s a tale as old as time. Things with your roommate (or roommates) start out good and somehow devolve into a complete mess. Whether the reasons for your disagreements are personal, relate to your housing situation or exist somewhere in between, navigating how to live together following a blow-up can be tricky. Oftentimes, you can feel stuck or powerless to the awkwardness created. Luckily, there are five things you can do to help alleviate tension and make your lease term as painless as possible. 

1. Lay Out Your Ground Rules

A vital step in both preventing and addressing issues with your roommates is being honest. Let them know what is and is not okay. Maybe your room is off-limits to them or your schedule this semester is really intense and will require a degree of quiet most nights. Whatever it is, communicate things you are not willing to compromise to them ASAP. Understand that this is a give and take and that you should equally respect their ground rules. 

2. Keep Communicating

This is arguably the hardest step, but also the most important. When a problem arises, do not run for the hills and forfeit all means of communication. Even if you are unable to communicate as friends, leaving communication open as roommates is important for a variety of reasons. First among them, safety. If an emergency arises, an argument should not deter you from contacting them.

3. Address Issues as Needed 

woman in black shirt holding yellow flowers Photo by Hailey Galloway from Pexels

The keywords here are: “as needed”. If issues are persistent or violate one of your ground rules, address them. That said, it’s probably not worth your time or effort to address every little thing they do that annoys you. If you do this, you will be the one causing problems. If your roomie forgets to do the dishes one night or uses your oat milk for their morning coffee because they forgot to pick some up, forgive them, even if you are not on the best of terms. 

4. Strive for Reconciliation 

If you think the relationship with your roommate is at all salvageable after a big argument, try to make it work. It can be easy to turn to pettiness, but this strategy is harmful, especially when you share the same space. Find time to talk and get to the core of the issue. Miscommunication is usually to blame and agreeing to communicate more openly with each other can remedy past problems and stop new ones from arising. 

5. Move On or Move Out 

Just kidding. Kind of. If you know the living situation you have is not going to work out, start looking at your options. If your lease term just started and you’ve done the steps listed above, sticking it out for a while to see if anything will change is not a bad idea. In the meantime, you can start looking into the subleasing process or scoping out new places to stay following the end of your lease term. Try and remain as positive as possible. This won’t last forever. 

Living with roommates can be hard, especially when emotions are involved. Reflecting on past mistakes and making an effort to move forward together can help strengthen any relationship. You got this! 

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