What to Do When You Fight with Your Roommate

When living in close proximity with another it’s only natural to have arguments. They can range from something minor like your roommate not cleaning up after themself to more significant fights like your roommate bringing their significant other over way too often. Other major issues could be your roommate just being inconsiderate to you in the space you share.  

You may not know what to do in these situations because you may feel uncomfortable confronting someone you don’t really know or someone who is a good friend. But in these situations, being able to communicate as mature adults is key.

For those of you who are freshmen, this approach may be even more difficult because you haven’t had to do anything like this before. It may be the first real adult conversation you have to have with someone and that is okay. That’s why I am here to walk you through what you should and shouldn't do in these situations.

First of all, do not have any type of important or serious conversations through text. No matter how well you think you may know someone, trying to detect a person’s mood and/or tone through just their written words is almost impossible. Your roommate could write something that means one thing and you could take it to mean something totally different. Another thing is we read much faster than we auditorily analyze words. So if you are reading something, especially with heightened emotions, you may miss a key aspect of the message and not read it in a clear state of mind. Even if your roommate is choosing to have the conversation through text, just tell them that you you want to talk in person.

Try not to let your emotions get the best of you. Saying things out of anger never goes well. If you feel yourself getting upset, take a step back and a deep breath. If you need a little more time to calm down explain that to them and that you should continue the conversation later. Also, when you get upset you may feel the urge to call your friend names or just completely lose your temper. So just take a step back and that will help; you need to express your feelings in a healthy way. It may help to write out how you are feeling, then read this to your friend.

When you are finally able to talk to your roommate you should each calmly state your side to avoid just back and forth arguing. Really try to hear their side and see if there is a compromise you can make in the situation. There should be no distinct winner or loser in these situations because that can develop grudges which may come back and bite you in the butt during future arguments. Sometimes it’s better to bend a little in a relationship than possibly end a acquaintanceship.

In situations where you do not see the possibility of compromise or your roommate is being unreasonable the next step would be to get your RA’s involved. Having an open discussion with mediators may be what you need if you can’t come to a conclusion by yourself. Your RA’s are one of the best resources you have; they are there to help you and are happy to help.

They are there to hear both sides and help you see where the other person is coming from. Then to help you guys agree on a compromise that will hopefully allow you and your roommate to move forward. Sometimes you or your roommate just needs to hear the other person's’ side from an outside perspective because you may have shut out wanting to hear your roommate out or she could have done that to you too.

If things do not seem to get better after a meeting with the RA’s, this will be hard because you live together, but just take some time and give each other space. This does not necessarily mean just not seeing each other at all but time heals everything so just be cordial to each other and do not force premature mending.

While you are on this period of separation just go over the argument in your head, if any of it was through text read over them and see if there was something you missed or may have misinterpreted. During this time do not talk to other people about your roommate in a poor manner, try not to talk about it to people at all. If it gets back to your roommate it could make the situation much worse. After allowing some space to think try and gently reapproach your roommate calmly to talk things through again. Hopefully, this will allow for the relationship to be on the mend now that you two have had some time apart. Now, this could lead to two things:

You and your roommate can work it out!

You should apologize for anything you said or did that you know was wrong, hopefully, your roommate will do the same. Without restarting the argument just explain where you were coming from and allow them to do the same. Then try and make some plans to either go out to eat or just hang out to help things get back to normal. Just try to forgive and move on; if it seems like it will be okay a hug after a fight never hurts.

You let it go and move on.

With a roommate, this will be very sad but hopefully, you won't have to do this. If things get really bad, like to the point where you can no longer live with each other, talk to your RA’s alone and explain the situation and that you want a swap. If the situation is really bad and if there is an opening, you will have to talk to the head of the building and he/she will have to approve the move.

If the living situation is bearable until the end of the semester or even the end of the year just be polite to one another, but you do not have to be best friends. You’ll either be out by the end of the semester or just have to finish out the year with them. During this time though things may work themselves out; by the time you or your roommate moves out you should have one final discussion. If you both agree that the friendship will not work out, make sure to keep the conversation calm. You do not want to end on bad terms because you will just have another person with a grudge against you and no one needs that. Be sure to surround yourself with other friends and know that you did all you could to try and fix things.

Hopefully, these tips help save your relationship with your roommate. Approaching issues as an adult may feel new and uncomfortable but that’s the best way to approach these types of situations. It takes a lot of maturity to have the ability to face conflicts like this but sometimes knowing when to walk away is the most mature thing you can do for yourself. It’s college and it's time to do what is best for you and leave behind drama. You will flourish when the drama ends.