Cut Off Toxicity in the Community

Living with people outside of your family is a challenge. The first year of college, most students live with a random roommate. In some ways, I regret not living with a stranger my freshman year. I could have learned about dealing with people earlier and how difficult compromise can be with strangers, or that some adults don't fathom the concept of reciprocity. However, I waited until after freshman year to house with someone. Now, this is the situation I’m left to deal with.

I thought living with a friend was going to be joyful.  Being able to talk conveniently, decorate together, share memories, eat together—they all sounded great. That’s what I thought living with a friend would include, but I could not have been more wrong. Perhaps we were destined to have roommate issues, or perhaps our foundation was not as solid as we perceived. Within the first month, we started fighting. By the time five months came around, my roommate said they hated me. Neither of us are the type to be passive-aggressive or fake: if there’s a problem, we know. Now the apartment feels like the inside of a toxic biohazard waste bin. I find it easier to communicate via messaging during fights. Although when there is face-to-face discussion, it inevitably leads to one or both parties being so frustrated we have to leave the room.

The situation: friend turned roommate turned ex-friend.

The solution: recognize and remove toxicity in your life.

  1. 1. Recognize the toxic relationship

    Are you losing sleep? Are you constantly stressed? Do you get butterflies in your stomach or worry when you see they texted you? Do you hate going home at the end of the day? If any of these issues impact your daily schedule, like it or not, you are in a toxic relationship.

  2. 2. Is the relationship worth mending?

    Put on your glasses, check the archives and perform some risk management. Assess if the relationship is worth saving—this will look different for everyone. Consider if remaining friends will negatively impact your physical or mental health in the future.

  3. 3. Cut off connections

    If you decide that the relationship is not worth mending, you should cut off ties. This is especially difficult when living with someone. Avoiding someone in your house is like playing a full-time game of cat and mouse, or Whac-A-Mole. Use common spaces only when needed, don’t be petty and keep your space clean. Unless they are petty, then commence all-out war. Remember that your room should be your safe space.

  4. 4. Find allies

    Talk to people you can trust and people that have experienced or are experiencing a similar problem.

While ending a relationship you thought was solid can hurt for one or both parties, think about the extra time you will have to study, sleep or better yourself in ways you didn'tt have time to before. SNL pokes fun at toxicity in the community with their "Sara Lee" skit. Because who wants pain?