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CONFLICT RESOLUTION WITH ROOMMATES IS AS EASY AS 1-2-3-4-5

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UC Berkeley chapter.

Picture this: you and two of your closest friends from freshman year decide to room together. You find the most beautiful place in Berkeley with a short walk to campus. Everyone is so excited. Although moving out of the dorms feels uncertain and scary, you feel comfort knowing you are doing it with your closest friends. What could go wrong?

I asked myself the same question when I moved in with my best friends. Unfortunately, I quickly realized a lot can happen in a 12-month lease. While I felt comfortable communicating with my roommates, I didn’t understand the importance of knowing how to resolve conflict until it was too late. 

Do not fret, however. I made mistakes and learned from them, and now I can help guide you so you don’t find yourself in a similar situation. Below are five tips to help solve a future conflict with a roommate.

1. “The 48-Hour Rule”

This is my favorite rule for finding a resolution to a conflict, and it begins with reflection. You must ask yourself the following questions: Were you or your roommate having a bad day when the conflict arose? Did this conflict hurt your feelings? Is it even worth discussing, or can you resolve it yourself? I recommend thinking about it, sleeping on it, talking to another friend or family member, and journaling to yourself as to why you are upset. Remember: you have 48 hours to determine if this is a conflict worth communicating to your roommate. If the 48 hours pass and you feel that it is no longer bothering you as much as it first did, move on, and don’t make it an issue.

2. Have the courage to speak up (even if you do not want to)

So, “The 48-Hour Rule” did not apply to your situation. You ask yourself, what do I do next? I have learned that the best way to solve a conflict is to confront it, head-on. While it can feel intimidating to have difficult conversations, unvalidated feelings will lead to grudges and resentment. Trust me, you do NOT want to fall into the point of no return. 

I recommend finding a time that works best for you and your roommate to have a conversation. Firstly, read the room. Is your roommate exhausted from the DATA 8 midterm they just took? Did they just break up with their partner? It is imperative that you choose to have a potentially difficult conversation at a time when both of you are feeling emotionally neutral.

Next, I recommend having the conversation in a quiet and private place. Some ideas are the Glade, at your home, or in Tilden Park (for all my Northside baddies!). Remember that avoiding conflicts in the interest of preserving other people’s feelings disrespects your own desires and expectations.

3. Talk about feelings rather than subjunctive facts

I’m sure you’re annoyed that your roommate left their dirty dish out for the second night in a row, or maybe they had a bad morning and gave you an unnecessary attitude. While it is easy to tell your roommate what they should or should not do, I can promise you that your roommate will not take this well. Nobody wants a parent for a roommate. 

Instead, try describing how their actions made you feel rather than telling them everything they are doing is wrong. You will have a more productive conversation, and your roommate cannot deny how you feel.

4. Monthly Roommate Check-Ins

I enjoy having monthly roommate check-ins because they allow me to discuss anything regarding the shared space. Sometimes, you do not have a conflict, which is perfectly okay. Roommate check-ins are a great way to prevent future conflicts. If your roommate recently started a bad habit that bothers you, you can avoid a conflict by mentioning it to them. I refer to this tip as “reducing the margin of error.” 

5. Hug it out 

After resolving any conflict, I love to top it off with a hug. The post-conflict conversation can get awkward and a hug helps to minimize the awkwardness. After all, the fact that you are reading this means you care about your roommate and want to resolve an issue. Do not be afraid to offer an olive branch. If your roommate does not like hugs, I suggest offering to make a cup of “forgiveness tea” to show that you are moving on. 

Remember that Rome was not built in a day, and conflict resolution takes time and effort from both parties. Be patient and trust that time will heal your uncomfortable roommate conflict. It is always better to communicate than to let hard feelings cultivate!

Jackie Sala

UC Berkeley '25

Hi! My name is Jackie Sala and I am a person that loves to try new things, express myself creatively, act with compassion and empathy, and loves to have fun! I am interested in social justice, communication, art, fashion, makeup, and film. My favorite cuisine is Mexican food and my favorite country is México. Two fun facts about myself are I can wiggle my ears and I ice skated for eight years.