Living With a Bad Roommate: How to Survive

Most college students have had that one roommate who left dirty dishes in the sink, crumbs on the counter, or who came home screaming at 2 a.m. for no reason. It’s very stressful to deal with this living situation in the midst of classes, so it’s crucial to implement these three ideas into your household when handling a poor roommate situation - communication, boundaries, and respect.

man and woman drinking coffee in kitchen by window Photo by Jack Sparrow from Pexels Communication solves everything. It could be very beneficial for you and your housemates, especially with the one who is being difficult, to have a house meeting. You may have a different way of communicating than this person who might choose to not communicate with you at all. Take a seat, go over rules and expectations, and ask that your roommate talk with you if there is a problem. It’s especially important to communicate how you feel as soon as you feel it because if not, the end of a house meeting could end in yelling. Show that you respect what they are saying and tell them to respect how you feel as well. Some roommates might say that they will be more respectful, but actually not change their behavior, which is why it is beneficial to keep bringing up your opinions… because you matter!

Creating boundaries is also essential when living with others. People have individual and specific boundaries, but it’s important that each housemate respects each other’s since they are choosing to live with one another. A few of my personal boundaries include, particularly during the pandemic: no visitors, quiet time after 10 p.m., and cleaning up after yourself. Before you move in with new people, I would recommend setting boundaries and checking up on them throughout the year. If someone crosses a boundary, immediately have a house meeting and express your feelings and if they don’t listen (on multiple occasions), talk about finding a sublease or someone else to take their place.

Respect is, by far, the most important attribute to have as a roommate. Others might be naturally messier than you or louder than you and that’s okay, but what’s not okay is when they’re asked to change their behavior and they choose not to. Respect others’ feelings and don’t get defensive. If the person that lives with you lacks consideration, bring someone into the situation to mediate the conversation. This person could be the property owner or leasing manager. And remember that even if you aren’t the one causing issues in the house, you should still show respect for the one who is.

two women speaking to each other Photo by Christina Morillo from Pexels Communicate, set boundaries, and practice respect when living with others, and hopefully they will do the same for you!