How to Survive a Bad Roommate

So you met someone online and you both decided to be college roommates the next year! You’ve messaged one another a few times and seem to have a few things in common — that’s great! You arrive at your new dorm or apartment to meet your new roommate and possible future friend, only to realize that they are not at all what you expected. Suddenly, you’re stuck living with someone you have nothing in common with and drives you nuts with their quirky characteristics and annoying habits. If you haven't been in this kind of situation, you may have to deal with an undesirable roommate sometime in the future, whether in or out of college.

I’ve been there and escaped that type of situation. My freshman year I had a tiny dorm room in the one of the most social dorms at UF, Broward Hall. The first time I met my roommate, I could tell right from the start that it was going to be a rough year. Immediately she was arguing with her parents, while I awkwardly organized my half of the room. The more weeks that passed, the worse it became, as she slept until 3 p.m. every day and went to bed super late at night. She would also have her boyfriend from another college visit us for four-day weekends, and they would never leave the room. It was horrible, but I learned how to deal with a horrible roommate and I survived the year. Now, your roommate may not be as awful as mine was, but sometimes it’s easy to become annoyed with someone you don’t know too well but are living in such close quarters with. Here are the steps you should take throughout the year to deal with your undesirable roommate. Start with the first few ideas, and if things don’t improve, then move down the list in order to make your living situation a little easier to deal with.

Step 1: Compliment them
The first step of getting on better terms with your roommate is to make them feel good about themselves. Maybe they’ve been acting odd or awkward because they’re uncomfortable with the situation, and perhaps they actually have the capability of being a great roommate. Start the first few weeks of the college semester getting on their good side. For example, you can compliment a hairstyle they are trying out or a new dress they’ve bought. Compliments tend to have positive reactions and not negative ones, so this is a good first step on the long road of surviving a bad roommate. Who knows? Maybe they’ll even give you a compliment back!

Step 2: Remind them
Maybe it’s been a few months and things haven’t gotten much better. Maybe your roommate has started leaving her stuff on your side of the room or even taking things that belong to you without your permission. At this point, it’s okay to remind them every now and then that these things aren’t okay. Ask if they could pick up things because they are causing the room to be a mess, or let them know that it’s their turn to take the trash out. Maybe they have no idea you’ve been frustrated and annoyed by them, and this will make them realize they need to try a little harder to be a better roommate.

Step 3: Voice your opinion
Maybe now it’s been more than a semester and things still haven’t changed. You’re now in the second semester of your college year, but still far from that home stretch you’ve been waiting for so you can move away from your roommate. Now is the time to be kind because you still have months to go, but let them know that you do have an opinion and your opinion is important. This is a step further than simply reminding them that it’s their turn to do something, and instead it’s you saying how you feel about things. If you truly are very annoyed, maybe this is the time to try some passive-aggressive tactics. For example, if your roommate sleeps in super late and keeps the room dark all of this time, say to them, “Wow, I’m so amazed that you’re still able to accomplish all of your schoolwork, considering the amount of time you sleep... it’s amazing!” If your roommate is really self-absorbed, it may catch them off guard, and, who knows, they may make a change to be better.

Step 4: Be blunt
If none of the other tactics have worked, you’re probably past midterm week of the second semester of the year, and now you’re done playing nice all of the time. Now it’s your turn to take charge and get what you want, if you haven’t been able to do so the rest of the year. If your roommate is doing something that is just not okay, then you need to tell them. It’s okay to say no because this space doesn’t just belong to your roommate. It is as much yours as theirs, and if they haven’t respected your boundaries up to this point, you need to lay down some ground rules. You should sit them down and tell them what is and isn’t okay. You need to get what you want for once, or at least compromise so the conditions aren’t as horrible anymore. Sometimes you just have to be blunt to get things done.

With these tips, you’ll be able to survive your roommate situation and hopefully meet a great roommate in the future to live with the next time.

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