They’re messy, you’re clean.
They’re loud, you’re quiet.
They want to watch Love Island and you want to watch The Handmaid’s Tale.
Sharing a living space is never easy, and whether your roommate is a friend or stranger, it can always be a challenge having to adjust and modify your home to meet the needs of more than one person. Your roommate may not even be that bad, they may just live a different way to you and this in itself can cause friction.
Whatever the case - knowing how to deal with a bad roommate and how to find balance in your housing situation is always a good idea.
In the modern world, sharing a space is often part of adult life. Whether you are college students carving your way through a first roommate relationship or an old pro simply trying to save on rent, at some point you will have to deal with the roommate situation.
It’s not all doom and gloom; having a roommate can be lashings of fun, but let’s face it – it can also be the source of some drama.
We have a few snippets of advice to help you carve out a harmonious home space and deal effectively with roommate problems.
Make Your Room an Oasis
Everyone needs a retreat and as long as you keep your own room a personal space dedicated to your own desires and needs you will have a sanctuary to escape to when the going gets tough. Having a place you can call your own in a shared house is so important if square footage and finances allow.
Not only does this give physical space to breathe but also mental room too.
Even if living with a significant other, it can still be an awesome idea to get yourself a corner to call your own. We all need our own territory and time to regroup, rethink, and to simply just relax.
Whether it's playing your own music, watching re-runs of your favorite television shows, or sitting in your own mess without feeling judged, privacy in a shared house can be tricky but it is also essential if you want to get along.
Create a Paper Trail
Bills, communal groceries, and the hair-pulling stress of dealing with shared financial factors...
... we all deal with money in very different ways so you may have to come to terms early with the fact that your roomie has different energy around money.
The best way to deal with this is to consider creating a paper trail early. Make a list of what communal items you want to split (toilet paper, washing up, etc), make a clear calendar of when bills are due, and even create a house WhatsApp group so you can share this information without feeling like you are hitting your head against a wall constantly chasing money.
Do whatever you can to make money easy, even if it involves putting a costing chart on the wall. Also, try and get in the habit of being open about money issues with each other to make sure it doesn't lead to bigger problems like utilities being switched off or falling behind with the rent.
It can be uncomfortable and messy dealing with money when it comes to roommates and not everyone feels comfortable asking for cash.
One major piece of advice, though?
Try and avoid situations where your roommate is in debt with you as this can lead to distress and resentment and sometimes even passive-aggressive behavior. If you know your roommate is bad with money, then avoid situations where you need to split costs - grocery shopping together, splitting furniture. Instead, simply be responsible for yourself and let others be responsible for themselves too. Remember the golden rule – you can’t adult for other people.
Have a Cleaning Plan
It may feel groanworthy to have a cleaning schedule in place but it will save a lot of passive-aggressiveness in the days to come. A frank and honest conversation at the start about your cleaning habits can always come in handy as can a chore preference plan.
Some people hate washing up whereas others love vacuuming. Shared spaces like the bathroom, the living room, and the kitchen should be on the agenda for being cleaned as part of your roommate agreement, whereas people's individual rooms should be left to personal preference.
Also, have some ground rules in place like - no dirty dishes in the sink for longer than 2 days, empty the trash once a day, etc.
Because someone else may have different cleanliness standards to you it’s important to compromise rather than just expecting someone to switch to your thinking or to end up being the one to do the cleaning every time.
If you really can’t see eye to eye on cleanliness and clutter it may be worth having a shared kitty for a weekly cleaning service.
Be Open About Your Needs
Communication and compromise are equal kings when it comes to sharing an apartment or house. Whether it's your best friend, your lover, or just a random housemate you met on Craigslist, you are going to need to be open about your needs and you are going to need to compromise at times.
We all have different needs and a frank and honest talk about your top priority needs can help to smooth the road before things crumble. Maybe you need not much noise after midnight or perhaps you want your roommate to check in with you before guests stay, whatever is really important to you is worth trying to communicate first.
It can be hard to remember that people aren't always mind readers and can't moderate their behavior if they don't know something is wrong.
Prevention is one of the best solutions so give your roommate a chance to do right by you by being clear and honest about what you need. This doesn't mean you should go carte blanche on a massive list of house rules, but that you pick a couple of things that are really important to you. You should also encourage your roommate to do the same thing so that you don't inadvertently take steps that upset them too.
Mapping out your needs doesn't have to be some super intense conversation around responsibilities and behaviors, it can be a frank and authentic discussion between friends and is best done when things are calm rather than already tense.
Check Your Conflict Resolution
There are many shades of communication when it comes to conflict resolution and before you get tangled in frustration, it is worth taking a moment to honestly assess how you deal with conflict.
Perhaps you veer more towards the passive approach or maybe you go off at the deep end.
Navigating things like consent and healthy boundaries and creating a harmonious living situation often comes down to how well you and your roommate communicate. If they love to argue and you hate confrontation then there are sure to be problems.
Address issues early on, always try to avoid passive-aggressive behavior, avoid the text meltdown, and go gently into hard conversations. It may be worth reading up on non-violent communication skills to help you get your point across during the discussion without putting someone on the defense.
Pick Your Battles
Not every fight is a fight worth having. This small mantra can make a big difference when it comes to sharing a house with bad roommates.
A harmonious home can be built on the unwritten rule that you should know when to fight a cause and know when to let one go. This approach isn’t just energy saving, but not picking a million battles also means that when you do bring up something that is bothering you it's taken seriously.
If you are the kind of person to leave notes around about all the things that are bothering you, chances are, no one will even bother to read them anymore. That's not to say that your issues don't count or that your perspective is wrong, but that you should truly assess your own expectations and honestly look at whether some conversations are worth the effort.
Before getting bent out of shape over some dirty socks ask yourself – is this bothering me lots or is something else going on? Also, check in to see if this issue is something you will care about tomorrow. The age-old sentiment of pause for the cause can truly help curate a softer space.
Do you have tales of terrible roomies with plenty of problems? What tips do you have to help us deal? Share your thoughts in the comments.
You might also like:
- 10 Tips for Taking your Sex Drive Out of a Slump
- How to Cheer Someone Up (According to Science)
- All the Adult Card Games You Need For That Big Night In
- Creative Ways to Connect Virtually With Friends
- How to Have the Hard Talks in Life
- Resources for Having Healthier Relationships
- Small Ways to Celebrate Your Friends
- The Five Love Languages; How to Give and Get What You Want