How to Avoid Conflict with Your Roommate
Now that you're settled in and unpacked, it’s best to remember that not everything will be perfect and just the way you like it all the time. Here are some ways to avoid or handle any conflict that bubbles up.
- Stick to the ground rules: Before you moved in with your roommate, you should have talked about how you would pay the bills, who would clean what and more. Now it's time to maintain consistency and do what you promised -- even when it’s hard. If your roommate is not holding up their end of the promise, don’t let it slide. Otherwise, your silence will send the message that you are OK with being the one who cleans the bathroom every week even though it's not the arrangement you discussed. At the same time, don't harp on them about small stuff. No frowny-face sticky notes for each dropped towel and abandoned coffee mug, please.
- Talk face to face: Even if life is bliss with your new roommate, expect annoying things to happen. If you want a certain behavior to change, don’t send a text or leave a sticky note on the counter. These are conversations that need to take place in person. Otherwise, your roommate might infer a negative meaning in the written message, such as anger or disapproval, which could add to the tension.
- Respect space and privacy: Don’t borrow anything of your roommate’s without asking. When they are not home, their bedroom is off-limits, so shut their door when you have visitors. Resist the urge to bad-mouth or gossip about your roomie. Consider how you would feel if you discovered your roommate had been discussing your most private details.
- Be considerate: Give your roomie notice if your friends are coming over Friday night for a movie. While you’re at it, always take the route of decency by inviting your roommate to join in on the fun.
- Communicate: It’s no longer all about you. Everything you do at home will have an impact on someone else, so keep that person in the loop. If you’re going to be a couple of days late with your share of the rent, say so right away. Dog sitting for the weekend? Tell your roommate. Having your new significant other over for a romantic dinner? Tell your roommate. Switching work schedules? Tell your roommate so there’s not a surprise traffic jam in the bathroom when they usually use it
- Keep it clean: If the person you’re living with is a neat-freak, understand that coming home to a living room with your belongings scattered everywhere and a kitchen full of dirty dishes is going to cause anger and stress. Be respectful and make sure everything is picked up and put away before you leave or go to bed. At the same time, if you’re the one who is farther up on the neatness scale, be understanding if your roommate doesn’t embrace your daily vacuuming and sink-scouring habits. The point here is to find a reasonable give and take and live by it.
Living in a shared space with anyone can be a struggle, but it can also be fun and leave you with a new friend. By having a spirit of understanding and making reasonable requests when you need them, life as roommates really can go along swimmingly.
In the final post, learn what kind of roommate you are by taking a quick five-question quiz.