Dirty dishes, unwanted guests, loud music. The grievances you can rack up against a roommate may seem endless. But there’s a right way and a wrong way to confront the issues that frustrate you the most.
Here are “tested and approved” tactics to handle the most aggravating space-sharers without making your living situation a million times worse.
Resist the urge to retaliate.
Of course, it can feel tempting to dump the grimy bowl your roommate left festering on the kitchen table onto, say, her unkempt bedspread. But passive-aggressive attempts to convey your annoyance will only make things worse. Retaliation makes the other person angry and intensifies whatever the original problem was.
Rather than trying to “get back” at a roomie who’s wronged you, have a conversation about what the problem is.
Address the issue sooner than later.
Timing is everything. The longer you wait to let your roommate know something they’re doing is seriously bugging you, the more resentment you’ll feel toward them — and the more ominous a confrontation will seem. Keep in mind, that, a roommate can’t read your mind. (Nor, sadly, will they necessarily share your sleep schedule, social habits, or preferences for tidiness.) So unless you actually point out they’ve upset you in some way, they’ll never get a head’s up that you’d both get along better if they made some kind of change.
Adjust the intensity of your requests accordingly.
Giving others the benefit of the doubt is often a good way to go about building relationships. But if gentleness isn’t helping you get your point across — or your roommate refuses to adapt her behaviour in a way that makes your living situation bearable — increase the firmness of how you ask for what you want.
Be kind and respectful.
Kindness really does go a long way when you’re dealing with difficult roommates, especially if they’re cruel and unfair to you. Smile and be polite, and they’ll wonder why they ever treated you so harshly.
Take a deep breath, and relax.
Sometimes it’s not them, it’s you. Are you up to your nose in school work and lacking proper sleep? You might be more sensitive to minor things under heavy stress. Take a few moments to de-stress and chill out. If the issue still bothers you when you’re calm, then maybe it’s time to say something.