7 Common Roommate Problems and How To Fix Them

Becoming friends with your college roommate is hit-or-miss.  We’re halfway through the semester and if you and your roomie aren’t best friends yet, that’s totally normal! However, getting along with your roommate is worth working towards. Maintaining honest and open communication should be your first action when any conflict arises. Follow these tips to fix seven common roommate problems.

1. They leave their stuff everywhere

Everyone defines clean in their own way.  Some people consider an unmade bed messy while others are proud of themselves for being able to see their floor. By now, being tidy is a skill that you either have or don’t have. If you’re a clean freak, don’t waste your time trying to retrain your roommate to clean up to your standards (and vice versa). Instead, find some middle-ground and agree on what you can tolerate and what you won’t.  You may be able to tolerate seeing clothes thrown on the floor but draw the line at having dirty dishes and crumbs in your room. Also, if your messy roommate’s habits are driving you crazy, let them know! They may be unaware that their mess is bothering you so make sure to communicate this upfront.

2. They don’t wash their dishes

Like tidying up around the house, washing your dishes in a timely manner is a learned skill. Set a time limit for when everyone has to have their dishes washed. Having the sink clean and all dishes put away by the end of the day is a rule that gives your roomies leeway while ensuring that dishes get washed everyday. Sometimes your roommates still won’t follow this rule because they’re used to not washing dishes back at their parents house. One quick fix is to place all dirty dishes in the dishwasher at the end of the day. Whether they wash them or not is up to them.

3. You two have different sleeping schedules

You’re a night owl and your roommate is always up before the sun is.  When this situation causes tension, remember to be aware of how your actions will affect your roommate.  If you notice your roommate getting ready for bed, move your study session to the living room.  If you prefer studying in your room, consider getting a bedside lamp for softer lighting that way your roomie can catch some Z’s while you cram for midterms.

4. They use ALL of your things

Sharing with roommates is common, and many people don’t have issues lending their belongings when asked. When your roommate starts helping themselves (without your consent) to your toiletries, school supplies or even clothes, you have to confront them verbally. It’s always best to talk face-to-face because words can take on different meanings over text. Start by asking them if they’ve been using your things and firmly ask them to stop.  If you’ve seen them using your belongings without your permission, address this too. When the straightforward approach doesn’t work, place your items in an area where you don’t usually keep them and they will get the hint.

5. They have their significant other over WAY too much

This is a tricky situation to handle, but you can navigate it without hurting anyone’s feelings. Firstly, establish how many times during the week you feel comfortable with having your roommate’s partner over and be reasonable (once a week isn’t fair to your roommate and will cause unnecessary conflict). When you talk to your roomie, be specific about what’s bothering you. Have a good reason for not wanting their S.O. over all the time like needing to focus on exams or wanting to enjoy your room without guests more often. Reiterate that it’s not about whether you like/dislike their S.O., and focus the conversation on your needs as roommate.

6. They eat your food

As a college student, you know how expensive all the little things are when they add up, especially food! When your roommate makes a buffet out of your weekly grocery shopping, it’s costing you money. Set limits on what you feel comfortable sharing and what you don’t. For example, snacks or pantry staples like butter and herbs make more sense to share than other costly items like meats and produce. Start writing your name on food that you don’t want to share! It’s likely that your roommate is unaware they’re eating your food in the first place.

7. They’re rude to you

No one should feel uncomfortable in their own home.  If your roommate yells at you or purposely makes you feel unwelcome in the room that you pay to live, consider moving out. If you live on-campus, talk to your RA about solutions and possibly changing rooms. Many roommate issues are tolerable, but having a blatantly disrespectful roommate is not. Moving out isn’t always a feasible option for students so the best thing you can do is stand up for yourself, try to limit your time around them and pick your battles.  College life is stressful enough, and having a rude roommate should be the last thing you have to worry about. Focus on yourself and get through the year.

If you have any problems with your roommates, being honest about what is bothering you will always be the best approach. Avoid being passive aggressive and conflicts will work themselves out.