5 Tips for Dealing with Difficult Roommates


Roommates can make your college experience so much better, or SO much worse. From little things like “borrowing” your milk to bigger things like never cleaning up their own messes, being disrespectful, or just being downright rude. Unfortunately, roommates are a part of life for many students and there’s not much that can be done. Here are some tips to help you make the most of your life with roommates, no matter how difficult they are.

Set Boundaries

From the beginning, make sure that your roommate(s) know what you expect from one another and where you stand on common issues like cleanliness, sharing items/food and privacy. Have a conversation about your personal “do’s and don’t’s,” pet peeves, and general expectations for your living situation. Your boundaries and your roommate’s boundaries may not be the same, which is why having this conversation is so important to have right away. If you have competing opinions and boundaries, discuss ways that you can compromise or meet in the middle. For example, if you prefer a quiet living space and you have a noisy roommate, consider setting “quiet hours” at certain times of the day or night. There’s no harm in setting basic rules like whoever makes the mess has to clean it up or making a schedule for annoying tasks like taking out the garbage or cleaning common areas.

Communicate in Person

In a time where texting and online communication can feel like the easier way to have difficult conversations, make sure that you’re communicating issues with your roommates in person. Texting your roommates to deal with issues makes it easier to misunderstand messages, detach from the conversation or avoid the issues completely. It can also increase the chances of un-constructive conflict.

Having face-to-face conversations minimizes the chance of miscommunication, promotes constructive discussions, promotes trust and allows you to read each other’s body language. The conversation may take longer in person than it would through your roommate group chat, but issues will be resolved more effectively.

Deal with Problems Right Away

Letting a problem fester will make it harder to solve in the end. If you have a problem with a roommate or something that they’re doing, deal with it as soon as possible. “Hey, today was your day to take the garbage out but you slept in so I had to do it, could you please make sure to set an alarm next time?” will solve things much quicker than quietly resenting your roommate every time garbage collection day rolls around and eventually getting angry with them. If you are angry or upset about the problem, let yourself cool down before speaking to your roommate about it so you don’t take your emotions out on them.

Ditch the Passive Aggression

We’re all adults, so act like one! Passive aggression accomplishes nothing, even when your roommates are terrible difficult. Acting stubborn, petty or spiteful isn’t the brilliant solution that you may think it is in the moment, and will just lead to more difficult relationships and emotions with your roommates the longer it goes on. While you may want to put their dirty dishes in their bed to send a message, communicating to your roommate what the issue is and why it’s bothering you, in a mature, adult manner will get you better results. Resist the urge to leave that mean note on their door and try open face-to-face communication instead.

Hold Yourself to the Same Standard as you Hold Your Roommates

If you expect your roommates to be tidy at all times, make sure you’re holding yourself to that standard too! It’s unfair to expect your roommates to act a certain way when you won’t do the same. Make sure there’s no double-standard when it comes to household expectations.


Remember to be patient with your roommates because being a student is tough! We all have bad days sometimes and it’s important to be understanding and to compromise on issues between roommates whenever you can. Try your best to build positive relationships within your household and go easy on each other.