“Dear Josephine Miner,
I thought it would be great to live with my friends, but it is proving to be a challenge. I am a lot more clean and organized than my roommate. Also, my roommate comes home really late at night and sleeps all day. It’s driving me crazy, what should I do?
Roommate issues are a common problem in college. Many students never had to share a room before leading to potentially a selfish, messy, or incompatible living partner. Other roommates or living mates have potentially never washed dishes or cleaned a toilet before. This can lead to a variety of living problems amongst unlike personalities. The first step to fixing an issue is to remain mature, more specifically, do not be passive aggressive. Being passive aggression rarely solves the problem and usually leads to increased tensions for both or all persons in the house, apartment, or dorm. Rather, face the issue head-on with a conversation, preferably in person. Conversations over text can have misinterpretations about tone and attitude. If it is a problem between just two of the living partners, then reach out to that person individually. If it is an all house problem, schedule an all house meeting when all tenants can be available to discuss the problem. Make sure that no one has meetings to run off to and that everyone is focused on the discussion and not on their phones. When stating what the problem is, express it directly and to the point. Do not exaggerate or take the long way to get to the point of the issue. This just makes it confusing for the roommate(s) being addressed, who may not even realize what they were doing was something bothersome. This could feel awkward, but remember they probably feel awkward having done something that upsets the balance.
After explaining the issue, let the roommate(s) explain themselves. Sometimes it is an easy solution that is cleared up in five minutes. If the issue seems to be a difference of opinions, try to propose a solution. For example, if the issue is a sink full of dirty dishes that never seem to never stop growing and tend to stay for an undesired length of time, propose that a new household rule is that all dishes should be washed or put in the dishwasher within four hours of use. Remember, if opinions differ, then compromise is likely. It is important to remember that if there is something to be changed, then it is important to lead by example. No one wants to clean if they don’t see anyone else doing it either. Maybe try scheduling a weekly or bi-weekly decluttering.
If multiple house discussions have taken place and nothing seems to change, drastic changes may need to be made. Not all lifestyles are compatible when it comes to living together. The semester is coming to a close, reach out to an RA about a room change or if in an apartment or house, look for an opening with other friends. Even if drastic changes need to be made because of a non-congruous living situation, make sure to end on positive terms. Inform the old roommates the reason for leaving and give them plenty of time to find a replacement. Leaving on good terms gives the opportunity to remain friends. Good luck to all of those trying to find the perfect living balance. Readers in need of advice please email any questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sincerely, Josephine Miner