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If you’ve experienced sharing a dorm or apartment once in your life, chances are that you have had your fair share of horror stories about a roommate.
And no, horror here doesn’t mean spooky encounters with spiritual beings. It refers to having such a bad situation with your roommate that it literally creeps out and disgusts you to be sharing space with them.
Sure, having a roommate with stinky feet can be annoying, but finding their stinky socks and used clothing all over your space is more than infuriating. Or, it might be tolerable to be roommates with someone who’s friends with a person that you don’t like, but you shouldn’t let it pass when they invite said friend to your shared space without checking with you first.
Having roommates can be an exciting and cost-effective experience, but it could also quickly lead to many challenges and discomforts because of the differences in personal habits, lifestyle, responsibilities, and boundaries.
And since living quarters should be a safe space for us to rest in, this conflict and tension among roommates should be addressed properly.
First things first: are you a ‘horror’ roommate?
We asked our Rappler readers about their worst experiences with having a roommate and here’s what they have to say:
The most common response was having a roommate who’s untidy. It ranges from sharing space with someone who leaves their laundry all over the place, or doesn’t flush the toilet bowl after using, or not throwing his own garbage, or leaving the dishes unwashed until it stank up the room. Worse, there’s even cases of roommates using their underwear! “I had to dispose [them] every time and get new ones,” one reader wrote.
Meanwhile, other experiences include having their privacy and boundaries violated. One wrote that a roommate was getting frisky with their partner on the bunk bed they were sharing, while another reader shared that a roommate kept on inviting her boyfriend into an all-girls place without asking for their approval.
Unsurprisingly, finances were also a tricky matter among roommates, especially when one often keeps forgetting to pay rent, or worse, they steal from your funds. Note though that stealing should be a non-negotiable and if your roommate does that, alongside making you feel unsafe, it should be an early sign to not continue living with them.
Yes, we all have our own pet peeves and ideas of what is considered clean and organized. But it’s an entirely different story when you’re sharing a close space with someone who’s irresponsible, inconsiderate, and plain mean.
Sure, you don’t have to be best friends with your roommates. But whether you’re just practically strangers or already close friends, having a good rooming situation will only work if both of you respect each other’s personal space and boundaries. And to do that, both should also be willing to communicate and compromise depending on their situation.
Tip #1: Outline expectations and set boundaries
You and your roommate are bound to have different preferences. So better to start a dialogue early on about your living expectations with them.
Discuss matters like doing chores, cleanliness standards, guest policies, overnight visitors, quiet hours, dividing bills, and paying for communal items. As you go over your needs and wants, be open in compromising with the needs and wants of the people you’re living with and help in establishing reasonable guidelines on how to achieve that.
Make sure that everyone sharing the space is comfortable with the list of rules and the system that you’ve established. Keep in mind that these rules are also open to modification in the future.
This way, grievances can be avoided even before they even occur. And by having these kinds of conversations, it’ll also foster a sense of openness among roommates that would help them feel more comfortable when addressing future concerns.
Tip #2: Address problems together
By now, your roommate has tested your patience a little too much that you’re already tempted to 1) leave a snarky Post-It notes on the refrigerator, or 2) send them an angry text, or 3) create an exposing thread on social media, or 4) give them the silent treatment — worst case scenarios might push you to do all four.
But while it can feel satisfying, these moments of rage won’t do any good in your situation. In fact, being passive-aggressive might even strain your relationship more. If that happens, your roommate might just ignore your complaints, don’t change their behavior, or create more problems for you.
Tell them right away when they cross a line. Not saying anything would make your roommate think you approve of their behavior. And waiting to raise these problems to them might build resentment over time.
While it’s important to address a problem as soon as possible, it’s best to make sure that you are respectful and collected while doing so. Avoid yelling at them, especially when you feel so fed up and annoyed. Make sure to converse with your roommate in person, and refrain from gossiping your experience to other people or venting on social media.
Engage in a welcoming conversation as your roommate might not be up for discussion when they feel they’re being attacked and blamed. Remain calm and tactful even if they’re reacting with anger.
Once you’re talking with your roommate about their mistakes, make sure to provide specific instances and explain how their behavior made you feel. This way, your roommate would have a clear idea on which of their specific actions were affecting you.
Give your roommates also the chance to address these behaviors. Listen to their side as they might have a different perspective that you haven’t even considered. Allow your roommate to share how they feel about the situation. You could also ask them how they’ll feel if the situation was reversed and you’re the one doing those actions to them so that you’ll know as to where they stand with this kind of behavior.
After discussing these things, it’s best to come up with solutions together. Negotiate a compromise that works on both of you. For example, if your roommate kept on eating your groceries, why not offer to buy stocks for two instead and ask them to pay their share.
Lastly, pull your own weight, too. If you get vexed when your roommate makes loud phone calls at night, make sure that you lower the volume when you’re having movie marathons during sleeping hours. And if you know that you’ve done something to upset your roommate, don’t hesitate to apologize and address it directly instead of waiting for them to call you out.
Tip #3: If all else fails, move to another place
No matter how many rules you’ve established, you and your roommate are still bound to clash at some point. But while some conflicts can be resolved, there’s just some situations that cannot be fixed.
Usually, this happens when you’ve already confronted your roommate and asked help from other people, but you’re still not on the same page. Since the lease and your financial situation are also factors to take in, this usually serves as a last resort.
So if you’ve already exhausted all means to make your cohabiting situation work, it might be the time to consider transferring to another place or asking them to move out. – Rappler.com