roommate situation

How Not to Deal with a Terrible Roommate Situation

Before calling it quits and declaring your roommate your archnemesis, read these tips to improve your roommate situation.
April 8, 2018
6 mins read

Many college students find themselves dealing with terrible roommate situations, whether living on or off campus. Such situations can range from slightly annoying to downright terrifying, leaving one feeling frustrated, stressed or even fearful.

Oftentimes a disagreement between roommates starts off as something minor and snowballs into something larger and more difficult to deal with. What most people don’t realize is that many of these situations can be handled before they get completely out of control — it just takes some effort and a willingness to have some tough but much-needed conversations.

However, there are some things that you shouldn’t do when in these situations since it will just make everything worse, leaving you feeling even more terrible than when you first moved in.

Being Prideful

Being prideful can hurt more than it can help. If you have made some mistakes that you aren’t willing to admit, it can make you seem immature and unwilling to better the situation. Acting as though you have done absolutely nothing wrong can make your roommate feel even more upset with you.

It also doesn’t help if someone in authority has to become involved in the situation, whether it be a resident assistant or a landlord. The best thing that you can do is to admit to the mistakes that you’ve made and apologize only if you truly feel compelled to do so.

Not Listening to Your Roommate  

Too often when people engage in arguments, they either don’t listen to the other person or they impatiently wait to respond with a counterargument. It can always help if you listen to the roommate you are arguing with so that you can understand where exactly they are coming from and what they want you to do to make the situation less stressful or intense.

If you listen to your roommate, he or she will hopefully notice and feel more respected by you. Your roommate will also be more likely to want to work things out with you in the future if you are truly hearing them out.

Use “You” Statements

Another thing that people may do when arguing with a person is using “you” statements. One should avoid “you” statements because they sound accusatory, even when you didn’t intend for the other person to feel guilty of anything.

Instead of using “you” statements, it is usually better to use “I” statements because they shift some of the blame from the other person to yourself. For example, “I feel as though you haven’t been listening to me lately” is less accusatory than “You never listen to me.”

Using “I” statements instead of “you” statements may seem like a silly no-brainer basic communication tip, but it can truly make a difference when trying to get along with another person while still getting your point across.

Demand That Everything Go Your Way

When it comes to terrible roommate situations, many expect the other person to completely change their manner, which is a harmful and unrealistic perspective for several reasons. For starters, the other person may not see anything wrong with their behavior or they may have complaints about your own attitude.

In these situations, it is always best to see if you can find some sort of compromise, even if it means not having everything exactly the way that you wanted it to be. Usually, there is always some sort of solution that may work to give each side something that they need or want.

The situation may never become completely idealistic, but it doesn’t have to stay terrible forever and it doesn’t necessarily have to end with someone moving out.


If none of the above has made you feel better or the situation less difficult to deal with, continuing to live with your roommate may no longer be your best move. If you can afford breaking the lease or if you can manage to find another dorm to stay in, moving out may be your best option. It definitely shouldn’t be your first option, but it can help if nothing else has worked and your arrangements have left you feeling more overwhelmed and upset than they should.

There isn’t any shame in admitting that a living situation is too much to handle or that you didn’t make a great choice roommate-wise. Changing your mind isn’t a bad thing! In the end, your happiness matters more than what other people will think about you.

Let the Situation Make You Bitter

If you are unable to reach a compromise or move out, don’t let the terrible roommate situation control your emotions and behaviors. Being frazzled all the time will not make the situation any easier and becoming an awful person in the process is not a solution. There is no need to let a frustrating experience transform you into a bitter and angry human being.

There are far better ways to use that pent-up energy, whether it be by getting some homework done or finding something relaxing to pass away the time.

While difficult roommate situations can drive a person crazy, they are only temporary. No situation will last forever and there are ways to get through your lease or the school year without going insane. Don’t be afraid to talk to your roommate about what is happening.

If that doesn’t work, don’t be afraid to get someone with authority involved. If the situation continues, try your best to stay positive and to not let it control how you think, feel or behave. If this doesn’t work, don’t be afraid to break the lease or find a different dorm room to stay in.

College is stressful enough with the demands of classes, work and extracurricular activities, so don’t allow a terrible roommate situation to turn you into a terrible person.

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