Posted Mar 16, 2016
How to Discuss Problems With Your Roommate the Mature Way
Issues are bound to arise when you’re living with someone else. They’re practically unavoidable, and even the best roommates have problems once in a while. The way to make sure those situations don’t overtake your whole life, however, is to resolve them quickly and maturely. Here are a few tips that will help you handle any roommate concern:
Ditch the Sticky Notes
Passive aggression might seem like a subtle way to resolve an issue while avoiding confrontation, but it’s actually likely to make the whole thing much worse. When you leave your roommate notes, you’re sending a number of unpleasant messages, like “I don’t feel comfortable talking to you about this,” and “I think it’s OK to treat you like a kindergartner.”
Instead, face the issue head-on. This will give everyone a chance to actually communicate about what’s going on. It will also help you avoid misinterpretations around tone – it’s impossible to tell if a sticky note is said gently or angrily, and nearly everyone assumes the latter.
Schedule a Time
If you’re having a big problem that’s come up again and again, set a time to talk about it. Oftentimes, a good moment for one person is the worst one possible for the other. Instead of trying to catch your roommate while he or she runs out of the room, figure out when you can schedule a meeting.
In addition to making sure you both actually have the time to talk, this will also help prevent either of you from feeling caught off guard. It can be unsettling to try to talk about a problem without having the chance to mentally prepare yourself. By scheduling a time, you give your roommate the chance to get ready.
When you do sit down to talk, discuss the problem directly. Don’t try to skirt around the issue, as this will, at best, leave your roommate confused. There’s a good chance he or she won’t even truly understand what the problem is if you don’t just say it. If this is the case, the other person isn’t going to be able to fix it, even if he or she wants to.
If you’re feeling awkward about bringing up the issue, one way you can make it easier is to acknowledge that you feel awkward. Odds are good your roommate feels awkward, too, so this lets him or her know you’re both in the same boat.
Not all issues have neat-and-tidy solutions, but try to come up with at least a couple of potential fixes for the problem during your chat. This is particularly useful if the issue in question is a bad habit – sometimes people have patterns so deeply ingrained that they need help figuring out how to break them.
Moreover, this gives everyone an idea of what the next steps should be. This is valuable for both you and your roommate – he or she knows how to proceed, and you know how to recognize if things are slipping back into problematic territory.
It’s not always your roommate’s job to give in, and some conversations may result in you having to allow a little bit of wiggle room. Embrace this. If your roommate can’t do the dishes at night because of his or her work schedule, accept his or her promise to do them in the morning. Even if you desperately want the sink cleared at night, a good roommate relationship has some give and take.
If Necessary, Call It Quits
Some people just aren’t good at living together. Not all lifestyles are compatible, and sometimes you have to decide whether it’s time to call it quits. If it is, talk to your roommate about parting ways at the end of your current lease. This should also be a scheduled conversation – let him or her know you’ve made a decision, and stick with it.