Guide on How to Mediate Roommate Disputes
Living with roommates can be a fun and beneficial part of the college experience.
Roommates allow you to learn about different cultures and expand your social circle. They can also teach a lot about conflict resolution.
Roommates conflicts are pretty much par for the course when you’re in college. The key is to make sure handling them the right way.
If you’re currently dealing with a bad roommate, there are lots of things you can do to try and fix the situation.
Give these tips a try today to address your roommate situation in the most productive way possible.
Set Realistic Expectations
A lot of people have problems with roommates because they went into the roommate situation with unrealistic expectations.
It’s easy to assume that your college roommate or roommates will end up becoming your best friend. Years of TV shows and movies have taught us to expect this. That’s not always the way it works, though.
When you bring people from totally different backgrounds together and make them live in a shared apartment, there’s likely going to be some conflict, and conflict is not always a bad thing. Remember, too, that if you’re having trouble with your roommate, part of the problem might be your expectations of them. Ask yourself whether you’re expecting too much from your roommate and setting yourself up for disappointment.
Avoid Being Passive Aggressive
If you notice an issue with a particular roommate, bring it up right away. Don’t be passive-aggressive and just hint at the situation. Be direct and express why it is a problem.
Remember, this is not permission to be rude or to bombard your roommate with criticism. You still must live with this person, after all, so it pays to be polite. Keep in mind, too, that your roommate might not even realize this is an issue.
The sooner you talk about a problem, and avoid being passive-aggressive, the more likely it is to get solved before it escalates into a full-blown crisis.
Find Common Grounds
In many cases, when you’re having trouble with a roommate, it’s because you don’t know them very well. To help with apartment complex living, it is important to find common ground with your roommates.
Try to talk to your roommate and learn more about them. Maybe you can bond over your shared love of a particular band or a specific hobby. When you know that you have something in common with a difficult roommate, that common ground can help to ease tensions and make them more relatable.
This, in turn, can help you to be more patient with them and more willing to overlook small issues that might have upset you otherwise.
Make a Roommate Contract
Roommate contracts can be beneficial when it comes to addressing common issues like whose turn it is to do the dishes or paying utility bills on time.
Sit down with all of your roommates and write up a contract clarifying responsibilities for each member of the household. The roommate contract can contain information about who is responsible for which bills, who cleans what, the cleaning schedule, how to share food, and more. This is a good time to talk about what everyone needs to feel comfortable in the apartment, too.
In addition to putting together a roommate contract, it also helps to have regular roommate meetings. Pick a time that works for everyone. That way, if there are any issues, you can address them in a group setting and take care of the problem before it gets worse. Pick meeting times that work for everyone. Be sure to take into account school schedules, midterms, finals, work schedule, holidays, summer break.
Be Wary of Living With Friends
Living with your best friends might seem like a great idea at first. You already know each other, so there’s unlikely to be any major problems, right? Not exactly.
Sometimes, living with friends works out wonderfully. In many cases, though, it can be even harder than living with strangers.
For example, friends who are messy might think they have a pass to be extra messy since they’re living with you and not someone they barely know. They might assume that you’ll pick up the slack or won’t care about their messes because you love them as a person.
Before you decide to move in with a friend, be sure to put together a roommate contract and talk about how you’re going to handle specific situations.
Give Yourself Some Space
When you’re dealing with a difficult roommate, it can be helpful to give yourself some space from the situation. Spending time alone is essential to our overall health and well-being, and alone time can be hard to come by when you’re a student living in a shared apartment.
Look for ways to take a break and collect your thoughts, especially if you find that you’re getting irritated by every little thing your roommate does. Crash a friend’s place for the night or just go for a walk for an hour or so to cool off.
Often, when you create some distance, the problem seems to be less of an issue than it was in the heat of the moment. Apartment sizes can vary. You may need to find a different place to de-compress and find your own space, on a temporary basis.
Know When to Call for Backup
Sometimes, the best thing you can do is bring someone else in to help you handle the situation.
If you’ve tried everything and still can’t seem to get along with your roommate, reach out to your RA or your landlord and ask them what they recommend you do. These people should have plenty of experience with roommate situations.
Depending on the severity of the situation, you might be able to move to a new apartment and start over with different roommates. It can definitely be hard to ask for help and admit that you can’t handle an issue on your own. This might be your best option, though.
As you can see, there are lots of ways to go about dealing with a bad roommate.
These tips can go a long way toward helping you to handle conflicts in a mature and appropriate way and can make it easier for you to get along with difficult people.
Sometimes, though, you just need to know when to move on. If you’re in the process of looking for a new apartment with better roommates, we can help.