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Roommates: The good, the bad, and the ugly

Photo Credit : Scott Cook
Photo Credit : Scott Cook

Everyone I know, including myself, has had at least one bad roommate experience.

Maybe they are loud, messy, pay bills late, break things, or—if you are really unlucky—a combination of these. If you have not had one, you probably will. Otherwise, you probably are the bad roommate.

Dealing with a terrible roommate is incredibly frustrating, but I like to think of it as preparation for dealing with future children, who are basically the worst roommates imaginable. (I know I was, at least. Sorry, Mom.)

Luckily, like most things in life, there are appropriate ways of dealing with terrible roommates that do not end in murder/suicide.

The most obvious way to deal with a roommate who is bothering you in some capacity is to confront her about it. Communicate the problem to her clearly. After all, she cannot stop behavior she does not know is bothering you. Letting yourself stew in a quiet rage over time only fuels your anger until one day you blow up at her, seemingly out of the blue.

If you are obsessive about the way the toilet paper faces, let him know. If you hate that he leaves the shower curtain open, let her know. If you catch him stealing your sundried tomato basil Wheat Thins, threaten to call the police. Just kidding. Please do not do that.

Whatever the problem is, talk to your roommate about it in a calm, nonthreatening way. This is not the time to be hostile or passive aggressive: there will be plenty of time for that if they do not respond well to a mature confrontation, but it is crucial to offer this mature confrontation first.

If your roommate does not respond to polite and sincere communication, there are ways to deal with that too. I cannot stress enough how therapeutic ranting is. Find someone, a close friend, relative, or someone you can trust who knows the situation and will let you complain about your roommate from time to time.

Sometimes you just need to complain, so find someone who really understands this and is not going to try to offer you any bad advice.

Just go completely off the rails for a few minutes—a nice, full-blown tirade. Feel free to exaggerate and be animated. The more ridiculous you are when ranting, the more likely you are to remain composed around your roommate.

It is also important to keep in mind, when dealing with a bad roommate or any sort of undesirable living situation, that it is temporary.

Maybe you are stuck in a crappy lease with someone who consistently forgets to pay their half of the electric bill, or your roommate does not appreciate the beauty of a clean kitchen and refuses to wash dishes or take out the trash.

My heart goes out to you, because I have been there.

But the good news is leases are not forever, and come contract’s end, you can kiss your lease and your terrible roommate goodbye.

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