Talking to your roommate

Talking to Your Roommate

By now you’ve pretty much settled in with your roommate and the college experience. The semester is in full swing, your room feng shui is nicely established, the work is piling up and your schedule is pretty much set. You have also probably started to notice some of the annoying qualities of your roommate. There have been moments of friction – the music is too loud, the showers are too long, the whining is too consistent. You may feel as though it’s too late or too embarrassing to speak up at this point in the relationship. How wrong you are.

Speak Up (With Tact) – You definitely can, and should, speak up to your roommate about what’s bothering you. The key to this is tact. Try your best not to come out, guns a blazing, firing off an angry tirade of pent up frustration – “I’m so sick of this mess…don’t you do anything around here…and the smell, God, the smell!” You may be annoyed, but if you want something to change, yelling at or insulting a roommate will not get you to your end goal. Just sit down calmly and have a chat about what’s been bothering you. It might not be easy, but you got this. You can do it!

Know Your Flaws – You may feel as if you’re the perfect roommate – you make pancakes on Saturday morning, you clean up regularly and you brought the mini-fridge. We’re sorry but you’ve got to come to terms with the fact that you’re not. Your tendencies and quirks are harmless, but they might bother your roommate (“why is she banging plates and pans so early every Saturday morning…can’t she ever sleep in!”) as much as their annoying qualities irritate you. Accept this and admit it when speaking with your roommate. Show that there is room for improvement on both ends and offer to work on your bag of tricks if your roommate concedes to work on theirs.


Ask Their Opinion – Definitely make the conversation two-sided and see what the old roomie thinks. Their thoughts? Agree or disagree? Why or why not? You won’t get anywhere by saying your peace, going back to your room and expecting miracles. Don’t rush the discussion and try and see their perspective as much as you make your opinion known. It may take more than one pow-wow to effect results, but always stay respectful and calm.

Peace Offering – After it’s all said and done, the discussion may leave both of you feeling a bit awkward. Lighten the mood by offering to buy a pizza or suggest you Netflix a show together before hitting those books. Life still goes on, you just want to improve your shared living experience – nothing’s wrong with that.

Know Limitations/Accept Them – No matter how polite, respectful, firm or empathetic you may have been, some people are just plain old jerks. If you happen to cross paths with a roommate who just doesn’t care about anything you have to say, suck it up and move on. You can continue to be polite, but you don’t have to go out of your way to hang out with or try and change major facets of your roommate’s personality. It’s not gonna happen. Make it through the school year and set off for bigger and better things.

Shared living isn’t easy, but you’ll probably be doing it in one form or another for the rest of your lives. Speak up, stand your ground and roll with the punches. There you go…your mantra for the day.

Written by Chad Jarrah

Chad Jarrah runs Roommate Harmony and aims to improve the shared living experience through the use of its products and blog. When not saving the world from fights about who ate the last slice of pizza (I’m looking at you, Alan), he loves to travel to faraway places, bake (and eat) delicious treats, and spend time with his beautiful family.

CURRENT GOAL: Make Roommate Harmony a household name (or: perfect "Where is my mind" on the piano) (or: figure out how to arrange a hug with a chimpanzee) (or: concoct an original ice cream flavor that actually warrants a second spoonful)