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Bad Roommates and How to Deal With Them

MyApartmentMap - Aug 23, 2011

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There is nothing worse than living with a bad roommate. Nothing. Walking into your house and feeling tense or uncomfortable in your home makes you do things you wouldn’t normally do. I’ve had some pretty horrible roommates, the ones that are just crazy or have the most ridiculous requests. Or the ones that have mothers that call you and keep you on the phone for hours, telling you their personal problems and then saying “but don’t tell your roommate”.  Really? From my experience of horrible roommates I have a few tips to share to hopefully help with the problems that seem like they can never be fixed.  Before I go into how to deal with the roommate’s one tip that is the same across the board is to ask your roommates to have weekly/ bi-weekly meetings (like I mentioned in the "Roommate Needed but Not Wanted" Blog Post) and discuss things that are going on around the house. This way, it’s possible to address problems before they turn into one of the roommates listed below.

The Clingy

I can say the clingy roommate of mine was the worst. Not only would we have to do everything together, but if I didn’t come home at a certain time then I would hear “where were you?” with her arms crossed. Who needs a boyfriend when you have a clingy roommate? Unless you enjoy spending all of your time with this roommate, you may have to figure out a way to wean them off of you.

Tip: You need to set boundaries, and be firm about it. The clingy are sensitive and may be hurt by what you say, but at the end of the day you signed up for a roommate- not a shadow. Make sure to tell your roommate that you just need some time to hang out by yourself and with your friends. Biggest lesson here: Never say “you” always say “I” it softens your attack on their personality.

The Passive Aggressive

Have you ever been in this situation? “Are you mad?” “No, what are you talking about?” then doesn’t speak to you for days. If this is a scenario you have heard in the past then we have a case of a passive aggressive roommate. In any relationship the best way to come out successful is to communicate, this goes for roommates too. If something is bothering you to a point of no return, than it is important to tell your roommate, otherwise you will just be doing yourself a disservice. So what do you do when someone just doesn’t want to talk? Make them talk!

Tip: During your weekly meetings, explain to your roommate things that you have noticed that are bothering you (not cleaning up after yourself, finishing things and not replacing them, watching TV late night LOUD etc.)and explain why these things are bothering you. Then ask them to tell you the same. If they continuously tell you nothing then bring up some things that you think are bothering them. If this still doesn’t work, then just keep doing what you’re doing, because it could just be in your head.

The Liar

This roommate just can’t be trusted. From pretending to be me to breaking my things, this roommate tops number two as the worst roommate ever. These roommates have a lot of personality problems, and you may just not be able to get through to them. There are a few things that you can do to try to catch them in the act, but in some instances these roommates don’t care enough or just don’t realize that they’re even lying to you.

Tip: The first step is to ask them nicely if they’re lying to you, without using the word lying. Just say that you were wondering. If they say no then you can go one of two ways 1.) Just call them out – however if you do this, be prepared to possibly have a full out war 2.) Don’t say anything and just be cautious of what they say and do in the future. Also, buy a lock for your door.

The One- Upper

“Anything you can do, I can do better,” is this person’s motto. And I mean anything. You went sky diving? They went sky diving at a higher altitude and for a longer time. You met the President of the US? They eat dinner with him on a regular basis. You just ran a marathon? They did too, twice. Anyways, you get the point. How do you deal with the one- upper type? There’s not much you can do, because at the end of the day they just want to be- I’m sorry are the best.

Tip: Just be ready for their response and don’t tell them the things that you’ve done. If they ask you why you don’t really tell them what’s going on, then you can light heartedly say because I know you’ve done it better than me. This should let them know nicely that they’re one upping you.

The Too Clean

In this dynamic, you may be the one that is the problem and not even know it. Excessively clean roommates can make living with them uncomfortable, because anytime you move they’re right behind you cleaning. But I’ve realized with this roommate it is who they are, and they don’t expect you to be the same. At the end of the day it really isn’t that bad.

Tip: Clean up after yourself like you normally would. Keep the common areas clean and tidy; take anything extra back to your room. Also, as mentioned above make a chart and rotate what everyone does. This way, you know what you have to do, and if your roommate isn’t satisfied with the job you’ve done, then they can just clean up after you.

The Dirty

Honestly, as much as people may think this is the worst type of roommate, I think it is the easiest to deal with. The ones mentioned above have personality problems, and it’s a lot harder to tell someone, “you’re a terrible person” vs. “you’re a dirty person”. The dirty may always be dirty, but they are the easiest to “clean up after”.

Tip: Tell them they’re a slob and to clean up after themselves, nicely. The first few times be tactful, if they don’t get it after that then you have to be as blunt as possible.  Also, like “the Too Clean Roommate”, make a chart and give everyone chores. The best chores for the messy are simple things like taking out the trash (you just might have to “prepare” the trash to be taken out).