Fighting with your roommate can feel just as bad as fighting with your significant other, your best friend or your mom. When you’re living with someone – day-in, day-out – and you could cut the tension with a blunt knife, it can really get you down. Often, you can avoid common roommate arguments by making sure you include these 4 things in your roommate agreement. When it’s too late, the agreement is being ignored or the fight is about something else entirely, what can you do?
Firstly, try to take a step back and look at the situation objectively. Are you known for your stubbornness? Have you had a fight with friends in the past for a similar reason? You might be able to resolve the conflict by being honest with yourself and offering an apology.
If that’s not enough, let’s take a look at some potential roomi fights and what you can do in certain scenarios.
You have different boundaries in conversation
“My roommate seems to be offended by nearly everything I say to him. How do I move forward so I can be comfortable in my apartment without having to be on guard around him?”
Whether you’re the offender or the offend-ee, it’s important to remember that everyone has different levels of sensitivities and you should try to live in harmony by not pushing each other’s buttons. If someone does feel like a personal attack has been made upon them, it’s healthy to discuss it. That way, both of you can learn the other’s boundaries and “Home sweet home” can become a reality.
Once one person oversteps the mark, it’s down to them to initiate the make-up conversation (even if they feel like they haven’t done anything wrong.) Opening the talk with something like “I’m sorry you feel like…” will just put them on the defensive, since you’re not taking ownership of the thing you said. Instead, try “I’m sorry I offended you; I really didn’t mean to…” and give them the opportunity to accept your apology.
If they do – great! You can both move on and a lesson has been learnt. If not, there’s no point in forcing a relationship. Try to coexist in peace, even if that means limiting conversation between the two of you. As long as you both treat each other with respect, the living situation can remain amicable within the new boundaries you set.
Someone isn’t respecting the house rules
There are certain (said or unsaid) rules that you have to respect when living with roommates, that make sharing a house in NYC enjoyable. From paying rent on time, to keeping noise down at night and keeping the place clean, you might assume your roomi should automatically know how to behave.
Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case, and when someone isn’t respecting expected house rules, it can lead to a blow-out amongst roommates. Flag issues as and when they arise, using a calm and non-judgemental tone. Let your roommate know how everyone in the apartment is expected to act, and even apologize for not setting clear boundaries early on.
Try saying something like:
“Hey Sam, I’m sorry I didn’t let you know this before, but I have to wake up early for work/college. The walls in the apartment are really thin, so would you mind keeping the noise down after 10 p.m.? Your TV’s usually on pretty loud; maybe you could listen to it with earphones or on a lower volume?”
The majority of people would rather keep the peace in their living environment, and a simple conversation like this will alert them to their behavior, so they’ll make an effort to improve. If you’ve already tried this, and it’s led to a major fight between the two of you, make time to resolve it in a calm, public environment (such as a bar or cafe). Try bringing in a neutral third person who can offer an objective view and advice about how to proceed. (This doesn’t mean getting your friends involved just so they can take your side.)
Still no luck? If a roomi dispute cannot be solved, it might be best that you live apart. Make separation a last resort and speak to them before you make any concrete plans, since your desire to move might kick them into action and pull an apology or a way to finally settle the fight. Whatever happens, take the situation and learn from it – you might be able to spot roommate red flags much more easily in future!