Expert Tips To Resolve Real Roommate Problems

2 girls sitting on the couch discussing roommate problems

From early morning bathroom run-ins (when you’re not even in the mood to face your cat) to tiffs over paying the shared bills (do you really need HBO when GoT isn’t playing new episodes?) You have to be prepared for the everyday hiccups that bubble up when you’re sharing space. The good news is that even the most seemingly unsolvable squabbles can be squashed amicably. To help you deal with roommate problems and settle your differences to live harmoniously (because there will always be some bumps on the way to roommate bliss), we asked the experts for tips on resolving roommate issues and conflicts between roommates.

1. Roommate problems involving the flush factor

The problem:

Sharing the bathroom is always challenging for a multitude of reasons, regardless of who you’re sharing with. But when the roommate problems become more than someone hogging the shower, things can get real awkward — real fast. When Boston-based Erica Betcher moved in with her new roommate, she says everything was going great. Until the bathroom “surprises” became a point of contention.

“I guess she was afraid of making the water too hot or cold or something. But my roommate would go to the bathroom, take a shower, and then leave for class with it sitting there all day,” Betcher says.

“And this wasn’t just your occasional morning pee — this was gross. I put up a note about flushing. Which she saw, but I finally had to sit down and talk to her about it. It was kind of funny, but super awkward.”

The solution:

Conflicts with roommates like these are common. And while it almost seems more polite not to confront your roommate about roommate problems like these, it’s only a matter of time before your annoyance/resentment/disgust builds up and boils over. And even if you’re not the passive aggressive type, bottling up something that’s obviously affecting you can bring out this behavior in anyone, says John Kim, life coach, therapist and founder of The Angry Therapist. Here’s how you should go about resolving roommate issues like these.

“Ignoring something like this can create a lot of anxiety for you and actually lower your quality of life. So, like in any relationship, communication is the best way to go. And by communication, I mean discussing the issue with your roommate straight up.”

But be careful to avoid the blame game for these roommate problems. Because it can aggravate the situation further and potentially cause new problems.

“Make the conversation light and funny, but also be sure to address what’s really bothering you. It may be tough, but know you’re also laying the tracks for a healthy co-living relationship,” Kim adds.

2. Roommate problems regarding the privacy predicament

The problem:

When you’re sharing an apartment with another individual, you’re sharing much more than that —the fridge, the couch, etc. And that leads to even more roommate problems. And while Brendon Graffum from Ipswich, Massachusetts says he was totally cool with this part of co-living, he was not okay with his roommates treating his personal stuff as communal property.

“I started living with my two roommates because they were friends of friends, and everything was fine in the beginning. But then I started noticing small things like my sheets were all crumpled while I was away on a vacation, and my laptop all of a sudden had a virus due to certain applications I hadn’t downloaded,” Graffum says.

“I realized my roommates were using my room, bed and electronic devices. When I found out, I tried to react calmly by telling them my room was off-limits, but that only put a strain on our relationship. We didn’t talk for almost a year before we moved out.”

The solution:

Such conflicts with roommates cannot be ignored. So the first thing to do to solve roommate problems like these is to put some security measures in place. Then learn to protect your electronically-saved sensitive info like a pro. But if there’s a serious boundary issue, you’re eventually going to have to put your foot down. And there’s no way for resolving roommate issues like these.

“This one is tough because we learn a lot about our friendships when we live with them,” says Nicole Zangara, a social worker from Scottsdale, Arizona and author of “Surviving Female Friendships: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly“.

“If you keep talking to your roommate and they continue this behavior, you have to decide whether it makes sense to continue living with them. And inevitably keeping them in your friends circle. Roommate tiffs come and go. But conscious disrespect for personal property is blatantly rude and something that just won’t change on the drop of a dime.”

If you can’t change them or their behaviors, you might have to be the one to make the change (i.e., move out!).

D’you know what else Roomi does outside of helping its readers deal with conflicts with roommates? With our ever-increasing lists of rooms and roommates across the world, we help you find your perfect match! Download the app here and hop on the easiest ride home, ever!