23 Tips For Living With Roommates Without Going Fucking Crazy

Whether your roommate is a perfectly respectable human or a demon from hell, living in complete harmony all the time is pretty much impossible.

To help you get through the days until you can afford your own place (DREAMY SIGH), BuzzFeed talked to clinical psychologist Andrea Bonior, Ph.D., author of The Friendship Fix, and Harlan Cohen, author of The Naked Roommate. Here are their best tips for staying sane.

2. But don’t bring up stuff when you’re actually irate.

Reacting when you’re annoyed or angry might lead you to say or do something that causes more problems (passive aggressive notes, anyone?) or to take a stand on something that you later realize wasn’t a huge deal, says Bonior. She suggests taking some time to talk about it with someone else or to take a walk — then come back to the situation and decide how to go about it.

3. The magic conversation starter for when your roommate is doing crazy or annoying shit: Apologize for not setting clearer expectations.

Even if your roommate is doing stuff that is awful by anyone’s reasonable standards, you can’t really get mad until you’ve had an actual conversation about it. And you’ll get a much better outcome if you start that conversation saying something like, “Hey, I’m sorry, I never actually told you about this thing that makes me uncomfortable.”

Then you can discuss how you’d prefer it if they didn’t eat your food / have sex in the communal shower / communicate entirely through Post-it notes / hover in your doorway talking for an hour when you’re just trying to catch up on Netflix / WHATEVER.

“Framing it as it, ‘Let’s set expectations now’ rather than ‘You need to stop doing this’ is less blaming, more collaborative, and much less likely to make them defensive,” says Bonior.

4. Make sure to use ~I statements~ and suggest possible solutions.

Example: “I know you’ve been super busy and stressed lately, but recently I feel like I’ve been doing a lot of dishes that aren’t mine. Maybe we could make it a rule to wash our dishes before the next meal so we don’t lose track of whose dishes are whose.”

“You don’t make it about the other person doing something wrong. You make it about what makes you uncomfortable and you present it as something they’re probably not aware of,” says Cohen. “And if you present it without a solution, you’re just going to put more problems on the table.”

5. Don’t fight passive aggressiveness with more passive aggressiveness.

“It’s just going to add another layer of BS that’s going to make it harder to communicate about what’s really going on,” says Bonior.

Instead, Bonior suggests figuring out what your roommate is trying to tell you with their behavior and strike up a conversation based on that. For example, something like, “Hey, I have a feeling you’re upset with me. I’m really sorry if I’ve done something wrong — can we talk about it?” or, “I noticed you’ve been stacking my things outside my bedroom door. I’ll make an effort to be more tidy if that’s something that’s bothering you.”

6. Texting is fine for hashing out the little things, but save the big conversations for in person.

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Little reminders (“Hey fyi, you accidentally left the door unlocked the past couple of days”) and quick questions (“Could someone pick up some dish soap?”) are totally fine to have over text, says Bonior.

But you should have more loaded conversations — like ones about behavior or expectations that would require paragraphs of text — in person where you can read each other’s tone and body language.

7. Try making a joke about something first to see if they’ll get the hint.

Obviously, the communication tips we talked about earlier are important, but in a situation where a roommate is kind of overbearing, they might just think they’re being helpful or not realize what they’re doing, says Bonior. “If you can make them aware of it with a little bit of humor, like, ‘OK mom, should I take my vitamins, too?’ then that might be enough to give them the hint,” she says.

If that doesn’t work, follow it up by being more direct.

8. Hold yourself to the same standards you hold your roommate to.

We have the tendency to write off our own behavior as a fluke, but see other people’s behavior as indicators of who they are, says Bonior — aka, I didn’t pick up toilet paper on the way home because ~I had a long day and forgot~, but my roommate didn’t pick it up because he’s a disrespectful dick.

To make sure you’re not holding your roommate to unreasonable standards (and to make sure you’re being a good roommate too), Bonior suggests assessing yourself as objectively as you do your roommate. Are you actually doing all the things you want them to do? If you can keep that in mind, you’ll be more chill and forgiving in the long-run for it.

9. If you two have wildly different standards when it comes to cleanliness, figure out different but equal ways you guys can contribute.

Maybe your roommate is never going to learn how to properly clean the bathroom or maybe you’re not down for the twice-weekly deep cleanses of the apartment that your roommate feelings strongly about. If that’s the case, Cohen suggests finding other ways to divide up shared responsibilities so chores don’t become a point of contention.

Meaning, instead of getting pissed every time your roommate does a half-assed job cleaning the kitchen, maybe you take kitchen duty full-time and your roommate can be in charge of stocking up on toilet paper and other communal supplies.

10. And honestly, if you have the means, just consider hiring someone to do the deep cleans.

It might save you a lot of fighting (or quiet resentment), especially if you have very different ideas of what constitutes “clean.”

11. Master the art of figuring out if your roommate is taking your shit — without being accusatory.

Passive aggressive notes or outright accusations won’t get you anywhere, especially because there’s always the chance that your roommate really isn’t to blame. It could always be their SO or someone who came to your party last week. And if your roommate is to blame, asking in the right way makes it more likely that they’ll own up to it.

“Ask things in an innocent way as though your roommate is the co-detective of figuring out what happened to things,” says Bonior. Things like, “Crap, I thought I had a full bottle of shampoo in the shower, do you know what happened to it?”

Obviously, if they’re clearly taking your stuff and lying about it, eventually you have to realize you’re in a situation of theft and act accordingly: lock your bedroom door, hide your things, MOVE ASAP, etc.

12. If your roommate is having wall banging-ly loud sex, sorry, but you’re going to have to talk to them about it. Directly.

IT’S AWKWARD, WE KNOW. But there are a few possibilities here. One is that your roommate doesn’t know that everyone can hear them banging, says Cohen, so telling them that you’re uncomfortable listening to it might be enough to make them quiet down.

If they do know what they’re doing, you have the option of asking for boundaries or at least some warning, since it’s probably not reasonable to expect your roommate to stop having sex. “It’s very hard to ask someone not to do something,” says Cohen. “But it it’s easier to say, ‘Hey, I’m glad you’re having fun, but maybe you can warn me when the sex is coming so I can put on some headphones or plan to not be in the apartment.”

13. And if their annoying SO is over all the time, either set some boundaries, reestablish expectations, or ask them to pay rent.

It all depends on what makes you uncomfortable about the situation. It might be that you’re basically living with an extra person you didn’t sign up for and a little extra rent would be enough to make things fair. But maybe you don’t care about the rent — you just don’t want another person intruding on your living space constantly. In that case, your conversation should be more about space and boundaries.

“Saying ‘I didn’t expect to essentially have another roommate half the week when we agreed to live together — can we scale back how often they spend the night here?’ is a better way to broach the topic than, ‘Your boyfriend is here way too much, that has to stop,’” says Bonior.

14. If your roommate wants to be your BFF and you’re not about it, keep your distance emotionally and hope they get the hint.

It’s kind of a tricky situation, since living together can create a false sense of intimacy, which some people take to mean instant friendship. But, hey, sometimes that’s not what you’re looking for in this situation. First, make sure you’re not sending off BFF vibes yourself. Like if you’re coming home and telling your roommate a ton about your day just because they’re there, or inviting them to the bar a few times a week because you don’t want to go alone.

“You have to back off slowly and not lead them on,” says Bonior. “That means you’re going to ask them fewer questions about their life and go less in depth when they ask about yours.”

15. And if they’re being super clingy or hovery, find sneaky ways to assert your boundaries without being unkind.

It’s not a crime if you don’t want to hang out with your roommate all the time, but if they’re not taking the hint, make sure you’re not leaving things up to interpretation.

“Be subtle about communicating your plans in a way they can’t assume they’re involved,” says Bonior. “So if they ask you what you’re doing this weekend, follow up sharing your plans by asking, ‘How about you?’ Or if you just want some space in the apartment, don’t have body language that says you’re OK to sit and talk for an hour.”

And don’t just say you’re ~super busy~ because they may take that to mean that you’ll want to hang out when you free up.

16. On the other flipside, don’t pressure your roommate into being your BFF either.

NBC / Via Netflix

“Friendship is only a bonus,” says Cohen. If you expect it out of them, you’ll run into problems.

17. If you’re living with a good friend and it’s going sour, make sure they know your friendship is a top priority.

This can be tricky, but don’t wait until living together has made you into enemies to bring it up. Start the conversation by saying something like, “First things first, our friendship is important to me above all else and I want to make sure that my goal here is to not damage our relationship at all. That said, I’m finding that we live together in pretty different ways.” Then refer back to whatever communication tips might help that sticky conversation.

18. Deal with a high-stress, bad-energy roommate by asking how you can help.

You know the type — stalks around the apartment in a cloud of stress and nerves, always going on about everything that’s going wrong in their life, etc. And even when you want to be supportive, that can be a huge energy zap.

Bonior suggests taking the route of saying something like, “Hey, I feel like you’ve been dealing with a crappy work place for awhile and I don’t feel like I’m being very helpful when you talk to me about it. Is there anything else I can do to get out of this rut?” That way, you’re framing it in a way that’s like, “I want to help you” (and you do!), but it’s also sneakily like, “I need to help me too.” Win-win.

19. Also, you have to make sure that you’re not the problem.

BE HONEST WITH YOURSELF. “If you’re in endless bad roommate situations your entire life, there’s a common thread and that’s you,” says Cohen. “If you know how to be a good roommate first, you have a much higher threshold when it comes to dealing with the uncomfortable, the disgusting, and the unreasonable.”

20. Make sure you have time for your damn self.

Even if you go through all the steps of communicating and setting boundaries, you might end up living with someone that you just don’t like all that much. And at that point, it’s a matter of coping and finding ways to take care of yourself — since that is something you can control, says Bonior. Here are 31 self-care tips to make life feel a little easier.

21. And find a few other places where you feel safe and happy.

Obviously you shouldn’t ever feel like you can’t go home, but it’s also helpful to just know you have other places you can escape to when you want, says Cohen, whether that’s a friend’s place, the gym, a favorite cafe, whatever.

22. If you hate your roomie but have to make it work at least for now, you’re gonna have to try.

If you resign yourself to the fact that you’ll never get along, you’re pretty much guaranteeing that’s going to be true — because you’re playing an active part in the bad relationship. You don’t need to be best friends, but you do need to prioritize keeping the peace above most else, according to Cohen.

23. Breathe and remind yourself that situations are temporary.

“It’s important to keep in mind that situations change. And in the meantime, you find other places and other people to hang out with,” says Cohen. “You will get through it.”

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