So you’ve finally signed your lease and found out who your roommates are, but what happens when that person you thought was perfect ends up no-so-perfect? Let me first start by saying yes – I do currently live with roommates, and no – they aren’t remotely who I’m referring to in this post! In my last reader survey, one of you mentioned that you needed help with how to live with a negative person in general. And as someone who has lived with a handful of *insert negative adjective here* roommates, I’ve got quite a few tips for you. From living with some pretty awful people my first semester in college – from getting kicked out to living with a perpetual night owl who set 1,000,000 loud AF alarms in the morning…I’ve dealt with quite the variety of roommates. Thankfully I hit the roommate jackpot once I actually manage to move out of and away from college apartments and have been blessed with pretty awesome roommates ever since.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned from having all those terrible roommates, it’s that 1) I’m a bit crazy myself, and 2) I 100% could’ve handled each situation better. STORY TIME. My first semester of college I decided to move in with 2 friends (we’ll call them S and B) from my high school. We were all in band together, we knew each other, we liked each other. We decided on a 3 bedroom, unfurnished apartment and started making plans to hit up flea markets and secondhand stores for furniture. We signed leases for our individual bedrooms, and one of the other girls (S) couldn’t make it to the apartment lease signing with us when we finally planned to go. S ended up waiting so long that the apartment re-assigned her to a different apartment. That was more expensive. Then re-assigned the other 2 of us (B and myself) to a furnished 3 bedroom (aka more expensive) with a random person we never met (let’s call her M).
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All technically legal according to our lease – trust me, we checked. The complex would not budge on anything, so we finally just said “Screw it. We’ll make the best of what we’ve got.” We met with M, who seemed nice, only to find out once we moved in that her boyfriend would also be living with her. And he smoked. My friend B has asthma. Obviously it wasn’t a perfect situation. But still, we tried to make the best of it. B and I were on different class schedules, so didn’t see each other much during the day, and I prefer to study alone so while we tried to chat when we could, it still wasn’t often.
Which meant she chatted a lot with M and they ended up becoming friends. M later dropped out of all her classes completely, stayed in the apartment all day with her boyfriend playing video games, and brought home every stray animal she could find. Despite being a no-animal complex. B and I made complaints to management, but because they were required to give notice of any inspection or maintenance, M had enough time to move them all out before they came.
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We still split the electricity bill 3 ways instead of 4, even though they were the ones there all day and B and I weren’t, even though we didn’t even know he was living with us until after we moved in. Even though he didn’t pay a share of rent. Fast forward to the week before finals – things are obviously pretty tense at this point. We’re all kinda mad at each other, we never talk, we’re stressed with finals coming up. I have flea bites on my legs from her animals, I’m tired from them staying awake all night watching loud movies, and I had to be up early to hop on a bus for a band trip. So when someone made a rude comment about me sleeping on the bus , I did what any irrational crazy person would do – I took to Facebook. I wrote a status along the lines of “Sorry person on the same bus as me for sleeping, but my roommates kept me up all night with their annoying noise”.
Queue the atomic bomb of girl drama that went off. After hours of mean texts from my roommates calling me crazy and selfish we all gave each other the silent treatment. Just for me to get back from the trip to find all my stuff had been packed up and left at my door, the breaker for the electricity to my room shut off, and a note that read, “Get your stuff and get out.” taped to my door. The apartment complex was again, not helpful, but was kind enough to suggest that I could buy out the rest of my lease so I could move out. Um. How is that even a helpful option?
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Long story short, S (our original friend from earlier) took my room and I moved in with a really nice sorority girl a floor up. Fast forward to the end of the spring semester – the same thing that happened to me happened to S!! Turns out, our “friend” B was what I call a pot-stirrer. She liked to start up drama. And that’s exactly what she did. Turns out, the whole time I was living with her and M, she was telling M I was saying things about her (which I wasn’t), and B was telling me M was saying stuff about me (which she wasn’t). She did the same to S, who caught her in the act. They all ended up mad at one another just in time to all move out. Could we have handled everything better? Absolutely. Do I regret moving out? Absolutely not. I think that if I had tried to work it out and stayed, I just would have delayed the inevitable. I’m glad I ended up leaving, because my second semester was practically a dream compared to my first.
Clearly I’ve dealt with my fair share of terrible roommates. I know it was a long story, but it’s important to understand where I’m coming from with all of this. My first tip for dealing with a terrible roommate?
1) Stay Positive + Make The Best Of It
While I realize this is a lot easier said than done, focusing on the positive will GREATLY help you ignore the bad. If all you notice is how rude/annoying/dirty something or someone is, that’s all you’re going to think about. Instead of focusing on those dirty dishes, think about how it’s an excuse to order takeout or visit a friend and cook at their house/apartment. Consider just buying recyclable paper plates and forego using plates in the first place, that way yay! no dishes. Try your best to focus on the good rather than just the bad!
As for living with negative people, block them out. Play that Debbie Downer “womp womp” jingle every time they say something negative if you have to. Place affirmations around your personal space. Make your room a happy retreat.
2) Remember It’s Not Forever
When I signed my lease, it was for 12 months. 12 whole annoying months. But guess what? It’s only 12 months. That means that I wouldn’t be there forever. I’ll eventually be moving out.
Don’t keep all your frustrations bottles up – if your roomie is doing something that bothers you, or isn’t doing there fair share…talk about it. Nothing is going to change if you never mention it. And don’t be passive aggressive about it either. Be direct about what’s bothering you. Offer solutions. Compromise.
4) Check Yourself Before You Wreck Yourself
Before you get all high and mighty about how awful your roommate is and how amazing you are, take a good hard look at how you are as a roommate. I personally am a pretty solid clean freak. Especially when it comes to the kitchen. It seriously gives me anxiety to have a sink full of dishes and the stove splattered in whatever was cooked on it, and don’t even get me started about the trash. While I was in grad school, if I was stressed, you could find me re-organizing the entire kitchen and everyone’s pantry (I asked my roomies first guys!).
Which I know can bother people a lot. So I will tone down my cleaning craziness as long as my roomies are doing their share of cleaning. It might not be to my crazy standard of clean, but as long as they clean up after themselves, then I’m generally fine. Especially when I can re-organize my entire bedroom, closet, and desk any time I want! So before you start moaning about how awful they are, ask yourself if you’re doing your part. Are you cleaning up after yourself each and every time? Taking out the trash? Keeping the noise down?
5) Don’t Set Crazy Expectations
No one is perfect. Obviously there are going to be bumps along the road and kinks to work out. There will be at least one thing that you don’t like about your roommate, so don’t expect everything to be perfect. Now, that may be the pessimist inside me talking, but expect problems. Be mentally open and ready to work through them!
6) Worry About Yourself
And finally, when all else fails, just worry about yourself. Report your roommate for any violations to management so that they are aware there is a problem in the first place. Keep to yourself while you’re home. Be civil of course, but in the case of just a very negative person, block them out. Take care of yourself, you needs, and your deposit first!
Have you lived with a terrible roommate? Do you have any tips and advice for living with them? Let me know!
Comment below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org!