Approaches to roommates
Dealing with roommate problems might seem challenging. Even best friends might discover that living with each other isn’t as easy as they thought it would be. It is wise to discuss boundaries and set rules from the start. As in any relationship, communication is key.
How can boundaries help?
Agreeing on boundaries helps you set expectations for each other. In a rooming situation, there are aspects of everyday living to consider, such as:
- Cleaning. Discuss the chores that are necessary to keep your living space clean. Tasks could include: sweeping or vacuuming, washing dishes, straightening up, taking out trash, dusting, kitchen cleaning and bathroom cleaning. Work out who will do which chores and how often.
- Visitors. Decide on times when you would allow visitors, which could include intimate partners. You might have different boundaries for intimate partners than with other friends. Can you have friends or intimate partners stay overnight? If you need privacy, you can create a system to let your roommate know (leave a note or put a symbol on your door.)
- Quiet time. You and your roommate might have different schedules, going to bed and getting up at different times. What rules do you set for lights out? Or for turning off music or a television? Or for setting them to a very low volume? Sometimes headphones can be a workable solution.
- Privacy for phone conversations. You may want privacy for phone conversations or video chats with friends or family. Find out how you both feel about that and whether conversations should take place inside or outside of your shared space. If one roommate is studying or the call is at night, you may want to set rules about where the phone chats take place.
(Reference: Mental Health America
Approaches for Resolving Problems
Timing is important when discussing problems with a roommate.
The timing wouldn’t be good when your roommate is rushing out the door, studying, or is busy with other plans. You can ask or text your roommate to find out when they would be available chat.
Also, if you’re angry and upset, give yourself some time and space to settle down. Adjust the timing for when you can approach the discussion with calm frame of mind.
By tackling one problem at a time, the other person is less likely to feel overwhelmed. Also, when bringing up the problem, focus on the behavior and not the person. For example, don’t say they are rude or inconsiderate playing music late at night. Instead say that you’re having trouble sleeping at night when they play music. It’s also a good idea to have a solution in mind or ask what ideas they might have to solve the problem.
Be sure to listen and consider their perspective. To illicit a response, you can ask them what they think or how they feel about the issue.
If you’re having trouble getting along, you can also ask for outside help. At Affordable Therapy LA, our counseling can help you deal with upsets you can’t resolve together. We have many tools for bettering relationships and are happy to arrange a session for you.