Here’s Exactly How To Deal With A Roommate You Don’t Like

Hi Heather,

I don’t like my roommate. It’s not that she’s a bad person, I think we’re just total opposites. She doesn’t clean up her messes and leaves dirty dishes laying around for a week, while I was raised doing chores every day. I like to be a little warmer, but she always has the windows open so it’s super cold. Little things like that. We were matched together by the university and I don’t know what to do about next semester because I don’t have someone to definitely move in with. She told me she’s leaving after next semester to transfer anyway, so I don’t know if I should bother rocking the boat by complaining or arguing with her since I have less than a year with her before she’s gone, but… I don’t know, it’s driving me crazy. What should I do?


Okay, so you’re definitely in an awkward situation: you don’t hate your roommate, you just don’t exactly get along with her because you two are totally different people. The things she does aren’t enough to warrant a screaming match or a complaint to the university, but they are still legitimate things to be frustrated with. At the same time, you worry about bringing these things up, and starting a rift that has a very good chance of making things more awkward. So, what are you supposed to do? Suck it up and deal until it’s done, or make a move towards change?

My advice? Speak up and start some honest communication. I understand your hesitation towards saying something to her – she says she’s leaving by the end of the year, and confrontation is horrible, so why say something when you have an eventual clear out? I get it, but you have to say something. What if she decides not to transfer after all? What if her behavior gets worse (and honestly, there’s a good chance it will – if you haven’t said anything, she probably has no idea it’s bothering you, and as she gets more comfortable around you and in the room, she’ll only delve further into these habits)? And hey, you deserve to be happy and comfortable in your dorm room! Why sacrifice your own living situation so that you don’t rock the boat?

You don’t need to start a fight or anything like that – just say something in a nice way. If you don’t want to do a formal conversation, then just say something small. The next time she leaves the window open, say something like, “I’m really cold in here, is it cool if I shut these?” The next time you notice her leaving her dishes out, just say, “Hey, do you mind throwing that out?” Maybe one day say something like, “What would you think about making a chore calendar? I saw one on Pinterest and I think it’s such a cute idea!” None of these requests are things another person should get angry over, so hopefully, she’ll take the hint.

If subtlety doesn’t work, you’ll have to say something more serious. If you want, you can text her and say something like, “Hey, I wanted to talk to you about some roommate stuff. I would really love it if we could both make more of an effort to keep the dorm room clean and I’d like to talk about how we could do that.” This doesn’t put all of the blame on her, but makes it clear that you’re having an issue.

Hopefully, she’ll be receptive to the criticism. If she isn’t, then you have a bigger problem on your hands, and maybe you should consider switching dorms – if you still can. If things get really bad, you can always report her actions to the university to see if they can do something about it. But I would definitely suggest speaking to her privately first. This gives you guys the opportunity to work things out, which might work in your favor. If you don’t have someone specific to move in with, then you could get randomly paired with someone even worse!

Just please don’t accept this behavior as is and ignore it for the sake of keeping the peace. Yes, there are some things that you can let slide to prevent a fight (after all, living with someone is never 100 percent smooth sailing), but if certain things are really, really bothering you, you have a right to say something. Remember that she probably doesn’t want a hostile living situation either. Say something politely and try to make this work out for both of you.

Good luck!

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