How to Deal With a Bad Roommate

Living with a problem roommate can make all aspects of your life just a little more difficult. If your bad day starts at home, there's little hope of improvement. You aren't powerless in the face of a bad roommate, though, and you should take charge before the situation gets really bad.

By Sarah Wright


At the End of Your Rope?

Sometimes, the search for affordable housing leads us to make some questionable decisions as to who we choose to live with. If you've ended up with a nightmare of a roommate, it can seem like a hopeless situation. Those who live on a college campus may have a few resources, like an RA or student housing staff member, but those types of interventions don't always work. Here are some steps to follow if you're finding yourself unable to deal with a horrible roommate.

Be Direct

Passive-aggressive notes and timid reproaches often just fuel the fire of tension in a bad roommate dynamic. Instead of beating around the bush, confront the problem head-on. Tell your roommate what's bothering you and why. Be polite about it, and don't resort to insults or playing the blame game. Sticking to your guns puts you in a better position to get what you want. And you'll know very quickly whether the situation is salvageable or not based on your roommate's response to being confronted in a mature, calm manner.

Rise Above It

Often, roommate problems become a power struggle that makes it impossible for any amicable solution to be reached. You may have to be willing to rise above pettiness and immaturity to get the solution you want. It can be hard to do, especially when you're angry and antagonized. But ultimately, you'll be in a stronger position if you refrain from resorting to being passive-aggressive or vengeful. Plus, you can make a bad situation even worse by raising the stakes. It's best to just keep things from escalating, even if that means feeling like you have to swallow your pride a bit.

Join Forces

If it's just you and your roommate, you may not be able to do this, but if it's more than just the two of you in your house or apartment, you should talk to your other roommates about the problem. If they're noticing the same things you are, and are also bothered by them, you might be able to team up to get the problem roommate to shape up or move out. It's good to have some backup in these situations, but if the goal is reconciliation, you should be careful to make it seem like you're not ganging up on the odd man out.


One of the best ways to deal with a terrible roommate situation is to just pack your bags and go. Some people just can't be reasoned with, and it might not be worth the stress and effort to get into an extended conflict with someone who isn't likely to miraculously become the perfect roommate overnight. It can feel like a defeat to move, especially if you really like your living space, but remember - this isn't a power struggle. It's not about getting your way. It's about doing what's best for yourself in the long run.

If your roommate is nice to you, you should return the favor - they might be famous someday.

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