For Better or WORST: Difficult Roommates


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According to Conan O'Brien, “If you don’t have a weird roommate, you are the weird roommate."


The Passive Aggressive Roommate: The first warning sign of a passive aggressive person is when they say "I hate it when people get passive aggressive." Everyone hates dealing with passive aggressive people and everyone is passive aggressive from time to time. Often this roommate is just trying to be nice and isn't good at it. After all, putting a note on the microwave saying "oh no! looks like someone forgot to clean up :)" is a lot easier than calling a house meeting and addressing the problem directly.


As tempting as it is to pass the passive aggressiveness straight back to this roommate, try to act maturely. Usually these people hate confrontation, so don't give them an easy out. They might say "yeah, yeah," but not do anything. When having a conversation about the issue, talk about how their passive aggressiveness impacts you and how you feel about it. For example, "it really hurts me when you leave notes on the dishwasher saying 'oh no, looks like no one emptied me.'" Next, bring up a possible solution, "next time just tell me you'd like me to take a turn emptying it instead." This way the passive aggressive one will realize that solving the problems that annoy them does not involve as much conflict as they think!

The Neat Freak: Everyone loves neat roommates, but some people just take it too far. The neat freak's greatest weakness is not that they are neat, but that they are demanding that you be as well. The roommate moves in with a chore chart in hand, complete with your name assigned to weekly rotating tasks. The neat freak gets upset when chores are not done to their standards. The neat freak can easily devolve into the passive aggressive one, leaving fun notes on silverware with water spots "Oops, doesn't look like this is clean!"


The way to deal with this roommate is to sit down and have a frank conversation. Say, "I get that this is important to you and I'll try, but it's just I don't always have time to organize the soup cans alphabetically." From there set clear boundaries about space, define what is shared and what is not. Make an effort to keep shared spaces up to the neat freak's standards and ask the neat freak to respect that your spaces will be at your standards.

The Slob: On the other end of the spectrum is the slob. The worst quality of the slob is that the slob is often oblivious to their slobbery. The slob, at first seems like a great roommate. They come off as very chill and easy going. After they move in, their mess slowly expands, inch by inch, infecting the entire apartment.


I've lived with slobs before. I've found that often they don't share my dislike of having their stuff touched and moved. So, the way I deal with this situation is to first bring it up in conversation and ask that the slob keep shared areas neat. The set some ground rules for what will happen if these areas are not kept neat. Most slobs are just not aware that their mess is bothering anyone and are willing to try to make a change, they just might need some help.

The Party Animal. Living with the party animal can be a lot of fun, you'll always have places to go and people to hang out with. However it's not always great when the party animal brings the party home. For example, one time after a long long night of babysitting (non-stop crying infant and whining tot babysitting, not watching TV while the baby sleeps), I came back to a party in my apartment. Granted, it was a Thursday night, but I had a 9am class the next morning and I already was exhausted. I was more than a little mad at my roommate, not so much for having guests, but for her timing and not checking in with me about it.



Compromise again is the name of the game. I suggest making a roommate contract. I know that sounds super cheesy, but it works. Make a contract the outlines the times that guests can be invited over, how many guests and what kind of notice needs to be given to all of the roommates.

The Mooch: We all know the mooch. The mooch shows up just as you are making dinner and comments about how good it smells. It's not long before the mooch is asking if you are going to be able to finish all that delicious food you made. The mooch is always short on cash, they NEVER have their charlie card on them. Will the mooch buy toilet paper? Don't count on it.



We've all lived with a mooch at some point. The mooch can be appear when your groceries slowly disappear without your help. The mooch might be the roommate who nickels and dimes you about utilities- I've had more than one roommate argue that they should not pay for heat/electric/internet for the hours or days they aren't in the house. Be firm with the mooch! Don't be mean, but don't back down, even on the little things. Usually the mooch is just getting away with what they can and will pay up if you bring attention to it. Ask the mooch to buy some toilet paper, keep your shampoo in your room, count your avocados and bring attention to it when something goes missing.

The Ghost: The ghost is my favorite kind of roommate. Living with the ghost is the second best thing to not having a roommate. The ghost is quiet, you hardly know when they are home. They don't take up much space, they barely use the common areas and they never have guests over.



The ghost can be hard to live with, if you want your roommates to be your best friends. Accept that this is not what the ghost is looking for and give the ghost their space. Feel free to invite the ghost to join you in social activities, but don't be offended if they don't accept. The ghost is likely an introvert that needs personal space and alone time at home. Respect the ghost's boundaries and you'll have no problems with this roommate.

The One-Upper: You got a paper cut? Well that's no big deal because the one upper had to get stitches once. You've got a paper to write, well the one upper has 6 midterms this week and they are only taking 5 classes. If you sneeze, instead of saying "bless you" the one upper will tell you they think they are coming down with the flu.



My best advise to deal with the one upper is to not take them too seriously. Keep in mind that when they are talking, they are think about themselves, not how you will hear them and feel about what they are saying. Trying to "fix" an one upper takes more time and energy than I think it worth it. Don't feed their drama by arguing, just say okay and walk away.

The Human Cling Wrap: Okay, I'll be honest I'm stealing this title from another blog, but I think it fits perfectly. The human cling wrap, tags along for everything. The human cling wrap cannot be alone and probably leans on you for emotional support. Warning signs of a human cling wrap: someone who regularly calls their parents more than one a day or everyday for longer than half an hour. 



Beware the human cling wrap and if you do have one as a roommate set boundaries. If you feel the human cling wrap needs more support, refer them to the counseling center or campus ministry.

The Study Bug: The study bug is always studying. Generally study bugs are good roommates, expect when they demand that the house be kept in study conditions at all hours. 



If you start to feel like you want to shoo the study bug, take a gentle approach. Suggest that they study bug study in the library during hours that you want to turn on the TV or have guests over. The study bug is a great roommate to create a roommate contract with; specify which hours are study hours and when a more active environment is allowed.

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