Having a bad roommate or not getting along with your roommate can be one of the most stressful and aggravating things you will ever go through.
Trust me, I’ve been there, done that, and I’m never going back. However, I’ve been living with my current roommate for 5 years now. That’s longer then most couples last and long enough that we can claim each other on our taxes.
I’ve had a roommate that never did the dishes, never helped clean and the guy even had the nerve to hit on my girlfriend. Living with that guy was the most frustrating, horrible and awkward year of my life.
He was definitely a bad roommate and probably most of the problem, but the cause of some of that misery was my fault too, and living with my current roommate has helped me understand why that is.
I’ve boiled the formula for getting along with your roommate down to three things. First off, and most importantly, because if you don’t get this one right, then the other two will definitely not work, is to assess their character.
Ask yourself a few questions. What kind of person would you want spend a lot of time around? Does this person have good values? Does this person do things that make you question their character? Do you think that person would lie to you, steal from you and does this person carry their own weight? Most importantly, is this person responsible?
If you have a choice in your roommate, because I understand sometimes there are situations when you don’t get the choice, and you don’t properly screen the person’s character and ask yourself those questions, then you have nobody to blame but yourself when things get bad.
Do not let someone you don’t trust or someone who doesn’t share similar values that you have into your life! I had several chances to assess that roommate that I had who was terrible and I ignored the signs because I needed a roommate and he did too.
I pretended not to see the red flags and I paid a heavy price. Now, I would’ve rather paid more in rent and lived on my own in a crappy apartment. At least it would be clean and free of disrespectful jerks.
I knew my current roommate had similar values before we started living together and I knew he had a good character because we worked together and I got to directly experience who he was at work, who he was around me and how he acted around other people.
He was a hard worker, he was kind and humorous and we were both interested in similar things. I assessed his character before I allowed him into my life, and our living situation has worked out great.
Now, I’m not going to say things were always peachy-perfect and all gravy because they weren’t always that way and that’s where the next two ways to get along with your roommate come into play. You absolutely must pull your weight and communicate.
You have to pull your own weight and your roommate has to pull their own weight because as soon as one person is taking on more of the burden then the other, an imbalance is created and it will only result in disagreements, fights, stress and hurt feelings.
Most of the problems I’ve ever had with roommates were a result of them not doing their fair share of chores or being short on rent or utilities or not respecting my space or things, in other words, not being responsible and pulling their weight. This is another example of why you screen people first because once a roommate experience goes bad, it is very difficult to fix it.
So how do we make sure everyone is pulling their own weight? You communicate. Don’t ever be passive aggressive or give the silent treatment or drop hints about what bothers you. Be direct, sit your roommate down and tell them exactly what is on your mind. If you don’t, then you’re going to spend most of your time at home stressed, angry or avoiding the other person and that is a horrible way to live. If your roommate is unwilling to sit down and listen to you, then you chose poorly and things are going to suck.
Pulling your own weight goes both ways. If your roommate is upset with you for whatever reason, then you need to take an honest look at what they say and ask yourself if you’re pulling your weight. I haven’t always been perfect and my roommate pointing out to me what I’ve been slacking on has been just as much of a savior of our relationship as when I point out his faults as a roommate.
Being direct and communicating with my roommate completely changed my life. The first time my roommate of 5 years upset me, I told him that we needed to talk and we sat down together and I calmly told him exactly what was wrong and called him out on all of his bullshit. I wasn’t mean, I didn’t yell or get angry and it worked out great. He agreed to improve and he delivered on his promise and now anytime I have a problem or he has a problem, we just come out and say it and we’ve been living together in peace for 5 years now.
Is that a best case scenario or luck? I don’t think so, and if you don’t think that you could sit down and address problems and also be heard by your roommate or potential roommate, then you made a poor assessment in character or you’re about to make one.
Being a good roommate or having a good roommate shouldn’t be so hard. Assess their character and decided whether or not that person has the values and qualities that you think would make for a good living partner, and then pull your weight and communicate. That’s all there is to it.
Good luck out there folks.