Student Life

Are You the Bad Roommate?

Elizabeth Hoyt

August 27, 2019

Are You the Bad Roommate?
According to Conan O'Brien, “If you don’t have a weird roommate, you are the weird roommate."
A very wise man once said, “If you don’t have a weird roommate, you are the weird roommate.” Okay, it was Conan O’Brien, not Confucius, but it still might hold truth. After all, nobody’s perfect so your normal may be someone else’s weird. There are ways to cope with bad roommates – but that’s almost easier than realizing that you are the bad roommate. Here are some ways to tell what type of roommate you are and – if you determine you’re the issue – become a good one. I’m not the bad one – am I? You might be, if any of the following apply to you. You especially might be if more than one of the following apply to you.

1. You’re passive aggressive.

This consists of you pretending things don’t annoy you and making irritating side comments anyway. Notes and email also fall under this category – you live with this person, so it’s not inconvenient to sit down and have a face-to-face conversation. Note: this never works and you will likely just end up harboring resentment towards the other person, not to mention, annoy them.

2. It’s your way or the highway.

Keep in mind; you are living with another person, so it simply cannot be your way or the highway. A lot of annoyances can be minor so, before you create a huge rift, consider if it’s something you really need to confront or if it’s something you can learn to live with.

3. Chores? Get real - I’m not even dirty!

You have to pitch in. Sorry, but that’s life. Also, everyone makes messes. It’s simply impossible that you’re the only human being exempt from the dirtiness that comes with living. Perhaps you’re not messy – but pitching in with general maintenance cleaning is a necessity.

4. I’m messy – so what?

Look around the room or think about your place. Are there five or more items randomly out of place, strewn about or on the floor? Yep, you’re a pig. That’s OK, though! You know it now and realizing you're messy is the first step on the road to roommate rehabilitation. Consider your roommate’s feelings – living with people isn't easy and nobody wants to be a roommate’s maid or nagging their roommate to pick up their stuff.

5. I’m the cleanest, tidiest person EVER and that’s the way it should be.

You’re anal retentive. Good for you. That doesn't mean your roommate should be expected to follow your standards of neat-as-a-pin living. When you live with others, you have to deal with some of the messes that come from daily life. As long as your roommate cleans up after themselves, you’ve got nothing to complain about - even if the place doesn't look like a showroom. Yes, it’s hard to grasp that your roommate - and most people in the world - are okay with that standard, but the sooner you understand that, the better.

6. I like to share stuff – as long as it’s not mine.

Sharing stuff is great, but you’ve got to remember that it’s a two-way street. It’s not fair to deem “communal items” that just-so-happen to be your roommates', but yours are off limits. Seriously, don’t you remember the “sharing” lessons from kindergarten? Sharing should be positive – for everyone. If you have items you don’t want to share, that’s perfectly acceptable. Just don’t expect your roommate to share everything, when you don’t share anything. The best way to deal with this is to designate what’s communal and what’s off-limits for all parties involved. That way, nobody gets the short end of the stick when it comes to sharing.

How to Become a Good Roommate

If any of the above applied to you - don't worry! You can be rehabilitated. The first step is admitting you need to change. Being a good roommate boils down to three pretty basic concepts: respect, consideration and communication.


Respect your roommate by listening to any issues they voice and treating them with, well, respect. Remember, you don’t have to be best friends to treat someone with courtesy and respect. Ensure you respect his or her things by not using items that aren't yours or borrowing things without asking. It's also important to respect his or her feelings when an issue arises. Chances are it was difficult for them to bring it up in the first place, so hear them out and try to work it out accordingly.


Being considerate of someone you live with spans a wide range of situations. From keeping it quiet at night, cleaning up after yourself to having guests over; consider your roommate’s feelings in whatever situation you’re putting them in. Think about it: if it’s not a situation you’d like to be put in, you probably shouldn't be placing them in that situation, either.


When you have an issue, speak up! How can you expect someone to resolve an issue they aren't even aware of? Start from the beginning: discuss your sleep habits, make a policy on visitors, sharing items and create a plan for tackling chores. On the flip side, you need to be willing to listen. If your roommate speaks up about something, be willing to hear them out and work on the things that they've voiced.

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