My Roommate’s Mate … Sucks!

By Maria Moy for The Real College Guide

sucky-roommateMaybe your roommate is great. But her boyfriend? His girlfriend? Not so much. “There’s this one girl on our floor whose boyfriend is so loud and dirty and obnoxious!” says a University of North Carolina Wilmington sophomore who prefers to remain anonymous. “He just helps himself to whatever he wants, leaves crusty dishes lying around and hocks loogies in the shower. He’s there every weekend, and now he’s put a queen-sized air mattress in the middle of the floor because he doesn’t like sleeping in a twin bed.”

Whether your roommate’s partner has a problem using antiperspirant or prides herself on being able to burp to the tune of every song on Mariah Carey’s “Obsessed,” you can’t exactly enroll this person in charm school. So what to do about the total space invader? Luckily, there are ways to reclaim your space — and your sanity — without things taking a turn for the weird. If you heed our dandy list of do’s and don’ts, you won’t have to let the BF or GF jeopardize your relationship with your roommate. Read on .…

DON’T: Disrespect your roommate’s need for privacy.

INSTEAD, TRY THIS:

The classic sock on the doorknob Yes, it’s cliche. But, honestly, you never, ever want to walk in on your roommate during a hookup. Some things you just don’t need to see! So work out a signal: A sock (or towel) on the doorknob works as well as anything, but other ways are effective too. During freshman year, my roommates and I pre-arranged a system in which we drew a huge fish on the dry-erase board outside our room to send a more subtle signal that still warned others to stay out.

DON’T: Sulk when you’re locked out.

INSTEAD, TRY THIS:

Stay busy. While your roommate is getting busy, remember that there will be times when you’ll get lucky — and need the room to yourself. So, what to do while you’re locked out of the room? Go grab some food, hang with friends, do homework at the library. And be sure you have a place to crash — like a friend’s futon or a dorm lounge couch — on those nights you end up getting sexiled, or banned from your room for the night because your roomie’s got a guest. Hey, it happens.

DON’T: Just suck it up when you are sexiled, especially if that sock always seems to be dangling there.

INSTEAD, TRY THIS:

Speak up. Don’t say it’s fine if it’s not: “Hey, man, do you mind if my girlfriend sleeps here … instead of you?” Um, was that a “sure” you uttered? You reserve the right to sleep in your own bed only until you’ve conceded to being sexiled; in such a case, you don’t reserve the right to be irritated.

Compartmentalize to compromise. There are ways to create some privacy in close quarters so you can sleep in your own bed while a couple is in the room. Buy a standing screen or hang curtains from the ceiling or loft to separate your beds and prohibit direct eye contact. And listen to music, using headphones, to escape the awkwardness.

DON’T: Boyfriend-bash — even if your roommate’s significant other is unbearable.

INSTEAD, TRY THIS:

Wait it out. Maybe he’s inconsiderate, rude, repulsive, whatever, but throwing out the less-than-savory adjectives to your roommate will merely result in resentment. If your roomie is dating/sleeping with/seeing him, she clearly digs him — at least for now. And for now, you might as well just wait it out, because statistically, the chances of a first-semester romantic relationship lasting more than a few weeks are slim. If the relationship persists and your problems are lingering, be upfront with your roommate. But even then, do it with poise and composure. Criticizing is tactless at best, and it’s important to at least try to make the rooming situation work out.

DON’T: Resent your roomie for spending time with a hookup buddy … instead of you.

INSTEAD, TRY THIS:

Make a date. Rooming issues are so much easier to work out if you and your roomie stay friendly (even if not friends), and this often requires some alone time. My roommates and I always made Tuesdays our “roomies-only dinner nights.” Alex Romano, a University of Southern California senior, also takes this point of view: “If my roommate’s always with her boyfriend, I just say I want to have lunch with her, here’s the time, here’s the place, no boys allowed. You just have to be honest.” You may find that you simply miss spending time with your roommate — and that the significant other in the picture isn’t all that bad. If so, get all your concerns out in the open.

DON’T: Post your frustrations on Facebook (e.g., “Jane Smith CAN’T STAND her roommate!” “Jane Smith wants her room back!” “Jane Smith’s roommate has the most hideous boyfriend EVER!”).

INSTEAD, TRY THIS:

Talk to your roommate. Typing up a mad storm behind your roommate’s back will accomplish nothing other than entertaining all the random people in your friends list, who will read your rants and inevitably think something like, “Jane Smith is just not classy.”

“I would suggest first talking to the roommate about overall visitor policies for the room,” says Kaitlin Coffey, an R.A. at the College of William and Mary. “Don’t narrow in specifically about the boyfriend or girlfriend at first. Just try to establish some guidelines about access to the room by individuals other than residents, including weekend versus weekday access.”

Talk to an R.A. “If some new compromise about guests still cannot be reached, then I would recommend an R.A. sitting down with the two roommates to facilitate a discussion and hopefully reach a solution that respects each person’s preferences,” advises Coffey. “If the problem has reached a point that you now find it completely unacceptable, you don’t have to deal on your own.”

FYI: It’s part of your R.A.’s job to moderate this kind of situation. For instance, at University of Ohio, the housing Web site explicitly states: “The Residence Life staff are ready and willing to help you form a roommate agreement or to help with roommate miscommunication.”

DON’T: Let your schoolwork, quality of life or health suffer because a roommate refuses to strike a compromise.

INSTEAD, TRY THIS:

Move on. If you and your roommate can’t pull it together even with the help of your R.A., it may be best for both of you to part ways. An R.A. should be able to help you make a room switch — and roommate ditch!

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3 Responses to “My Roommate’s Mate … Sucks!”

  1. Very nice tips here. I never had a roommate in my undergrad experience, but for those who do this is really great stuff!

  2. I love your blog.. very nice colors & theme.

    Did you design this website yourself or did you hire someone to do
    it for you? Plz respond as I’m looking to create my own blog and would like to find out where u got this from. thanks

    • The template came from WordPress.com but I made a lot of the custom graphics. I’m actually a professional graphic designer now, but it’s been a long time since I’ve done anything with this blog. Installing a WordPress.org blog is a good way to go and you can find lots of free templates out there that’ll make your blog look great!

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