It’s happened to the best of roommates. A sink full of dirty dishes and a passive aggressive refrigerator note can make for one messy kitchen. A week later, and you’re waging war over everything in the apartment. Strict lines are drawn. Even the cat is taking sides. Before you pack your bags and divide furniture, consider these four common roommate conflicts, and the simple solutions that could save your ship. Make sure to also check out Trulia’s ideas on creating rules for roommates.
Conflict #1: The Third Roommate
Building a love nest with your new roommate is great, but what happens when he or she starts dating and a one-night-stand suddenly becomes a seven-day sleepover? When your roommate has a significant other, it can feel like you have a third roommate. Splitting a two bedroom apartment three ways is stressful. It’s time to draw the line when you miss your morning shower because roommate’s boyfriend is busy shaving.
Solution: Evaluate the Resources
Maybe it doesn’t bother you that you lost your best friend to a relationship. It bothers you that the utility bill is higher this month than last. An extra roommate can add extra cost. Consider reviewing the numbers with your roommate. Most water and electric companies chart your usage. Come to the table armed with these graphs that show the increases since your roommate’s boo came on board.
If there’s a legitimate increase, ask your roommate to encourage his or her partner to contribute to the load. If he or she won’t pay, start a conversation about an acceptable number of nights a guest can stay and what resources are off-limits. This may force your roommate to consider the cost of love.
Conflict #2: The Hungry Roommate
There are few things sadder than coming home to find your roommate ate your leftovers from your favorite restaurant. Fighting on an empty stomach is dangerous. If you find your roommate is eating your snacks and failing to replace them, it’s time to talk.
Solution: Find Common Foods
If your roommate tends to finish your milk or break your last egg, ask him or her to buy the next carton. Start a
“common foods” trend. Figure out what foods you and your roommate can easily share. Save room by eliminating doubles wherever possible. Make a joint grocery list and take turns buying each item.
Conflict #3: The Loud Roommate
If your roommate likes to party all the time or listen to loud music, then it’s possible you’re just one decibel away from an all out brawl. Loudness can make tensions rise if you’re trying to do something that requires silence, such as study or sleep. It might be time to talk.
Solution: Set Quiet Hours
A bartender and an administrative assistant will certainly have different schedules, and differences cause conflict. Establish quiet hours that meet the needs of both you and your roommate. It’s entirely possible that your roommate’s Wednesday night party is just a way to get back at you for your noisy morning routine.
Conflict #4: The Passive Aggressive Roommate
Face it, sometimes you’re the problem. Maybe you’re one of the roommate types mentioned above. However, finding little “love” notes around your apartment about your bad behavior is still frustrating. Whether it’s a jab about drinking all the milk or your wet towels on the bathroom floor, dealing with drama on a yellow sticky note leaves too much room for misinterpretation.
Solution: Establish Acceptable Modes of Communication.
Some people just aren’t confrontational and prefer to hide behind their words. If that’s the case with your passive aggressive pal, suggest he or she talk to you about problems by phone. Sure, this may seem silly if you’re talking to each other two rooms away, but consider it a compromise.
If you’re still in need of face-to-face resolution, set some ground rules: i.e. no interrupting or shouting. Make your roommate feel comfortable enough to easily express his or her concerns. When talking, there’s less room for misinterpretation due to the subtleties of expression and tone.
When you’re living with a roommate, the most important thing to remember is respect. One lifestyle isn’t always right or best. It’s all about finding comfortable, common ground.