5 Common Roommate Disputes (and How to Diffuse Them)

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Roommate Disputes

Living with someone else. It isn’t easy, is it? Whether you’ve been close friends for years or decided to room with a total stranger, bringing two completely different lives into one home, apartment, or dorm room can present some challenges.

We’re all human. So, you can only anticipate that your roommate might do a thing or two that really grates on you. And, chances are, you’ll annoy them occasionally too. While you don’t want to be a pesterer or a constant nag, letting these conflicts go completely unresolved just adds to tension, making it extra important to talk over your problems right away. So, to help you out, here are five ridiculously common roommate disputes, as well as a simple strategy to diffuse them.

1. Cleaning Responsibilities

You’re sharing space, so you probably want to share cleaning duties. However, anyone who has ever lived with a roommate knows that it’s not always that simple. One roommate gets lazy and lets the dishes pile up in the sink—assuming that the other will just take care of them (after all, they know you hate a messy house).

Not only is this unfair, it’s also a trigger for a lot of roommate blowups. So, if you notice your roommate starting to let some of their share of the cleaning slide, it’s time to say something.

How to Diffuse It: First, have an honest and candid conversation with your roommate about your expectations when it comes to cleaning. Then, see if you can sit down and come up with an even division of responsibilities, as well as a schedule of when these things should be completed. Having it down on paper makes your roommate at least a little more likely to stick to it!

2. Financial Commitments

Money. It’s at the root of a number of disagreements—whether you’re a married couple, roommates, family members, or friends. Finances are a touchy subject, and you definitely don’t want your money differences to drive a wedge between you and your roommate.

But, if you think you’re paying for more than your fair share of the toilet paper and paper towels, prepare to have a sit down with your roomie.

How to Diffuse It: It’s important to remember that you don’t want to be accusatory or condescending. After all, perhaps your roommate is fully aware that they aren’t pulling their weight financially—but, they’re embarrassed to admit that they’ve fallen on hard times. Instead, approach the situation as a friend and start with something like, “Hey, I don’t want to sound like I’m pointing fingers, but I’ve noticed my wallet emptying out a lot quicker these days! Can we get together to talk about who’s buying what household supplies?”

3. Visitors and Company

Perhaps one of you is a complete social butterfly. But, the other prefers to have a quiet Friday evening in. And, the constant noise and interruptions of guests and visitors can be quite annoying to a roommate who’s just seeking some peace and quiet.

Ideally, you’d have talked about rules when it comes to company right off the bat. But, if you didn’t, it’s time to have the conversation!

How to Diffuse It: It’s important for you to recognize that your roommate lives there too, so they’re entitled to have their friends over. So, your goal shouldn’t be to eliminate visitors completely—but, instead, reach a common ground you can both be happy with. Try something like, “I know you love having your friends over, and I’m completely fine with them visiting occasionally. However, do you think we can cut off visitors by 10PM on weeknights? I have to get up pretty early for work!”

4. Shared Items and Spaces

You don’t need duplicates of everything. So, chances are, you have quite a few shared belongings and spaces within your residence—whether it’s the t.v. or a pizza cutter. It’s definitely a helpful strategy for saving both space and money. But, if you’re frequently getting into arguments over who can use what when, it’s probably time to nip that tension in the bud.

How to Diffuse It: First, take a deep breath and remind yourself that it’s just stuff. In all likelihood, it’s not worth getting bent out of shape over. Then, simply talk to your roommate about how you can better share these things. If worse comes to worst, you can always set a schedule that works for both of you!

5. Pets

Finally, if one of you has Fido living with you, it can be a definite source of tension between you and your roommate. Particularly if your roommate frequently finds themselves taking care of and picking up after your pet.

You should have had the pet discussion with your roommate long before even purchasing Fluffy. But, if this is an existing pet you entered your rooming situation with, things can get a little more complicated.

How to Diffuse It: Recognize that it’s your responsibility to take care of your own pet. Of course, occasions will arise where you need your roommate to feed your pet when you’re running late, but they definitely shouldn’t turn into a primary caretaker. Assure your roommate that you will be taking better care of your pet, and be sure to give them plenty of advanced notice when you need help with your furry friend.

Having a roommate isn’t easy, and there are definitely some conflicts that can arise. But, you’re always better off not letting them fester—that’s how molehills turn into mountains. So, use this as your guide, have those honest conversations, and prepare for a happy roommate relationship!

Kat Boogaard

Kat Boogaard

Kat Boogaard is a Midwest-based freelance writer and blogger who loves lending her voice to a variety of publications and organizations. When she manages to escape from behind her computer screen, she enjoys reading, babying her rescued terrier mutt and obsessively organizing her entire home.
Kat Boogaard
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About Kat Boogaard

Kat Boogaard is a Midwest-based freelance writer and blogger who loves lending her voice to a variety of publications and organizations. When she manages to escape from behind her computer screen, she enjoys reading, babying her rescued terrier mutt and obsessively organizing her entire home.