How to deal with an annoying roommate

By Irene Starygina
06/02/2015
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If you get placed with a random roommate in college, you’ll probably run into some uncomfortable situations at least once in your 4 years. That’s not to say that you should be paranoid that your roommate will steal your cherry tomatoes every time you buy groceries (yes, this is a personal experience), but you might want suggestions about what to do in a roommate-gone-bad situation, just in case.

The procrastinator/slob

My best friend was very excited to move into her freshman suite with a female roommate she never met … until she almost tripped over her dirty granny panties on her way to the bathroom, that is. The roommate exhibited the usual pig behavior, and my friend’s school refused to move her before the semester was over. So what’s a girl to do?

She wrote a cleaning schedule on a large calendar, bought disposable dishware to minimize the clutter in the sink, and clearly labeled “garbage” and “recycling” on two separate cans in the dorm. Things didn’t get 100% better, and there was still a weird foot smell in the apartment — which ended up being rotting cheese under the bed  but it was an improvement.

Although I don’t advocate leaving notes for your roommate, you might have to in this case. Something like, “Hey, my friend is coming over tonight, and I was wondering if we can do a quick clean-up,” will do. Don’t skimp on the smiley faces.

The clinger 

It’s great if your roommate is a social person and wants to hang out with your friends. Not so great when you’re trying to have a private dinner with your significant other and the roommate’s plans for the night suddenly get canceled  every single time. Hey, this might be an entirely different issue all together. But seriously, how do you tell your overly-friendly roommate that sometimes you just need some space in your apartment, without sounding like a complete douche?

When I ran into this problem, I remember telling her something along the lines of, “Sometimes after a difficult day, I need space. I love spending time with you, but from time to time I need to devote an evening entirely to others.” Big mistake. This made it sound like my friends didn’t like her and that she’s annoying.

A better plan  instead of explicitly stating it, try weaving the fact that you need alone time into a conversation with her. For example, “Tomorrow is a really long day for me, I’m just gonna come home and relax, but maybe we can hang out another night.” Or, “My friend is coming over and she has something important to talk about, so do you mind if we use the living room?”

If the roommate is too dense to get the hint, you might have no choice but to resort to strategy #1. If you keep the fact that her clinginess bothers you all bottled up, you’re bound to let it all out on her in an unpleasant way sooner or later.

The klepto

You might wonder why there are white deodorant stains on your brand new black shirt? Yes while the sheer stick isn’t always that sheer, you never wore that shirt before. Short of installing a hidden camera, how can you tell if your roommate was “borrowing” your stuff?

A good way to ward off sticky fingers is to strategically place certain things and watch if they were moved around. Yes, this is a bit obsessive, but worked for me. Small things like strings or coins will do the trick. I once put a penny on the right side of my jewelry drawer when I suspected that my roomie was using my stuff whenever I would sleep over at a friend’s. Sure enough, it ended up on the opposite side next time I checked. Of course, I was tempted to raise hell (I was quitting smoking at the time, yet again) but held back. I told her, “Hey, you’re more than welcome to borrow my stuff, just let me know ahead of time so I can plan out what to wear for the next day.”

Don't get stuck with a messy, clingy, klepto. Find someone that you'll actually like living with using our Roommate Match.

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