Quick Tips For Surviving Your Inevitable Roommate Drama

I live in a house of eight, 21-year-old girls.

(Actually, one of my roommates is a dude – but since the boy to girl ratio is so lopsided, it feels like living in a house of only girls).

If you’re already thinking to yourself, “that sounds like an estrogen-infested nightmare, one with a foreseeable apocalypse due to raging hormones and emotionally-charged decision-making” – you are correct.

Now, don’t get me wrong. Living with a lot of people has its perks.

Over time, your roommate’s expensive clothes will likely turn into one of three things: a communal item, a bidding war, or a fair exchange.

There’s always someone to talk (ugly-cry) to. Over time, your roommate’s expensive clothes will likely turn into one of three things: a communal item, a bidding war, or a fair exchange. Times that by eight and you will never be like Lizzie McGuire, the outfit repeater.

If you run out of printer ink the morning your final paper is due, chances are at least one of the seven other people will be willing to spot you.

Oh, and a lot of these people will probably end up being life-long friends.

But in all honesty, a lot of the time — Just. A freaking. Nightmare.

To those that are in similar situations or perhaps struggling to get along with even two or three other roommates – I am writing this article to remind you that despite your frustrations, having the opportunity to learn from people, and from your mistakes, is a forsaken privilege.

And here’s why.

You will learn to pick your battles – a skill that will be beneficial in every category of your life.

I have decided there are a few common truths to every student-house dynamic.

One, there will always be feuds over dirty dishes and leftover pizza boxes in the living room.

Two, no group of students living together will always agree on what it means to be “too loud.”

Three, there will always be at least one person that habitually forgets to pay rent or utilities.

If you plan on maintaining your sanity and friendships with any of your roommates, you must learn to take most things with a grain of salt and only address the problems you feel are most important.

…if you whine and stress over spilled milk (literally and figuratively) you are deliberately choosing unhappiness.

Sharing a living space with other people is a very intimate experience and it’s easy to become obsessed with or emotionally attached to the issues you may be facing. But, if you whine and stress over spilled milk (literally and figuratively) you are deliberately choosing unhappiness.

Mastering the art of “letting go” is challenging, obviously.

But resilience is truly the gateway to happiness within the home, workplace, class-room etc.

Being the mom (or dad) of the house is a necessary evil.

At some point in your student career, you will likely struggle to find balance primarily between these three things: academics, social life, and sleep.

But you’re an adult, right? So you also have that freelance thing to finish, and you should probably go to the gym, call your mom, drink more water, eat less gluten, update your LinkedIn, volunteer somewhere and considering the state America is in right now it’s probably a smart idea to put Instagram down and read Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale.

And as if you didn’t already have enough “adult-y” things to do, you’re also the designated roommate in-charge of the tedious tasks like managing/organizing the hydro, gas and internet payments.

If you were nominated for a role you had no interest in taking on (like being the house accountant), just know that it truly is good practice. You’ll have experience dealing with utility companies, and it forces you to be assertive, organized and responsible if you’d like to enjoy luxuries like running water.

And most importantly, you’ll know what to do when you have a house of your own.

When it comes to girl-drama, it’s usually personal (but try not to take it personally).

Sometimes (not always) living with women can feel like entering a war-zone because you have no idea when someone or something is going to blow-the-fuck-up.

There is no prevention plan. There is nothing.

Yelling at someone for leaving their belongings in the living room seems a little unfair, right?

To you, it seems like a silly thing to stress over. But to the other person, it is not simply about the phone chargers and backpacks lying around. It is about the accumulation of miscellaneous left items, loud music, garbage mounds and dirty dishes.

Case and point – most people living under the same roof do not always see eye-to-eye. But when people fail to confront their issues in a direct and calm way, there is likely more to the story.

In male or female student-homes, competitiveness, jealousy or resentment might also be some of the underlying problems that cause certain people to handle small issues in unproductive ways.

…anger might be your roommate’s platform to release their existential vengeance and you, have just fallen victim of it.

So, if someone is lashing out at you for what appears to be a small or non-issue, just know that anger might be your roommate’s platform to release their existential vengeance and you, have just fallen victim of it.

Whether a feud is sparked over a dirty dish (probably 10) or something a bit more personal, try to avoid future conflict by working calmly together to resolve the pit of the problem.

Here are some other tips that might prevent conflict from escalating (or at least prevent you from being the centre of it):

If you are having a house-meeting to discuss behaviors or habits around the house, do not be the last one to enter the room – especially if you live with a lot of people. According to some studies, people tend to pick on the new-comer because when he or she enters a room, everyone is hyper-aware of their presence. If you don’t like being the centre of attention, show up early to the party.

If you know that you are about to embark on a heated discussion, bring a bottle of water. If a conversation about tensions within the house starts to take a nasty turn and someone says something that offends you – your natural response might be to throw hands.

Don’t.

If you are in such situation and feel the need to fight fire with fire, that is your cue to take a sip of water. Not only will it calm you down, slightly – but it will give you a few extra seconds to come up with a civil and mature response.

Try to avoid getting caught up in the politics of being a young adult and instead, focus on the more important things like your mental well-being and your grades.

Find an outlet, and protect it with your life.

If you sometimes struggle to get along with your roommates for reasons I have or have not yet listed, the best thing you can do is find a mode of stress-relief.

To some, relieving stress might look like taking a kickboxing class, joining a student club, volunteering, joining a sports team, going to slam-poetry nights at a local cafe or maybe it’s as simple as having a social group outside of your house.

Even if you are very close with your roommates, sometimes having an abundance of something can make it a little less great.

To some degree, you’re probably a shitty roommate too.

I will be the first to admit that at times, I can be a terrible, terrible roommate.

I party. Like, a lot. I am always bringing new people to the house. I am hoarding a stack of plates at the bottom of my mini fridge because I was cleaning my room one time and I felt like the fridge was the most logical place to put them.

Oh, and I have definitely left wads of hair in the shower drain more than once.

Somedays I feel like I am a decent roommate (probably). Other days, I feel like if there was a roommate-church and I walked (strutted) in, I’d immediately light up in flames.

…it’s easy to feel ways about your messy and loud millennial roommates, but there is a very large chance they feel the same about you

The point is – it’s easy to feel ways about your millennial roommates who can sometimes be messy and loud, but there is a very large chance they feel the same about you.

If you want to confront your roommates about certain behaviors you’d like them to change, you have to be open to hearing their criticisms, too.

Whether you are a first-year student moving into residence or a fourth-year student moving back into your student home, I hope that you are able to take some things away from this article and apply them to your current living conditions.

Samantha Moss

Samantha Moss

Sam is SLN's resident Fashion editor and blogger. She also finds time to be a full-time student at McMaster University. Somehow.