Dealing With a Messy Roomate

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For freshman students and even some sophomores, coming and returning to college can be a very interesting and frightening experience. Especially when they are coming from having a private, personal room to having a shared room with possibly someone they don’t even know. 

Different people with different personalities come to college every semester and sometimes personalities don’t match. One roommate might be Monica from Friends, a controlled and organized person, and the other roommate can be the complete opposite and be a disorganized person such as Joey. 

Photo courtesy of Jacob Clawson

It’s important to set boundaries between roommates in order to keep the dorm room comfortable for both parties involved. In order for these boundaries to exist, roommates must have “the talk”; they’ll have a conversation about how the room will be cleaned or how to keep from having it be a mess. This conversation can be very awkward and uncomfortable, but if treated with care, drama can be avoided. 

The first advice is to be patient. It’s essential to be open minded to other personalities and the way they live. By getting angry and lashing out, the situation will only get worse and uncomfortable.

Secondly, when dealing with a messy roommate try to make it all about your ‘mess’, not theirs. Ask the other roommate if they can help clean up the room or if something about the mess upsets them. That is a good starting point for the conversation, and from there both roomates can describe what they expect when it comes to keeping the room clean. 

Thirdly, it’s important to be willing to compromise. Be specific when it comes to what really is upsetting about the mess, but understand that sometimes a dish or two can be left in a room because of time constraints or other circumstances.

If the options above don’t help, bargain and appeal to their compassionate side. If a roommate is not willing to clean because of the mess, maybe they will clean if they knew it bothered the other roommate. 

As a roommate though, don’t appear bossy or annoyed, that will only make the other roommate annoyed as well. It’s important to be calm in this situation, because handling it in a harsh way can negatively affect both roommates. 

If the situation gets out of control, it’s best to seek outside help. If living on-campus, Resident Assistants are there to help when roommates don’t get along. If that is not the case, calling for an apartment roommate meeting can benefit by bringing an outside perspective.

Dealing with a messy roommate can be one of the challenges faced by college students, but it can easily get better with a little communication and open mindedness. 

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