Roommates talking in a small kitchen

Whether your roommate is your best friend or someone you just met this year, chances are you’ll hit a few bumps throughout the semester. The truth is conflict between roommates is totally normal. Living with someone can be a great way to learn about ourselves and help us learn to adapt with others. However, when conflict gets out of hand, it can affect our emotional and physical wellbeing. From small skirmishes to major issues, there are resources available on campus that can help. Here are some steps you can take to address roommate problems.

Know your conflict style

When you have a disagreement with someone, what do you do? Do you tend to ignore the problem or avoid the person? Do you confront them right away? Do you look for compromise?

Everyone approaches conflict differently. When addressing conflict, it can be helpful to know your own style as well as your roommate’s style. Knowing how you both address conflict can help you find common ground and where your styles may clash. Take the conflict style quiz to learn more about your conflict style.

Talk with your roommate

It seems obvious but talking with your roommate is always the first step when it comes to resolving issues. Here are some pointers to get you started:

  • Always talk about issues in person. Sending messages over text, social or through a note can often cause more problems because we never know how the other person will receive it.
  • Listen to each other’s perspectives. Actively listen to each other’s perspectives without interruption or judgment. Try to look for common ground during the conversation.
  • Be mindful of body language. Avoid closing yourself off by crossing your arms or legs while the other person is talking. 
  • Avoid making assumptions. Our brains are great storytellers, and sometimes they work to fill in gaps that we don’t understand. Try to avoid making assumptions about someone’s intentions or behavior. Instead, ask questions and approach the issue with genuine curiosity.

Connect with others

It’s important to remember that your roommate is just one person you’ll meet during your college experience. If you’re struggling with roommate issues, focus on the relationships you have outside of your living situation. Spend time with friends, join a student organization or find a hobby to enjoy with other people. When you are at home, focus on creating an amicable relationship. You don’t have to be best friends or even like each other, but respecting one another and your differences can go a long way in making the rest of the year a little bit better.

Reach out for help

  • Student Conduct and Conflict Resolution offers free conflict support services including one-on-one conflict coaching, mediation and facilitated conversations.
  • Students living in the residence halls can also reach out to their RA or Hall Director for support.