Roommates can make life easier. With a roommate, you can split bills, divide the chores, always have someone to talk to, and it can mean you never must cook for one. However, with a roommate you can also get, different standards of cleanliness, varied expectations on who’s paying what bills, and distinctly different patterns and habits of living.
We’ve all been there, whether it was a roommate in college or your best friend that you just couldn’t wait to live with, having a roommate means at some point there will be conflicts.
Sometimes it can be battling the thermostat late at night, quietly sneaking out to turn it down, only to have your roommate crank it up five minutes later. Or perhaps someone just flat out hasn’t paid their portion of the bills in a month all while sporting a whole new wardrobe.
The most important part of the conflicts you and your roommate have, is how you handle them. Maybe you don’t care and let everything boil under the surface until it implodes and your roommate and friendship are gone. But most people like to keep their relationships with their roommates and friends intact.
So, the question is how do you handle it?
Problem 1 – They’re messy.
While aggressively staring at their mess, giving them the evil eye, or bundling everything up in a box and throwing it in their room is tempting, it doesn’t really address the issue going on. It just signifies to your roommate “Hey I’m mad at you.” And unless you’re ok with having an elephant in the room or a literal pile of clothes, it’s probably time for confrontation.
The idea of confrontation can be a bit nerve wracking. No one really likes to confront anyone but sometimes it’s necessary. Now before you go in guns a blazing, take some time to think about what you want to say. This situation is more about compromise than it is confrontation. A messy person can’t just straighten up and become immaculate overnight, so it may be that you must lower your standards a bit while they bring theirs up and you guys meet in the middle.
You can also set up a chore schedule. That way there is a good rotation of duties and no one gets stuck taking out the trash forever. It creates a clearly defined list of all the things that need to be taken care of on a regular basis. So there isn’t a question of, “Hey does the toilet ever really need to be scrubbed?” The answer is yes, every Tuesday. This can also make confrontation a tad easier because it holds everyone accountable.
Problem 2 – Their money isn’t going towards the bills.
While having a roommate usually lays the groundwork to be able to save some money, sometimes a person’s priorities don’t line up with making sure their half of the bills are covered. And as much as you want to secretly grab their wallet and pull out the money they owe for electricity, (and let’s be honest they are the cause of the spike in the bill the past month) you can’t do that because that’s stealing and will cause you a whole other set of problems.
What you should do, is create a list of what each person is responsible for and what is shared between the two of you. A good way to do it can be that you each set aside a certain amount of money each month and this becomes the communal money pot. If you need groceries, toiletries, etc., each of you can take money to go by said items. Obviously, it would have to be items you both would use like toilet paper, milk, Kleenex, etc. Not that you just decided the place needs some color and go out and buy accent pillows. Money can be a difficult subject to maneuver, but having clearly defined financially responsibilities can minimize conflict.
Problem 3 – Some like it hot.
A big part of being comfortable in your home directly relates to the temperature in your house. Some people love snuggling in a massive pile of blankets fully decked out in flannel pajamas and warm fluffy socks. Whereas, some people like to be able to roam around in barely anything all year round. Besides the awkward moments this can create, not having the same idea of what a comfortable temperature is can lead to tension.
Before you prepare for the war of the thermostat, have a conversation about temperature. The biggest solution to this is just to compromise. If you roommate likes it to feel tropical consider buying a fan or two to help create a more bearable climate for yourself. Or if it’s the other way around, maybe you get to wear your sweatshirt and fluffy socks a few more months out of the year. Another idea would be to find a temperature that you’re both able to function and keep it there.
If the main reason behind either freezing or sweating is cost related, then it may be time to do a 60-40 split on your energy bill. One may be paying more money but is also the person keeping the thermostat at in the high 70’s through the winter. It may not be fair on paper but fair in keeping you and your roommate happy both with your finances and temperature.
In the end, we all know there are more problems that can arise when living with someone else, however most issues have a relatively easy solution. So, take some time to talk to your roommate the next time a situation comes up before you start posting “Roommate Wanted” ads on Craigslist.