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Help! I Have a Terrible Roommate!

Woman upset sitting on her couch in a dark room.

Are you struggling to talk to your roommate? Whether you have a roommate for the first time in your life or you have lived with multiple roommates, navigating roommate situations can be complex. This week's blog offers practical communication tips to help you improve your roommate relationship.

You just moved into your dorm room, waved goodbye to your parents, and are preparing to meet your new (best friend?) roommate! You are so excited to begin this new adventure at your new school where endless opportunities await you. Nothing could possibly go wrong, right?

A few months go by, and you call your friend from home to vent: “My roommate is a nightmare! She doesn’t clean up after herself, she stays up all night studying and listening to music with the light on, and her boyfriend is ALWAYS over. I’m losing my mind over here! What should I do?”

While it might feel like there is no hope, I promise you there is. Roommate conflict is an opportunity for both parties to grow. No one has a perfect track record with roommates or as a roommate. With that being said, here are some practical communication tips you can use to improve your roommate relationship(s).

  1. Don’t assume your roommate is a mind reader. Communicate your thoughts with openness and kindness. College is unique in that you have the opportunity to live with people from very different backgrounds. “Normal” to you may not be normal to them, and that doesn’t make either of you in the wrong. However, it is wrong to assume that your roommate is doing something on purpose to bother you without first getting to know their intentions.

  2. Collaborate with each other on room-based decisions. I had a roommate one year that asked if she could do some decorating in our room while I was in class. I said yes, but when I got home she had completely rearranged the room and put my bed in the corner. If she had asked permission I may have felt differently, but I was upset. A big change like that should be a team decision so that each of you feels comfortable and at home.

  3. Just because you aren’t best friends doesn’t mean you can’t be great roommates. In fact, sometimes you are even better roommates if you don’t know each other to begin with! And don’t rule out a friendship in the future, either! I transferred schools my sophomore year of college and was placed in a dorm room with two other girls, neither of whom I knew. We lived well together for one year but started to actually hang out together after we moved out. One of them is one of my closest friends to this day!

  4. Set aside weekly check-in times to talk about how things are going in a safe space. This will help prevent buildup and tension from forming between you. After a certain point, it’s up to you to share what's bothering you or let it go and move on. Not all “conflict” is bad. When handled appropriately and with respect, conflict can actually bring you closer together and increase your understanding of one another’s needs.    

  5. Take advantage of the CMR’s free resources to help you navigate a difficult conversation. You can book a free relationship advice appointment online, listen to our podcast, read our blog, or reference our quick tip cards for guidance!

Whatever your roommate situation, the CMR is here to help provide you with the tools to foster successful, God-honoring relationships during college and beyond. If you have any additional questions for us, you can email