How to resolve roommate conflict even if you suck at confrontation

It doesn't have to be scary

Two dorm beds with neon wall signs
(Image credit: Dormify)

Living with a roommate could be quite the treat, especially if you consider them to be your bestie. Even tho you may be friends, things can get rocky at times. Why? Because arguments of all sorts can rise about everything from cleanliness to finances. If this is a relationship you’d like to preserve, then don’t allow the typical roommate issues to get in the way.

I've found the best tips on how to resolve conflict with your roommate, so you might actually stay friends. Remember, resolving conflict with a roommate is a two-way street, and listening to your roommate's point of view and being willing to compromise is key. If you can do that, you'll be well on your way to being a good roommate and living in a totally chill sanctuary. 

1. Respect one another’s belongings & space

It's important to be respectful of your roommate's belongings and space. This means not borrowing their things without permission, not making messes in their areas, and being mindful of noise levels. 

2. Be considerate of one another’s schedules 

Try to be considerate of your roommate's schedule and needs. For example, if they have to get up early for work, try to be quiet in the morning. 

3. Set ground rules

Once you know what you expect from each other, it's time to set some ground rules. These can be anything from taking turns doing the dishes to agreeing to keep the noise down after 10 pm. 

4. Address each other with respect

If you have a problem with something your roommate is doing, talk to them about it calmly and respectfully. Avoid using accusatory language or making demands. Instead, focus on how their behavior is affecting you and why it's important to you that they change. Avoid name-calling, insults, and threats, as these will only make the situation worse. 

5. Be honest and direct

You're never going to get anywhere if you don't confront the situation head-on. Keeping things in will never solve anything. Be honest and direct, but also respectful. Honesty is always the best policy! 

6. Own it

Ever heard of owning your sh*t? Well here’s the perfect opportunity to do so. If you’re always pointing fingers and stating the word “you” throughout the majority of the dialogue, the other person will get defensive, which will then turn into an argument.

Instead of having the word “you” come out of your mouth when addressing something with your roommate, intend on utilizing “I” focused statements, as doing so will reduce assumptions of hostility and opens the door towards resolution. 

7. Compromise & find solutions

Be willing to compromise and find solutions that work for both of you. For example, if your roommate is always late with their share of the rent, you could agree to split the rent evenly for a few months while they get back on their feet or if your roommate doesn't like the same music as you, maybe you can agree to listen to headphones after a certain time. Remember, no two people are exactly alike, so it's important to be willing to compromise. 

8. Be willing to forgive

Forgiveness is a practice that’ll bring you a breath of fresh air! If your roommate apologizes for their behavior, be willing to forgive them. Holding on to anger and resentment will only make things worse for both of you. 

9. Know when to ask for help

Rather than gossiping about your roommate behind their back, seek help from a third party. This could be a trusted friend, family member, mediator, or therapist, who will make sure that the conversation surrounding the conflict stays on track and that everyone remains calm. 

During mediation with any of the above, respecting everyone’s thoughts and opinions is key. With this in mind, you’ll be able to meet some sort of agreement and resolve the conflict appropriately. 

Overall, resolving conflicts with roommates takes time, effort, and communication. But if you're willing to put in the work, it can be done.

Aida M. Toro
Freelance Writer

About Me:

Hello! My name is Aida M. Toro and I am a freelance writer that loves cultivating stories about amazing people, fashion, interiors, art, and food. I currently write for Harper’s Bazaar Vietnam, The House Magazine, Hobnob Magazine, The C-Word, and Real Homes. I live in West New York, New Jersey, which is literally a 10-minute ferry ride or 20-minute bus ride away from New York City. Although I was born and raised in West New York, I consider NYC my home, as I believe it to be the place where all dreams come to fruition, and of course, spend most of my time in. When I’m not writing, I love perusing the city streets and taking snaps with my iPhone of street art along with random things, scoping out new restaurants as well as their spaces, shopping at some of my favorite stores, spending time with family and friends, walking my cockapoodle Benji, and working out at Lifetime or DOGPOUND, which are some of the top fitness spaces in Manhattan and overall the U.S.