The official student blog about life in campus housing at UNC-Chapel Hill


Let’s be real — even if you love your roommate unconditionally, there will come a time when you need to communicate your expectations and boundaries in order to maintain a positive relationship. How have you handled bringing up these conversations?

  • Do you take advantage of your RA’s neutral role as a mediator?
  • Do you find it easier to just talk 1:1 with your roommate?
  • Did you go through the process of sketching out a roommate agreement?
  • Has your ability to communicate about things like this improved since you came to Carolina?

35 Responses to “How do you handle tough roommate conversations?”

  1. Julie

    Be open, understanding and kind without being accusatory or judgmental. 99% of the time no one would ever do anything to annoy you or make you mad on purpose.

  2. Kelsey

    For me, I was blessed to find a friend in my roommate. We get along really well and hardly ever have confrontation (when we do, she tends to avoid it). Nonetheless, I find it helpful to talk through issues instead of letting the anger well up, because nobody likes passive-agressive comments or actions. I think it’s helpful to just be honest with your roommate and work out the conflict in a civilized fashion.

  3. Olivia

    The best way to talk to your roommate about serious problems is to be direct. Address the problem as straightforward as you can, because if the confrontation is too passive the tension might build up and turn into a bigger problem than it should be. When I say direct, I also mean polite. Honesty is a great policy, but if your roommate feels attacked then a bigger issue can arise. It’s best to use “I” statements and address what could be better, and don’t try to point blame on what your roommate is doing wrong. If all else fails, talk to your RA and try to work it out with a mediator.

  4. Luke

    It’s important to remember that roommates, while they share the same space, are individuals. When in conflict with your roommate, it’s crucial to consider their needs as well as your own when solving the conflict. This necessitates compromise. Also, holding back any qualms you have with your roommate might not facilitate the healthiest relationship. It’s best to speak about any issues in a civilized and mature manner, and resolve them as a team.

  5. Sean Cavanaugh

    My roommate is extremely chill and we can solve any problems with one on one conversation. It is nice to not involve anyone else like an RA and healthy that we can make compromises on our own. It also allows us to solve problems quickly.

  6. Erin

    Honestly, it all comes down to honesty! If something bugs you, don’t ignore it. Often problems occur when one roommate is secretly annoyed at the other… the problem then will persist and in the end everyone is unhappy. Definitely talk things through, whether it be in person or over text.

  7. GyungHo Hwang

    First, you need to talk with roommate. If it cannot be solved between you two, you should talk to RA about the problem. RA can assign you to the different room or suggest solution for the problem.

  8. Bailey

    From my experience, you need to view the situation from both sides before you get into a confrontation. Approach it with an open mind, don’t come off as accusatory, and make it clear that you wouldn’t ask if you didn’t value your roommate’s thoughts/opinions as well as your relationship. Be honest and straightforward as well – it’s your room, too!

    I’d suggest making expectations clear from the beginning, as well. Again, honesty is key!

  9. Tyra Pearson

    I think the best thing that someone could do is to just to talk to their roommate. But they must still be considerate of the feelings that individual might hold. Do not come in and ambush your roommate. I suggest the one on one option at first. But if you feel that the problem has not been resolved, then this is the time that you should venture out and maybe talk to your RA about it.

  10. Hannah L.

    It is important to maintain a sense of trust and friendship, even if you aren’t incredibly close with your roommate. Try to work things out in a friendly, constructive, cooperative way. Often, your roommate may not know that their behavior is bothering you and will most likely be very open to a compromised solution. Be honest in explaining your problem, and be open to pitching in as part of a solution.

    Only involve your RA if no other strategies work or the situation is unsafe or unbearable. Involving others can embarrass or alienate your roommate, and will probably lead to even more issues with more difficult solutions down the road.

  11. Hannah

    It is best to be honest and not make things personal. Also, make sure that you are holding up your end of shared responsibilities.

    For example, instead of placing blame by saying something like, “Why do you never vacuum?” or “Why haven’t you taken out your trash for three weeks?”, offer a compromise or a friendly gesture of shared duties.

    “Let’s vacuum on Fridays!” or “How about we take out the trash after dinner tonight?” are much less accusatory and create a shared sense of responsibility.

  12. CN

    I thankfully haven’t had to deal with having a tough roommate conversation, but in the event that I have to, I would focus on making sure that my roommate knows that I respect her and her opinions. I would be honest with her, but not in a way that is in any way degrading or disrespectful. I’d try to make some kind of compromise, because you can’t just expect your roommate to completely change without being willing to adjust a little bit yourself. I would listen to her opinions and make sure that she knows that I am trying my best to understand where she is coming from.

  13. AS

    It depends on your relationship with your roommate – but usually talking it out is best.

  14. Jade

    When handling a problem with a roommate, it is best to just be upfront and truthful with them. Bringing in an RA as a mediator is also a good choice, as it brings in a neutral point of view to the subject. COMPROMISE is KEY!

  15. Ashley

    First, I would go talk with your RA about how to approach the conversation with you roommate. When the time comes, be honest, upfront, and calm about whatever is bothering you. Don’t accuse your roommate, instead phrase it something like “hey, it makes me a little uncomfortable when …” Luckily, my roommate and I have never really had any major issues. Still, I hope this helped!

  16. Ashley

    The way I have handled roommate problems has been mostly 1 on 1 with my roommate and with my RA. But I am also very close to my RA, so sharing concerns/problems with her is definitely not something too serious, like telling the teacher on a grade school enemy. My RA has helped me talk some stuff out (even if I just vented to her about petty little problems) and sometimes having a third party listen to your problem before addressing it can help you figure out how to approach the problem. I can go to my RA about any roommate problem, and she usually helps me fix it. I used to talk 1 on 1 with my roommate more, but we are not close like we were first semester, so it’s more awkward to try to do that now. So if there is a problem that needs to be addressed, I will mention it to her. Usually, since we are rarely on good terms, I try to keep it all to myself unless it needs handling right away, though. I guess how roommate situations are handled depend on the roommates and their situations.

  17. Mary Britt Nelson

    I think the best way to handle a roommate issue is to just simply talk to them about it. Don’t be afraid to say what is bothering you, but always do so in a very polite manner. More than likely your roommate will understand and work something out with you. Don’t get your RA involved until you have tried talking to your roommate first and nothing has changed. Going straight to your RA to complain right away will likely make your roommate mad.

  18. Erik

    This is a tough question because it is contingent on the roommate. If you have a good relationship, you can easily appeal to him and ask for a favor. That’s the easy scenario. The tough scenario is when you don’t know your roommate very well. In that case, you have to just ask very nicely. An RA should be involved ONLY if the situation is unbearable. Reporting problems to RAs should be a last resort because it can permanently damage roommates’ relationships.

  19. McKenzie Bennett

    The best way to handle tough roommate conversations is to first remember to stay calm. Because everyone is different there are going to be times when you and your roommate may not completely agree on everything that goes on. Be honest with your roommate in explaining what your concerned with and be nice about. Being rude or mean about the problem is the worst thing you could do because that will create awkward tension between the two of you. Also a very good helpful hint in avoiding any roommate disagreements ahead of time, set guidelines, rules, and expectations between each other at the start of your semester. Then, if both of you know the expectations of one another, you are less likely to make your roommate angry.

  20. Elizabeth Bevels

    If you need to have a tough conversation with your roommate, make sure that you are in a good mood before you speak up. Say exactly which you “rules” you want to establish and be willing to compromise.

  21. Emma

    I think one of the most important things to do is to put expectations out in the open early on in the relationship. It isn’t awkward to discuss many topics when you have already talked about it a little bit. It is also important to be open to talking with your roommate. If they feel like they cannot approach you, it is a problem waiting to happen. Don’t let your roommate be afraid of you! I agree with everyone who says it important to be upfront and honest.

  22. Anurag Angara

    The key to dealing with tough situations with your roommate is having established a relationship with him/her that enables you to do so easily. That means you should be good friends with your roommate from the beginning, so when the time comes, you both will feel comfortable handling tough situations and asking each other tough questions. Fortunately, my roommate and I have been friends since we were kids, so it’s easy for us to talk about anything, but if you create that atmosphere during other times, tough conversations will be a breeze! :D

  23. Trey

    Well my new roommate just moved in which is really weird for me because this is my first year in college and I went from August to January without a roommate. But it turns out he’s not that bad. We don’t have very different sleep schedules so its not a problem for us to have curfews or anything. But it was very awkward making the roommate agreement. Personally, I feel as though roommates could settle things amongst themselves unless its something very serious which I believe is rare here at Carolina. But my approach is to be upfront about each others expectations and if they’re very different from anyone then maybe one of them should find another place to stay. But I believe being open and honest but not rude is always the best and most effective method.

  24. Emily

    I tend to just talk to them one on one. Of course, we’ve never had any major arguments so things may be different in that case.

  25. Brian Sowinski

    In my opinion, the most appropriate way to respond to roommate issues is to sit down face to face and talk it out. The worst thing people can do is wait for anger to boil up before facing issues. It is better to address problems as quickly as possible.

  26. Melisa

    The perfect balance of honesty and gentleness is really the best policy when dealing with roommate conflicts or conversations. If a tough conversation needs to be had, approach your roommate with kindness and sensitivity while still expressing your concern, keeping in mind that your roomie may have no idea that what he or she is doing bothers you. If you are the one approached with a difficult subject, keep an open mind and hear what your roommate has to say; if you respect their opinions and requests, they’re more likely to do the same for you if another issue ever arises. Of course, if things get a little messy, your RA is specially trained to deal with these sorts of confrontations and can be a great resource!

  27. Sara

    No matter who your roommate is–best friend, acquaintance, or random assignment–you’ll have a few disagreements. The best way to avoid unnecessary tension/conflict is to discuss some guidelines within the first week or so after moving in. Talk about things like preferred times to wake up and go to bed, cleanliness (a BIG one), and come to an agreement on visitors. If you’re honest and upfront with each other from the beginning, conflict will be kept to a minimum. When there is a disagreement, the best solution is to talk about it in a neutral place, like over dinner. It eliminates all prior tension so you can address any concerns in a stress-free atmosphere. Try not to involve any friends, as this just creates a very hostile environment! RAs can be a good resource if an agreement cannot be reached. Open and honest communication is vital to an enjoyable roommate experience!

  28. Alex Stewart

    *sorry, talk to your RA about IT. Proofreading helps!

  29. Alex Stewart

    Honesty is seriously the best policy! My roommate and I have made sure to always express any problems that we may arise, and we have always been able to resolve them. Fortunately there have been minimal problems but.. that’s beside the point! If something is bothering you, it’s the worst idea to just let the issue mount until it’s unsolveable. And if all else falls, talk to your RA about. That’s what they’re there for, after all! :)

  30. Amy Tsai

    In addition to communicating concerns in a straightforward, yet non-antagonistic way, roommates should also consider when are appropriate times to bring up tough conversations. No roommate would appreciate settling a dispute in the middle of midterms! Before broaching a topic, first ask a roommate if now’s a good time to talk. If the present isn’t a good time, then schedule a time that works. The courtesy will go a long way and make the conversation much more productive.

  31. Wesley

    You should just be up front with your issues that way you can resolve them.

  32. Drew

    Beating around the bush doesn’t help, but just muddies the waters. If you aren’t totally honest about whatever is bothering you, then your roommate has a skewed view on how to solve an issue. Kindly share the issue that you have in a way that the entire problem is effectively communicated, allowing your roommate little room for interpretation.

  33. Laura Fulbright

    Being open and establishing a sense of trust is a fundamental part of any relationship. When communicating with your roommate, it is important to remember to see things from their perspective while maintaining honesty throughout your conversations. If your facing and awkward or tough topic or problem with your roommate, it is important to remain calm and gather your thoughts before speaking with your roommate. The best way to handle/prevent future problems with your roommate is to keep the relationship positive by being open, honest, and willing to listen.

  34. Rebecca Vaglio

    The best option is to be open and honest with your roommate, but always remember to have sensitivity to avoid offending the other person. Don’t let problems fester, but rather address the issues as they occur–this prevents a big blow up in the future! Communication is always the best policy to solving roommate problems. If conflicts continue to arise, going to the RA is the next best option. Remember, when you live with someone else, you are going to run into problems, but they are easily fixed with a friendly conversation!

  35. Andrew

    In my opinion, the best way to handle tough roommate conversations is to be honest. Let your roommate know when something is bothering you, explain why it bothers you, and give them a way to fix the problem. If they refuse to listen or do not understand, take the issue to the RA. However, confrontation, though difficult, is probably the best way to handle disagreements.


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