I Hate My College Roommate: What Do I Do?

Carolina Jacobs

Jan 31, 2022

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So, you’re starting to realize you don’t like your college roommate. First off, know that you’re not alone. “I hate my college roommate” is a phrase that many college first-years have uttered throughout the years. This can happen for many reasons: a misunderstanding, different schedules, different cleaning standards, different interests, the list goes on. Here’s what you can do to identify and solve the problem with your difficult roommate.

1. Clear the Air

Sometimes, an honest conversation is the quickest way to alleviate a tense situation. Before your relationship goes entirely off the rails, you might find it helpful to sit down with your roommate and talk things through. Address the following questions:

  • What moment or incident initially caused you to butt heads?
  • How did that moment make you feel?
  • Why have those feelings persisted?
  • What can you do to put the situation behind you?

Finding the root cause of your animosity will help you determine whether you and your roommate are truly a good fit. In the first few months of college, one unfortunate moment can set your relationship up for failure if you don’t address the problem quickly enough. It’s crucial to find out if you hate your roommate because of their true personality, or because of your negative perception of them stemming from that one moment.

If the conversation goes well, you can put the incident behind you and move forward with a clean slate. If it goes badly, then you can confidently request a reassignment. Either way, you nip the problem in the bud and save yourself a lot of time and frustration.

2. Set Firm Boundaries

If you ultimately decide to stay with your college roommate, you both can set some boundaries to make your relationship more manageable. Here are some examples:

  • Buy your own food and keep it in a separate cabinet.
  • Establish consistent shower and sleep schedules, so you don’t interfere with each other’s daily routine.
  • Have different cleaning responsibilities. You can be responsible for the kitchen, while your roommate is in charge of the bathroom.

Establishing firm boundaries will give some much-needed structure to your volatile relationship and allows you to focus on your studies without stressing about your roommate too much. If both of you respect these boundaries, you will also come to respect each other in the long run.

3. Find Common Interests

Even though you don’t get along, chances are you share a common interest with your roommate, whether it’s a movie, TV show, book or hobby. Find that interest and attempt to bond with your roommate over it.

Our genuine personalities reveal themselves when we’re most comfortable, so naturally, you should try to create the most comfortable environment possible to truly get to know your roommate. Organize a movie night or binge-watching session with food and drinks. Go out to a restaurant you both enjoy. Anything that helps you both loosen up will go a long way towards improving your relationship.

4. Get Comfortable With Silence

If things don’t seem to improve, you should get used to having a quiet room. As the old saying goes, if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all. Just keep to yourself and try not to step on your roommate’s toes, and they will hopefully give you the same treatment.

5. Keep Documentation

If your roommate continues to get worse, take notes about their habits. This tactic will help you identify trends in their behavior and find possible solutions for them. Writing is also an effective form of venting and stress relief. 

Additionally, documentation will help your case if you eventually need to report their behavior to Student Life or another authority at your college. Don’t use these notes as an excuse to disparage your roommate behind their back, though. Keep the information private until you think it’s necessary to talk to someone. 

6. Talk to Your R.A.

The first person you should talk to about roommate issues is your resident assistant (RA. If they’ve been an RA for a few years, chances are they’ve had the same “I hate my college roommate” conversation plenty of times, so they can give you helpful advice and guide your decision on whether or not to request a reassignment.

Your RA is also required to keep your conversation confidential, so your roommate won’t know you approached the RA unless you want them to know. 

7. Request a Reassignment

Sometimes, things just don’t work out. If you’ve tried your best to get along with your roommate and nothing has worked, it’s time to request a room reassignment. Talk to your roommate first to make sure you both want a change. Then, approach your RA, Student Life, or browse your college’s website to see what steps you need to take. You’ll have to fill out a formal request form and other paperwork, but the process will move quickly with your full cooperation.

Forget It and Move On

Don’t let this relationship affect your perception of your future roommates. You have a chance to make lifelong friends and connections at college, and one negative experience shouldn’t bring you down. Get out there and find new friends!

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