10 Ways To Effectively Deal With A Bad Roommate [And Make Them Respect You]11 min read

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Earlier this year, at the beginning of the academic session at the university, I applied for a space in the hostel and was allocated a room. I was quite hopeful for the new session and looked forward to meeting my new roommates.

As anticipated, I had very nice roommates. Except, unfortunately, for my bunkmate, Annie, who turned out to be the devil herself.

No matter how much I tried, we just couldn’t get along. I eventually grew irritated and anxious every time she stepped in. I would have felt very lonely in my room if I did not have the rest of my roommates.

If you are reading this article, I assume you are having a bad roommate situation like I was.

In this article, we will explore 10 tips to help foster peace and stop disrespect.

But first, let us consider what makes a bad roommate.

Who is a bad roommate?

Living with Annie was a nightmare. She was aggressive towards me, loud, and very arrogant.

Talk of zero remorse and callousness—that was Annie. She complained about every minor thing and made comments like:

  • “You don’t know me”,
  • “I’ll deal with you”,
  • “I’ll throw your things out”,
  • “You are shaking the bunk”,
  • “Your mosquito net is out”, 


in a manner and tone of voice that is disrespectful, condescending, and annoying. Every moment with her was like an explosive volcanic eruption burning through my heart.

Mind you, I wasn’t perfect either. I mean, she wasn’t complaining for nothing.

I always forget to tuck in my net! To me, it wasn’t a big deal. But judging from the fact that she didn’t like it, I was supposed to make corrections, yeah? But sadly, old habits don’t die easy.

Also, I was used to keeping the cooking area tidy, but she never did that. She hardly ever swept.

With that annoyance, I’d sweep my corner and leave hers behind so she could see how dirty it looked.

She probably didn’t take that lightly.

She would talk to everyone else but me.

Needless to say, a bad roommate is someone who consistently displays inconsiderate or disruptive behavior while sharing a room with you. They make the living environment uncomfortable or unpleasant due to their behavior.

How do you spot a bad roommate?

You know they’re a bad roommate when 

  • They overreact to minor issues.
  • They’re controlling
  • They make you feel bad about yourself, demean you as a person, or create self-doubt within you.
  • They influence you to engage in negative behavior.
  • They are irrational in expressing their feelings. That is, they express their feelings in angry outbursts.
  • They are not willing to compromise.
  • They consistently neglect shared space cleanliness.
  • They are dishonest.
  • They are overly dominant, trying to control everything.
  • They always borrow or try to use your stuff 
  • They party too much
  • They don’t respect agreements
  • They are never happy for you, but instead try to undermine your wins.
  • They avoid you or shut you out completely.


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What do you do when you have an annoying roommate?

1. Do not expect so much.

One mistake students make when they go to school is that they expect their roommate to be their best friend.

Don’t get me wrong, your living space is meant to be a peaceful haven for you, not a toxic environment that leaves you questioning your existence.

Yet, setting such high expectations can set you up for a failed roommate relationship.

When I realized that things were never going to work out between us, I stopped trying. I completely erased the idea of making friends with her from my mind.

You have to understand that what people say and do is beyond your control. Whether they like you or not is also beyond your control.

Stop worrying about connecting on a more personal level. There will always be new people to meet and new friends to make.

2. Try to be a good roommate yourself.

The more you can be a good example, the better.

Take note of the little things your roommate complains about and make amends. They most likely think you are annoying too. So try not to make things worse.

If they bring up issues with you, hear them out and do your best to adjust to their needs. That way, they’ll tend to do the same for you.

3. Stand up for yourself.

How long do you endure before addressing a situation? I’d say don’t wait at all. The longer you do, the more room you give for its reoccurrence.

There was a time when I was getting something from my cupboard, and my hair oil’s bottle cover fell off and landed close to her.

“What is this? Pick it up immediately; I do not want to see it around”, she said, of course rudely.

I got down, picked it up, and, for the first time, yet, reluctantly told her she didn’t have to throw those words out like that. I was going to pick it anyway.

Then I heard her mumble under her breath the words, “Okay, sorry”.

The idea is not to fight them, but to let them know that what they’re doing is wrong.

You do not set boundaries by keeping quiet; you do so by speaking up.

It is possible your ‘bad’ roommate doesn’t know her actions are hurting you. Even if she does, she most likely takes you for a weakling and is taking advantage of that.

Avoid body language that suggests you are nervous or anxious. Make eye-to-eye contact, keep a bold posture, and say exactly what you have to.

You do not have to be afraid; only ensure you go about it gently.

4. Do not overreact.

Make your point, but avoid aggression.

Avoid fighting or threatening your roommate (unless you have to physically defend yourself).

I was about to go to sleep one night when Annie called my name, screaming at the top of her voice, and arrogantly told me I was shaking the bunk. I chose not to answer. She began to hit my bed from where she was lying, yet I managed to sleep.

I wasn’t surprised because that wasn’t the first time she did something like that. I woke up by 1 a.m. and realized she hadn’t stopped. She was trying to make sure I didn’t sleep. I heard her say so while dozing off the last time.

When I realized that the vibrating bunk at that time of the night was her doing, I grew so mad and spontaneously started spilling out every ounce of anger and every word I had been keeping back.

I insulted her, called her an animal, and told her how mannerless she was. It was a total outburst.

By daybreak, Annie went to the PEO (head of porters at my hostel), reported the incident, and accused me of saying she was going to die.

I know I said many things, but I would never wish for anyone’s death. I tried to defend myself, but no one would believe me. Annie lied and, sadly, had the PEO on her side.

At the end of the day, we were both made to write statements at the security office and take an undertaking to be of good conduct, clearly stating that disciplinary action should be taken against us if such an occurrence repeats itself.

It could have been worse. The PEO insisted we be taken to the crime office, as did Annie. She wouldn’t stop arguing.

I wasn’t sure things would go in my favour. The threat to life is a serious accusation, and if anything happened to her, I would be held responsible.

Secondly, getting my name in their books at the crime office is too risky for my academic goals. It would be assumed that I have a questionable character and may not be allowed to graduate when the time comes.

At the end of the day, the issue was resolved without any need to go to the crime office. We included that in our statements, signed, and went back to our room.

Ever since, I stayed on my own, trying to stay out of trouble and avoiding her in every possible way.

5. Put your rules into writing.

A roommate agreement is beautiful to have, but it has no legal backing. You can ask your roommates to come up with one.

Here are some things to include in your roommate agreement:

  • Rent and utilities payments
  • Common area cleaning and maintenance responsibilities
  • Guest policies
  • Quiet hours
  • Pet policies
  • Use of shared spaces and amenities

Remember, you can only ask them to follow it, but you can’t force them to.

6. Have dialogue about issues:

There will inevitably be times when you and your roommates disagree. It is important to be able to communicate openly and honestly about these issues.

When you have a problem with your roommate, try to talk to them about it directly and calmly. Avoid blaming or attacking them, and instead focus on finding a solution that works for everyone. If you are unable to resolve the issue on your own, you may want to consider mediation or arbitration.

Here are some tips for having a productive dialogue about issues with your roommates:

  • Choose a time and place where everyone can talk without distractions.
  • Start by stating the problem calmly and objectively.
  • Avoid blaming or attacking your roommates.
  • Listen to your roommates’ perspectives and try to understand their needs.
  • Be willing to compromise.
  • Focus on finding a solution that works for everyone.

7. Take some time off.

Take some time away from them.

Get some space by spending time with other friends or loved ones. This will give you some quiet and an opportunity to cool off.

8. Let little issues go.

No one is perfect, and that proves we are all humans.

Don’t feel like you have to bring up every annoying thing that they do; let the small problems go instead. It is better to let offences slide and make peace right there than to allow them to escalate beyond your control.

9. Focus on the positive.

Whenever such unhappy moments arise, find a way to keep yourself happy. You do this by worrying less about them. You push them aside like they don’t exist and focus instead on memories of happy moments.

I kept myself happy regardless of the chaotic environment I found myself in.

I would go to the library, listen to music, hang out with friends, and think about my next design project.

Do something meaningful each day, give the love you seek, be of help to your community, and make someone happy.

10. Move out.

When you’ve tried and nothing seems to work, moving out might be your last option. Move out, or ask them to, depending on your tenancy agreement.

It might be an uphill task, but your mental health is far more important.

For me, I was so glad when the academic year came to an end, as it meant we could book new rooms. It was such a relief to leave.

Conclusion: Approach a bad roommate situation with both your head and your heart

In the end, surviving a challenging roommate can teach us a lot. Your living space is meant to be a sanctuary, not a place of perpetual frustration or constant stress.

Remember, you are beautiful, loved, and accepted, and no one should convince you otherwise.

When handling conflict, it is important to approach it with both your head and your heart.

These experiences have the power to shape us, teach us, and ultimately make us stronger. So embrace the lessons learned and carry them with you on your journey through the many shared spaces of life.

Here are some other content you might find helpful: 

Favour Ifechukwude, an aspiring accountant, is more than just numbers. She is dedicated to self-improvement, happiness, and acquiring knowledge.

As a naturally inquisitive individual, she thrives on reading, writing, critical thinking, and thorough research.

In her free time, you’ll find her designing flyers and book covers.

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