Roommates are an inevitable necessity in your 20s. If you want to live affordably, you need a roommate.
There are some people who, in their roommate, find the long-lost best friend they had been unknowingly searching for, but for others, living with a roommate can be a constant struggle to keep their sanity.
I have had six roommates over the past three years. With these roommates, I’ve experienced the good, the bad and the ugly. However, by nature, I’m non-confrontational; I don’t like awkward conversations and I certainly don’t enjoy asking someone to change her living habits.
So, instead of doing the mature thing and telling my roommates what bothered me, I took a more passive aggressive approach.
The following details the kinds of roommates you’ll come across in your 20s, how I dealt with them and how you should deal with them if you want to feel comfortable in your own apartment
1. The unhygienic roommate
Imagine walking into your apartment to see clothes sprawled everywhere, dishes with dried pasta stuck to them piled up in the sink and a strange odor burning your nose that you have no idea where it came from. If you are not the cause for the twister that has destroyed your apartment, it might be a sign you have an unhygienic roommate.
How I dealt with it: I do not claim to be the cleanest person on the planet, but I do know when it is time to pick up my mess and break out the Swiffer for a good cleaning.
One of my roommates apparently did not mind it when the garbage bags would sit in the kitchen for days or that there were dust bunnies scattered on the floor. Once she left a skillet soaking on top of the refrigerator for a week.
I don’t enjoy living in filth, so I would wash dishes, vacuum and take out the garbage. I hated constantly picking up after her, but when she would see me doing the dishes and say, “I was just about to wash that, sorry!” I would just grit my teeth and nod, burying my snarky remarks.
How YOU should deal with it: Some people might not be accustomed to having to do chores like laundry and taking out the trash. This roommate must have forgotten he or she don’t have a mother around to clean up after him or her anymore. So don’t keep babying this person!
If a roommate isn't doing his or her share of the work, you should propose one day a week when you can clean the whole apartment together. Make a playlist filled with your favorite songs, get some rubber gloves, and let the fun begin.
If you disguise it as roommate bonding, he or she might not ever know you were fed up with his or her filth.
2. The roommate who thinks you’re his/her personal driver
This roommate believes “your car is his/her car.” He or she will ask you for to rides to work, the grocery store, doctor’s appointments and many other places that he or she could easily get to using public transportation.
Somewhere along the line, this roommate started to think you were his or her chauffeur. This might not seem like a big deal, until you realize you’ve been guzzling gas while acting as a taxi service for your roommate.
How I dealt with it: I didn’t mind driving my roommate to the mall or to the store, but I did mind not getting any gas money for the rides. I felt awkward asking every time I took her somewhere, so I just let it go.
It was all fine and dandy until one day I had to drive 20 minutes to take her to a doctor’s appointment. When we got there, she didn’t say anything about a ride back, so naturally I left her there.
That was my subtle hint to tell her I wasn’t her personal driver. When she texted me about a ride back, I told her I had to go to work. It was not my best moment.
How YOU should deal with it: Someone who is more sane than I am would probably just ask for gas money. Even though money can be awkward to talk about with friends and roommates, it is a conversation you need to have if you want to avoid pent-up resentment against your roommate.
So sit this roommate down, talk about a reasonable amount of gas money he or she could give you weekly or whatever is best for your situation. Talking it out is definitely better than this roommate being pissed at you for stranding him or her 20 minutes away from your apartment.
3. The roommate who never asks
It is not uncommon for roommates to share more than a living space together. They might borrow clothes or eat one of your granola bars from time to time. However, when you are searching high and low for your favorite pair of boots, and you realize your roommate took them without asking, frustration sets in.
How I dealt with it: I don’t mind lending a top or my phone charger to my roomie now and again, but asking goes a long way with me. Whenever my last apple disappeared from the fridge or when I couldn’t find a particular shirt I wanted to wear that day, I would get a little annoyed.
When it happened again and again, I would get extremely annoyed. My passive aggressive tendencies took over, and I began hiding shirts she often borrowed. When I saw her rifling through the closet, I knew it worked.
How YOU should deal with it: To make sure there is no confusion, when you move in with a roommate, make it clear what is okay for him or her to borrow and what is not.
If you don’t want a roommate to eat your food, label it with your initials or split up the fridge and cabinet space so you each have separate sections. Also, inform your roommates that you’d appreciate it if they told you before they borrowed your stuff, just so you know where it is.
This is a much better solution than having a cold war with your roommate over a pair of shoes.
4. The "friendly" roommate
If you’ve ever been “sexiled,” you know how big of an inconvenience it is to not be able to be in your OWN room. If you’re also woken up repeatedly through the night by your roommate’s “activities” it is not only annoying, but extremely uncomfortable.
On top of all of that, telling your roommate to keep it down during his or her romps in the sack can pretty awkward for both of you.
How I dealt with it: When I walked into my apartment and quickly became aware that I could not be there, I would take a walk. What is annoying about being sexiled is that you never know when it is okay to go back to your room.
Sometimes I would go sit in my car and jam out to some Taylor Swift. (Because let’s be real: Any problem can be solved with a T-Swift jam sesh.) A variation of this solution also worked when I would wake up in the middle of the night and hear things I definitely did not want to.
I would put in my headphones and try to drown out the noise by putting “You Belong With Me” on repeat. In the morning, I would tell my roommate I slept like a baby rather than letting her know I heard EVERYTHING that was happening on the other side of the wall.
How YOU should deal with it: If you enjoy a good night’s sleep and not having to leave your apartment while your roommate is getting down with his or her bad self, you should come up with a system from the get-go.
Tell your roommate that if either of you are expecting to have a sleepover, you should let the other know prior, or shoot a text so you don’t have to walk into the apartment and find out for yourself.
You should also tell your roommates that after a certain time of night, you should establish some “quiet hours” or whatever would prevent an unwelcomed wake-up call during the middle of the night.
5. The Type A roommate
This roommate wants everything that goes on in your apartment to happen on his or her terms. This person also often wants to control not only how he or she lives -- but how you live, as well. This roommate has an opinion on everything and doesn’t really have the patience to hear about how you care to keep the apartment.
How I dealt with it: If you are a very easy going person like me, living with someone who has a Type A personality can prove to be quite difficult.
When my roommate would tell me how to do this or that, I would generally just bite my tongue and do it so I could avoid having an argument about on which side of the sink I could place my toothbrush.
When it was over small matters like how she wanted the food arranged in the freezer, I didn’t really mind, but when she began to dictate how I went about my life like when I could have friends over, I became resentful of her need for constant order.
Instead of telling her that not everything should be her decision, I did little things to piss her off like taking my shoes off by the door instead putting them in my closet.
How YOU should deal with it: Constantly doing things the way your roommate wants them to be done is no way to live. Once his or her Type A ways start to interfere with your life, there needs to be a discussion.
It’s your apartment, too! You should be able to do the things you want to do, within reason. The next time your roommate tries to dictate where you put your shoes, tell him or her that you share a living space and putting a cup in the cabinet with the plates will not make a difference in his or her life.