That fresh-out-of-college feeling you’re vibing with right now? That, my friends, is what freedom tastes like. No offense to mom or dad, of course, but it only gets better when you’re living on your own and making the rules as you go — that is, unless your income requires you to get a roomie and things go south. You can’t always know how to tell if your roommate is toxic right off the bat, especially if you’ve never had a bad experience like that before. Plus, a toxic roomie can be particularly difficult to spot if they're a stranger or a friend of a friend whom you’ve only come across in passing once or twice. Toxic behaviors are rarely, if ever, obvious during that first impression.
Take it from me: I’d been dating my husband three and a half years before we lived together, and I'd still pick up on some of the quirks I’d never noticed before about him when we first moved in together. While I don't believe or feel our relationship is toxic,you see people in a different light when you live with them, and that’s completely normal. Unfortunately, though, it doesn’t always work out for the best.
Having said that, though, there’s a difference between someone you just don’t see eye to eye with and someone who’s actually toxic. According to doctor of psychology and licensed clinical social worker Dr. Danielle Forshee, LLC, a toxic person can be defined as “someone who violates personal boundaries physically, emotionally, or psychologically.” Oftentimes, she tells me in an interview with Elite Daily, these types of people are “passive aggressive, or [act in ways that] make it difficult to assess their genuineness.”
Now, there are a few ways to go about dealing with a toxic roomie once, as Ace Of Base would put it, you open up your eyes and see the signs. According to Dr. Forshee, it’s very important to address the toxicity with the other person first, “before making any assumptions or moves,” i.e. packing your bags and leaving them stranded without forking over half the rent as payback.
“Point out the situation(s),” she tells Elite Daily, “then say how you feel about them, ask open-ended questions to understand their perspective, and then tell them what you need.” In other words, imagine structuring the conversation like you would an essay: state your case, back up your claim, and make a closing argument you both can work with. Personally, I loathe confrontation, but when it comes to your living space, these types of conversations are more than necessary, especially if your roommate is actually toxic. Like I said, there's a difference between someone constantly leaving unwashed dishes for you to clean and someone who makes you feel insignificant on a daily basis.
Here are a few tell-tale signs your roommate is toxic AF, so you can decide for yourself whether they're just slightly annoying, or someone you cannot, under any circumstance, continue to co-exist with.