Advice with the Arts Editor: Living with difficult roommates


Two roommates watch cricket together in their living room. Photo by Saichand Chowdary (He/Him) / Mass Media Staff.

Rena Weafer, Arts Editor

College is supposed to be a fun and exciting experience, but with that comes sharing a room with a stranger most of the time. When talking to students on campus, many reported difficulties with their roommates. Whether this is ignoring each other or dealing with discrepancies in communication, it creates an uncomfortable situation for everyone involved.

My first semester on campus involved a lot of weekends spent at home and a lot of emotional phone calls to my mom due to the stressful environment fostered in my room. I came to the school at an odd time–at the beginning of the winter semester–so I couldn’t exactly fill out a roommate form. They just put me in a random room. This was not a good move for me, and it did not end well.

Eventually, when it came time to find housing for the following semester, I filled out a form with Off-Campus Housing and hoped for the best. Through that, I found my current roommates and I couldn’t have been luckier.

I didn’t have much of a vetting process for my new roommates; I just knew I wanted to leave. On the other hand, my roommates were stalking all of my social media profiles to see if we would be a good fit for each other. That’s what I would recommend doing. Do your own research into who your potential roommate is to see if you would be a good fit.

They obviously didn’t tell me this happened until a couple months into living with each other, but I’m glad they did it. If we weren’t compatible, I would rather know from the get-go than enduring a year-long lease.

I also only hung out with them a couple of times before the semester ended, so I didn’t really know what I was getting myself into when I moved in. Luckily, my roommate’s mom had the idea for all of us to go on a Fourth of July beach trip to the cape. This is where I got to know them all a little better before we actually started living together.

When you start living with people, you get comfortable with them fast, but to avoid the potential awkwardness at the beginning, hang out with them a few times. Try to get to know them before you make up your mind about whether or not they would be a good roommate for you. That’s what this whole process is about: finding a person that is compatible with you.

Once you start living with a roommate, UMass Boston Resident Assistants recommend filling out a roommate agreement if you live on-campus or creating one if you live off-campus. Also discuss what you don’t find acceptable about your living environment so it doesn’t come out in a fight. If you live on-campus, take your conflicts to an RA so they can help sort out the situation.

If you live off-campus, this situation might be a bit more difficult. The most important thing is communication. You have to discuss the issues with your roommate in a calm manner without attacking each other, however angry you may be. All parties must be considerate of each other when solving these problems, or someone will just end up hurt.

If this doesn’t work and you are still facing challenges, use your resources to find a safe space for you. This could be a friend’s apartment, the coffee shop next to your apartment—literally anywhere you can go to relax and feel safe. This is so important. You need time to rest and relax, and when you can’t do that in your own space, it can be detrimental to your mental health.

Finally, see how soon you can get out of your situation. Can you rent out your room and live somewhere else until your lease ends? See what works for you. The only way to get past this is to go through it. However painful it may seem; you can do it.