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Roommate Problems And How To Resolve Them
Aug 31st, 2010 by Liza Wiemer

Help!  My Roommate Is Driving Me Crazy!

It’s hard to live with someone else in a tiny space, especially a dorm room.  Many find themselves facing one of these problems at one point or another.  This is a long post, so feel free to scan down for your particular issue.  Feel free to share your own if you don’t see it on the list.  I will be happy to help you resolve an issue and/or post it anonymously, too.  If you have creative solutions or ideas, please share them.

General comments: 

  1. Avoid problems by setting clear boundaries with your roommates first. 
  2. Don’t let problems fester.  Discuss them as quickly and calmly as possible.
  3. Avoid name-calling, vicious sarcasm, and accusations.  Be kind.
  4. Look to see how you may have contributed to the problem. 
  5. Always try and resolve an issue first before you involve others, including an RA, unless it is life threatening or dangerous.
  6. If you’re venting, need space, in a bad mood, make sure you communicate!  Your roommate isn’t a mind reader!  Be upfront, be honest.

Problem: Turning on main overhead light while you’re sleeping or trying to sleep.

Solution:  Put a note on your door that you’re sleeping.  Can even be one of those hotel styles that hang on the knob.  Buy small lamp that can be turned on instead of overhead light.  Light bulb should be low wattage.  If one roommate wants to read while others are sleeping, purchase clip on reading lights.  They come in various sizes and can be purchased online through Amazon, at bookstores, and Bed Bath & Beyond.

Problem:  Food issues – either roommate takes your food without permission or does not replacing what she takes.

Solution:  Keep a list next to your refrigerator of all your food items.  Cross out what you eat/drink.  Keep a list of IOUs and replace what you owe.  Label your food and drinks – buy and use Sharpies.  Keep a separate shelf for each roommate’s food/drinks.

Problem:  Dirty – clothes everywhere.  Leaves used plates, bowls, take-out containers and doesn’t wash them or throw them out.  Throws their stuff everywhere.  Doesn’t bathe.

Solution:  This is a tough one.  The key is to be upfront and deal with this issue right away.  Explain that you understand that your roommate may have been in a rush, but that you are embarrassed to bring in guests and have them see the person’s underwear or filth.  Leave a note.  Please clean up mess – we’re having guests.  Please clean up your stuff.  I’ve noticed a horrible odor in our room.  Please help me figure out what it is and let’s resolve it.  

Problem:  Gossips or talks about you to others.

Solution:  Best to be honest and confront the issue right away.  Speak in private outside your dorm.  Maybe go out for breakfast or take a walk, but talk it out. 

Problem:  Roommate doesn’t pay his or her portion for cleaning supplies or other shared items like toilet paper.

Solution:  Keep a checklist:  Item:  who made the purchase with the date and the cost.  Either agree to alternate or split the cost between roommates immediately or every two weeks.  

Problem:  Roommate turns music on while you’re studying or invites guests in while you’re trying to get work done.

Solution:  Ask roommate to use headphones.  If you’re tired, ask roommate and guests to go to someone else’s room.  Be upfront and honest. 

Problem:  Roommate snores.

Solution:  Buy a fan for background noise, buy and wear earplugs (Walgreens, CVS stores carry them), buy a CD that plays wave sounds that will block out snoring.

Problem:  Roommate’s alarm wakes you up too.

Solution:  If your roommate doesn’t wake up to “normal” beeps or light music, ask him or her to buy a wristwatch that has an alarm.  That way, it will buzz or beep on his body and reduce noise. 

Problem:  Roommate binge drinks and vomits in your room.

Solution:  This is a hot topic and difficult problem.  Binge drinkers can suffocate on vomit and need to be watched carefully.  Keep a bowl or a garbage can readily available. 

Problem:  Roommate gives you the silent treatment after arguments.

Solution:  See if you can break the silence between you by starting out with simple phrases like “Good morning” or “Have a good day” or “See you later.”  Communicate using notes.  Let cooler heads prevail – let a day or two pass and start the conversation.

Problem:  Roommate lies, and then lies that she lied.

Solution:  If confrontation doesn’t work, then write a note spelling it out clearly for the person.  He may not change, but at least he knows you’re not being fooled.

Problem:  Roommate doesn’t do his fair share of the work.

Solution:  Discuss it first.  If it doesn’t help, leave a note.  

Problem:  Roommate pushes their religious perspective on you.

Solution:  Be blunt.  Ask the person to stop.  Say I am not interested.  There should be mutual respect and no one should push his faith on another.  One person told me that she would sing every time her roommate brought up religion.  Eventually, the roommate got the message.  In one extreme case a girl told me that her roommate was constantly leaving literature or telling her she was going to hell.  They ended up switching rooms.    

Problem:  One roommate has sex while the other is supposedly sleeping.

Solution:  Private business should always be private.  Leave your roommate a note and say that you had trouble sleeping and ask them to take his/her private business elsewhere.

Creative Solutions:

From a senior who was fighting a lot with her roommates:  “I went out and bought a card and some of my roommates’ favorite things like soda, soaps, things for their hair.  I put the gift together and wrote a note thanking them for being awesome roommates, even through tough times.  It helped smooth things over.

From a senior who had one roommate without a boyfriend:  We had four girls living in one small room.  Three of us had boyfriends and the one who didn’t always felt left out.  Our solution was to plan special girls only activities.  It made a difference and eased tensions.

Online services to help your find a compatible roommate:  Through Facebook: http://www.roombug.net/ or URoomSurf: http://www.uroomsurf.com/

Don’t see your roommate often, but need to communicate?  Maybe this notepad can help express what needs to be said – as long as you both agree to use it!  Some of the things to check off can be harsh!  http://www.shakespearesden.com/notepad-magnetic-roommate-fyi.html 

Some roommate nightmare stories I’ve heard:

Jane told me a story about her roommate, Alisa, who refused to take out their garbage.  The solution was to get separate cans.  One day Jane wasn’t thinking and threw some of her garbage in her Alisa’s can.  Alisa had a hissy fit and retaliated by dumping out garbage! 

Beth walked into her dorm room and found dirty dishes in the sink, on the floor, and on her bed – all belonging to her roommate, Sara.  She asked Sara to clean them up and Sara threw the dishes at Beth. 

Ben’s roommate, Jeremy, confronted Ben and said he owed her money for cleaning supplies.  They had been arguing about other things, too.  Ben paid Jeremy the three dollars he owed him.  Jeremy said he needed space, and asked Ben to get lost for an hour.  When Ben returned, Jeremy was gone.  He left Ben a present on his bed.  Jeremy had cut up the dollar bills and spelled the word “TRUCE” with the destroyed money.

Be careful with whom you confide in about your roommate and any problems you may have with him.  I heard several stories from people who discussed their roommate problems with dorm neighbors, mutual friends, even openly on Facebook.  In each of these situations, the roommate found out.  D-I-S-A-S-T-E-R!  Don’t do it.  If you absolutely need to confide in someone, make sure the person is trustworthy and helps you to resolve the problem by allowing you to take care of it without his intervention.  Start with a friend who doesn’t go to the same school, a parent, or a sibling, or perhaps your RA.

Date Rape, Alex Knepper, is Rape – With or Without Alcohol, No Matter What…
Apr 7th, 2010 by Liza Wiemer

I personally know three young women, teenagers actually, who have been raped.

Each knew the perpetrator.

Only one involved alcohol.  Poor judgment – yes.  But to say that a young woman has no right to “cry date rape after you sober up the next morning” is ridiculous.  This is what American University’s Alex Knepper said in his controversial article published in AU’s The Eagle, titled Dealing with AU’s Anti-Sex Brigade.

Let’s get this straight: any woman who heads to an EI party as an anonymous onlooker, drinks five cups of the jungle juice, and walks back to a boy’s room with him is indicating that she wants sex, OK? To cry “date rape” after you sober up the next morning and regret the incident is the equivalent of pulling a gun to someone’s head and then later claiming that you didn’t ever actually intend to pull the trigger.

To see the full article, click here:  http://tinyurl.com/ycnup39

Alex Knepper is an articulate young man.  Few would want to face him on an opposing debate team…  He has a way of twisting words to make what he is really saying into something else, and I think most people would have a tough time arguing against his points.  This doesn’t mean that he is right.  Not even close.  He responded on national TV, addressing the firestorm of controversy.  See the following video of how, in my opinion, he twists his written comments to justify his words:


Watch CBS News Videos Online

It is absolutely ridiculous that Knepper asserts that a female who goes back to a guy’s room is “indicating” that  she is interested in having sex.  He stated in his TV interview that he said “indicating” because “men cannot know what women don’t tell them” and “at anytime a woman can say no.”  “At that point it constitutes rape.”

Many of these sexual encounters don’t take place in someone’s bedroom.  Sadly, these events are often public displays.  If a girl is so drunk, does she even know where she is?

Another obvious problem with Knepper’s statement is that if a woman is so inebriated it is impossible for her to give consent.  Without consent, then any intercourse is rape.  He mentions five glasses of jungle juice.  Is the guy standing there counting?  Is he handing them to the girl and watching her drink?  Even worse, is he slipping something into her glass so that she won’t even remember?  Unfortunately, this takes place every single day and the lines have been blurred so much that women in this situation are often not believed.  Take a look at this article titled:  Hook-up Culture At Boston University Leads To Skepticism About Sexual Assault – http://tinyurl.com/ykbphxt

Drinking and driving do not mix.  Sex and being wasted do not mix either.  The consequences can be dangerous and life altering.  I’ve written about this before in Binge Drinking, Hook-ups, and Self-Esteem http://www.whorublog.com/?cat=74

We need responsibility.  We need to think about our actions.  We need to think about the consequences.

We need respect.

Rape is not okay, with or without alcohol.

Teens/YA Binge Drinking, Hook ups, and Self-Esteem
Jan 25th, 2010 by Liza Wiemer

TEENS/YA BINGE DRINKING, HOOK UPS, AND SELF-ESTEEM

Okay, I’ve been thinking about this for quite awhile and decided I just had to blog about it!

Who or What is Driving You?

Lately I’ve been hearing more than the usual from teens and YA about the binge drinking that has been taking place on campuses and at high school parties.

Here’s what several eighteen-year-olds have told me.

Some of you love to drink.  You love the feeling of getting buzzed; you love having the pressures taken off of you by drinking, and though you end up spending the night throwing up in a toilet, it is still worth it.  It’s worth it, even if you sleep it off the next day, all day.  You’ve told me it is a right of passage and a personal entertainment choice, something to do with friends.  I can’t say this makes me happy.  I wish you would find other, more healthy ways to entertain yourself.  On a side note – I just learned in my CPR class (January 26, 2010) that those who are vomiting after binge drinking should be watched carefully.  There is a higher chance of choking on vomit under these circumstances, and if you are alone, you may not get the care you need!

From several teens and young adults (ages ranging from fifteen to twenty) you shared the following situations with me:

You drink so much that you don’t remember what happened to you.  Your friends (who can still stand) take care of you, bring you to the bathroom, clean you up, and make sure you get food in you.  Some of you are hooking up, and you don’t even remember them.  You drink so that you can hook-up, because without the alcohol you would never do it.  Unfortunately, the morning after leaves you feeling empty and lost.

I’ve been privileged to talk with you about it and it’s clear your self-esteem is so low, that it breaks my heart.

It breaks my heart because I think you’re amazing.  I think you’re beautiful – inside and out.  I think that you are incredibly bright, gifted, and have so much to offer this world, but are making bad choices – especially when it comes to drinking.

A few of you have been raped.  A few of you lost your virginity in ways that you have said were totally degrading.  (In the bathroom at school – not cool.  Or, at a party with others watching.)

The lipstick rings placed on the guy’s penis while others watched and cheered?  You barfed in the toilet shortly afterward…  That brought tears to my eyes…  You felt totally degraded, but pressured into doing it.

You got so drunk that you couldn’t move out of the snow bank.  Thankfully, a friend found you before you froze to death.

A few of you have gotten into a car with a drunk driver – and you lived.  I am so glad that you are alive, because you have so much living to do.  If you hadn’t been drunk yourself, you never would have done something so stupid.

I wish I were making this stuff up.   I wish that I could magically make it all disappear, but I can’t.

Here’s what I can tell you.  It’s time to put this behind you.  It’s time to stop, and it’s time for you to know that you have control of the choices you make, and you don’t have to repeat them.

You tell me that you have a reputation now – one you can’t live down – so you just continue with the same behavior, because that is what is expected of you.  But I have to tell you that I know you’re better than that, much, much, much better.  I’m not saying that it is going to be easy.  It’s lousy and unfair.  But it also is life.

The only way to change is if you make a choice to take action by not participating, by saying no.  Respect yourself because you deserve it!

If you need someone to listen or if you have questions, please e-mail me.  I will, G-d willing, be here to cheer you on!  Because no matter what, I believe that you are truly amazing.  whoRuBlog@aol.com

A note from Liza:

Right before I was about to post this blog piece I saw the following article from my aol home page:

TEEN BINGE DRINKING MAY CAUSE BRAIN DAMAGE – Sphere News

http://tinyurl.com/ygv39cp

To learn more about self-esteem issues, please click on the following link: http://www.whorublog.com/?page_id=79 or if you would like to learn more about the five barriers that can influence your life, please click on the following link:  http://www.whorublog.com/?p=12

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