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.

Friendship 101, An interview with Kristina McBride, YA author of THE TENSION OF OPPOSITES
Jun 14th, 2010 by Liza Wiemer

Tension. Opposites. Friendship.


Kristina McBride

Kristina McBride, author of The Tension of Opposites, understands that in every relationship there are complicated layers.  Loyalty and love. Fear and insecurity.  Now imagine that your best friend vanishes most likely kidnapped with no leads and the strong possibility that she may be dead.

Kristina has done a masterful job of weaving the story of Elle – a teen who returns home to her family and best friend Tessa two years after her abduction by a pedophile – with the complications of friendship and relationships.  Imagine separated hands – one represents friendship, and the other the kidnapping and safe return of your BFF.  Now weave the fingers together.  This is precisely how Kristina integrates these two different ideas to create an amazing YA novel.

This interview focuses on friendship, what we can learn about ourselves from the people we hang with and a special rule that Kristina uses, which can help us decide if the people in our lives are good for us.  To enter a drawing for a signed copy of The Tension of Opposites please see instructions below.

Q:  What qualities do you believe are necessary for a true and meaningful friendship?

A:  Any type of relationship is difficult unless you can be a friend to yourself first. That might sound cheesy or cliché, but it’s true. You must listen to your inner thoughts and not go against that little voice inside your head. It also is essential that you feel appreciation for who you are as a person. I was so shy and unsure of myself when I was in high school, and even into college. One thing that helped me appreciate who I am was looking at myself through the eyes of my best friends. I always thought my closest friends were pretty cool, so if they liked me maybe I was okay. If you can’t learn to appreciate yourself you’ll begin comparing yourself to others, resenting others, and become an all around sticky mess. It took me a VERY long time to get to the point where I loved myself as much as I love my friends.  That’s the goal to strive for. When you get there, you’ll feel a freedom unlike anything you’ve ever known. You’ll stop feeling afraid of saying or doing the wrong thing. You’ll automatically hang around people who accept you for who you are because you’re not so busy trying to be whatever it is you think they want you to be. And you’ll have a much better life because of it!

Beyond this, I think friends must share common ground, a sense of safety (including honesty and respect), and tons of laughter.

Q:  Do your main characters, Tessa and Elle, possess these characteristics, or is one friend more loyal than another?  How does this friendship work?

A:  I believe that Elle is so broken after spending two years with her kidnapper that she can’t be much of anything to anyone when the book begins. Tessa is fiercely loyal and protective – to a fault actually. She lets her relationship with Elle become too much of a driving factor in her own life. This friendship is difficult because there is no balance. Tessa has to give and be understanding, even as she’s hurt by this new version of her friend.

The reason this friendship works is that Tessa is so loyal and patient. Tessa feels that if she gives Elle enough time, she’ll come around.  Not too many people could have that kind of patience or devotion to another person, and that’s definitely admirable.  If it had not been for the kidnapping, Elle’s behavior as a so-called friend would be inexcusable and Tessa should give up her quest to have Elle in her life.  It’s Tessa’s loyalty, however, that helps Elle find her footing again.  I appreciate the journey these two friends take together.

The lack of balance we see between Tessa and Elle is evident in many types of relationships. There is a natural sway of give and take in some relationships that last for a long period of time.  You must, however, be sure that the sway is there – that one person isn’t constantly giving while the other is constantly taking.

Q:  Many YA go from relationship to relationship or hook up to hook up.  Often these experiences result in pain.  Other than the possibility of sexual gratification, what is it that a YA is looking for and how can s/he find it?

A:  I believe that this goes back to my statement that you first must be a true friend to yourself. You have to protect yourself and respect yourself in the same manner you do your best friend.

We’re all searching for the people we can be our true selves with and not worry about judgment, right? That was my struggle as I made my way from young adulthood to adulthood. I learned that I have some incredible friends who will stick by my side through anything, others who kind of flit in and out of my life, and yet others who I cannot trust at all.  Look at the people who come into your life as if you’re “dating.” Ask yourself the following: “Do I want this person in my life? Does this person make me feel positive and bring out the best in me?” If the answer to either question is no, then you give yourself permission to “break up” with the people who are not healthy energies in your life. If you can understand that most people will not stay in your life forever, if you take from each person what you can to make yourself a better person, there won’t be so much pain as you move through the important relationships in your life.

I think if I had to do it all over again, I’d just chill out a bit and realize that it’s all a process. It would have been so much easier early in life if someone had spelled it out for me by explaining the following:  This is the way life goes – you meet people – some stay in your life and others go. It’s okay no matter what happens with each person because you’ll always have you. You’ll figure out who’s important to your journey and who isn’t as you move forward.

Q:  Guys and girls often find that girlfriends/boyfriends interfere with their other friendships or with schoolwork/sports.  This tension leads to breakups.  Why is that, and how can YA deal with these situations?

A:  DRAMA! I was a very intense high-schooler and I played into the whole relationship game too much. I have learned something VERY important about relationships. It’s the 90/10 Rule, and I live by it. Here’s how it works: If you’re not having fun and feeling good about yourself 90% of the time you’re with the wrong person (whether it’s a friendship or a romantic relationship), stop hanging out with them. You can do this gradually by pulling away, or make it a clean break. There are a zillion people for you to spend your time with, and you shouldn’t waste a minute of your life with anyone who doesn’t make you feel good about yourself. Ever.

It was a huge “Ah-Ha!” moment for me when I realized that though a breakup (with a friend or boyfriend) might stink, it was happening for a reason. I learned to allow myself a few days to feel depressed if I needed it because I had to honor my feelings.  Then I found something to help me move on – like an art class – something special just for me.

Q:  When you think of Max and Tessa, what is it about their relationship that clicks?

A:  I believe that the relationship between Tessa and Max works because there is a mutual respect and compassion between them. (Okay, Max might have to take more weight in this because of all the issues Tessa is going through with Elle.) It’s important to be able to put yourself in another person’s situation, and to treat them kindly based on their individual situation. But you have to create boundaries and not allow anyone to cross them. Tessa certainly tests Max’s limits, and she’s not sure if or how long he’ll stick around. (You’ll have to read the book to find out what happens between them!)

Q:  Looking at your own high school years and the friendships that worked and didn’t work, please share a story or two about the lessons you learned from those relationships.

A:  I’ve already talked about my 90/10 Rule, which I have had to put into effect for several relationships in my adult life. I’m not talking about bad people, just people that didn’t make me feel positive about myself and what I was thinking/saying when I was around them. I only wish I’d lived by this rule when I was in high school.

The most important thing I have learned is that the only person who will be with me every second of my life is me. I have to be true to myself first and foremost, and the rest will fall into place. I spent a lot of time being afraid of what others think about me, and it’s the coolest thing to be able to say, “This is me, and I’m not ashamed of any part of me. If someone likes me – cool. If not – that’s okay too.” This is much easier said than done!! especially as I move into the public eye with the publication of my book!  I just take a deep breath and remind myself that it’s all about my perspective. I do my best to stay positive.

Q:  With the easy and fast-paced access to information today via such communication modes as e-mail, texting, Facebook, and Twitter what do YA need to know in order to build positive friendships/relationships?

A:  Be careful.  Don’t throw something out there that could be hurtful to someone, because it’s not worth it and you’ll never be able to take it back. Be the person you want others to remember later in life. Think about your actions and their consequences. Above all, strive to be kind in every situation. That’s what it’s really all about.

There are many lessons readers can take away from the relationships in The Tension of Opposites.  What have been the most powerful for you and why? I’ll take this full circle and end where I began. It’s essential to build a positive relationship with yourself. You must learn to be comfortable with you – all of you – even the stuff that’s not so great. If you can do this, you’ll learn to open up, as Tessa struggles to do throughout the story, and the rewards will be plentiful!

To enter the drawing for a signed copy of The Tension of Opposites please do one of the following under comments:

  1. Share your thoughts about this blog piece.
  2. Share your ideas on what makes a person a true and loyal friend.
  3. Share a short story of friendship.
  4. Retweet this blog piece on Twitter and/or put a link on Facebook.  (Please let me know that you’ve done this by providing the Facebook link or add @LizaWiemer on Twitter.)

Entries for this drawing will close on July 1, 2010 at 8:00 PM CST and are open to individuals in the United States and Canada.

To learn more about Kristina McBride please see her website:  www.KristinaMcBride.com.  For more information from the publisher go to: http://tinyurl.com/24ceaus To order or read reviews of The Tension of Opposites check out Amazon: http://tinyurl.com/2bgbfb2 The book also is available at any bookstore near you.

Thank You, Kanye West
Sep 15th, 2009 by Liza Wiemer


Thank you so much, Kanye West.   We can learn a lot from you.  You’ve been vilified, humiliated, and humbled in the media for interrupting Taylor Swift’s acceptance speech at the 2009 MTV Video Awards!  Even President Barak Obama called you a jackass.  OUCH!  But I would like to express my deepest gratitude for teaching us a valuable lesson.  I mean it, sincerely.  And I hope that in the end, great things come from your painful experience.  




We have two eyes to see, two ears to hear, two hands to clap, two feet to walk – but one mouth with two lips to close it shut.  What defines us most profoundly to others?  It isn’t what we see or hear or touch or even where we walk, but what we have the most control overWHAT WE SAY. 

Most of us, baring a medical disorder, have complete control over what comes out of our mouths, what we post on Twitter or Facebook or MySpace.  Those things define us in ways we may never know.  What happened at the MTV Video Awards can make a profound difference and can be an opportunity for growth.  We all say hurtful things, perhaps not publicly or so blatantly.  Does it matter?  A hurt is a hurt. 

Think about it.  How do you want to be defined, identified, perceived?  Say something kind, and it will come back to you.  (Take a challenge – sincerely compliment others and see what happens.)  Say something mean, and it can have an impact too.   Words can leave scars; we just might not see them.

I don’t know anyone who hasn’t been hurt by gossip, true or false.  And it seems to be an epidemic in middle schools and high schools.  Everyone’s in each other’s business: who is having sex with who (or not), who cheated, who said this or that.  It’s a nightmare!

Stop.  Think about what you’re saying, who you’re saying it to, and most important WHY?  Say to others what you would want said about you.

 So thank you, Kanye West, for reminding all of us that what we say is extremely important to how others perceive us, how we perceive others, and how we perceive ourselves.  Lesson learned.

Oh, and P.S., Beyonce you’re one incredible class act!

2009 MTV Video Music Awards:  http://tiny.cc/0zZcr 

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