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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.

This Isn’t Eyewear Fashion – LENSES Shape Who We Are
Apr 15th, 2010 by Liza Wiemer

The Lenses We See Through Might Leave Us Blind To What's Around Us

There are people in this world that just get under my skin.  You know… grrrrr, the proverbial experience of nails trailing down a chalkboard – highly grating and definitely frustrating.*  I’m certain there are people who feel the same way about me.

But here’s something very important for all of us to remember.

We all come to each and EVERY moment looking through different lenses.  Every experience is filtered – our perceptions, reactions, beliefs all stem from our experiences.  Situations that occur in our lives are based on those filters.

Filters are:

  1. Our childhood – the awesome, the good, the bad, and the ugly.
  2. Where we live and with whom we connect with every day and how these connections affect us.
  3. Our intimate experiences – and I’m not just talking about sex!
  4. Our friends/co-workers/teachers.
  5. The barriers we face – fear, lack of faith, lack of trust, low self-esteem, self-centeredness:  http://www.whorublog.com/?cat=7
  6. What we know – and I’m not just talking book-smarts.
  7. What we don’t know.

When we become aware of our filters, it becomes easier to ask questions, questions that we may not have readily known to ask because we are only looking through our “lenses.”  Sometimes we have to look deeply at what we perceive and why we react so strongly.

Imagine this post on Facebook:

Party at Ron’s house, Friday night 8 PM – NO LOSERS – that means you Maxine!

How does this affect you?  Does it make you angry?  Sad?  Does it make you laugh?  Is it no big deal?  Does it make you feel sick to your stomach? Would you go to the party?  Would you stay home or still go out, but not to the party?  –  What experiences have you had that makes you react the way you do to this post?

What if you hated** Maxine?  What if Maxine was your BFF?  What if your BFF hates Maxine, and you have no idea why – you just go along with it?  What if Maxine just broke up with Ron?  What if you are Maxine?

What are your lenses that have shaped you to see the world as you see it or react the way you react to a situation or to behave in a certain way – good or bad?  Once you know, then the next time you feel like a complete idiot or you get upset or make fun of someone else or continue to make the same mistake over and over again, or on the flip side you stick up for someone or you say no when you feel pressured to say yes, realize what lenses you came to the experience with and how those lenses have shaped you.  And hopefully, you would never, ever post something that would be hurtful or interpreted in away that causes another person pain – cause those lenses are ones no one should ever have to look through.

If you don’t like what you’re seeing through your lenses, the way you react, or the way you treat others or how they treat you, then recognize that it’s time for a new prescription.  Ultimately, you’re the optometrist!

*Though I might feel frustrated with someone, it doesn’t mean that it isn’t MY issue.  Most circumstances relate to how someone is treating a child or a peer!  I just can’t stand it when someone is horrible to another person!

**Hate is a very strong word, and I don’t use it lightly.  If you despise someone soooo much that you would act in a hurtful way toward another, please stop.  Think about it.  Hatred is always a vicious cycle.  No one ever wins.  It is a painful, destructive emotion that needs to be transformed.  It’s perfectly normal not to get along with everyone.  But targeting someone and justifying it is never okay!  There is always a price.  It could be someone’s life, it could be someone’s freedom, or self-esteem.  Hatred – anger – destruction.  That is not who you want to be!

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

THANK YOU, KANYE WEST

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.  

Boundaries!

Boundaries!

Boundaries!

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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