4 Steps for Dealing with a Passive-Aggressive Roommate

By Tamiera Vandegrift on January 14, 2018

Dealing with someone who is passive-aggressive is a pain, but living with a passive-aggressive roommate is a whole other ball game. Sharing a space, a kitchen, and a bathroom with a roommate is difficult enough. Compromising on chores and visitor policies is difficult enough. With all of these hindrances already in place, a roommate with a bad attitude is certainly the last thing you’ll need. A roommate with a passive-aggressive attitude is the worst kind.

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We’ve all seen the hilarious memes of roommates who leave nasty notes around the house, but the reality is no laughing matter. Your home should be a place of peace and good vibes, so nobody should get in the way of that. Even if confrontation isn’t your forte, there are ways to deal with a passive-aggressive roommate and hopefully solve whatever the underlying issues are. Keep reading for ways to deal with a difficult, passive-aggressive roommate.

Step One: Use the Best Policy

Honesty never hurts. Confrontation is scary, especially when you’re forced to be in such close quarters with the person you’re confronting, but addressing the problem directly should always be the first attempt. When your roommate ignores your “hello” when you come through the door or makes a snide comment about your habits, use that moment to ask them what’s bothering them. Ask them what’s on their mind or if something is bothering them. Let them know that you will not blow up at them for expressing their opinion. By doing this, you aren’t sinking down to their level or giving them too much power. Instead, you are opening up the floor for dialogue and discussion.

Maybe your roommate is just having a hard time and something you did unintentionally offended them. Maybe they are dissatisfied with how often you have guests over, or vice versa. This isn’t to say that you are necessarily at fault, but your roommate’s attitude could be the result of a miscommunication. Even if their issue seems completely stupid and irrational, hear them out. Don’t invalidate their feelings or they will come to resent you and make matters worse. The only way to solve that problem is open, honest communication.

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Step Two: Make Some Rules

Whether or not having a calm, civil discussion worked, it’s time to sit down together and formulate a new set of roommate rules and compromises. Nobody wants to live by a rigid system, but in the case of living with roommates, some order might be necessary. Allow your roommate to open up about what’s wrong and what’s bothering them. While this might open up the floor for heated discussions and frustration, it’s important to stand your ground on what’s important to you. For instance, if your roommate is throwing shade at you for leaving a few dishes in the sink overnight while they left the equivalent of a messy restaurant dining area in your kitchen, it’s more than fair to put them in their place. Leave being mild and polite in step one. Now, it’s time to put your feelings on the line, unapologetically. You’ll both be living together for the rest of the school year, or the rest of the semester so it’s imperative that you find some way to get along.

For every complaint your roommate presents, respond (kindly, but firmly) with a potential solution and a suggestion that you think could improve circumstances. Remember to let your voice be heard too so that your roommate doesn’t begin to feel like they can act out and boss you around. Make it clear that no matter what the issue is, passive-aggressive behavior is never okay nor is it a mature way to get problems solved. People can only treat you the way you allow them too, so don’t allow them to get away with awful, toxic behavior. Be strong and be firm and you’ll eventually reach the solution you need.

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Step Three: Get an Outside Party

Sometimes, three heads are better than two. We’re paraphrasing of course, but the same principle still applies. If you and your roommate find yourselves unable to reach a solution on your own, then it’s time to seek a third party to help you resolve the issue. If you live on your university’s campus, it’s time to contact your R.A. and ask them for their help in the matter. This is especially helpful if you’re really bad at confrontation or really afraid of it. Having a third party weighing in on the situation will help you to feel as though you have someone on your side who is willing to listen and find a solution that makes everyone happy, not just your roommate.

If you live off-campus, finding a third party to help with the situation can be a little more tricky, as landlords and property managers typically have no business or interest dealing with roommate drama. Instead, try and have a friend (who is as unbiased as possible) listen to the situation and help you and your roommate find a solution. If you decide to take this route, do your best to make sure that your friend is unbiased and won’t attack or condemn your roommate in any sort of way. Doing so will burn the bridge of communication and that’s the last thing you need. Try to solve the issue between the two of you if you can but if that’s not possible, inviting a third party is the next best thing.

Step Four: Or… Get Some Space

If all else fails, disengage. Clearly, your roommate has no interest in solving problems or making amends. However, you can only play this card if all of the other steps have been utilized. If your roommate fails to communicate and continues to be rude, you do not owe them kindness or understanding. Remember that you will only be living with them for a short amount of time and do your best to carry on. Try your best to ignore their behavior and not let them get the best of you. They aren’t worth your time or your happiness.

Tamiera is an alumna of Florida State University, having earned a BA in Editing, Writing & Media and a BA in Digital Media Production. Tamiera is an aspiring novelist and screenwriter, inspired by the works of Lars von Trier, David Fincher, and Darren Aronofsky. Tamiera has previously written for the FSView and Florida Flambeau, College Magazine, and more. She has recently published a creative thesis containing short stories based on mental illnesses in the media. In the future, Tamiera aspires to win "Best Original Screenplay" or "Best Picture" at the Academy Awards with one of her film projects. Besides writing and storytelling, Tamiera enjoys cooking, traveling, spending time with friends, and geeking out over movie trivia.

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