Tuesday, February 7, 2023

Living with a roommate can be a great experience, but when conflict arises, the situation can sour and you might not know what do to. Here are some tips to ensure that when you find yourself in a conflict, you have the tools and knowledge to mend the situation.

Know what makes a good roommate

Living with a roommate means that you are always cooperating and not simply doing anything that you want. This includes routinely picking up after yourself, respecting their space, not borrowing their things without asking first, and being kind. Breaking these boundaries will most likely result in a conflict.


Communicating with your roommate is the most important part of living in a shared space, and your roommate should not be afraid to come to you with a problem or vice versa. By making yourself open to a conversation, you are welcoming your roommate’s perspective. Don’t get defensive, don’t be passive-aggressive, and use kind language instead of accusatory language such as, “You should do this” or “You should not.” Communicating in person rather than over text will help eliminate further misunderstandings.

Respect your roommate

You and your roommate may have agreed on some ground rules when you started living together. These don’t have to be written, but they should be treated as rules to follow. It may be something as simple as knocking on their door before entering their room or being quiet when it’s late on a school night. Not crossing these boundaries will help decrease any potential conflicts.

Know what triggers your roommate

We all have our pet peeves. After living together for a while, you will begin to know what upsets your roommate. It might be where you put your shoes when you take them off or where you hang your wet towel in the bathroom. Understanding these triggers will help you avoid conflicts.

Prepare to compromise

Keep an open mind when looking for solutions to a conflict. The chances you will get 100% of what you want are slim, so try to avoid getting upset by the outcome. If progress is made and you and your roommate are happy, then you have achieved a successful compromise.

Get outside help

If after many attempts you and your roommate are consistently not seeing eye-to-eye, it could be advisable to talk to an independent professional. The Office of the Ombudsperson is a resource for any member of the University of Iowa community to help mediate any type of crises—big or small. The ombudsperson is confidential, impartial, informal, and independent.

Once you have experienced and overcome conflicts, it will be easier to avoid them in the future. Just remember that being a good roommate takes a good amount of work, but the result will be a healthy, happy living situation.