How to Avoid Roommate Drama

By Alyssa Laffitte

Besides classes, one of the biggest sources of stress for college students is roommate drama. When you live with someone, it is easy to get annoyed with each other, causing a tense living situation. But it doesn’t have to be that way! Here are some tips to help you avoid roommate drama.


Write a roommate contract

The best way to avoid roommate drama is to write a roommate contract. A roommate contract is a document that lists the expectations you and your roommate have for each other. It requires you to figure out the areas in which you and your roommate are on the same page and the ones in which you are not. Good questions to ask while you are writing a roommate contract are:

  • Around what time do you like to go to sleep?
  • Around what time do you like to wake up?
  • Do you like to have people over, or would you rather the room be a sanctuary?
  • Do you plan on bringing any guests over? How long in advance should we notify each other of these guests? (Especially guests of the opposite gender!)
  • Are you a neat freak?
  • How much time do you plan to spend in the room?
  • Are there any times during the week when you would like to have the room to yourself? (Of course, your roommate should ask you this question, and you should take each other’s answers into account as you plan your week.)
  • How do you feel about sharing items? Food? Shampoo/conditioner? Beauty products?

Writing a roommate contract early on in your roommate relationship will help you avoid roommate drama and headaches. Having this conversation might be awkward, especially if you and your roommate don’t know each other very well yet. Still, it’s important. You will thank yourself later!



Similarly, communication is key in any relationship, but it is especially important to communicate with the people you are living with. The contract is only the first step of this communication. Let your roommate know what’s going on in your life. For example, if you have a big test to study for, let her know that you would like some extra time alone in the room. It’s likely that she will be understanding and honor your request.

You should also communicate to your roommate anything she is doing that you don’t like. For instance, if she always leaves her dirty dishes in the sink and doesn’t wash them, let her know that this bothers you.

Of course, the key to this kind of communication is to be kind. Don’t be accusatory or mean and yell at her when you are telling her she is doing something that bothers you. Instead, say something like, “I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but I always wash my dishes after I use them. The dishes in the sink are yours. Do you think you could wash your dishes, too? Please? I would really appreciate it.”

If you don’t communicate with your roommate, you will be very frustrated and angry. Don’t let these unresolved issues become monsters. Communicate with your roommate whenever you have an issue, as this is the best chance of resolving the issue.


Keep the room clean

Even if your roommate says she is not necessarily a neat freak, it is important to keep the room clean. Not only does it look better, but it’s easy to find things when you know they are exactly where they are supposed to be. Your roommate will appreciate that you are not leaving your stuff all over the place.


Spend a healthy amount of time apart

When you live with someone, you spend a lot of time with them. This is good because you and your roommate could cultivate a close friendship. However, it is also healthy to spend a healthy amount of time apart to avoid annoying each other. Spend a few days studying in the library rather than together in your dorm room, or spend time with other friends for a little while. You’ll have something new to talk about when you see each other again!


Always ask before borrowing something

Everyone has different opinions on what they feel comfortable letting their roommates borrow. When I moved out, I was rather protective of my stuff. However, someone else might not mind letting you borrow any of her clothes.

Have a conversation with your roommate about what you can and can’t borrow from each other, and what are the rules if you do borrow something. For example, for how long are you allowed to borrow something? Do you have to wash/clean it before you return it? Knowing the “borrowing policy” ahead of time will help you avoid many roommate problems.


Roommate drama is a big source of stress for college students. Avoid roommate drama by making your expectations clear at the beginning, and communicating kindly with each other when problems do arise. If you do that, you can have a good relationship with your roommate.

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