How To Talk Politics And Current Events With Your Roommate
In times of tumult, talking about politics and current events can be difficult, even with those who are closest to you. Maybe you are not sure where you stand, you are afraid you might say something wrong, or maybe you disagree with where they stand. The current climate in the United States is incredibly politically charged though, making it almost impossible not to bring up, mention, or talk about what is going on in the world, your country, your state, and even your city.
When you live with a roommate, it can be difficult to avoid these topics as they often affect your daily life and it is probably harmful to avoid talking to your roommate at all (especially since many Americans are still in quarantine—your roommate may be the only human contact you are receiving at present!). Especially if you are uncomfortable discussing these topics or have polar opinions from your roommate, finding healthy and safe ways to talk about these things is key. Read on to learn how to talk politics and current events with your roommate!
The first thing you can do when talking politics or current events with not just your roommate but everyone you choose to discuss these topics with is to stay calm. Keep a level head. This does not mean that you have to agree with everything that your roommate says. This does not mean that you can’t be incredulous, upset, or offended by the things that they say. This also does not mean that you cannot respond to their comments and tell your roommate how and why they upset or bother you.
What staying calm does is help you from flying off the handle. Politics and current events, especially now, are deeply personal. It is very possible that your roommate could say something that goes against what you believe in or think is right.
Unfortunately, whether or not you agree with your roommate, you are stuck living with them. You are not arguing with some random stranger or distant acquaintance on the internet. This is someone you live with, at least until your lease runs out. You can definitely still stand up for yourself and what you believe in when discussing touchy political topics with your roommate. You just do not want to create an environment that makes it uncomfortable for you to reside with your roommate when you are legally obligated to by your lease and have nowhere else to go.
Another step that you can take to help keep your conversations with your roommate about politics and current events civil is to create boundaries. That way you can avoid topics or actions that might make the situation bubble over and become toxic.
You can create boundaries about what topics can be discussed, how long or much your two are allowed to discuss those topics in a day or even create safe words or phrases to help guide the conversation when it is getting too intense, triggering, or real for either one of you. That way you can guide the conversation in another direction.
This will help to curb intrusive questions that either one of you might find insulting or prying but can help guide the conversation safely away from topics that could escalate a situation. When a safe word is used, conversational partners should know better than to ask, “Why can’t we talk about that?”, “Why not?”, or “That is not fair.” This kind of boundary should be used in high-stress situations when you are unable to articulate yourself or your partner seems incapable of understanding where you come from.
These boundaries are meant to protect both you and your roommate and keep a positive living environment.
Finally, you have to know when to disengage. If you and your roommate are unable to stay calm, the boundaries you mutually created are either being flouted or ignored, and the situation is quickly becoming toxic, then you have to disengage from the conversation. Your safety and health (physically, mentally, and emotionally) is what is most important.
If your roommate can’t respect you, your opinion, or your boundaries, then disengage. Tell them the conversation is ending. Leave the space. Leave the house to get some air, if you need it and are able to. And from then on, you can either always avoid these topics with your roommate or you can nip the conversation in the bud if it starts straying into dangerous territory.
What is most important when talking politics and current events with your roommate is that you have fruitful discussions rather than create toxic situations. And if you find that you are unable to engage in healthy discussion, be able to remove yourself from a situation before it can get toxic.
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