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Ask Anna #6: Fighting With Your Roommate

Ask Anna

Anonymous asked: My roommate and I had a nasty fight. Tips for resolving it and moving on?

The first thing we should think about is just how nasty this fight got. A little tiff about how long you leave the lights on can be settled with a compromise and a mutual apology, but if this fight got dirty enough for name calling, you’ve got a bigger feat ahead of you. Before you start to make amends, you need to get rid of your leftover anger. How you do that is up to you, but you could try exercising, drawing or watching a funny TV show. Once you’re more level-headed, analyze the roles you both played in the argument. Conversations, especially arguments, are two-way streets, so odds are you both were at fault at some point. Be prepared to apologize for the things you said or did, and be willing to accept their apology.

Next, brainstorm ways to resolve your disagreement. Try to come up with a few fair solutions. The solution may be easier to find if you were fighting about something in your shared space rather than if you were fighting about something personal. Once you have some ideas, reach out to your roommate and arrange a time to talk about what happened. If they’re not willing to talk yet, that’s okay. Give them the time they need to cool off. It might be helpful for you guys to talk in a neutral, public space, like a restaurant or a lounge. If there are people around, you’re less likely to start fighting again, and food is a great mood stabilizer.

While you’re having this difficult conversation, be receptive to their perspective and their emotions. Instead of defending yourself, accept what you’ve done wrong. Instead of re-accusing your roommate, explain how their actions or words have made you feel. Again, ‘I’ statements are key. ‘I feel disrespected when you yell at me,’ is a lot better than, ‘You’re a huge bitch for yelling at me.’ Take time to craft your sentences; this is a fragile point in your relationship. Treat your roommate with respect when discussing possible solutions, and hopefully they will do the same. If they’re not receptive to the conversation, they might still have anger towards you and need more time to cool off. If they try to pick a fight, don’t feed into it. Anger begets anger. I know it is hard to keep a level head in an emotional situation, so this is why taking your time to speak is especially important.

Through talking about it, you two should be able to come up with at least a temporary solution. If you can’t make it through the conversation without fighting, ask your RA to mediate for you. If the solution you come up with doesn’t work for you, remember that college living situations are temporary and the semester is winding down quickly. Good luck navigating this fallout, and like I’ve said before, your roommate has more chances than anyone else to kill you, so a roommate deserves to be treated with respect.

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Image by Whitney K. Davis


written by
Anna Bronson
April 8, 2019