It doesn’t necessarily take much for your roommate to behave like a jerk: being incredibly messy, borrowing your things (or eating your food) without as much as asking , being offensive towards your friends or simply not willing to compromise on anything are just a few of the most common ways to recognize the fact that you are sharing the room with a jerk. Whether that is a terrible, sad, annoying or downright hilarious situation to find yourself in, is often a matter of how you approach it – and possibly, what options you have.
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Quite often, when one roommate is a jerk, the result is a roommate war. However, a room is a small place to fight a war and you might want to try some other things as well before that. After all, if everything else fails, there is always enough time to fight back the jerk with all you got, but you might as well take it one step at a time: try first some reason and see how it goes.
The Sensible, Serious Approach
This might be less fun than other answers to your roommate being a jerk, but it might also be more effective if your goal is simply to make your roommate stop whatever it is that he or she is doing terribly wrong. The most simple (and often overlooked) thing to do is to tell your roommate, plainly and clearly, what bothers you, preferably at the very moment when it happens. For instance: “it really bothers me when you keep the lights on after I go to sleep” or “it really annoys me that you leave your underwear in the living room”.
The secret here however is to keep it simple and clear. No beating around the bush, no sulking, no sullen faces instead of clear talking, no passive-aggresive behavior. Simply state what bothers you and the fact that it does indeed bother you and then let your roommate decide what to do. You might be surprised how many times this will work, but if it doesn’t, a longer conversation might be in order.
Have a Conversation, Set Some Rules
For a longer conversation to work, you need first to prepare a bit. It’s crucial to remember that the main purpose of a conversation is not to simply tell the other that he or she is a jerk, or to list all annoying things over the last weeks, months or even more. The purpose of a conversation is to find with your roommate a set of rules that can work for both of you. So think beforehand of what kind of rules you would like to have and try to imagine how the conversation would go, so that it doesn’t take you entirely by surprise. A good rule for instance is to decide on a timetable for cleaning, including who should do it on each day or week, what cleaning has to be done and what happens if the one responsible doesn’t do it.
After you have made up your mind on what would be a good set of rules, find some quiet time and comfortable location to talk to your roommate. Be clear, but calm and as tactful as you can manage: remember that the purpose is to reach an agreement, not to complain. It is best to keep it about the rules rather than about the issues, but if you have to explain the need for rules, don’t hesitate to do it. It’s generally a good idea to talk about issues focusing on how they impact you rather than what your roommate is doing (e.g. “it bothers me that…” rather than “you always…”). And when you agree on something, don’t let it be just words – write it down, print it neatly and hang it somewhere visible.
Use a Mediator
Despite your best intentions, conversation with your roommate might simply be impossible in fact, or not leading at all to anything useful. If that is the case, you can try to ask for help from a mediator. A mediator is a neutral person who can communicate efficiently and typically has some higher authority over both you and your roommate. Most colleges have such mediators, so don’t hesitate to ask for their help.
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The Funny Approach
If all of the above fail (or you really don’t want to try them), you can always try instead to laugh your way out of it. It might not really work in the sense of transforming your roommate, but there is a chance that they will simply want to leave – which is not that bad, after all. And in any case, at least you have a good laugh and make the most out of it – not to mention that you will probably have some funny stories to tell afterwards!
The fun ideas to try on your jerk of a roommate are endless. Here are just a few: pretend to be sleepwalking and act funny (or simply annoying), talk to inanimate objects as if they were your roommate and then get angry with them, keep a diary in which you write murderous thoughts about your roommate and leave it a few times open on the main table, as if by accident. There are many other ideas that you can easily find online. However, when laughing your roommate out of your room, be careful not to overstep the line by doing something illegal yourself (such as locking your roommate out or intercepting the mail).
When All Else Fails
If everything else fails and you really can’t take it anymore, there is, of course, the plain solution of moving out. Even if it costs you more or it means living further away, having a comfortable environment to live in is surely worth it.