9 Steps to Take if You Don’t Like Your College Roommate

Jon Fesmire | May 14, 2018 @ 8:00 AM

Moving into a college dorm is a bit of a gamble. Unless you’re one of the lucky few who is able to room with someone you are already friends with, you’re going to be living with a stranger. This could mean someone great but it could also mean someone horrible.

If it turns out to be the latter, there are some steps you can take to make life better.

Consider Your Behavior

Maybe you and your roommate just need to get to know each other a little better. Most of us have experienced not liking someone initially, then becoming good friends. Let’s get into specifics.

If your roommate is being unfriendly, is it possible you did something to upset them? Think about this honestly. Maybe what you perceive as unfriendly is just shyness, or maybe they’re upset about something completely unrelated to you.

Understand the Nature of Conflicts

No doubt, when living with your parents and siblings, you had plenty of conflicts. We all do. That alone doesn’t make our parents or siblings bad. Conflict is a normal part of life.

Now that you’ve considered what part you may have played in your roommate difficultes, take a deep breath and approach the next step.

Talk to Your Roommate

Whatever you do, don’t leave notes asking for your roommate to behave differently. That will come across as passive-aggressive and will only upset or anger your roommate. Talk face to face.

Let your roommate know you’d like to talk. If they’ve seemed upset with you, ask them about it. Tell them you want to get along and part of that means talking things out. Most people will be willing to discuss and resolve conflicts. Your roommate wants an enjoyable college experience, too.


Listen to what your roommate has to say. Don’t act annoyed or dismissive. It’s time to be diplomatic. You’re not in high school anymore. Approach the situation calmly and rationally.

Talk to a Confidante

Hopefully at this point, you and your roommate are doing better. If your roommate isn’t doing anything wrong but is still getting on your nerves, it may just be a matter of incompatibility. Talk to one of your parents or a therapist. Your college probably has a counseling center with services available for students.

A therapist is someone you can vent to. They may also be able to help you get along better with your roommate and suggest some approaches you haven’t considered.

Ask an RA to Moderate

Your dorm should have at least one resident assistant (RA), possibly even one per floor. If you’re still having trouble getting along with your roommate, it may be time to ask an RA to moderate a conversation between the two of you.

RAs are trained to help with such situations. When you ask an RA to help with an issue between you and your roommate, you need to let the RA be in charge of the conversation. They’ll listen to you both and help with a solution.

Look Elsewhere

You and your roommate may be able to live with each other, but not be very happy with each other.

In that case, you can always spend time elsewhere. Instead of studying in your room, study in the library or elsewhere on or off campus. You can also take your entertainment with you. Bring a book with you, or bring your phone and tablet, and watch your favorite shows (with headphones, of course) somewhere relaxing.

Make friends in your classes and spend time with them. Join a campus club. Remember that you won’t be living with your current roommate forever. Sometimes, it’s enough to have a civil relationship in your dorm room. Your roommate doesn’t have to be your best friend.

Move Out

If you and your roommate are truly incompatible, you may decide you need to move into another dorm room. Talk to your RA about this and learn the rules for moving out. They can help you start the process.

Remain Friendly

Moving to another room will be a process. Meanwhile, you’ll still need to live with your current roommate.

During the transition period, treat your roommate with respect. It can be tough living with someone you no longer want to stay with, but again, you can talk this out and emphasize the importance of getting along as you prepare for your move.

One potential problem with a room switch is that you may get another roommate you don’t like. That’s why it’s important to do your best to get along with your roommate and try to make the situation work.

If you’re lucky, you may have a friend in the dorms who wants to room with you. In that case, your university may let you get a room together. Aside from this, though, changing rooms will be a gamble.

We hope that you get a roommate you get along with, and who will become a close friend. However, if you don’t, now you have some good ways to create a better situation for everyone.

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