There’s a saying I once read which I really like, “Thanks for being the roommate I can complain to about the other roommate.”
Not so cute, though, when you are the one they are complaining about, when you can say, “My roommate complains about me.”
Roommates complaining about their roommate is such a common problem. So, what should you do?
You say, “My roommate complains about me!” Research shows:
- It’s a form of bullying. Shut it down ASAP.
- It’s meanness. Speak to your roommate or change your attitude.
- It’s immaturity. Tell your roommate it’s time to ‘grow up’!
This guide has a full list of common complaints and how to solve them.
1. Your roommate’s complaints are actually a way of bullying you.
There are 6 types of bullying: cyber, physical, verbal, relational, sexual and prejudicial bullying.
Most of us are familiar with cyber, physical and verbal bullying. Let’s have a quick look at the others.
Relational or social bullying is sneaky. It is often done behind the victim’s back, things like nasty gossip, spreading rumors, telling secrets you promised to keep, and not letting them join in group activities.
Any time gender is used against a person, it is a form of sexual bullying. Sexualized name calling, inappropriate touching, sexual innuendo, and pressuring someone to perform sexual acts they are not comfortable with are all examples.
Prejudicial bullying is getting negative ‘special treatment’ due to your race, religion, disability, sexual orientation—basically, anything that makes you ‘different’ from them…and they don’t like it.
Bullying is no joke and should be treated very seriously.
Step 1: Documentation
Keep track of dates and actions. Include how this bullying made you feel.
Write down specific details of the bullying. Take screenshots of nasty texts and notes. Secretly record abusive conversations. Take pictures of damaged possessions.
Step 2: Get help
Go to someone you can trust. It could be a friend, a parent, an emergency hotline, a college counselor or even your boss.
Share your documentation with them, and discuss next steps.
Step 3: Next steps
What you do next will depend on many factors. Options include moving out, reporting your roommate to the police, confronting your bully, and ignoring their actions.
However, you should always stay safe, keep your cool and your distance.
Remember that the problem is them and not you. Talk about your situation with others—don’t keep it a secret out of fear or shame. (source)
2. Your roommate is just mean.
Being friends with your roomie is wonderful, but it is not a must. Sometimes we end up being roommates with people who just don’t like us.
Dealing with a mean roommate can actually be a life-enhancing, growth opportunity.
Can you meet the challenge of managing a relationship with someone who just doesn’t like you and is mean to you?
What do we do when someone doesn’t act in the way we would prefer? Do we endlessly complain or can we rise above the hardship?
You say, “My roommate complains about me. She is mean and nasty.”
Is that all the time? Perhaps there are times when she is neutral or even nice?
If there are those positive times, when do they happen? Focus on what gets your roommate into a good mood. Then repeat these conditions often.
Silence is golden
When your roommate complains or is mean, do you get into it with her? Or do you choose the no-conflict path and just get out of her way?
A famous quote says, “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”
Can you say something kind and soothing? If not, zip it, and go somewhere else.
3. Perhaps you need to change your reactions to your roommate’s complaints.
In response to a question about “how to handle my nagging, always complaining roommate”, my research turned up the following interesting piece of advice: “You can only change how YOU decide to respond to people and situations that impact you.” (source)
It took me years to understand this piece of advice and really put it to effective use in my own life…including 10 years of not visiting with my family (mom, brother and sister) until I could figure out how to manage myself during those visits to avoid fights.
You can do better by starting to work on this skill now.
Basically, you are going to have to give up the idea that you are right and others need to see where they are wrong—and fix it.
You ARE right, of course, but that second part? Forget it.
That’s who they are at the moment. The question is: How are YOU going to handle it?
4. Is it possible that your roommate’s complaints are justified?
Perhaps there IS something in the complaint? Like you promised to do something and didn’t?
Are you doing your share of the cleaning responsibly? There is nothing like a messy or dirty roommate to make housemates get angry quickly.
If you borrow something, do you ask first? Do you replace it whenever possible?
Are you considerate about sharing bathroom space and time if needed?
What about your friends and romantic partners…are they visiting in reasonable amounts, at reasonable hours, and causing a reasonable amount of noise? (Their mess you are taking care of, of course!)
If you think you might be slacking with any of the above, then you could understand why your roommate complains about you.
Take responsibility and make a new commitment.
For example: “I’m sorry. Yes, I said I would clean the bathroom by today, but I’ve been really busy. I promise to do it tomorrow. Please do not remind me until 9 pm tomorrow if I have not done it.”
5. Tell your roommate to grow up via a face-to-face chat.
One person wrote in about a roommate who complained all the time about small things. The example which broke the camel’s back was a dish that had a spot of unwashed food.
The complaining roommate took a picture of the dish, posted it on their roommate chat, and commented: “Really?”. (source)
Most of the responses said that the writer’s roommate was probably “spoiled and unused to living with roommates”.
First home away from home?
Is this the first time your nagging roommate is living away from home?
Living with roommates requires a totally different skill set than living at home…especially if mommy and daddy do it all.
Perhaps at home, this guy’s roommate could throw such a ‘temper tantrum’ over a dirty dish and have someone take care of it ASAP.
Time for a chat
In this case, it will be helpful to have a relaxed chat with your roommate.
First, ask him how things have been going with his first ‘home away from home’ experience.
Listen to what he says. You will most likely get important clues about how to resolve things.
He might be feeling overwhelmed at the amount of things he has to think about—food buying and cooking, laundry, cleaning, paying bills, etc.
He might also be missing his family.
Together, this is putting him under a lot of stress. His nitpicking could be the result.
Now a reality check
As the experienced roommate you are, empathize with your newbie roommate. Explain that with time, things will get easier, more routine, less stressful.
However, let him know that sh*t happens.
People miss food spots on dishes. Sometimes, people forget to replace the roll of toilet paper they finished.
Tell him that being a good roommate includes having patience and respect.
His roommates are not his servants. Nor are they trying to be mean and nasty.
So, chill, dude.
6. Your roommate complains about you via your group chat.
By posting the picture on social media, the complaining roommate is trying to use peer pressure against the ‘offending’ roommate—the one who created the (supposed) cause for complaint.
Using social media and other ‘over the top’ tactics can be seen as a form of bullying.
Bullying should never be tolerated!
Check out Solution #1 (above) for a detailed action plan.
7. Your roommate’s complaint is about the dishes never being clean enough but hardly ever does any herself or about you being messy but never cleans her own sh*t up.
I really, really dislike hypocrites, don’t you?
In my opinion, roommates who don’t do their share of the household chores don’t get to complain about anyone else no matter what.
When this happens to me, I calmly but firmly give an example showing how I acted responsibly and my roommate did not. For example, on Monday, as agreed, I emptied the dishwasher. On Tuesday, despite our agreement, my roommate did not.
Then, I state that I am not willing to discuss the situation further until my roommate takes responsibility for her share of the work. Once she is contributing, I will be willing to hear any complaints she has about how I am doing my share of the work.
8. You watching TV late at night makes your roommate complain but then he bangs the dishes loudly for two hours every day starting at 7:30 am.
Sometimes, people just aren’t aware of the noise they make. When you point it out to them, they are truly amazed.
Another option is that your roommate is doing it to ‘get even’ for the noise he says you are making.
Either way, no one is satisfied, so time for a chat.
Explain to your roommate that your late night TV bothers him just as much as his early morning dishes bother you. Giving him an example can help him see his own behavior correctly.
Discuss solutions such as using headphones when you watch TV late at night and him being quieter with the dishes—or even delaying his dish work if it’s something such as loading/emptying the dishwasher.
9. Are your roommate’s complaints bringing you down?
Do you feel stressed and run down whenever you are at home?
Perhaps the quality of your work is suffering?
Maybe you feel you can’t really ‘be yourself’ around your roommate?
Do you find you are sleeping poorly and just feeling angry about everything?
These and other reasons may mean that your roommate’s constant complaints are having a negative effect on your wellbeing.
My roommate complains about me endlessly
I once had a roommate who complained about me, about his life in general, about others…all the time!
My roommate was originally from Russia.
One day, I got the brilliant idea of telling him that I would listen the first time he complained about something. I would try to be understanding and empathetic.
After that, I was asking him to complain in Russian. (I mostly don’t understand Russian.)
That worked well. Speaking out loud helped him get things off his chest. Not understanding meant I could tune him out.
Decide on your ‘complaint boundaries’. What are you willing to listen to? Where do you want to draw the line?
Complaints for no real reason
You might want to tell your roommate that endless complaints without solutions are neither helpful or healthy. Tell them that you are going to walk away when this happens.
Explore other options
If you have seriously tried to fix things with your roommate(s) and nothing has worked, perhaps it’s time to think about moving out.
It’s a hassle and might even cause you extra expenses, but you need to make your health and well-being a priority.
10 . It’s only your noise your roommate is complaining about.
What about a roommate who complains that you are too loud and wakes him up…but the trains passing by on the nearby track never seem to be a problem?
To make things even more complicated, the problems only happen when the roommate goes to bed late, has to get up early for work the next day, and less than one hour has passed since he went to sleep. After that, the roommate is so deeply asleep that “a bomb couldn’t wake him”.
It takes time for some people to drop off into a deep sleep. Perhaps it takes this roommate about 60 minutes, and added to that is the stress of having to wake up early while going to bed late.
For specific sets of conditions like this one, I suggest being helpful and working with your roommate. Give him an hour to settle down and drop into a deep sleep. Helping him wake up rested the next morning gains you points you can use when you need his support.
You may also find an article on this website useful. It gives the best in depth advice on what to do when your roommate complains about noise.
11. For a roommate who complains about everything you do, consider a roommate contract.
There are roommate’s you just can’t satisfy. They will always find something to complain about.
For these situations, a roommate contract can be your best option.
Roommate contracts cover anything you want them to. There are the ‘usual suspects’ such as cleaning/chore schedules, minimal noise hours, entertaining guests and having sleepovers, a conflict resolution plan, and how to share the expenses.
But you can add in anything you want.
If you need time to practice with your band in the living room, add it in.
Does your roomie likes to have ethnic food nights and you can’t stand the smells? Agree how and when.
True, the contract is ‘just a piece of paper’, but that can make all the difference in many cases.
12. Your roommate might complain because he is passive-aggressive.
Can you express your feelings honestly, especially when they are negative?
Or do you find yourself doing all sorts of inconsiderate, mean things to show how you feel? Things like giving people the silent treatment; saying you will do something (like the dishes) but always ‘forgetting’; acting nice to someone’s face and nasty behind their back.
If the second option sounds like you, you may be passive-aggressive.
Passive-aggressive people have trouble dealing with their emotions directly. So, they hide them, bringing them out in actions instead.
Having a passive-aggressive roommate is a difficult situation because they will not want to talk about what is bothering them.
Yet, that is the first step—trying to have a constructive conversation about what is bothering them. As you listen carefully, you may find some valid points which can be solved pretty simply.
If that doesn’t work, you can suggest counseling or therapy for the both of you.
Keep in mind though, you can’t change someone’s personality. Only they can do that.
13. Your toileting habits are causing your roommate to complain.
Bathroom water makes noise. The running water in the sink and the toilet which has just been flushed can be loud…especially if your bedroom is next door.
In my research, I found some roommates who were having a problem because one of them had to get up at 6:30 am to get ready for work. The other roommate had a later start time, so she was always being woken up by the early riser’s bathroom routine and complained about it regularly.
Another issue was the use of products and space.
The early riser roommate bought things such as soap and toilet paper for both to use. The other roommate never used these.
The early riser roommate put her shampoo/body wash items on one shelf, leaving another one for her roommate. This shelf stayed empty.
All of these put together made the early riser roommate upset because she wanted her roommate to like her and think she was a ‘good’ roommate.
Sharing the bathroom
If there is only one bathroom, then people are going to have to be grown up about sharing it.
That means if one roommate has to get up early for work, the other roommate is just going to have to cope with that in a mature way.
While taking turns buying soap and toilet paper, etc. gives a homey, family feel to the living arrangements, not everyone is comfortable with doing this.
Also, there are many different kinds of soap and toilet paper. What one person finds preferable may not be to the other person’s liking.
If sharing products works out, great. If not, don’t take it personally.
Sharing the bathroom
Each roommate should have a more-or-less equal amount of storage space in the bathroom, kitchen, and other communal rooms.
It is up to each roommate to use this space…or not.
Perhaps it is more comfortable for a roommate to store all her bathroom products in a dresser drawer or on a cupboard shelf in her bedroom.
Again, not using space is not always a statement about liking or disliking a roommate.
And about roommates liking each other…
This is the best possible situation. Roommates who like and respect each other will get along better, especially during tough times and during tricky situations.
However, roommates may just not get along.
Although first impressions led you to move in together, a deeper knowledge of their character and personality shows that you just don’t like this person.
Believe it or not, you can get along anyway.
Mature, responsible people can put aside their personal feelings and cooperate for the good of both. Why not challenge yourself to try?