Here are the main tips if you roommate won’t leave you alone.
- Set boundaries with your roommate
- Come up with compromises, such as giving them an agreed amount of attention
- Schedule times for being alone
- Keep emotionally distant
- Create physical boundaries to mark your space
- If you are an introvert, they may not be doing anything wrong
1. How to Set out Your Boundaries
Laying out how you enjoy your home life from the beginning will save you a huge amount of time and hassle. If you value your privacy and personal space, then tell them that’s the situation.
This is where most of us go wrong. We fail to communicate ourselves properly from the very start.
As a result, no personal boundaries are set, and we end up in awkward situations with our roommates. Some people just need to socialize all the time. This can be extremely irritating and uncomfortable for any introverts out there.
When it comes to roommate problems, like any good relationship, communication is absolutely vital.
Once we start to create boundaries, all the people involved feel more comfortable with the living situation. It’s likely that your annoying roommate who won’t leave you alone doesn’t even realize what they are doing.
Maybe they grew up in a home where it is considered weird for everyone to not always be socializing with each other. Perhaps they see no value in alone time or personal space.
We all like to think that everybody else should be respectful of us, but without clear communication, how will they know what is ok and what is not ok? Speak to your roommate, be honest, and set those important boundaries.
Doing so will save you time, confusion, stress, and any possible fallouts.
2. Apologize for Not Setting Boundaries
Ok, so this sounds like you are to blame, right? This is actually the most effective way to start your awkward conversation about their behavior that you dislike.
If you start by apologizing for not setting the boundaries, it will make them far more likely to hear you out and accept what you have to say. “It’s me, not you”.
You could say it like this: “Look, I’m really sorry I didn’t tell you this sooner, but it makes me feel uncomfortable when people are in my space a lot. I hope you can understand that I value my personal space and alone time.”
Like I mentioned earlier, your roommate may have come from a previous living situation where this type of behavior is normal. Some families spend all their time together and never have any downtime between them. Some roommates are literally joined by the hip and do everything together. Some people actually enjoy watching movies and talking all the way through it (honestly, they do!).
Your roommate needs to know that their behavior is not acceptable to you on a personal level. It’s not that you are a bad person or rude; you just value your space and downtime. This is totally normal and acceptable to a human being.
3. Use These Compromise Solutions That Can Work Really Well
- Dedicate specific times of the day to hang out.
- Agree that the time spent in your bedroom and bathroom is 100% private.
- Have a ‘safe word’ in which you can nicely let them know that you want some space.
- Establish any rules you want to put in place and agree on them together.
Never approach a difficult conversation with your roommate if you haven’t already thought about the solution. Otherwise, you will just open an awkward conversation and spend hours going back and forth with no end in sight.
Make a list of the things that you think are unacceptable. If they talk through your TV programs, disturb your studying, follow you around the house, constantly chat all the time, be intense, continually ask you questions or invite themselves to all your nights out. You have to get all of these down on paper and start thinking about the solutions.
4. What to Do If You Are an Introvert
Us introverts like to do things our own way, which is totally fine, but this also can come off as rude and even mean to some people.
Make sure that the problem in this situation isn’t you. Are they really annoying you, hovering all around you and never leaving you alone?
The last thing you want to do is to bring the problem up only to hear “no way! I’m just trying to make conversation and be friendly. It’s not like I’m following you”.
Be open to the idea that they may not actually be clingy, and it’s you that’s just being extremely introverted. Living with other people demands sacrifices and finding common ground.
Being civil to each other, being kind, and having a small chat every now and then is more than acceptable. It’s not much to ask from your roommate.
5. Keep Your Emotional Distance
Some of you may be living with a roommate that is desperate to be your BFF. Thing is, you’re just not into it. Firstly, it’s ok that you don’t want to be their BFF. If we don’t feel a connection, you can’t force yourself to be someone’s best friend.
It’s important to make sure you aren’t giving off any BFF ‘vibes’.
Essentially, don’t act like their best friend one minute and then become distant the next. It’s not fair to play with people’s emotions. Decide on what relationship you want with this person and vocalize it.
This can be a tricky situation and extremely awkward to resolve. Some believe that just because they live with you that you should be the best of friends. You don’t want to hurt these people’s feelings.
It’s important to be clear about your position, no matter how difficult that may be.
6. Acknowledge Any Issues They May Have
Often, people that are clingy and hover around others all-day have certain social anxieties or issues. We never know what’s really going on inside someone’s head.
They could be compensating for something, maybe they had bad past relationships, maybe being alone in silence is difficult for them, or perhaps they get incredibly bored very quickly.
Try to understand what the other person is going through and why they need to always be around you. If you’re at college, they might just be homesick, or have an insatiable urge to make a new best friend as quickly as possible.
Once you understand the issue (if there is one), you can then identify a more practical solution.
If they are simply lonely and used to having lots of friends, you could try and introduce them to new people or urge them to meet people outside of your house. Maybe they don’t need you specifically, they just need someone or a group to belong to.
7. Ask Them What They Want
When it comes to roommates that never leave you alone, sometimes it’s easier just to ask them what they want. If you can get them to tell you what their expectations are, you can quickly nip them in the bud.
For example, if they say “we live together, I thought it would be cool if we became best friends” you can quickly come back with “That’s ok, but I need my own personal space, and I feel that is important for any relationship to grow.”
Some people think a friendship grows by squeezing it until it pops like a zit. The reality is, people need time to form good friendships. It doesn’t happen overnight, and part of being a great friend is respecting the other person’s space and wishes.
8. Don’t Discuss Anything When Angry
Possibly the worst thing you can do. Just don’t do it.
When you are angry and confront someone about something they weren’t expecting, the response can vary. No constructive conversation ever happened between two angry and agitated people.
If you want to express something to your roommate that is concerning you, then pick a specific time and place where you can both relax and talk. You require a calm environment; preferably both sat down with a coffee. You don’t want to shock the other person. You want a civilized conversation where you can express yourself without anyone getting too upset.
A calm environment
Both to be sat down with a drink such as coffee
To make sure you don’t shock your roommate
To have a civilized conversation where you can express yourself without getting too upset
If your roommate does something you dislike at the moment, which makes you irritated, then it’s best to try to stay calm and bring it up the following day. Don’t engage at the moment when you are angry, and they are surprised; it will only end in conflict.
9. Never Discuss the Problem Using Instant Messaging
Instant messaging like texts and WhatsApp were never intended for serious issues, so don’t do it! Messages are a terrible way to tell another person you have a problem with them. Always save your conversations for real-life 1-on-1 discussions.
Although it might seem easier and less complicated to rant on a message, it never results in anything productive. It’s hard to convey your feelings, people misinterpret what you have said, take things the wrong way, and it will ultimately cause all manner of issues in your relationship.
Save messages for letting your roommate know that you need more milk or to make sure the back gate is closed.
10. Set Out Physical Boundaries
You don’t have to draw a literal line down half of the room, but you can set some physical boundaries in the house. Your bedroom or study room, for example, can be a completely “off-limits” zone in which your roommate can not enter or disturb without your permission.
This helps create more physical space in your home, giving you the comfort of knowing you can relax and get away from any social situations you don’t want to be a part of. Creating these physical boundaries will help your roommate leave you alone at the times you really need to be alone.
11. Create a Schedule for Alone Time
Once you have agreed on your boundaries and physical space, it helps to create a schedule to plan alone time. A bit like when you are at college, you have a free slot to go off and do your own thing. The same idea can be implemented in your home.
Sit down together and work out when each of you will not be in the house and try to establish times within the week when you can be in the house alone.
Alone time is incredibly important for people, research has shown it can:
- Increase productivity
- Increase feelings of empathy
- Spark creativity
- Build mental strength
- Give you time to plan
- Get to know yourself better
12. When It Might Be Time to Give up and Move Out
This is a complete last resort and should only be considered when everything above has had no effect. If your roommate continues to annoy you, follow you around, and hover over you constantly, then it may be time to move out.
Some people may never get the hint. Even after long discussions and even when boundaries have been set, they may continue to cling on.
Alternatively, they may start to feel rejected, which can have serious implications for your relationship resulting in deep resentment. This can lead to serious arguments and childish behavior. Rejection is a tough pill to swallow for some people, especially men, and the consequences of rejection can have serious implications.
If you feel that your roommate has reacted badly to what you have said, then it might be best to go your separate ways and forget all about it.
Writer: Andrew Miles