How To Deal With A Toxic Roommate (10 Tips That Work!)

How To Deal With A Toxic Roommate (10 Tips That Work!)

Trying to figure out how to deal with a toxic roommate?! It can be HARD but with the right mindset and tips you can come out unscarred

Sharing a house with other people can be tricky. Many personalities with unique quirks and habits are coming together under one roof, so it’s natural that a little clashing will ensue.

But what happens when a roommate goes too far and starts becoming impossible to deal with?

Here’s how to best deal with that controlling roommate and the best tips for handling a toxic personality!

How To Deal With A Toxic Roommate

Be A Good Example

Two roommates who have a healthy, happy relationship

Be the kind of roommate that you’d like to share a house with. Roommates often exhibit similar behavior to those they live with because it’s an unconscious signal that this is what you like and are alright with.

For example, it wouldn’t make any sense for you to expect your roommate to wash their dishes immediately after each meal if your dishes sit piling up on the table or sink.

Or, if you wish they’d keep their music down at night, you shouldn’t turn the TV up when it’s late.

Basically, don’t be a hypocrite! Do as you want to be done!

Create A Roommate Contract

Two roommates in a college dorm organizing their bedroom and getting along

When you first move in with someone, roommate contracts are always a good idea.

These are agreements that you all sit down and come up with together, making a draft or two until you’re all satisfied.

Then, the contract is signed and you abide by it, and you’re all on the same page.

If you haven’t created a contract like this and are dealing with a toxic roommate, there’s no better time to start than now.

It’ll allow you to find compromises for current issues and can always be revised in the future if conflict continues.

Try to cover all bases, from allowing visitors over to when quiet hours are.

Nothing is off limits, having an open discussion is important so you both can co-live together in the most pleasant way possible.

Suggest Solutions For Recurring Problems

Two roommates snacking and enjoying each others company

Bringing up problems that you have with a roommate is a good start to communication.

In an ideal situation, a roommate who hears about these problems will try to find workable solutions.

However, if you’re dealing with a toxic roommate it’s better that you present them with solutions to the problems you’re facing. 

If a certain problem keeps happening, find a fair solution that is easy to implement and suggest it to your roommate.

For example, if they keep eating your snacks, suggest communal snack purchases that you share the cost for.

Have some easy solutions and ideas to bring up when you discuss these issues.

Instead of “you always eat my food” say something like ‘Hey! Since you sometimes eat my food, I was thinking we should split groceries costs or have a communal snack drawer, what do you think?”

This will give them options while setting a firm boundary that you do not want them touching your snacks anymore.

Invest In A Good Pair Of Headphones

A good pair of headphones can be the difference between a good day and a bad one when your roommate is inconsiderate

A roommate who’s noisy all the time can be a real headache, especially if you like your quiet hours.

When all else fails and they refuse to tone it down, you can block them out with noise-cancellation headphones or earphones.

Buy a decent pair of these (you can find some great ones for as cheap as $50!) so you can enjoy light music as well as muffle external sounds and you’ll be able to ignore your noisy roommate. 

Stop Negativity Before It Begins

Two roommates, one working on his laptop and the other by the window cohabitating and getting along in the process

Start taking note of patterns and warning signs that your roommate is about to behave negatively or in a toxic way.

Change the subject, leave the house, or be prepared to act completely unbothered and mature. When your roommate realizes that you won’t give in to their negativity, they’ll, hopefully, eventually give up.

If they don’t give up, disengaging from toxic situations and moving away from them is a good way to keep your distance.

Make it a point to not be around for these outbursts of negativity and they’ll have to find someone else to target.

Ignoring someone is extremely powerful. When you fight with them, even if it’s negative attention, it’s still attention and that most likely feeds their toxic behavior.

Say something like “I refuse to talk to you when you’re like this. Once you calm down, we can discuss this” and leave.

Find Good Places To Escape To When Needed

Girl arriving at a friends house to avoid her toxic roommate

Everyone needs time to themselves.

Even if you have your own room, you may still need a getaway from a particularly controlling or toxic roommate.

Find places you can easily go to that are accessible, safe, and relaxing for you. Is there a 24-hour cafe nearby, a study or common room that’s always available, or even a friend’s place that you can go to for a breather?

Make a list of different spots you can go to when you need to escape and use them whenever your roommate starts getting on your nerves.

Ask How You Can Help Them

Learning how to handle a toxic roommate is HARD!

If your roommate isn’t always toxic but has moments where they become difficult to live with, consider that there may be an explanation for their actions.

Open up lines of communication with them and show that you’re listening with no judgment.

If they have reasons for their behavior, take note of them, and if they’re understandable, ask how you can help.

Of course, you shouldn’t feel obligated to help a toxic roommate. Don’t extend this offer unless you genuinely do want to be of assistance!

Have A Little Empathy

Having a little empathy towards difficult personalities goes a long way.

This is hard to hear, but do note that having empathy towards a toxic roommate doesn’t mean letting them get away with their horrible or controlling behavior.

Instead, it means opening your mind to better understand them, the way they view the world and their perspective on the situation.

These bits of information will better inform your decisions and reactions.

Remember, this doesn’t mean that bad behavior is excusable. It simply means there’s always three sides to the story, your side, their side, and the truth (which is often somewhere in the middle.)

We don’t know how they view the world and it isn’t our job to find out, but having some empathy, patience and grace goes a long way in life.

The ability to understand a bad roommate means you’re able to see that they’re just flawed human beings with sad backstories and difficulties to overcome.

You’ll feel less angry at them and won’t be as stressed out, even though you continue to demand better treatment, behavior, and cooperation.

It helps you to be empathetic way more than it helps them.

Don’t Do More Than Your Share

Notepad reminding your difficult roommate to clean up their side of the room

When you see a roommate who doesn’t pull their weight in a shared space, it can be tempting to simply step in and do it for them, especially if you’re a neat freak or know you’ll be entertaining company. But resist that urge.

A toxic roommate often banks on the idea that if they refuse to do something for long enough, someone else will do it for them. Show them that you won’t give in to such games.

Firmly do only your share of responsibilities and never dip into theirs without an extremely good and extenuating reason.

Look For Other Options

Nobody should feel bad or unhappy in their home.

If you continually hate going home or your interactions with your roommate, it’s time to start thinking of an exit strategy.

How long is you lease for? Can you find someone to sublease from you?

Or if you’re in a dorm, can you speak the the school board about moving? Explain the situation and don’t hold back.

Let them know how your roommate is affecting your studies and mental health.

Whatever you do, DO NOT renew your lease once it ends and find a kinder roommate who won’t make your life difficult.


Dealing with a toxic roommate can be a big hassle, but if you manage the interactions well with these helpful tips, you’ll be able to withstand the remaining time you have to spend with them.

Remember that you can be understanding while still being very firm and fair. Your roommate’s toxicity is not your fault!

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