Whether it’s your first time dealing with issues of the cohabitating variety or you’re a seasoned victim of Emory’s random roommate algorithm, quarantining in a small living space with another student can be a tricky situation. Here is a list of bad roommate situations you might encounter — ranging all the way from the sloppy roommate to the one as dramatic as soap operas on Netflix — and how to maintain your sanity while stuck in your dorm for the entire semester.

What should I do if my roommate is too sloppy?

While it’s always best to try to match with a roommate with similar cleanliness  preferences, this is often outside of your control. However, with some patience and a heart-to-heart conversation, you won’t be stuck with cleaning duties for the entire year even with a sloppy roommate. 

The best way to combat this concern depends on whether the issue arises in a dorm room or a shared space. In dorm rooms, the “half-half” philosophy is the way to go. You keep to your side and they keep to theirs. This way, their mess won’t encroach onto your space. If there are shared spaces, the best way to approach the situation is to divvy up the chores evenly. If your roommate doesn’t uphold their side of the agreement, remind them politely instead of passive aggressively cleaning everything yourself to set the right precedent. 

What should I do if my roommate won’t quarantine or social distance? 

These are unfortunate times for many in the Emory community, but we can all do our part by complying with government health guidelines. This means wearing masks, maintaining six-feet distance and quarantining. If it’s unclear, that means no parties! While I trust that my readers follow these rules, the same might not be said for your roommates.

If your roommate is refusing to quarantine, still throwing parties or going to bars, report them to your Resident Advisor. While I am not usually one to advocate for taking things to the administrative level, we have a duty to keep our community safe, especially for high-risk groups like senior citizens and immunocompromised individuals. 

What should I do if I can’t seem to connect with my roommate?

You might encounter this problem if you (bravely) decide to go random. Fret not, all hope is not yet lost. Your roommate might still be adjusting to the new environment or might be a bit shy. In that case, it’s best to give them some space while leaving the invitation open for them to join you on an outing, such as a hiking trip or even just cooking together. 

If you find yourself getting the cold shoulder even after a month or so, it may be that your roommate just isn’t looking to be best buddies. It happens. Don’t think too deep into it. In this case, it’s best to be friendly, but respectful of their boundaries. It’s totally fine to not be close to the people you live with as long as you get along.

What should I do if my roommate borrows my stuff without asking me?

This is where we veer into bad roommate territory. First and foremost, always confront — I know what you’re thinking when you see that dreaded word — your roommate before your frustrations escalate too much. It’s always uncomfortable to approach someone about an issue, especially when you live with them. But here’s the secret: confrontation doesn’t have to be uncivil! 

Approach them in a calm and friendly manner. Sit them down and tell them that you’re not cool with sharing things, at least not without them asking first. If they apologize, you’re all set! Unfortunately, your roommate might get defensive and deny that they’re using your belongings. In that case, it’s time to invest in a lock.


Confronting your roommate about your concerns can be difficult and nerve-wracking, but remember, developing healthy resolution skills will come in handy in the long run. Hopefully, you won’t encounter too many of these roommate situations, but if you do, remember these tips and say a quick prayer to the roommate deities!

+ posts

Hannah Chong (22C) is from Tulsa, Oklahoma, majoring in Sociology and Italian on a pre-law track. Outside of the Wheel, she enjoys scouring for horror movies, thrifting, reading and taking cat naps.