Breaking Up With A Roommate

February 26, 2024

Dear Conflict Coach—

Last semester, my roommate and I did not hit it off. We had no major issues, and I guess we got along fine. We aren’t really friends, but we both made other friends in other places.

With room selection happening, one of my best friends from last semester and I are planning to live together. I’m sure that will be much better for everyone, but how do I tell my current roommate that I don’t want to live with them anymore? Since we get along okay, I’m assuming they want to live with me next year, and I don’t want to hurt their feelings while we still have the whole rest of this semester.


Breaking Up Is Hard to Do

Dear Breaking Up—

Rest assured, this happens all the time, and the transition between roommates can go smoothly. It can seem awkward at first, but with honesty and care for each other, the transition can be fine.

Once you and your future roommate have confirmed you plan to live together, that’s probably the time to promptly tell your current roommate. While the conversation might be initially awkward, telling them as soon as you can is a sign of care for them. Telling your current roommate early gives them lots of time to look for a new roommate. Of course, you noted they’ve also made other friends, so it’s possible that they also are ready to move on to a new roommate. Either way, telling them once you’re sure is the kind thing to do.

As for how to tell them, it sounds like you could honestly tell them that this year living together had worked out pretty well and that you are looking forward to finishing out this year in the room together. You could also acknowledge that you and they have made other friends and say that you’re planning to try living with this other person. As you think about the weeks you’ll have to continue to live together, you can also tell them that they’ve been a good roommate, and that you just feel more comfortable with this other person.

You can also ask what their plans are, which is another way to indicate that you care about them having a successful roommate match as well. If they don’t have plans, perhaps you can help them think through how to develop a good one.

While you haven’t asked for it, I’ll add one other note about living with your best friend. Like any other multifaceted relationship, when it’s good, it’s great. When it’s not great, it can be really hard. Living with your best friend means that both of those roles in your life are held by one person. So, if your roommate relationship doesn’t work out, the very person you might have gone to for support is also the source of the conflict. While I hope living with your best friend is great for you both, resist the urge to assume you will be good roommates for each other. Be sure you think about what it will be like to live with them, and be sure you make plans for discussing your roommate relationship as it develops.

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