Dear Conflict Coach—
All last semester, my roommate did a bunch of little things that annoyed me. My concerns seemed a little petty, even to me, and I never said anything. I figured none of it was really big, so I would just ignore it and it would be okay. But, while I was home over break and had my high school room back, I realized how much all of those little things stressed me out. Now that we’re back, all the things I thought I could tolerate overwhelm me all the time. We’ve been living together for so long without me saying anything that I think at this point I just have to move out. I get that this is my fault for not saying anything, but how do I manage the move-out at this point?
Must Move On
Dear Must Move On—
I appreciate you reflecting on how your choices contributed to this situation, but I don’t really think of that in terms of blame and I’m not sure you need to move on. Instead, you could think of it in terms of how you can make different choices moving forward. If you don’t admire what you’ve done before, what do you want to do differently?
You don’t say what your roommate’s behaviors are, but you do indicate that those behaviors are minor and that you ignored them for a while. It reads like the hardest part was the build-up while you stayed silent, coupled with the contrasting relief you felt while you were home.
For better and for worse, your college roommate situation will never be the same as being home, so some of this may be resolved by just coming to terms with that, including paying attention to the ways you might like being in a college roommate situation more than being at home.
If your roommate’s annoying habits are so minor that you don’t feel comfortable addressing them, then you may also want to think about why they seem significant enough that you are considering moving out. When this happens, it’s often because we’ve made the conflict conversation seem so big in our head that we are scared to even attempt it. That often happens with small conflicts that build over time.
You can continue to suffer in silence while thinking that maybe the only way to get some relief is to move out, but it sounds like you could attempt some less drastic and disruptive approaches first. You could approach your roommate and acknowledge that you have some concerns that seemed minor to you before—so minor that you didn’t say anything. You could acknowledge that as you two plan to live together for another semester, you want to address those directly and also hear their concerns. You could acknowledge that doing this might help you both have a really great second semester living together. You can be a bit vulnerable, highlighting that the conversation makes you a little nervous, but that you wanted to try talking to them. All of those steps create an opportunity for you both to invest a little more in figuring out how to manage the living situation.
As you say, you can also attempt to move out. It’s possible that doing so will resolve all your roommate issues and that your new roommate will be the perfect partner for you– even better than living at home. But, that seems unlikely because no roommate relationship, no relationship, is perfect. This might be a good opportunity to try working it out before you try moving on.
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