How to avoid conflict with your roommates


You know the feeling, someone's only gone and taken the last of your milk or pinched your cheese, and you really, really want to find out who it was. Or worse, someone's woken you up at 4am the night before a big exam, or drunkenly put rotting chicken in your kettle (erm... personal gripe from when I was at University. I've forgiven her. Just).

When these things happen, if you're the kind of person who likes to speak their mind, it can be hard to control yourself. You've every right to let people know when you're upset – of course you do – but remember, there are ways around making a scene and making the entire flat uncomfortable.

When I was at Uni, passive aggression was all the rage. Instead of screaming arguments, my flat mates would write sarcastic little notes or make really loud comments about things that had really annoyed them, without actually confronting the person directly. I'll admit – I've done this a few times, mostly with the backup of a fellow student! (Reading those notes back in the future can be hilarious though, and you wonder why anyone ever cared so much!)

I'm a bit of a baby when it comes to arguments, and honestly, I'd rather just ignore the person who's upset me until I've got over it. Pathetic, I know.

That can work for the sake of your flat mates, but it can also be a rubbish idea. It really just depends on the issue. If it's something ongoing, when you pretend something didn't happen, it can build up inside you and all spill out ten times more dramatically than it needed to be, especially if you've had a few drinks (!).

The notes thing can be pretty ill advised as well. If it's jokey and tongue in cheek, and just about someone not using a clean knife for the butter (seriously, stop that!), then a note on the fridge is probably fine. But if the entire flat gang up to write a note about how much they don't like another flat mate's boyfriend/hygiene/habits then things are soon going to look a little like bullying. As I said, you should be able to speak your mind. Nobody wants to feel uncomfortable in their own home. But nobody wants to feel unwelcome, either. You've gotta pick your battles! As I've seen in countless movies about married couples (I've never actually been to a relationship councilor, so this is my closest guide...); communication is key. You'll need to talk things out when issues arise in the flat; calmly, maturely and fairly. It's not easy to do, so remember, make sure to take a deep breath and maybe sleep on things – things usually seem better in the morning.

Fighting and arguing is going to make for a very stressful living situation, and most things just aren't worth that.

Of course, if you've got any really big issues then it's best to talk them out with someone impartial. If you're being bullied or you feel something isn't right, you can always come and talk to the Residence Team. They're happy to help (and they can often relate), and they'll do their best to help you solve things.

University is better when you get along, but everyone has their off days!