Roommate 101: Empathy

Roommate problems can be the #worst. Living with family, friends, or even pets can get really irritating depending on the situation, but it is good to take a step back and ask yourself if there is really a problem or if you’re overreacting.

In every roommate confrontation you have, or even any arguments you have in general, put your mind in a place of empathy first. Empathy is when you put yourself in their shoes and ask yourself how would you feel if you were in their place.

A personal experience I’ve had recently is a case of missing shower hook crystals. I share one bathroom with my roommate. The shower curtain in our bathroom hangs from shower hooks that each have one large (fake) crystal on them. When they start to go missing, you notice.

I realized one was missing a while ago, but I didn’t say anything. A few months later and now three are gone and I’m left wondering, where the heck are my crystals? Automatically, I assumed the worst. She is breaking my stuff and not telling me about it. She is just taking them off to be spiteful. She is doing this to be passive-aggressive to me because of something I did that bothered her.

After these thoughts crossed my mind, I decided to go for empathy. Okay, I said to myself. Why might she actually be doing this? I put myself in her shoes and realized since one crystal had fallen off before we even moved in, the glue on the crystals must not be very high quality. The crystals must have fallen off, but if they did, where did they go, did she take them, where did she put them, and why didn’t she tell me?

In my head, if I broke something of hers I would want to tell her immediately and get it fixed, but I have to remember that she isn’t me and not everybody thinks that way. So, I texted her which was as much of confronting her as I could get with our opposing schedules. I tried to stay calm and text her like I was just texting a friend who, maybe, borrowed something and I just wanted it back ASAP.

“I noticed a couple crystals are missing on the shower curtain. Do you have them because I just need to glue them back on?” Then I added, “It’s fine if they fell off, I just need them to fix it.”

Her response to these texts was almost immediate and friendly. In the end, she did have the crystals and according to her the shower curtain fell one day and the crystals fell off. I am left wondering why she didn’t just tell me and give me my crystals back, but I have to be happy with the fact that I got them back and avoided conflict by keeping calming and asking her about it.

This was a simpler problem of the many we have had but the example does justice for all. Always keep your head on straight, no matter how hard it is, and remember to be empathetic.



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