Illustration by Sam Cochran ’24

My roommate doesn’t follow COVID protocols as strictly as I do, and I don’t know how to tell her that I’m not okay with that. There have been times when she’s had people unmasked in our room without asking me first, and the situation always goes unacknowledged. I don’t want to limit her fun, but I also don’t feel as comfortable around her and in the room anymore. How do I talk to her about this?

~Pressured and Non-Confrontational

In a normal year, this wouldn’t be an issue, but as COVID-19 has plagued the nation, we have had to adjust to some unfavorable situations. First, and most importantly, you and your space matter just as much as your roommate’s! While you might not always remember this, you need to know that when it comes to roommate squabbles, you SHARE the room; in other words, half of the room is hers and the other half is yours

The true fear, the horrific monster that is confrontation, begins with actually bringing up the topic to the opposite party. “Hey… we need to talk,” just sounds too much like a breakup. And suddenly mentioning it in the middle of another conversation seems almost like an ambush. The key to starting a conversation regarding a change you want your roommate to make is finding the right moment to casually bring it up. A convenient way to do this is to wait for your roommate to do something that makes you uncomfortable. 

Allow me to pose a situation for you. Let’s say that she has two other girls in your room, and you are trying to study. Sometimes it is okay to use other personal preferences to get what you want. For example, you can tell her that you have trouble studying when there are other people in the room, which is easily understandable, and then ease into the COVID portion of the conversation. 

It is harder for someone to argue with you when you have multiple reasons in your arsenal for why what they’re doing is bothersome. If you say guests in your room are annoying because it causes studying issues, fear of getting in trouble, AND worry about getting sick, there is very little that your roommate can say to try to justify her behavior. You will show her that you decided to mention this after months of living together, which means you have been silently suffering with this for a really long time. 

The benefit of tackling an issue with this method is that there is no blame being assigned to your roommate. She will simply hear how you are feeling, and then it is up to her to either continue to add to your stress and apprehension or choose to compromise. 

That word is crucial to any successful relationship. Whether it be friends, business, or familial relationships, compromise is necessary. Maybe you could let your roommate have one person in the room, like the rules allow right now, and she could make sure the friend stayed masked the whole time they’re in there! If you air your grievances to your roommate and she is unwilling to change to make you more comfortable, it is time to reconsider your future rooming arrangement. 

I don’t know about you, but Friends is one of my all-time favorite shows. It is an incredibly relatable show because it covers a lot of real life issues, one of which is roommate disagreements. Monica and Rachel could not have more different personalities, and one of the issues they came across was Monica being unable to accept that her apartment was also Rachel’s. In order to combat this, Rachel tried to mark her territory by getting a lamp to put in the apartment that wasn’t to Monica’s liking. 

Monica dealt with it until she accidentally broke the lamp which, in turn, broke Rachel’s heart. After that dilemma, Monica came to the realization that, although her actions were not done with malicious intent, they still hurt Rachel, and she had to alter herself to make their relationship work. 

There is no fear in telling your roommate the truth in a calm and understanding tone. Your roommate could very well be breaking the rules because she is an extrovert and needs interaction. Listen and understand her, and I am sure she will return the same consideration to you. Worst case scenario, you find another roommate, which is not too bad! A new roommate does not mean you lost a friend, it just means that you are prioritizing YOUR mental health!

Always here to answer your pressing queries.

Yours truly, 
Told You So.