University of Wisconsin-Green Bay
Counseling & Health Center News
Roommate Issues
Posted: 09.28.06
Tip #19 The Noisy, Naughty, and /or Nasty Roommate

The Tip
Say something to your roommate immediately if there is a problem or it will only get worse and worse. Donít be afraid to speak up!

The Story
My roommate was disgusting. She never put anything away. She left crumbs, pizza stains, and random spots on the furniture. She didnít want to clean, she didnít care to clean, and she didnít know how to clean. We had our own bathroom attached to the room and she would leave used items wherever they landed (use your imagination). It was so disgusting. I made the mistake of not saying anything until later in the semester. It was too late. I exploded. She stopped talking to me. And we still donít talk. My advice-donít let it get out of control. If it gets bad fast, say something or get out of the living arrangement.
--sophomore, Wheelock College

ďEvery evening at 9:01 PM her cell phone rang (free nights and weekends). She would spend hours talking on the phone. She never stopped talking!Ē
--freshman, Mount Union College

Like a growing mold on a half-eaten chicken finger under your roommateís bed, the noisy, naughty, and/or nasty roommate can be hard to spot at first. It can take weeks before becoming a serious problem. The master tipódeal with it before it gets ugly. The longer you let it go, the more out of control the situation will become. Most roommates are reasonable if you deal with the issues right away.

Dealing with the Noise Factor
Itís about common courtesy. If you have early classes, let your roommate know what nights need to be early nights for you. If your roommate wants to talk on the phone during late night hours. Suggest he or she talk in the hall or lounge. If they want to listen to music, suggest headphones. If your roommate wants to watch TV at night, then find a way to work it out without making him or her leaveóitís their room, too. But considerate roommates will minimize the noise.

Dealing with the Naughty Factor

Once you discover that you have a naughty roommate, make some rules. Donít just let it go and complain to your friends. Find a system to let each other know if youíre ďbusy.Ē Try to limit the ďIím getting it onĒ signal to a certain number of nights a week. If having sex while you are in the room is unacceptable, say something the first time it happens. If your roommate ignores you or loses control, talk to your RA (assuming your RA isnít the naughty partner).

Deal with the Nasty Factor
By week four, youíll smell it, see it, or step in it. If your roommate smells funny, suggest deodorant. For bad gas, ask that you at least get fair warning. For the nude or sweaty roommate, ask them to put down a towel on the couch when lounging. Whatever the situation, try and approach the problem the way you would want your roommate to approach you.

Bottom Line
Noisy, nasty, and naughty roommates make for great stories. First you have to live through it. The funny part starts about three years to five years later (depending on the nasty factor).

Tip # 20 The Your Girlfriend/Boyfriend Doesnít Live Here Roommate

The Tip
If your roommate has a girlfriend/boyfriend, discuss upfront when the significant other will and will not be allowed in the room. Thereís nothing worse that having an extra roommate.

The Story
My freshman year in college, I lived with a sophomore. He had a girlfriend that he had been seeing for years. She used to come by all the time. She even had a key. It got so bad that she was there when I left and there when I came home. She was even there by herself. Because I was new at school and he was older, I didnít have the courage to tell him what I felt. I just let it go. It got so bad that I wouldnít even change in the room because she was always there. She ate my food and smoked cigarettes in the room. He did ask if I minded once or twice, but I told him that it was fine, it didnít matter. I didnít want him to get upset. I didnít have the courage to tell him. It all got even worse after that. I ended up moving out after a few weeks, so it never got too heated. I should have told him when I had the chance, but I didnít.
--sophomore, University of Illinois

Not in the Dictionary...Yet
Being unable to enter oneís room due to roommate constantly having sex.
--courtesy of sophomore, University of Minnesota-Twin Cities

There are few things more uncomfortable that finding yourself stuck with an extra roommate - like finding yourself stuck with one, two, three, or four extra roommates. Typically, it unfolds in one of two ways:

1) Your roommates(s) comes to campus with a significant other. From day one, he or she thinks that their boyfriend or girlfriend can come over and do what ever he or she wants. The significant other even gets his or her own key.

2) Your roommate(s) falls in love during the year. It starts out with a night here and there, and then quickly turns into endless nights here and never there. You are the third wheel living in your own home. Both situations are problematic, but both can be avoided by preemptive planning. For those moving in with a roommate who has a significant other. Ask your roommate how often he or she plans on having the significant other spend the night. Mention that it makes you very uncomfortable having someone else hang out in our room alone (assuming it does). If itís a problem, find a way to compromise or find a new roommate.

If youíre moving in with a roommate who isnít attached, make sure you have a plan to avoid gaining an extra roommate (or two). Agree not to make a copy of the keys for boyfriends or girlfriends. Insist that a significant other canít be in the room alone, and mention that if it ever gets to be too much, youíll let the other roommate know.

Again, promise that if and when something bothers you or your roommate, youíll both talk about the situation. That way, itís not as if either of you is attacking the other and nobody will be put on the defensive. Just talk it out. If you canít talk it out, someone will just have to move out. Or you can just happily ignore each other. My roommate did that to me. Seriously, he stopped talking to me, but I never stopped talking to him. It really pissed him off. Iíd ask him ďDo you want something from Taco Bell? If youíre not hungry, then donít say anything.Ē He said nothing. I guess he wasnít hungry.

Bottom Line

The only good thing about having an extra roommate is that if you get locked out thereís a better chance of someone being there to let you in.

From The Naked Roommate (And 107 Other Issues You Might Run Into in College) by Harlan Cohen, reprinted with the permission of the author.

check out Harlan Cohenís website at

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