Housing Guide 2011: Confessions of a Passive-Aggressive Roommate

Despite my occasional self-denial, I’ll be the first to admit it–I’m the roommate they warn you about. No, I’m not the naked one, or the one who eats your food, or the one who stays out until five in the morning, stumbling in drunk and disoriented. Rest assured, I’m not the one who has loud sex in the next room, and I certainly won’t leave my hair everywhere. But I’m awful.

If you ask the girl that I’m fortunate enough to live with, she’ll say that I avoid confrontation. Admittedly, this isn’t the worst thing in the world, but there’s something undeniably horrible about living with someone like me. I take out my angst in the subtlest, most under-the-radar ways possible. In fact, I’m known to vent frustration with just a facial expression. On occasion, I even hide from arguments in the bathroom. This drives my roommate nuts, and even though she’ll try to coax me into expressing my anger, I won’t. I’ll just slam my coffee cup down on the table and say, in a tone recognized by all roommates as passive-aggressive, “I’m fine. I don’t want to talk about it.” The next morning, I’ll make sure to finish all the milk, leaving just enough for a taste to whet one’s appetite.

So how to deal with someone like me? How to talk to someone who “doesn’t want to talk about it”? My first suggestion is that you be direct. If your juice tastes a little sour, your pillow smells funny, and all of a sudden there’s no hot water left in the morning, say something about it, so you’re not the one trying to avoid confrontations. Ask your roommate if there’s a problem, but keep calm–being overly aggressive will probably cause them to regress and shut down. But try not to be too calm–the key is to avoid reacting to passive-aggressive behavior with passive-aggressive behavior. Such a strategy will completely ruin communication, and then you will be the problem.

The thing is, if you treat conflicts with calm consistency and an open mind, your roommate will probably follow suit. Probably.