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KatawaGrey's avatar

How do I deal with my roommate?

Asked by KatawaGrey (21413points) January 27th, 2009

One of my roommates has OCD. Basically what this means is that she has to have her environment exactly right and nothing can be out of place. I try to be patient with her because I know of her home situation (semi-abusive controlling father) but I am almost at my wit’s end with her. She made up a chore chart for everyone last semester. When she made it this semester, she made a little section telling people exactly how they should do the chores because no one ever did the chores quite to her satisfaction last semester. If someone makes cookies and leaves the cookie tray on the stove, she complains about it even though she has never used the stove but won’t clean it herself.

There are myriad other little things that have built up and I’m not sure how much longer I can deal with these little behaviors before I flip out on her. Obviously, I don’t want to do that. I would talk to her about it but it’s not the kind of thing that she would take well. I’ve tried talking to her about some of these things and she either doesn’t understand why something gets on my nerves or she doesn’t try to change the behavior. How do I keep from flipping out on her?

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7 Answers

Snoopy's avatar

She literally has OCD? Diagnosed? Or are you just labeling her behavior yourself?

If she has OCD, is she seeking counseling/treatment? I presume you have tried to negotiate some kind of middle ground w/ her…..?

Not to sound overly simplistic, but you are unlikely to change her behavior….the only behavior your can control is your own….

If the situation has become unbearable then your only option may be to move out…..

wundayatta's avatar

The best way to work with someone who is driving you up the wall, is to try to find their strengths and then use them to your advantage. This will take some creativity on your part.

OCDs are good because they are very well organized, and they have to have everything clean and in order. Here’s a list of things you might ask her to do (unless, of course, she’s done them already):

Organize your underwear drawer (and the others)

Organize the kitchen

Organize the refrigerator, and design rules for keeping things separate, or sharing things, or paying for things equally.

Ask for help planning your reading and notetaking and other academic tasks.

Have her clean the kitchen. (Please, please could you help us out? We would be ever so grateful).

I have an OCD employee, and she’s great! She organized my office (which was a total mess due to my mental health problems) and she’s organized the whole room where she works. She alphabetized the books, etc. Organized the supply closet. And, get this, this was all in the first week! (Well, not my office, because it took a while longer for me to be able to help in the process).

Well, you’ll have to be creative in this. If things go well, you may feel less antagonistic towards her, and learn to live with her disease. ‘Course, it helps to be bipolar.

dynamicduo's avatar

It’s imperative that you talk with her about this and make her understand how much of an issue it is for you and the other housemates. It should be easy to combat a phrase like “I don’t understand why that gets on your nerves” with “well I don’t understand why not doing something gets on your nerves! However I’m willing to make compromises to better understand each other, but when you dismiss my concerns, I don’t feel like you are willing to compromise, and this is causing a big problem.” It won’t be fun or comfortable to talk with her, but honestly, you really only have two options here, fix the problem, or remove her or yourself from the house.

The fact that she made a chore chart (presumably without consulting any of the other housemates) is interesting. What happened when she presented this chart? Did you all agree to it? Did you voice your opposition at being told how to do everything? Did she just tack it up to the wall and expect people to abide by it? Basically what I’m saying is why are you allowing this person to dictate everything that goes on in your shared living areas? This is not how people living together work. There needs to be compromise. You need to make that very clear to her, and show her how the rest of the housemates are trying to compromise, but her lack of compromise is causing the other housemates to be unhappy.

Her background and upbringing should not be taken into consideration here, they are irrelevant to the issue at hand, which is that she is overstepping her bounds and infringing on yours. I wonder if you are hesitant to have harsh words with her due to her father’s history. But you can’t live for the past and you are not responsible for how she interprets something based on her own experiences.

It may simply be that she is unwilling to recognize and own up to the consequences of her actions, or that she doesn’t want to change or compromise. As Snoopy says, you can’t make someone change. In that case, the only thing you can do is get her or you out. If you are in a dorm, there is likely a person you can talk to about changing rooms or having a RA (residence assistant, basically a team leader on your floor) come and talk with you. If it is a rented house situation, and all your friends are threatening or wanting to move out if this doesn’t stop, then I would look into asking the girl to leave, though be sure to follow any laws that apply in your area.

You could also look into modifying your own behavior – putting away the cookie pan after making cookies, etc. However this is not something I would personally do, as I am not willing to make such drastic changes for a roommate who is not willing to many any compromises.

Good luck :)

AlfredaPrufrock's avatar

Perhaps you could give her a discount on the rent for being live-in maid service? Seriously, if she has different standards than the rest of he housemates, then she needs to go with the flow, or expect to pick up the slack herself in common areas. As long as she stays out of everyone’s rooms, would it matter if she cleaned up after everyone else?

cwilbur's avatar

I agree with @AlfredaPrufrock: as long as the rest of the house is reasonably clean, if it’s up to everyone’s standards but not hers, then she gets to either make up the difference herself, get accustomed to living in a place that isn’t up to her standards, or move out. The idea of a chore chart in shared living space is reasonable; the idea that she dictates to what standards the chores must be done is not.

flameboi's avatar

Poison is the answer you are looking for….
No, seriously, be patient, breath, and keep going, and try to talk to her and be nice, a smile goes a long long way :)

mea05key's avatar

That really bad. I am glad I am as far as I could be away from such person cause i am totally the opposite kind. all the best. Patience is virtue. Keep more useful quote in ur mind in case you go beserk one day.

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