For some context - this is my first semester in college where I'm having a roommate, and there have been several complications. It's off-campus housing and we don't attend the same university.

My roommate has lots of friends and is more or less a party animal (frequently arrives in the room later than 2 AM, has far more than the maximum allowance of alcohol in the refrigerator, etc.)

I can live with that despite not approving of it, but recently there have been more serious issues. For instance, she had her boyfriend stay in our room for several nights, and several times they'd bolt the room and I'd be unable to enter after coming back from the library/dining hall.

What prompted me to post here, though, is what happened after spring break. I'd gone home as usual, and my returning bus was quite late and I ended up arriving in the room at around 2:30 AM or so, only to find one of her friends sleeping in my bed.

I was at a loss of what to do in this situation, so I simply left and waited in the lounge until morning before entering (wasn’t able to catch much sleep, unfortunately). So far, I haven’t raised this issue with her, but I am wondering what the best way is to make it clear that the way she currently behaves with her guests in our room often makes me uncomfortable (without being confrontational). Thank you!

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    I think that your title and body convey two different problems, I would advice editing your title to align more with your question of setting boundaries with your roommate Commented Mar 29, 2018 at 0:57
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    You mention that its off-campus and that they don't attend the same school, but based on "maximum allowance of alcohol" it seems there is some outside authority involved in your living situation. Is there some sort of RA or other authority included in your housing, or is the max alcohol allowance part of agreed upon rules between you and your roommate? Commented Mar 29, 2018 at 1:00
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    @spiralsucculent , yes, it's a dorm that's intended for college students, just not affiliated with any particular university. That limit is the policy of the dorm, and while there is an RA I would rather not go to them first (and have never met them).
    – Aurora
    Commented Mar 29, 2018 at 3:09
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    @MoondogsMaDawg I meant that I usually go home to spend time with family for spring break - sorry for not making this more clear. She and I are always nice to each other face-to-face and buy each other things - on the other hand I always turn down her invitations to parties etc. which is always a bit awkward.
    – Aurora
    Commented Mar 29, 2018 at 3:41
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    The RA and her office, in addition to enforcing the written agreement, will likely have experience reducing conflict in similar situations. The RA can be an IPS mediator.
    – Gaultheria
    Commented Mar 31, 2018 at 4:04

6 Answers 6


The clearest way to make somebody aware of how their actions make you feel without taking a confrontational tone is to use "I statements." When talking to your roommate, focus on stating how you feel.

[Roommate], I wanted you to know that I felt uncomfortable/disrespected/upset when I came back from spring break and found a person in my bed.

Beyond IPS: An important part of shared living space (or any shared thing) is clear boundaries and rules established between the involved parties. It sounds like you may not have a set of agreed upon rules or uses for your room, and this has left you in a few uncomfortable situations. You should request that you and her sit down and lay out some written rules for acceptable usage of the room. i.e. "Send a text warning about sex lockouts ( and allow veto by roommate depending on situation)" or "No strangers in my bed without express prior agreement."

Edit: Since you have shared that there is an RA, leverage this resource. Their whole job is to be a resource for you and help resolve intra-resident issues. If you make a set of rules as I suggested, share a copy with your RA so that the rules are on record (when I was an RA we made all rooms write some rules for their room and share them with us). If your roommate blows you off and/or continues disrespecting your space, your RA may be able to help you by mediating a discussion between the two of you, or helping you find another room.

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    Going with the "I statements" theme, perhaps I just wanted to say/share/whatever descriptor might be more true to yourself than I wanted you to know
    – Jesse
    Commented Mar 29, 2018 at 1:27
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    From what I remember of college, I suspect OP's roommate could potentially be much less willing to discuss the issue like an adult than your answer seems to assume. You should mention "talk to your RA" as a next step.
    – Kevin
    Commented Mar 29, 2018 at 4:37
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    Not trying to be stereotypical, but I think OP's roommate has already crossed enough physical boundaries. They'd have no problem ignoring statements like this one too. I think at some point, you need to start being firm (but not aggressive) in your words, not conservative.
    – Horkrine
    Commented Mar 29, 2018 at 8:10
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    If OP is always nice to each other face-to-face and buy each other things her roommate may very well not be aware of any issues!
    – user6109
    Commented Mar 29, 2018 at 9:11
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    Feel, Felt, Found is one possible formula for using these I statements.
    – MikeP
    Commented Apr 4, 2018 at 20:04

It's often said that people treat you how you let them, and it sounds like this person either just has no respect for others in general, or sees you as a weak person she can treat with casual disregard.

In my opinion this situation requires some confrontation, but if you don't want to do it face-to-face, then you could fall back to email or online messaging if it makes the process easier.

Things like her coming in late aren't necessarily within your control, but certainly her allowing someone to sleep in your bed is crossing a boundary (unless she believed you weren't going to be there that night, but it doesn't sound like that was the case, and even so she should have asked permission first).

Ideally you should sit down and ask to discuss some boundaries around sharing the house, then tell her that it's not okay to let someone else sleep in your bed, nor to lock the door to your room. (I'm assuming she was being intimate with her partner, but even still you should agree a system for this, not just her locking you out at will).

Unfortunately this is one of those situations where she may be relying on your fear of confrontation to enable her to treat you badly with no repercussions. You have to make a choice between tackling the issue directly or allowing it to continue.

  • I suggest you'd be careful with your very first sentence, it sounds like you're saying the OP that she's responsible for the roommate's disrespectful behavior. Otherwise, this is a good answer.
    – avazula
    Commented Mar 29, 2018 at 11:34
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    It seems you think if the roommate would know the OP is not there for the night it would be ok if someone else uses her bed. Really? Is the roommate also allowed to use her clothes if she is not there and does not use them at that time? And use maybe her toothbrush and other personal items. Personally I think that is totally unacceptable.
    – user8838
    Commented Mar 30, 2018 at 1:54
  • @Edgar No, I was pretty clear in my answer "...and even so she should have asked permission first". Sleeping in someone else's bed without their permission is not acceptable in my book either. Commented Mar 31, 2018 at 15:01

Generally speaking women don't like confrontation and seek to avoid it. It's natural to be angry and unsatisfied at such a violation of your personal space and the level of respect she has for you. That's your bed. In your room. Tell her exactly how it is, that you don't appreciate her showing that kind of disrespect and completely disregarding how you feel about coming home to find that you have no where to sleep.

You put up with so much with what she wants SACRIFICING your own time and energy, both at the expense of YOUR HAPPINESS. Not only is she not apologetic she doesn't even consider you to be someone to be worth thinking about by leaving you nowhere to sleep when you get home. It's not your job to be pushing people up and out of your bed.

She is not your friend. She is not even a decent person. So don't be afraid of her. Either you move out somewhere nicer by finding someone in your university or anyone familiar who would be interested moving in to a new place or she packs her bags and finds a new place to live.

You are not compatible. Don't adapt to her reckless behaviour because your future is much brighter than hers will ever be. Find someone nice who compliments you and makes you be the best version of yourself. You'll lead a much happier life if you stand up for yourself and find someone to live with who aligns more with who you are.

You deserve it so don't be scared to defend yourself. Confront her and as she'll likely be offended and unwilling to change or understand where you are coming from so in your times away from her look for another places to live; with someone who compliments you or replace her if you're able to kick her out once you've found someone who's more suitable for you and shares your values.


If you don't confront her, it's obvious she will continue to do so. Therefore, think about what you want to discuss exactly, build the courage and confront her. I'd advise you not to email or message her before confrontation, because it can cause miscommunication. Therefore, find the best time to confront her (when you both are free and alone in the room).

Before confronting her, remember you must not blame her for everything. I am not saying you should blame yourself here, but blaming usually hurts person in front badly and might make conversation loud and aggressive. Since you're both roommate, therefore, try to have a will to compromise.

Once you gather courage and found perfect time to talk, you should talk about the boundaries like if someone can sleep in your bed with/without permission, or how many and how often guests are allowed in your room etc.

For the instance about finding someone else sleeping in your bed, say something like,

I just want to let you know that I feel disrespected when I have to catch sleep and someone else is sleeping in my bed.

Or for the behavior she does with her guests in your room,

I just wanted to let you know that it makes me feel uncomfortable when [insert what exactly made you feel that]. Please try not to repeat that. Thank you.

Since you're both nice to each other, I can say things will work out better if you confront her. If you don't, things will become worse and harder to handle.

Source: Based on personal experience and this article

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    Even with the context, I'm having a hard time figuring what you mean by "you behave strangely with your guests" in your second example. In NVC, it is advised to use very clear statements about what makes you uncomfortable and willing to talk about this with the other, since it's more likely he/she will understand your point and try to find the best solution for both of you.
    – avazula
    Commented Mar 29, 2018 at 11:37
  • @avazula NVC? What does that mean?
    – A J
    Commented Mar 29, 2018 at 11:50
  • Non-violent communication! :)
    – avazula
    Commented Mar 29, 2018 at 11:56
  • @avazula Thanks.:) I have updated my second example.
    – A J
    Commented Mar 29, 2018 at 12:16

Offer to have a "Roommate agreement", in writing.

A quick search for "roommate agreement template" has a lot of options and these can vary from college, to professional, to multi-family.

In some cases, the behavior described is quite common in college life as college students are exploring living on their own and determining their own boundaries as well as the boundaries of being a responsible adult. Back in the day, one might put a scrunchie or sock on the doorknob to indicate a special guest, and the roommate is responsible for leaving alone.

However, if you do not like this behavior, then it is important for you to have an understanding with your roommate. Thus, the agreement.

Some additional variable will be important to note, such as, is this a standard dorm-type room with one room and two beds, no bathroom; or is it a suite with separate bedrooms and a common area? Is there a kitchen? Where is the bathroom? Where is the common area? What do other people in the same building do in these situations? What do other people at the same school do?

What is acceptable at a "party" college is vastly different from being in (for example) med school.


You MUST confront her, or it will never end. She obviously thinks its alright to behave that way or else she wouldn't do so in the first place. She might be annoyed at first but she wont change unless she knows you're not okay with it.

You don't have to be a jerk about it. Just sit her down and talk it out. If she acts like a jerk then that's on her.

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    OP specifically asks how to be non-confrontational, this site is not to tell people what to do, its to help them do the thing they have already decided to do Commented Mar 30, 2018 at 1:08
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    @spiralsucculent: How would you answer a question if someone asks how they should explain to their kids that they have to kill the cat because you don't like the color? Some questions require clear and maybe for the OP unexpected answers.
    – user8838
    Commented Mar 30, 2018 at 1:59
  • @spiralsucculent, i understand, but what she's been doing so far isnt working.
    – Len
    Commented Mar 30, 2018 at 23:00

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