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I can't live with this situation any more. Every Morning I enter the kitchen there is a huge mess. Dirty pots, plates and food leftovers. I am really not that fussy but I appreciate a general cleanliness. Of course I don't want to clean up after her.

Every time I try to motivate her to clean up together, she comes up with excuses such as "I have to go to sleep / uni / an appointment".

I already tried to talk to her about this issue several times. However, she blocks completely and mentions her ten euro mixer I accidently broke. I feel like with this 'argumentation' she tries to put herself in a better position and just tries to avoid the real issue...

About my current situation: We are both doing a semester abroad and live together since three months. Effectively, we are only going to live two more months together. After that, I think I won't see here again, still I'd love to live in harmony and a clean flat for the remaining two months.

  • 2
    Just to give us the full picture, have you replaced the €10.00 mixer and do you generally use each other's kitchen or other equipment? – Spagirl Dec 7 '18 at 12:02
  • Do you need to clean up after her in order to make your meals? – DaveG Dec 7 '18 at 16:01
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    @daveG yes, that's the basic problem. – J.schmidt Dec 8 '18 at 23:03
  • @spagirl I offered her to give her the money for her mixer but she refused saying she wants me to buy her a new one. After two weeks she met a friend who gave her his mixer as a present. Stil, having already a new mixer she mentions the broken one every time she gets offended by me. – J.schmidt Dec 10 '18 at 14:35
  • @J.schmidt So you left her without a mixer for two weeks, someone else ameliorated that loss and you have not made any recompense? – Spagirl Dec 10 '18 at 15:28
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Sounds like you're stuck there for the next two months, without much leverage.

Try this:

"Hey, I'm really concerned about vermin and insects.
Can you please help me feel better by rinsing off the dishes and pots before you go to bed?"

  • This puts it as a favor to you (rather than "let's clean up" which she's resisted).

  • It sounds like you're making a concession (since you're asking for rinsing instead of cleaning).

Is it possible to keep one setting (knife, spoon, fork, plate, cup/glass, and maybe even a pot) in your room; for just your use?

After your request stop cleaning anything that you don't immediately need. Let her run out of stuff (knives, spoons, forks, plates, and cups/glasses).

It still may not do any good, but if you can stomach it that's worth a try. Also, it may take a while for her to realize you're seriously not going to clean up after her if you already have.


There's also a chance that she's doing this out of spite.
You can maybe ask her if she's angry at you if she continues to not rinse/clean. Given the described situation, I'd expect she is more likely to not tell you what's bothering her and keep being passive aggressive - but you've got nothing to lose if the above suggestion doesn't work.

  • If the OP didn't make the housemate feel better by recompensing her for the thing that she broke (as we learned today in comments), is it likely that the housemate will much care about the OP feeling better? – Spagirl Dec 10 '18 at 15:38
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    @Spagirl Based on that new info, I agree with you that it is unlikely the flat mate will care about OP's feelings. I'll leave the answer for future readers because it is good advice for other circumstances - and maybe for OP if she replaces the mixer. – J. Chris Compton Dec 10 '18 at 16:01
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First, you should address the mixer that you admittedly broke. Either replace the mixer or reimburse her for the value of the mixer. This way, she will not be able to hold the broken mixer against you any longer and avoid the real issue.

With regards to the mess, you can attempt to talk to her after the mixer issue has been dealt with. Say something like:

Hey Roommate, I enjoy living with you but I was wondering if you could help out with keeping the kitchen area clean. When I make a mess in the kitchen, I go ahead and clean it and I think that the kitchen area would be nicer if we both cleaned up after ourselves.

After speaking to her, you need to stop cleaning for her. She is never going to try to change her behavior if you constantly do her work for her. If these are shared items, you may have to resort to maintaining some items for your own personal use that you keep away from the kitchen area. It will probably be difficult at first but if she needs those items to be clean, she will eventually have to clean them and hopefully will develop a habit of cleaning them.

  • Since it doesn't seem that the OP remotely enjoys living with the housemate, and the housemate is likely to know this, is it wise to open with a statement that she does? – Spagirl Dec 10 '18 at 15:36
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The interpersonal problem here seems to be caused by a difference between personal values.

I'd think you could use a technique I've learned when talking to persons with narcissistic borderline. It uses the acronym CLEAR:

  • Communicate understanding of the situation

    "Hi, Alice. How are you? I feel like we haven't gone along well lately. If there is anything I can do to improve our relationship, please tell me. Perhaps it is because I've broken your mixer? Our maybe it's because I'm often finding a messy kitchen? How about we have a cleaning schedule or some kind of arrangement?"

  • Legitimatise her feelings and thoughts (try to be genuine, calm, and non-judgemental)

    Alice: "I'm stressed out. Give me a break! I have to study/work at te university."

    You: "I see. I can understand that you're stressed out. I understand you are busy with university."

    Alice: "You've broken my mixer"

    You: "I feel very sorry about breaking your mixer. That was my mistake. Can you wait just a moment? ...

    Surprise! I've bought you a new one"

  • Express your own feelings and thoughts

    "I wonder how it would be if we respected eachother's values more. I think it would be great to keep the shared space clean. I really value hygiene in the kitchen."

  • Acknowledge the situation, thoughts, and feelings

    "We both have been busy, and have our share of problems. The kitchen is often left behind messy which causes me distress."

  • Respect: do not ridiculise her interests, give her the freedom to choose who she wants to be or do. It is important to set boundaries in order to self-validate your personal values.

    "How can I help you reach your goals? Although, I'm willing to help you, I'm not cleaning up your mess anymore."

You might want to read about validation

  • Why does the OP need to help the room-mate reach her goals? How does that relate to having a tolerably clean kitchen? I can imagine the housemate saying that her goals mostly involved not having to see the OP's face whining about the kitchen and also pay for the darn mixer. – Spagirl Dec 10 '18 at 15:35
  • @Spagirl It is not necessarily about helping the other reach her goals, but it is more about the intention of showing understanding and trying to improve the relationship. This will help getting a better feeling about yourself while maintaining boundaries. Secondly, the room mate might be more willing to regulate her behavior to achieve a more socially desired outcome. Of course OP should take responsibility for replacing the mixer. It is give and take in a relationship. You cannot ask to other to be responsible, if you are not taking responsibility yourself. – Boondoggle Dec 11 '18 at 3:49

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