A few months ago I moved into a shared house. I really like it here, but as per previous questions there's been some conflicts regarding the rules and expectations of other roommates. I worked really hard and we are now on good terms and I can tell talking to them people are happy. I want to keep it this way.

Several months ago I asked a roommate if we have a rule about listening to music with headphones. Months latter he accused me of being passive aggressive because he had just been listening to music and me asking was implying I wanted him to use headphones. I explained this was not the case and it was an honest question. Another time I found out through my friend (who had originally recommended me to live here) that roommates were mad at me for not cleaning more. On several occasions I had asked them what I could do to help but they wouldn't give a clear answer. I find this passive aggressive telling someone else instead of telling me so I could make a change.

These are just a few examples, and I feel we have moved past them.

I feel now that we are on "good terms" everyone has been very careful not to accidentally offend someone else. This is great but some important conversations need to happen, for example I don't know why the roommate who signed the lease isn't telling the owner repairs need to happen.

I think it's important to add, the house was intended to have a sense of community. Everyone but me is Christian but they said it's ok as trust and respect are the important thing. It's been my observation they avoid the healthy type of conflict (i.e. disagreeing like adults) which results in unhealthy conflict growing under the surface. I think they sort of like having rules imposed on them (like @Astralbee discusses in this answer).

How can I communicate with people who are sensitive and accuse me of being passive aggressive? If it comes down to business, I would prefer to discuss it frankly.

  • 3
    Just wondering: Are you happy living at this place? You asked so many questions, some about truly bizarre behaviour, maybe you should call it quits and find a place where you enjoy living instead of trying to keep these people happy.
    – gnasher729
    Feb 17, 2019 at 11:42
  • @gnasher729 I am happy. Things are going better now. I'd like to point out that the nature of this site is to post problems, not talk about when things are going well so I guess you may get a skewed view :)
    – Haptometer
    Feb 17, 2019 at 12:17
  • Hey @Haptometer! I've since edited your question to try and narrow down your goals and clarify a few things. You may revise or revert these edits at your own discretion :). Also, could you please describe your culture? Ie. what ages are your room-mates, what country, etc.
    – Anilla
    Feb 17, 2019 at 21:13
  • I'm not the best for this kind of stuff but this part raise a flag for me : "that roommates were mad at me for not cleaning more. On several occasions I had asked them what I could do to help but they wouldn't give a clear answer". If you could elaborate eventually on that we might get a clearer picture.
    – Walfrat
    Feb 18, 2019 at 14:52
  • @gnasher729 you were right
    – Haptometer
    Jul 6, 2019 at 3:53

2 Answers 2


Your situation has 2 sides.

Side 1: Your roommates are actually good people (within reasonable limits)

You need to communicate better and / or improve some details of your life.

Possible solution: conditionally apologize (e.g. I am sorry if...). Ask for details regarding the offending behavior. Ask them to tell you both of:

  • what exactly you did / said;
  • what they expected from you.

Only with these two pieces of info can you have a chance to properly understand what is going on.

Make careful notes (your own mind is good enough) whether your changes of behavior generates changes in their behavior.

If yes - victory! Enjoy life.

If not, see side 2 below.

Side 2: your roommates are emotional manipulators

In this case you have exactly 2 options:

  • accept, remain with them and suffer;
  • break all contacts with them, move "as far as possible".

This is a lose-lose situation, but you lose less if you go away. The chances that you will "fix" these people of their manipulativeness are slim at best.

Note: Your description of the situation kind of points towards this side.

Extra-note: this side does not exclude the fact that you may be an emotional manipulator yourself, regardless of you being aware of it or not. Read about the topic (I provided Wikipedia link) and see if you recognize yourself.

Bottom line: it is your own job to assess the situation in the real life and decide what is going on and how to proceed. We, here, cannot evaluate what kind of people are your roommates.

  • I am glad I am out of this place.
    – Haptometer
    Jul 6, 2019 at 3:55

I've come to understand that when I found someone 'sensitive', it often meant we simply didn't understand each other. I learned that we had disagreements and they got frustrated because they felt as if my goals and intentions were different than their own because I had differing outlooks.

If these people are reasonable, just letting them know you're "on their team" will earn you big brownie points. They want to understand that you're interested in helping them reach a mutual goal. In the case of your own situation, that might be keeping the residence clean.

Because you upset them before, you might want to begin by apologizing (even though it may not be your fault). This will show them immediately that you're concerned about their opinions and are troubled it bothered them. Say something along the lines of:

Hey (everyone), I wanted to apologize for my past behavior. I think I've gotten off on the wrong foot and may not be communicating my intentions very well. I'd really like to be a good resident here and would appreciate it if you can help me fit in better.

Just keep it simple and honest. Don't phrase your message in an accusatory tone and ensure you communicate your willingness to adapting to the situation. Maybe you can arrange a household meeting to discuss this with everyone... however you prefer communicating it with each resident.

What if they aren't 'reasonable' or maybe you just don't think you'll ever get along with these people? There might not be a good way to actually integrate yourself in this environment. If so, it would probably be a good idea to consider moving in somewhere else. If you don't find this environment manageable don't burden them OR yourself by forcing anything when you don't have to.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.