Q: I live in a three-bedroom apartment with three other girls, two of whom used to room together in another apartment. I guess when they were living together before, they got into the habit of hanging out in their rooms and watching TV, often the same shows, and talking to each other from their rooms. The problem is, they still do this – and I can hear every. single. word. they. say. Partly because the walls are thin and they leave their doors open, and partly because they’re both sooooo loud. Sometimes this only goes on for a few minutes, sometimes it is an entire conversation that lasts on and off over several hours. And it is driving me and our other roommate crazy.
Is there a polite way to ask them to please shut the fuck up? Last night they were both watching basketball, yelling both at their TVs and at each other, and at one point I got really mad and went to my door and said kinda loud ‘OH MY GOD’ and shut my door kinda hard, hoping they might get the hint. NOPE. They’re both very defensive and don’t take constructive criticism or comments well at all, and I know that saying something will only make them talk about me behind my back (more than they already do I’m sure). Any thoughts, or am I screwed?
A: You’re screwed.
Or at least, you will be as long as you keep trying to resolve your conflicts by way of a pissing contest.
Don’t get me wrong, you totally have my sympathy; what you’ve described sounds like a nightmare (and I say this having once had a roommate who would accost me every time I exited the bathroom and demand to know whether I’d washed my hands. None of your business, you nutbag!) But the way to fight back against obnoxious people isn’t by out-obnoxious-ing them – not just because it’s unbecoming, but because it doesn’t work. Your roommates are either too dense to understand that their conversations by way of shouting are disturbing the household, or they’re too self-involved to care, and passive-aggressive door-slamming won’t do anything to help your cause.
It also means that telling them to shut the fuck up is out. (Yes, even if you say “please”.)
Instead, make an attempt at compromise – preferably with the help of the other roommate who’s tired of living with Shouty and Screamy. Your confrontation should go down as follows:
1. Get the least-noxious of the two alone.
2. Be pleasant but to-the-point. For example: “We don’t want to harsh on your socializing, but it’s really hard to enjoy being at home when you guys are shouting at each other from your rooms.”
3. At this point, the offending roommate should look chagrined and promise to give the Evening Shout Party a rest, in which case your work is done.
4. But if she’s truly vile, she might respond by getting pissed, telling you to get over it, or refusing to stop.
5. In which case you should murder her.
6. Just kidding.
Most people, even the defensive dolts you live with, won’t argue for their right to defensive dolt-itude, particularly when the aggrieved parties are confronting them politely and as a unified front. (If necessary, you can try to push Shouty and Screamy in the right direction by suggesting that they watch in one person’s room, or conduct their conversation by cell phone.) And while they may talk about you behind your back, it’s a small price to pay for a little peace on the home front.
At least until you and your other irritated roomie decide to escape to your own apartment.
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