There are bound to be some concerns when you have a roommate, but talking openly helps. How to deal with a roommate who monopolizes the common area needs to be addressed. Otherwise, it can cause conflicts, resentment, and arguments.
To get more time in the common area from your roommate who monopolizes the place, voice your concerns and create a plan both of you are happy with. It will make the living arrangements better for all.
Bring up the Discussion
Don’t tiptoe around the issue, get to the core of it right away. Establishing some ground rules and boundaries is necessary. Your roommate can’t read your mind, and they may be unaware you aren’t happy with the situation right now. The longer you let it go, the more they will be opposed to the changes. Ask them to commit to a time to talk about the topic.
What to Say:
“I have some concerns about the use of the common area. Is there a good time this week for us to sit down and talk about it?”
“I think it would be a good idea for us to discuss the use of the common area. When are you available?”
“We do well living together but I need to ask for some changes relating to the common area. Are you open to a time to discuss it?”
“I don’t feel the use of the common area is divided equally and would like to chat with you about changing that.”
“I enjoy us living together but a few things need to change about the use of the common area. Let’s talk and see what we can come up with.”
“The common area is relaxing and fun, but I would like the chance to use it more than I get to. Is that something you are open to talking about?”
“With both of us living here, we need to divide time in the common area differently than it has been. Let’s talk soon to find a way to do that.”
Let them know what you feel could be changed to ensure you have more time in the common area. They may not realize just how much they are in there until you point it out. Once they are aware of the concerns you have, they can work on fixing them.
What to Say:
“I feel like you are in the common area regularly when I would like to be in there. It means I can’t enjoy my time in there. Since we both live here, it is only fair we both benefit from that space.”
“You spend a lot of time in the common area talking on your phone. Would it be possible for you to do that more in your room than in that common space? This would make it possible for me to relax in there during those times.”
“Is there something I can do to help you make your room more enjoyable? You seem to be in the common area often, is there something lacking in your personal space we could modify?”
Never attack your roommate when you wish to tell them they are monopolizing the common area. Instead, approach it from a different angle. Let them know you would like to use the area more than you are right now. Come up with some ideas for that to happen before you start the discussion.
What to Say:
“I would love to have more time in the common area to myself. Can we find a way to make that happen?”
“I enjoy watching the TV program on Monday nights at 8 pm without interruptions. Can we agree that will be my time in the common area?”
“I don’t feel we are on equal footing here as roommates. I would feel better if I was able to get more time in the common area than I do right now.”
“It is hard for me to be in the common area due to the amount of time you spend in there. Is it possible to change when you are in there on certain days to give me my time?”
“I would love to enjoy more time in the common area, can you help me work that out without it upsetting you?“
Listen to their Ideas
Your roommate may have some ideas to help with the situation too. Give them a chance to voice their thoughts. Most roommates want to find a compromise everyone can agree on. When you listen to them, you let them know you value their opinion and you do care how changes in the living arrangement affect them.
What to Say:
“I appreciate you taking the time to discuss the issue. I would like to hear your ideas on the subject.”
“Do you have any solutions or information you would like to share about it?”
“How do you feel about the proposed changes for using the common area?”
“I appreciate your flexibility and I am happy to listen to anything you wish to share about it.”
“Are you comfortable with this new arrangement?”
“Are you willing to try this or would you rather do something different?”
“Is there anything you want to add before we wrap up the discussion?”
Create a Schedule
Typically, roommates have different schedules and that makes the use of the common area easier on all. However, there are times when more than one person is home at the same time, and the desire to use the area can overlap. Creating a schedule may be a good way to resolve the issue and prevent one person from monopolizing that area.
What to Say:
“I am open to creating a schedule for sharing the common area. Can you tell me the days and times you typically like to use the area?”
“I have written down the days and times I mainly like to be in the common area based on my schedule. If we compare schedules I think we can create a schedule we are happy with.”
“I think scheduling time in the common area will prevent issues when we both want to use it at the same time. I would love to spend some time with you creating something that works for both of us.”
Even with a schedule, the use of the common area may need to be changed. The schedule may no longer work after a given time. For example, one person may have a different schedule at work or for their education than before. When that happens, the schedule may need to be re-evaluated. In other situations, there are times when one party would like the common area even if it isn’t their scheduled time. Try to be flexible to keep the harmony.
What to Say:
“I know we will both do our part to be respectful of times to use the common area. If your schedule changes please let me know and we can talk about it again. I will do the same if my schedule changes.”
“I appreciate you working with me to schedule the use of the common area. I realize there are times when that schedule may not work for one of us. Let’s keep the lines of communication open and be flexible. I want us both to be happy with this arrangement.”
“Let’s try this new arrangement and see how it works for us. Let’s talk again in a few weeks and see if we need to modify anything.”
“I am open to suggestions if this doesn’t resolve it for us. We can continue to work together to find the best solution.”
Talk about the use of the common area for special occasions. Planning early is going to prevent problems from developing. There may be events where you want that space to yourself. Likewise, your roommate may have the same idea. Talk about special occasions so they aren’t a problem down the road.
If you already know that your schedules will most likely bring up some difficulties you should avoid accepting them as a roommate right away.
What to Say:
“We need a plan to handle special occasions. What if we discuss them as they come up? Then we can both evaluate our schedule and see how we can accommodate the request?”
“When there is a special occasion, one of us may wish to have more time in the common area. I don’t have a problem with that, do you? How should we ensure that can happen easily for us?”
“Next weekend would you mind if I had extra time in the common area? I would appreciate it if you can work with me on this.”
“Please let me know if there is a special occasion when you want to use the common area at times other than we agreed upon. I will do my best to change my plans so we can both use that area when we want to.”
“Let’s create a calendar for special events so we can both see if the other has requested the common area for that date and time. Otherwise, put your request on the calendar. This will be a good way for us to avoid conflicts for special occasions.”
Katie Holmes is a senior author at everyday-courtesy.com with over 15 years of experience in marketing and psychology. As a freelance consultant, she also supports companies and executives in overcoming communication challenges. Katie is a passionate digital nomad working on her first book on the art of communication.