The textbook toxic person is charming, needy, manipulative and energy-draining, among other things. They can be your coworker, your boyfriend or girlfriend or, yes, your roommate. Let’s focus on the roommate one for a second. If your lease isn’t up for another ten months (or you’re obsessed with your neighborhood and you can’t afford to live there by yourself), try employing these tips to deal with a toxic person in your living space.
Invest in a Good Pair of Headphones
Yes, this is a total Band-Aid solution, but it also works. If your toxic roommate takes the form of someone who’s constantly creating noise in your living space, an easy short-term solution is to drone out their noise with your own.
Stop Negative Talk in Its Tracks
A hallmark of toxic people is that they love to gossip and dwell on the negative. If your roommate starts trashing her coworkers the second you walk in the door, change the subject immediately. As soon as she sees you as someone she can bitch to, she’ll start doing it more and more. If she doesn’t get a rise out of you, she might not find it worthwhile to continue talking to you about these types of issues.
Pick Up a New, Out-of-the-House Hobby
We’re not saying you should let them “win” by leaving your own house or apartment all the time, but it can certainly help to have somewhere you can escape to when they’re being particularly tough to deal with.
Don’t Take on Extra Housework
If your roommate is particularly lazy when it comes to pulling their own weight, chores-wise, resist the temptation to do their share of the cleaning. If they’re a typical toxic person, they’ll likely try to guilt you into taking on more than your share of work. Don’t fall for it. They might be mad at you in the short-term, but in the long-term, your sanity and happiness are way more important than defusing temporary anger. Plus, picking up their slack “just one time” sets a precedent they’ll likely manipulate you into keeping up in the future.
Try to Have Empathy
This probably isn’t what you want to hear, but it could help the situation to see it from their side. Chances are, she or he has something in their past that makes them feel like they need to act this way in order to prevent being hurt by others. Instead of trying to change them—which is both unlikely and not really worth your time, since roommates are temporary—try to understand that their behavior might’ve been born out of necessity, rather than malice.