Roommates: Avoiding Political Drama

By Lorena Roberts on October 27, 2017

Living with roommates can be one of the best or worst experiences of being young. If you live with people who clean up after themselves and don’t wash their clothes three times per week, you’ll probably do okay when it comes to day to day activities. If you live with people who don’t clean up after themselves and run up your electric bill, there’s not much advice I can give you (besides move out now).

Sometimes things can get hairy with roommates (and with any other people in your life) when a big political event is happening and you’re standing on two sides of the issue. Out of all the roommates I’ve ever had, the ones I’m currently living with seem to finally be on the same side as me. But there have been plenty of roommates before who were complete opposite of me. I had to be careful about issues I brought up on a day to day basis, and maybe you’re having to do the same.

But if you find yourself in choppy waters with your roommate on occasion and you want to know how to avoid it or how to get out of feeling awkward about it, here are some tips.

1. Approach with caution

No one wants to be yelled at about how great or horrible Donald Trump is. At this point, it’s a pretty polarizing topic and I don’t know how much luck you’re going to have with someone saying “I don’t care.” Your roommate probably has an opinion about the current President. Whether or not it’s your view, well, that’s where you need to tread carefully and find out.

For me, it was a requirement that my roommate share some of the same values. I was tired of living with people who disagreed with me. It’s much easier to live in an environment where a lot of the same ideas about things are shared. So maybe this is something you need to explore prior to moving in together. That’s for you to decide.

Whether or not you do that is your decision. If you don’t, then you need to carefully approach the subject. Instead of coming in screaming about DACA and the ACA rollback, maybe you should consider the thoughts and feelings of your roommate. There’s always a time to have an educated conversation about current events. Just be careful. Feelings can easily get hurt and can sometimes be tough to repair.

2. Avoid the subject altogether

If you’re feeling a political disagreement coming on, think about whether it really needs to be confronted or not. Sometimes, things are best left alone. I remember watching the Presidential debate in a different room than my roommate. She wanted to watch it on Fox. That’s all I’ll say about that.

But instead of jumping on her case and making her change the channel, I walked away. I went in my own bedroom and watched it on my own (liberal-leaning) channel. It ended up working out for us. There was no disagreement that night. I just left it alone and it was good for us.

3. Be careful about making those sly comments

I’m really bad about this one. I have to be careful who I’m around. Sometimes, I don’t mind creating tension and disagreement — sometimes I welcome discussion. But a place where I don’t want to end up on the lonely side of the debate is at home, where I have to then take myself upstairs to sleep.

I would much rather keep things civil at home so it’s an environment where everyone feels comfortable. If you’re one of those people who is good at making little jabs here and there, maybe tone it down a little when you’re at home. It’s too easy for a disagreement to wedge its way in and to refuse to leave.

4. Talk about it

If you’re worried about having political disagreements, talk about it! The easiest way to make sure feelings don’t get hurt is to establish boundaries and set rules for political conversation. Maybe your roommate doesn’t even want to talk about politics. Maybe they’re willing to discuss current events with you. You won’t know until you talk to them about it!

I would highly recommend this option for those of you who are trying to gain knowledge on the topic. Or maybe you’re looking to understand why others believe the things they believe. Let’s just hope your roommate is articulate and has thought out their rationale behind their opinions. Otherwise, this could get messy.

All in all, if you and your roommate share different views politically, respect that difference and give it the space it deserves. No one likes being attacked for their beliefs. Just as you wouldn’t want them coming home and giving you grief over it every day, don’t do that to them!

In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her pup at the dog park and binge watching Netflix with endless cups of Hot Cocoa.

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