Living with a bunch of strangers has its challenges, just look at how they get on in the Big Brother house. Dealing with confrontation in the flat is something we all experience, whether it’s your flatmate passive aggressively ranting about how much he hates it when people put their plates in the sink, or a full on shouting match. Obviously confrontation is something we all try to avoid but if there was any in the flat, I wanted to share my experience on how best to resolve it.
To quote the wise Justin Timberlake ‘some things are better left unsaid’. When things get heated words spew out, and these tend to be the things that we keep bottled up about flatmates, like how disturbingly big your flatmates middle toe is. Just remember that you’ve got to live with the flatmate after the argument so as much as you’d like to hurt them in the moment, there are some things that can’t be unsaid.
If there is alcohol involved, you have to intervene. Having seen how alcohol fuelled arguments end in tears and fists through bathroom doors, I advise breaking up the argument. As entertaining as it is watching drunk people argue, you have to remember that when you’re drunk you don’t have the level of restraint you do when you’re sober. Even if it is literally standing between them or calling campus security, it is for everyone’s best interest that you intervene.
I know we try and avoid confrontation but you can’t keep things bottled up. When your flatmate does something that annoys you like coming back to the flat drunk when you have an exam the next day, you have to tell them that it wasn’t cool (otherwise how else will they know?). If you keep things bottled up then you begin to resent the person and there will be an explosive shouting match later down the line. There was a study done amongst criminals that found because they didn’t have an outlet for all of the little things, the pressure inside of them built up causing them to commit a criminal act and therefore ending up in jail. I know this is an extreme case but throw the stress of university in with the little things your flatmate does and it is one fiery cocktail.
Sometimes the best thing you can do is walk away. If the argument is getting too heated, go for a walk to cool off – it doesn’t mean you’ve lost the argument. Doing this is actually the adult thing to do because when things get heated are when things go wrong. The hope is that when you return, the situation has calmed down and you can talk like adults.
I know this post doesn’t paint a pretty picture about living with other people but be assured that confrontation does not happen everyday. This post was purely meant for an in case it does happen, please remember what you’ve read situation. I was fortunate to live in a flat where we all got on and spoke to each other like adults rather then as fiery rage monsters, but I’ve heard about and seen the opposite. Please remember that the other person in the argument is a person too but if you do feel threatened, call Campus Watch.
Be safe and get on out there,
Mario Elia 🙂