How to speak with roommates about their risky behavior during the pandemic

Posted at 10:21 AM, Jan 12, 2021

There are a lot of things that are making it difficult to navigate this pandemic. For some, it could be roommates and their behavior.

Sharing a space is already complicated. But if your roommate is taking part in things that could put your own health at risk, things get even tougher.

This can be anything from bringing over people who are not in your household, to simply not wearing a mask when they go out or not cleaning up in shared spaces.

Therapists say now is not the moment to compromise on health.

“Say ‘hey, this is uncomfortable for me. This is not something that I would have wanted or have thought to discuss two years ago, but we do have to talk about it now because the reality of the world is that we have this COVID pandemic and we all want to be safe,’” said Dr. Kathryn Smerling, a family therapist.

Other therapists suggest you have this talk during the day when your roommate is less likely to be tired and burned out. Also, have the conversation face to face. Tone and emotions can be lost over email or text.

You should not only communicate about what you are comfortable with, but also be willing to make some changes yourself.

“If your roommate is not willing to do that, you have a philosophical difference and maybe you shouldn’t be rooming together. But if you have a choice, then perhaps, you would have to leave. If the roommate is not willing to participate in health, then perhaps that’s the wrong roommate for you,” said Smerling.

Therapists say if your roommate has this attitude over health, then it will likely translate to other aspects of living with them. It's tough, but try to find another living arrangement if possible.