Ask the Weekly with Colleen Loranger

I am not a licensed mental health professional. I am a senior who will try my hardest to answer your queries.

Question: My roommate is super passive aggressive and won’t directly confront me for things I do wrong, but I can tell they are angry at me, even though I don’t know what I am doing to aggravate them…what do I do?

Dear writer,

I feel your pain on this. Passive-aggressive behavior is difficult to deal with in any circumstance, but it is particularly sticky given the cohabitation aspect of your predicament. Your roommate’s uncivil behavior is not fair to you. Telling people you are frustrated with them is difficult, but it is far more productive than inexplicable hostility will ever be. Perhaps your roommate is operating under the false assumption that you are aware of the reason for their anger, which, based on your letter, you seem clueless about. Frankly, even if you are a terribly inconsiderate roommate, you deserve treatment better than this.

I urge you to confront this issue. A simple question will suffice: for example, “You seem upset with me, and I am wondering if there is something I can do to make it better.” It is very possible your roommate will react to this with denial, so you must be prepared to deal with that possibility. If you give them an explicit opportunity to express their issues, and they choose not to take it, you are free to move on.

Give them space, spend more time with other friends, be pleasant and considerate in your shared room, and hopefully they will be civil enough to grant you the same courtesy. If they continue to act out towards you after these measures, you should consider contacting your R.A. or seeking outside help. Living spaces should be safe environments.

I am an advocate of the life philosophy I like to call “Don’t Let Anyone Get Away with Anything.” Among other things, adhering to this means no one is allowed to treat you poorly. Have a real conversation about your problems. You both deserve it.