My college roommate keeps coming home drunk in the small hours and waking me up. What can I do?

You’ve tried to talk to her, says our elder, so it might be time to change your living arrangements…

Dear EWC

Hello, I like to see myself as someone who is very strong willed and has everything together. I am a great listener and definitely give good advice, but it is hard for me to receive that from someone else. Most people I talk to do not really see where I am coming from and they give good insights, but just do not really understand everything. I am a college student and I live in an off-campus apartment with two other roommates. One of them is similar to me and the other one is completely opposite when it comes to how they want to live their life. I have been living with them since the beginning of this year and sometimes things would be going great and then on the weekends she always comes home completely blackout drunk and would wake me up at 2:00 or 3:00 in the morning. This would be from Thursday to Saturday. I have talked to her multiple times before and have tried to get through to her but it does not seem like it worked because this past weekend she did the same exact thing, but ten times worse. I have not talked to her, only small talk, since Friday. I feel uncomfortable and awkward in my own apartment. And I have signed a lease earlier in the year to live with them again but am completing contemplating that decision because I want my senior year to be a year with no trouble and want to do my own thing. I have had a very challenging and hard year but usually, keep it all in and I am getting fed up with people taking advantage of me and using me because of how much of a good person I am. I guess I need to hear someone tell me what to do and what the right thing to do is.

William replies

Thank you for writing to the Elder Wisdom Circle for advice. You are not the first person to have this problem, and you won’t be the last. There are few things worse than being woken up by a drunk and listening to incoherent ramblings when you are trying to rest in preparation for important work the next day. Hindsight is 20/20, as you’ve discovered, and I’m sure you would not have entered into this living situation had you known that one of your roommates drank and partied like that. It’s easy to second guess, so let’s see what, if anything, can be done to fix this situation.

You have been reasonable and discussed this with her enough. She’s not going to listen to you. It’s highly unlikely she’ll change her behavior, so my first bit of advice is to stop wasting your time. Don’t get into a fight with her over this. Just plan your next move(s) carefully. You say you have signed a lease to live with them again, and you qualify that by saying you are “contemplating that decision.” Do you mean that you are not legally bound to stay the additional time, and if so, that you could move to a different living arrangement? As in, finding a new apartment? If this is the case, the answer seems obvious.

You are in or entering, your senior year. You now know most of the people in your field of study, and I’m sure most of them are not party animals. Could you find one or two who would be willing to let you move in with them for the rest of your time there? If not, do you have to allow the “partying” roommate to stay with you? We, at Elder Wisdom Circle, are not allowed to give legal advice, so these rhetorical questions are thoughts that come to my mind. Rather than trying to change her drinking/partying, try to find a way so that you don’t have to live with her much longer. The only two ways that I can think of is for you to move in with others, or to have her to leave soon. The logistics of doing that is something you’ll have to determine.

However, if you are feeling guilty about not honoring your part of the agreement, stop! You have a right to live in a quiet place while going to university, and if someone else decides to disrupt that, you shouldn’t feel morally obliged to put up with it. What I’ve said above is fairly obvious, and you come across as a person who probably would have changed the living arrangements if you could. I’ve finished my job if you were/are merely holding back because it would make you feel guilty or be breaking your word! Your roommate is making it very difficult for you to do well in school, so change the living arrangements ASAP, period.

Assuming you can’t get out of the lease for legal or financial reasons, is there a way to make it better? You’ve already talked to her to no avail. You could try again, but I wouldn’t hold my breath until she changes.

Can you rearrange the beds or who has which room to minimize the noise? Sometimes that helps. Another thought is hanging curtains around your bed. It won’t block the sound very much, but it might help a bit. It also sends the message that you want privacy. You could try adding white noise. There are computer programs that will do that, and you can buy gadgets that are white-noise generators. They do help with sudden sounds by blending out the laughing and talking, etc. If she’s shaking you and waking you up, none of these ideas will work, but if it’s just her talking and laughing loud, it’s something to consider.

If she’s going to wake you up in the middle of the night come hell or high water, and none of the things I’ve talked about already are useful. What about supplementing you broken sleep with naps when she’s not around? Don’t overdo it. All you need is 10-30 minutes in the afternoon to recharge your batteries.

These thoughts are about all that comes to mind. I haven’t given you a magic solution. Thank you for giving me a chance to help a little.

Letter #: 435760
Category: School

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