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MindBlind
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26 Oct 2013, 6:58 am

So I live in shared accommodation at Uni and I've been having problems with a roommate. Essentially, he has been a nuisance, not cleaning up after himself, damaging property, playing his music so loud that people have to leave the flat to study, inviting his friends over who don't clean up after themselves, etc. So I told him not to do these things, but he continued to do them anyway, making excuses for his behavior.

I left a note addressing everybody about the state of the kitchen and he took it personally. That was on a day when I was suffering from extreme anxiety, which was exacerbated by his habits. I also had a flare up of sciatica, so I was NOT in the best mood. So I ended up shouting at him because he was (yet again) making excuses for his behavior, saying things like "Well it's not your business if I decide to cut food on the tabletops" and "You're just being a bully because I only did this and this and this" (even though he wasn't the only one I was addressing).

Me and other flatmates have reported him and he had a warning from the guy who was managing the accommodation. After this exchange, he cam to me and told me that he's allowed to play his music until 11pm. I was furious because he didn't seem to think at all about the welfare of anybody else. The very next day, he left a note on my door, basically asking if I would ask everyone in the flat to chip in a few pounds so that we can all get a toaster for the kitchen. I read it and thought he was saying that because I was the flat representative (that's basically when the managers of the accommodation e-mail you if they need to address the whole flat) that I was responsible for purchasing a a toaster for the flat. I left him a note, basically saying that he was not entitled to a toaster and that he can either buy his own or ask to use somebody elses' (if they decide to buy one). I also assumed that he was doing this because he was trying to find an excuse to call me out on something (which might explain why he waited seven weeks before bringing up the toaster, which nobody brought up before).

Later on, another roommate explained his intentions and that he was probably trying to patch things up with me. I felt terrible for making such a huge error in judgement, so I left an apology note (he wasn't in at the time) and then left a note in the kitchen, implementing his idea. Only one signature on the paper out of 5, and it wasn't his.

A couple of days later, I was informed by another flatmate that because I wasn't getting along with him, he believed that I must be some kind of racist. She explained to him that wasn't the case and she even explained that my aspergers and our cultural differences might have caused some miscommunication. Either way, I feel terrible because I know he has come to this conclusion because I haven't explained my intentions correctly. While I'm sure he is now aware that I'm sorry, I don't think this is something I should ignore. If he thinks I'm a racist or even just hate him, then obviously something needs to be done. I need to let him know that I don't hate him and that I was just tired of his excuses. But I'm afraid that if I talk to him, I'm going to make things worse. I'm afraid if I have someone act as a mediator, he'll think I'm trying to persecute him, which I'm not.

I can't think of anything that I've done that would indicate racism. Everyone besides me is an international student and three of those students are POC. I get along with everyone just fine, besides him. I've never expressed any opinions that are racist or xenophobic. Is it my body language or something? This is all confusing.

Anyway, I just want to stop all this conflict. all of this is giving me headaches just thinking about it.



Thelibrarian
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26 Oct 2013, 9:37 am

Yes, "racist" is almost always used as a childish insult. It is used as a way to silence all dissent, and hence a form of bullying. I hope you don't stand for it.

Insofar as "racist" has any legitimacy at all, it is as something immoral or disreputable. There is nothing immoral or disreputable about expecting responsible behavior. In fact, just the opposite is true.



AardvarkGoodSwimmer
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26 Oct 2013, 11:05 am

Hi, one thing which has helped me is the idea if someone needs space, go ahead and give them space, without the intermediate step of asking if they should need space.

And then, perhaps take a page from President Obama. I hope President Obama takes the approach, hey, I'm just where I need to be. Maybe he does think he made some mistakes, or at least things he wish he would have done differently. But, you really want to focus on this point forward.

Try and be low-key and delegate as a leader as much as you reasonably can. For example, the flatmate who told you he thought you were a racist, and she told him, no, it might just be miscommunication. She sounds like she's an effective low-key leader, too.

Maybe ask someone to broach the idea to him, how about a point system for doing helpful tasks and getting the kitchen clean? Knowing full well that such as a system, with any group of roommates, will work for a while and then break down, and that's okay.

For me personally , if someone was playing a Brahm's symphony or Fleetwood Mac album or Donna Summers (I have wide musical tastes!) even loudly, I would still be able to study. For me, the issue is whether or not I'm familiar with the music, not so much whether it is 'good.'

And please don't let this keep you from other good things, especially studying. :D



MindBlind
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26 Oct 2013, 11:59 am

Well, Aardvark, the problem with a point system is that we have two students who we barely see because they spend most of their time away from the accommodation. It's hard enough to find where they are, let alone establish any kind of system. As for the problematic roommate, he's suddenly gotten cleaner and his music is a lot quieter (I think because of his meeting with the manager of the accommodation) which is good , but there is still tension. It seems to have eased off a little today, but I'm not entirely sure. I think I need to show I don't hate him with my actions, doing stuff like chitchat and stuff like that.

The girl flatmate I mentioned was kind enough to ask if she could take over the role of flat representative (or at least help me out with stuff). I said it was okay and she shouldn't get dragged down with me. I think we just need some time to let it cool off and I can show I mean no ill will towards him. Sitting him down and talking face to face might inadvertently open up some old wounds and be seen as pointing fingers and making excuses. But then I don't know if he's more like me and would prefer for somebody just to say it to my face instead. Patching s**t up with people is damn hard. I guess he seemed okay today, so I suppose he might have re-thought what he said.



AardvarkGoodSwimmer
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27 Oct 2013, 12:54 pm

I think the attitude you want is that you care but you don't care that much. Almost like if you had a job, if you were president of a really neat student organization (kind of my ideal life if I could rewind the clock! but I don't even think NTs can do all this), okay, you want to help out with the household but you just don't have that much time.

And looking back on it, he's going to have to do more than suggest everyone buy a toaster. So even though you may not have intended it, may have been a good percentage poker move on your part. And even good poker moves, sometimes works out, sometimes doesn't. (Yes, he may have made one gesture, but hopefully he realizes he needs to do just a little bit more)

So, be middle-of-the-road, leave the door open for this guy to re-enter the main flow, just don't over count on him.

And during these times, I've found that it helps me to do a number of positive activities, and then the conflict situation, whether win, lose, or draw is just one activity.



thewhitrbbit
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28 Oct 2013, 4:39 pm

Yeah, "racist" and related are what people use when they know they are using an argument.