Dear Harlan: My roommate never cleans the bathroom. Well, if she is cleaning it it’s not very thorough. How do I tell her how to clean the bathroom correctly without sounding like an A-hole?
— Disgusted Roommate
Dear Disgusted Roommate: Some roommates are just disgusting, gross and frustrating. I’m right here with you. But you might have to shift your expectations. You could be someone who lives your life differently from this roommate. Some roommates don’t care if a bathroom is dirty. Some have never been taught how to clean up after themselves. Some aren’t interested in changing. There are two things you need to know. First, is she aware of the problem? Second, is she willing to help? This will change the conversation. Instead of being confrontational, you can be curious. Start the conversation by making it clear that you want to get along and want your roommate to share anything that makes her uncomfortable. Tell her how grateful you are that you can talk openly and honestly. Then ask her if she notices the things that bother you. Have some ideas ready to solve the problem. If she isn’t aware and doesn’t want to help, shift your expectations. See if there’s something else she can do to help. Maybe she can take care of something you don’t like to do (garbage, making dinner, etc.). Consider hiring a cleaning service. If you don’t want to clean or pay for a service, clean up and move out. Leases are temporary. The next time you consider living with someone, talk to a former roommate to get the dirt about her cleaning. This will be especially helpful if you’re thinking of becoming roommates for life with someone in the future.