DT know-it-all tackles roommate issues

Riley Brands

Dearest Riley,

Our roommate is running herself into the ground with her club athletics team. She wanted to quit at the beginning of the year, and we strongly encouraged her. Technically she did quit, but kept showing up to practice anyway. Now she has resumed the very stressful role of team president. She acts like she’s listening to our advice, then completely disregards it. She insists things will be different this time, but we are skeptical. Any advice on how to get through to her? We’re worried about her well-being.

—Concerned Roomies

Dear Concerned Roomies,

First things first: Is she getting anything out of the position? If you think she is, you’ll have to weigh your options carefully. While stress can have deleterious effects on one’s health, some people thrive on it or at the very least find it motivating. However, if it has turned into nothing more than a drain on her time and energy, it is time to step in and help her out. You’re going to need to have a serious talk with her, but it can’t just be a vague one about your concern for her. You need to make the negative effects the job is having on her painfully apparent. Surely she’s begun to show signs of exhaustion and is paying the price for it in other areas of her life, so make a list of “consequences” you’ve seen as a result of her overtaxing herself. Then sit her down and go through them one by one. Reassure her that this is all coming from a good place and hope it sinks in.

Dearest Riley, 

This January, I realized that my former roommates owe me $120 from utilities from last August. However, I am no longer on speaking terms with one of the roommates for personal reasons, and the other was her good friend who sublet during the summer. I have emailed them both but not heard anything back. I know it’s from August, but $120 is not an insignificant amount of money. What should I do? 


Dear Ex-Roomie,

Always a believer in giving people another chance, I say you try to contact them one last time, preferably by email and snail mail. Set a time when they must respond by and make this deadline explicit in the messages you send. Be cordial to your old roommate — while you may not be friends anymore, you did live together, so use that shared past to appeal to her sense of fairness. If you are met with silence, you’re going to have to think through your options carefully. If the $120 is really important to you, all I can say is that it’s time to contact a lawyer. But if it seems like more trouble than it’s worth, you’re just going to have to take the hit and move on.