What to Do If Roommates Are Talking Behind Your Back

Open communication is a must when dealing with roommates.
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Home sweet home isn't feeling so sweet lately. You've overheard your roommates talking behind your back a couple of times, and it makes you feel downright paranoid. Unfortunately, roommate problems are par for the course. How you deal with the situation will make the difference between an uncomfortable escalation and a peaceful environment.

1 Avoid Adding Fuel to the Fire

Fighting fire with fire will only serve to add to any animosity that exists between you and your roommates, warns psychotherapist Stephen Johnson on his personal website. Instead of reacting harshly to the gossip, keep your cool so you don't give your roommates more to discuss. When you're calm, you'll have a much easier time addressing the issue in an effective manner.

2 Address the Issue Directly

Gossip is often a form of passive-aggressive behavior. This type of behavior is often rooted in anger, writes social worker Signe Whitson on "Psychology Today" online. If you suspect this is the case, call out your roommates on their talk directly and politely. Say, "I overheard you talking about how I never clean up the kitchen. Are you upset that I didn't do the dishes last night?" This puts the real issue out into the open where it can be addressed and solved.

3 Accept It

One thing that's guaranteed in life is that people will talk about you behind your back. Once you accept that talk about others is part and parcel of everyday life, for better or worse, it will be easier not to take your roomies' words personally. Try reframing your view of the gossip. The playwright Oscar Wilde once said, "If there is anything more annoying in the world than having people talk about you, it is certainly having no one talk about you." The idea that your life is being discussed may not sit well with you, but at least your roommates find you interesting.

4 Share Judiciously

Living with other people is an intimate arrangement, and it can be hard not to entirely let your hair down in your home. If your roommates are gossips, that's what you need to do, however, unless you want your latest date to become fodder for their conversations. Change the subject when necessary, advises sociology professor and author Jon Bloch, Ph.D., in his book, "Handling Difficult People." Whenever your talkative roommates try to get you to open up, simply say, "Hey, do we have any more of that chocolate ice cream left?" or give them a succinct response such as, "I'm not comfortable talking about that right now." While they may still talk behind your back, at least they won't have personal information to add to their stories.

Elise Wile has been a writer since 2003. Holding a master's degree in curriculum and Instruction, she has written training materials for three school districts. Her expertise includes mentoring, serving at-risk students and corporate training.