Common Behaviors of a Passive Aggressive Roommate | Roomi (2023)

Life with a roommate isn’t always rainbows and butterflies — even we’ll admit to that. But when you have to share a space with someone, it’s vital you find a way to get along. Even if that means looking past the stack of dirty dishesor overflowing garbage can. But when the little stuff becomes too much to handle for one party, it can create palpable tension that can quickly turn toxic. Good communication is the key to a healthy roommate relationship, but if you’re getting bad vibes without a clear reason why, you might have a serious issue on your hands.We talked to an expert on common behaviors of a passive aggressive roommate and how to deal if you’re living with one.

How do you identify a passive aggressive roommate?

Psychology professor and clinical psychologistDr. William Dorfmandefines passive aggressive behavior as dishonest expression of anger and hostility — an indirect expression of feelings people don’t want to confront. The most serious implication of this behavior is that doesn’t directly solve problems, but rather expresses resentmentand disapproval, making it difficult to deal with or improve a situation.

Thirty-year-old blogger, Chloe, who prefers not to use her real name, knows what this feels like. She and a friend lived with a passive aggressive roommate in a townhouse during her freshman year of college. She says theirroommate regularly found ways to be inconsiderate. Eventually the situation escalated to the point they felt uncomfortable in their own home.

“He would leave messes, and we would have to clean up after him, but then he would complain about me to the third roommate or about her to me,” says. “It became very uncomfortable because we would end up just trying to avoid him to keep the peace. It was like the tension became our fourth roommate. It was this real thing that was always present. You aren’t home without comfort and feeling protected and safe. When that is stripped from you, you avoid home until it’s late. You have no peace, no comfort.”

While anyone can react to a difficult situation passive aggressively, Dorfman says there are some consistent behaviors that indicate it’s notsomeone simply blowing off steam.

“It’s inherently an interpersonal process, and it’s a personality trait.Sometimes, we even diagnose it in clinical psychology as a passive aggressive personality disorder when it really characterizes a person, not just once in a while.”

Here’s some common passive-aggressive behaviors that your roommate might exhibit along with strategies for dealing with it.

1. Your passive aggressive roommate procrastinates

No matter how many times you ask your roommate to do something, they’ll make excuses until it becomes obvious that they’re not happy. They mightsay they’re going to do the dishes after you ask, but it never happens. Repetitive procrastinationis likely an indication of not wanting to do something.

“We all procrastinate, but when you procrastinate with someone else, it affects the other person’s rights and they’re left with the problem,” Dorfman says.

2. Your roommate is forgetful and late

A passive aggressive roommate consciously or unconsciously forgets what’s asked of them, or is constantly late. Dorfman says lateness is an indirect way of saying, “I’m going to take control of the situation.”

For example, you may ask your roommate to arrive home by a certain time so you can rest, but they’ll be late and say they forgot your request. Or they may forget that you asked them not to eat your food in the fridge. When your roommate makes it a habitto be inconsiderate, it can be a sure sign of passive aggressiveness.

3. Your roommate gives you the silent treatment

A passive aggressive roommate may also shut down when faced with conflict. Instead of of talking about the issue, they express neither hostility nor honesty. Rather than negotiating to solve an uncomfortable situation, they give you the silent treatment. Not talking, Chloe says, was one of the main issues in her roommate relationship. Looking back now, she says she’s more aware of what to look for.

“The person will either say nothing was wrong or lash out. Either way, I would try to bring a peaceful and calm environment to whatever forum you decide to have and just keep having communication lines open.”

4. Your roommate’s actions don’t match their attitude

Perhaps the most toxic passive aggressive behavior is acting one way and feeling another. They come across as being insincere or “fake nice”. For example, your roommate might ask you to “pick up” some toilet paper from the store, but it eventually becomes a routine.Dorfman likens the situation to someone stabbing you in the back while smiling to your face.

“Often people who are passive-aggressive have an obvious, gratuitous attitude toward you that is not consistent with the way they act,” Dorfman says. “If you’re smiling at someone and being very sweet and friendly, how can you be angry?”

5. Your roommate doesn’t have a good reason to be angry

Not every passive aggressive roommate necessarily procrastinates or is stubborn and manipulative. The root of the behaviors of your roommate could also be that they don’t like being being limited by others. Before jumping to conclusions, you should consider this first.

“If you’re not doing anything to instill or create any frustration or resentment, they don’t need to act in a passive aggressive way,” Dorfman says. “It’s only when they’re called upon to do something or they’re not getting their way. Rather than address that they’re frustrated, they shut down and become stubborn, quiet and withdrawn.

“They keep on saying, ‘I’m going to do it’ and ‘I’m sorry,’ and yet you continue to feel resentful about them. So, when your feelings don’t match up and you’re left confused about how you should deal with this person, that’s one indication that it’s not necessarily you. You’re getting mixed messages from this person.”

How to Deal with a passive aggressive roommate

It’s normal to feel angry when dealing with the behaviors of a passive aggressive roommate. But the thing to keep in mind when dealing with a passive aggressive roommateis that you cannot change them.

“[You] can get them to stop eating their food a lot easier than they can get them to become more open with their anger and more responsible with their feelings,” Dorfman says. “You deal with the specific situation, not with the personality.”

Dorfman advises telling your roommate you’refrustrated, asking them what’s going on and discussing your concerns. But you should also be prepared for them to get defensive and shut down.Dorfman suggests talking to someone you trust who can see the situation objectively to get their perspective. Other solutions include going to therapy or counseling to work things out if both are willing. Ultimately, the solutions depend on how volatile the behaviors of your roommate are.

“Passive aggressive style is on a continuum; it’s not all or nothing. Certain people are more passive aggressive than others, so I wouldn’t count anyone out who has a particular difficulty with someone,” Dorfman says. “You have to make the effort to try to resolve the issues and call somebody on what’s going on.”

D’you know what else Roomi does outside of helping its readers deal with the behaviors of their passive-aggressive roommate? With our ever-increasing lists of rooms and roommates across the world, we help you find your perfect match!

Find Roommates

Download the app

Common Behaviors of a Passive Aggressive Roommate | Roomi (1)
Common Behaviors of a Passive Aggressive Roommate | Roomi (2)


Common Behaviors of a Passive Aggressive Roommate | Roomi? ›

A passive-aggressive roommate is not the typical person who will fight with you when there is conflict. They take the peaceful route at first and get extremely silent. They like to avoid confrontation like the PLAGUE. Oh but don't worry, they will show their displeasure in different and rather unique ways.

What is a passive-aggressive roommate? ›

A passive-aggressive roommate is not the typical person who will fight with you when there is conflict. They take the peaceful route at first and get extremely silent. They like to avoid confrontation like the PLAGUE. Oh but don't worry, they will show their displeasure in different and rather unique ways.

What are the characteristics of a passive-aggressive person? ›

Here are 18 of the most common signs of passive aggression:
  • Denies anger while enacting it indirectly. ...
  • Hints instead of stating need or complaint directly. ...
  • Sulks, sighs, and pouts. ...
  • Has a sullen attitude. ...
  • Fails to follow through or uses intentional inefficiency. ...
  • Complains about feeling wronged and underappreciated.
Sep 28, 2021

How do you deal with passive-aggressive roommates? ›

The main way to cope with a passive-aggressive roommate is by not indulging him or her to his or her satisfaction. This will also alleviate any unnecessary stress you've put upon yourself.

What is an example of a passive-aggressive behavior? ›

For example, someone who engages in passive-aggressive behavior might appear to agree — perhaps even enthusiastically — with another person's request. Rather than complying with the request, however, he or she might express anger or resentment by failing to follow through or missing deadlines.

What is the most common passive-aggressive? ›

Sarcasm is the most obvious form of passive aggression, and possibly the most hurtful. Your audience may have no idea that you're upset, much less why you're upset.

What annoys a passive-aggressive person? ›

Assertive, not aggressive, confrontation is the best way to frustrate the goals of a passive-aggressive person. You see, passive-aggressive people hate confrontation. It's not their style. When you catch them in the moment and stand up for yourself assertively, you catch them off guard.

What are 5 characteristics of passive behavior? ›

How Passive People See the World
  • They leave their future to "the fates."
  • They believe "things just happen."
  • They confuse failure with destiny.
  • They believe "luck" is an important ingredient for success.
  • Their language is hesitant and tentative.
  • They're big on approval-seeking.
  • They belittle their own views.
Nov 12, 2015

How do you outsmart a passive-aggressive person? ›

Strategies for Managing Passive-Aggressive People
  1. Identify the Behavior. ...
  2. Create a Safe Environment. ...
  3. Use Language Carefully. ...
  4. Stay Calm. ...
  5. Identify the Cause. ...
  6. Provide Training.
  7. Set Clear Standards and Consequences. ...
  8. Open up Channels of Communication.

What happens when you live with a passive-aggressive person? ›

Passive-Aggressive Cycles

Passive-aggressiveness can often lead to cycles of conflict that create problems in relationships. In such cases, an individual may engage in passive-aggressive behavior to force the other person to respond, which may then be met with more direct anger or aggression.

How do you protect yourself from a bad roommate? ›

Here are some tips I learned to avoid contemplating a Game of Thrones death for your roommate.
  1. Understand what your renters insurance will cover, and protect your property from unnecessary risk. ...
  2. Use a roommate agreement. ...
  3. Specify the length of the room sublet. ...
  4. Get a security deposit. ...
  5. Set clear rules about guests.
Aug 14, 2015

Are passive-aggressive people controlling? ›

Someone who is passive-aggressive often lets others take control while someone who is aggressive is more confrontational or directly forceful. So, someone who is passive-aggressive exerts their control over situations in a less direct or recognizable way.

What are passive-aggressive assertive behaviors? ›

Definitions of Aggressive, Passive and Assertive Behavior: Assertive behavior includes honest, direct, and confident behavior that does not violate the rights of others. The aggressive behavior involves hostility and violent towards others. The passive behavior involves nonresisting behavior.

What are the least passive-aggressive phrases? ›

WordFinder also identified some of the least passive-aggressive work phrases, including “Sorry to bother you again,” “Any update on this” and “I'll take care of it.” According to Mercurio, the difference in the delivery of these phrases have to do with timing and attitude.

What is the most passive-aggressive text? ›

“Hello?” is a classic example of passive aggression in text messages because it's meant to convey annoyance or frustration without directly addressing the issue. It's the exasperated-but-trying-to-play-it-kind-of-cool message of someone ghosted and/or annoyed.

What do passive-aggressive people want? ›

Hidden beneath their outwardly agreeable personas is a desire to punish those who have hurt them. Passive-aggressive people often go to great lengths to retaliate against individuals they believe have taken advantage of them.

What is passive-aggressive body language? ›

Negative body language

Maybe they're pouting, crossing their arms, or rolling their eyes, instead of saying outright what's bothering them. Really, any behavior that expresses negative feelings without directly stating them is passive-aggressive, she adds.

What is an example of a passive-aggressive question? ›

They ask questions that make you feel defensive.

Instead of asking, "What does that involve?" or saying, "I've heard about keto diets, but don't know much about them," or even just, "How is that going for you?" a passive-aggressive person might say, "Why did you ever decide to do that?"

How do you outsmart someone who is passive-aggressive? ›

Strategies for Managing Passive-Aggressive People
  1. Identify the Behavior. ...
  2. Create a Safe Environment. ...
  3. Use Language Carefully. ...
  4. Stay Calm. ...
  5. Identify the Cause. ...
  6. Provide Training.
  7. Set Clear Standards and Consequences. ...
  8. Open up Channels of Communication.

What is an example of a passive-aggressive partner? ›

You refuse to take or share responsibility for important decisions. You deliberately push your partner's buttons to make them angry, frustrated, or upset. You deny any passive-aggressive behaviour if outright confronted or if your partner says you seem angry, annoyed, or upset.

How do you deal with a passive-aggressive friend? ›

5 ways to respond to a passive-aggressive person
  1. Remaining calm. ...
  2. Asking questions. ...
  3. Gaining perspective. ...
  4. Setting clear boundaries. ...
  5. Communicating. ...
  6. Taking a break… from them.
Oct 27, 2022


Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Barbera Armstrong

Last Updated: 28/08/2023

Views: 6543

Rating: 4.9 / 5 (59 voted)

Reviews: 82% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Barbera Armstrong

Birthday: 1992-09-12

Address: Suite 993 99852 Daugherty Causeway, Ritchiehaven, VT 49630

Phone: +5026838435397

Job: National Engineer

Hobby: Listening to music, Board games, Photography, Ice skating, LARPing, Kite flying, Rugby

Introduction: My name is Barbera Armstrong, I am a lovely, delightful, cooperative, funny, enchanting, vivacious, tender person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.