Tension amongst housemates: what you can do to help

Tension amongst housemates may be isolating for those involved.
Spending time away from household conflicts may give you time to reflect. Source: Richard Revel ( (via
Knowing how to correctly manage disputes and general tension amongst housemates is important so that living together at university is an enjoyable and exciting experience, rather than a stressful one.

By Vicky Witts | Advice Editor

Moving away from home for university can often feel like an exciting prospect with the new freedoms and experiences that living away from your family gives you. Living with new people, whether strangers or university friends, is one such experience, and can often be very enjoyable as it can feel like you are living with a group of friends instead of nagging parents.

However, with the amount of time you spend together, especially during the coronavirus pandemic, where many students are having to isolate with their housemates for two weeks without a break, it is likely that at some point, disagreements and disputes may arise.

Your housemates should not be contributing to the many stressful moments that you may experience as part of student life. Therefore, knowing how to correctly manage these disputes and general tension amongst housemates is important, so that living together at university is an enjoyable and exciting experience rather than a stressful one.


Talking to other people

If the people that you are living with are your primary friend group at university, it may be that most of your socialisation throughout the day is with them. Although this may be good when you are all getting along, this can also create tension amongst housemates and small arguments, as it is almost inevitable that the more time you spend with someone, the more likely you are to talk about something that you do not agree on.

In order to prevent these small comments from escalating, it may therefore be useful to take some time to talk to other people. Although government restrictions may prevent you from meeting other friends that you may have within your area or making new friends outside of your household, taking a minute to chat with other friends or family via a phone call, facetime or text can allow you to vent about how you are feeling and talk about other things that you may not have in common with your housemates. This is also beneficial as it allows you to take a break from the usual topics of conversation that you may have with the people that you live with so that your conversations with them do not become dull or frustrating.

Spending time outside

Part of your growing tensions with your housemates may not solely be due to them themselves, but rather that you are frustrated with constantly being at the same location with the same people. Consequently, it may be useful to spend some time outside and away from your house.

Going for a walk can give you a break if you feel that you need some time away from your house and housemates, and can also give you a minute alone to reflect on your current situation. This may be useful as it can allow you to consider why you or your housemates may be feeling frustrated with one another and think about whether there is something that you can do to relieve the tension that you are experiencing. The positive effects of being outside may be beneficial to both your general mental wellbeing consequently your attitude to others within your household.

If, you are isolating for coronavirus or for other reasons are unable to leave the house, this may not be possible. In this case, taking a break from being in communal spaces, and opening your window for fresh air, may help you have a minute to breathe and relax, so you can think about any frustrating situations that you may be experiencing in a different way.

Be confident to speak up

Although sometimes it may seem that speaking to the person who is frustrating you may only escalate the situation further, it can often be the case that the reason you or your housemates are arguing in the first place is due to a lack of communication.

Speaking up about how you are feeling and what has been annoying you may allow you all to evaluate the situation and consider why you have become frustrated with one another and what you can do to prevent these feelings from occurring again. Whether you are involved in the house tension or not, getting those involved to speak about the situation can often resolve miscommunication and prevent it from getting worse.

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