A new year is approaching. For some undergrads, this means new roommates to live with. Since you have the chance to live with your best friends, having roommates can be awesome! But, like in every relationship, roommate-ships always have an obvious alpha and beta. And when the going with roommates gets rough, the tough survive by asserting their dominance.
The key to gaining dominance over your roommates is to not take any of their bullshit. The easiest way to ensure that you don’t have to take any shit is to make sure that there isn’t any shit to begin with. Establishing a “no bullshit” environment amongst your roommates is most easily achieved through complete intimidation. Stand taller than all your roommates (even if this means wearing heels at all times). If you literally look down upon your roommates they will eventually get the message that you are the dominant one in this roommate-tionship.
Bigger=Better. If standing taller doesn’t stop bullshit from occurring in your humble abode, take some tips from almost any how-to guide on training household pets. Stomp your foot and exclaim a strong “No!” at your roommate when they try to drink directly out of the milk jug. Spray your ‘mates with water whenever they’re playing music too loud when you’re trying to sleep. These tactics are sure to establish an apartment free of bullshit and full of respect for you, the alpha roommate.
Some undergrads severely underestimate the Post-It as a tool for declaration of roommate dominance. Though using passive-aggressive notes may seem petty, it’s the best way to let your roommate know they’re on your last nerve without seeming like a complete asshole. A Post-It stating, “My mom sent me these. Please don’t eat!” will kindly warn your friend that you will stab them if they touch your homemade cookies.
Passive-aggressive notes can be used for calling out your roommates on their shitty behavior, but may also be used to achieve total alpha-mate control over them. Start by slowly post-it noting more and more things in your home. Post-it reminders to close the refrigerator, lock the front door, wash apples before consumption, and changing the toilet paper rolls. As everything in your home is slowly adorned with multi-colored, half-sticky paper your roommates will gradually lose their ability to think and act independently. They will live solely by your sticky note guidance, and you will have officially achieved dominance over your roommates.
It’s important to remember that you’re habits are most likely annoying your roommates as much as their habits are annoying you. So, when one of your roommates inevitably calls you out on how your food is always taking up space on their shelf in the fridge you need to tread lightly on the situation. The key is to be the perfect balance of mean: not too bitter that you’re roommate can actually call you a “bad roommate,” but just cruel enough where they won’t mess with you again.
For this situation we recommend a witty and sarcastic retort like, “Oh, I didn’t realize my ketchup was on your shelf. I have better things to do than monitor and enforce the refrigerator guidelines in my spare time.” In doing this you pick your words wisely so they walk away thinking, “Wait, did my friend just insult me, or did I misinterpret that?” They didn’t misinterpret; you just called them annoying and boring to their face and got away with it. And if you have a less intelligent roommate, one who particularly struggles with detecting sarcasm and condescension, just say, “I’m alpha-mate and therefore get to put my sustenance on any shelf I damn well please.” That dumbstruck beta-mate will not know what hit them.
Constantly being in the apartment and never leaving does not make you the dominant roommate, it makes you a squatter. Is Obama the president, AKA “Alpha Roommate of the United States,” because he never leaves the White House? No. He’s the alpha because he spends his time traveling around the world for weeks at a time and then comes back to the White House like “I’m back, America. I still run this shit.” Everyone gets super glad to have their main man back and he still has his alpha status even though he took a vacation/business trip/ whatever you call it when the president goes globetrotting.
One of the most important things to remember when you’re asserting your dominance is that most powerful people have some sort of skill that others value. These skills are what give the dominant roommate a leg up on the candidacy for president of the apartment. Make them need you, make them crave your companionship and your friendship. Make it so that they can’t even start the day without your help.
Some alpha roommates make really good pancakes, are excellent wingmen, or are just really smart and always help with homework. All of these skills are things roommates appreciate and can’t find anywhere else. If they know knocking you from your alpha status will also mean no more hungover Sunday morning pancake breakfasts, they won’t impeach you from your dominant position in your home. If that doesn’t work, maybe just bang whoever they’re dating.
No matter what year of school you’re approaching, if you’re living with new people in a new place you’re going to want to establish the roommate dynamic early. If you’re looking for more advice on how to be a dominant roommate, tweet @BlackSheep_UW. Our alpha-mate contributors can offer advice on asserting dominance through sarcasm and passive-aggressiveness. Post-It Note construction workshops coming soon!