Use hugs to handle roommate problems

Katie Finlon

I have a problem: I tend to think of the most awkward ways to alleviate tension in any given situation.

Whether it’s saying something completely unwarranted or even a single hiccup, I promised myself that, one day, my social blunders would be hilarious.

In at least one aspect, I believe that day has finally come.

One lesson in particular I’ve learned: Never offer a hug to someone who just spent two minutes screaming either at you or in your general direction.

I had a classmate in high school who was capable of being manipulative–surprisingly manipulative. She actually thought she could control others and had the power to make their lives miserable.

How would I know this? She actually said it to me–through an AIM message window.

Maybe it was my inner smartass starting to blossom, but at age 15, I was still very naïve and thought love was all that was needed to make the world a better place. And I figured I could contribute with as many hugs as possible.

So one day, when this classmate was livid at me for whatever reason–I promise you, she was probably overreacting–I genuinely offered, “Do you want a hug tomorrow morning?”

She said, “Don’t touch me.” There may or may not have been an expletive or seven.

At the time, my sensitive high-school freshman self was hurt and taken aback that she just outright rejected my offer to make peace with her and her probably irrelevant argument. Looking back now, I realize it’s genius. Absolutely genius. If someone is freaking out at you for whatever reason, what better way is there to retaliate than to offer a hug? The opponent wouldn’t know what to do or how to respond in a calm and collected manner.

However, it might be different if you actually live with the opponent.

For the greater majority of my college experience, I’ve had some ridiculous roommate circumstances. Some of the problems were normal and were to be expected from going into a living arrangement completely blind; other problems were simply not foreseeable until after the lease was signed.

Regardless, I had to come to terms with the fact that we’re all human–and some of us rage harder than others.

So you can imagine what might’ve gone through my head when Roommate No. 1 was telling Roommate No. 2 and me about some strong words that were said from Roommate No. 3–very loudly, and very strongly.

Of course, what those exact words were doesn’t matter here. The argument itself doesn’t matter here. The point is, after she finished yelling for a good two minutes straight in my general direction, there was this large and very uncomfortable silence.

What is my immediate thought in response? To go over there and hug her.

You can imagine just how poorly-received that hug was after an uncomfortable situation like that.

And, for some reason, I found that hilarious.