Oh, the joy and excitement of new love! The flowers, the attraction, the romantic nights… Pause:  romantic nights can get a bit sticky in a dorm room scenario. It’s not exactly as if you have a place to yourself. True; you don’t have to worry about parents or siblings, but you do still have another person living in the same room– yikes. And when you’re that other person, things can get awkward in a hurry. So what do you do when your roommate is more, um, physically enjoying new love? Read on for how to tackle three different sexile scenarios!


"Do Not Disturb" sign

 1. You get back to your room a little earlier than usual…

Class is dismissed 30 minutes earlier than usual, and you decide to go back to your room for a power nap. Lo and behold, the door is unlocked and, upon entering, there is a flurry of sheets in the general direction of your roommate’s bed. Judging from the pile of clothes on the floor, your roommate wasn’t just making her bed.

This is scenario number 1 because it is easily the most awkward. You know what’s going on, your roommate certainly knows what’s going on, and there’s really nothing anyone can do about it.

Really, what I think works best is to give your roommate space. Grab what you need for your next class or for homework, and make it very obvious that you’re leaving. That way, she’ll know that she and her beau will have time to get dressed.

You don’t have to leave for very long, just enough time for your roomie to get her affairs in order. When you do return, be sure to knock and kind of peek in. The only thing more awkward than catching your roommate in the act is catching your roommate in the act twice!

To avoid awkwardness later, just be natural. You don’t need to bring up “the incident,” and you don’t have to avoid it. Really, a situation like this is a prime time to set up communication signals like those discussed at the end of this article. Save yourself the trouble of a repeat encounter!


2. Your door is locked. And it most certainly shouldn’t be.

You just got back from foosball with your new friend from the 2nd floor. You try to open the door, expecting it to be unlocked, but you mysteriously find it locked shut. Sure, your roommate could be out… but he always stays in on Tuesday nights. And, the longer you stand there, the more you start to think that there may be a couple of muffled, awkward sounds coming through the door…

Because you don’t want to stand there any longer than necessary, some quick prioritizing needs to happen. How badly do you need to get in the room?

If you need to get in, then you can take the “I warned you” method. In this method, you take as long as humanly possible entering the room. Does it usually take you .5 seconds to unlock your door? Make it take a minute. Fiddle with the lock, jingle your keys, make some scratching noises; really, do whatever you feel you need to in order to let your roomie know you’re back. If you open the door and find he hasn’t gotten the hint, then refer to scenario #1. Yay for awkward times!

You could always knock, but then you run the risk of your roomie thinking some random person is coming to visit. Then, he may decide to completely ignore you-  totally a possibility given his other visitor.

If you decide that whatever you were going to get from your room isn’t that necessary, then you can knock for good measure, and then find somewhere nearby to study or a friend to visit for a bit.

While you’re waiting, you can send your roommate a text saying that you’ll be back soon, and hope he heeds it! If the door is still locked, jingle the keys and enter. If your roomie is embarrassed, he’ll soon learn to check his text messages.


     3. Your roommate and her new boyfriend are looking at one another with googly eyes… and it’s their one-month anniversary

You’re innocently reading the latest chapter in the history of British Romanticism when you notice some conspicuous murmuring that’s most certainly not coming from your iPod. You hazard a glance up, and notice that the two lovebirds are sitting very close together- too close, in your humble opinion.

This calls for a case of the voluntary sexile.

Take yourself out of the situation by creating something for yourself to do outside of the room. Perhaps you will go study elsewhere. Or you’ll go get a coffee. Whatever it is, be sure to announce it to the room in general, and, this is most important, give a time frame for when you’ll be back. Something like, “Do you want anything from the coffee shop? I think I’m going to go study there for the next half hour” should work perfectly. That way, your roommate knows two crucial facts: that you’ll be gone, and that you’ll be gone for half an hour.

By creating space and time for your roommate, you’re saving yourself the discomfort of having to observe canoodling in the corner. Also, you’re making sure that she doesn’t resent the fact that you’re there. Hey, I know that’s totally unfair because it’s your room too. But love and lust will do funny things to people.

Really, the key to handling all of these situations is communication. Be sure to communicate well with your roommate, and things should work out fine with awkward situations at a minimum.

If you need to organize some sort of system of warning, for example, definitely do so. If a sock on the door to indicate private time seems too blatant for you, you can go with something more subtle like a hair tie or rubber band on the door handle.

And, if you’re worried about your roommate being up to something you’d rather not see when you enter the room, you can establish that four knocks means it’s you. That way, your roommate knows that you want in and you can wait for her to tell you that the coast is clear.

Hey, it’s college. Awkward times happen to everyone. Embrace them, learn from them, and move on!

Do you have any awkward roommate stories to share? We’d love to hear them!

Until then, good luck!

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