Hardcore Curriculum—11/3/2009

What to do when you’re privy to your roommate’s sex life

By Anna Boyle and Chris Chavez

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I keep walking in on my roommate jacking off. How should I handle this situation?

Chris: The only thing more awkward than walking in on your roommate being intimate with another is walking in on them while they’re being intimate with themselves. I know it’s an uncomfortable subject to talk about, but you need to address the problem. Of course, be sure to emphasize that it is not a big deal that your roommate masturbates, because you don’t want to risk coming off as judgmental with such a delicate topic. You need to figure out each other’s schedules and discuss when each of you (key word: “each”) will want some alone time.

If you feel too uncomfortable to breach the subject, you could simply use a bit of tact and subtly tell your roommate when to self-service. Leave notes for him saying when you’ll be back, text her that you are on the way back to the room, or write notes on your white board (But please, nothing along the lines of “Hey! It’s okay to whack off now!”). You just have to make sure that both you and your roommate work out a system that allows both of you to have the space that you need. What they do with that personal space is up to them.

Anna: I have to agree with Chris: This is a problem of communication. You two should come up with a system to alert the other about personal and inter-personal sexy time. You should either use the wonderful invention of the text message, or, if that is a little too labor intensive, use your door. Putting a piece of paper on your door or putting a sock on the doorknob may be obvious, but it gets the job done. Personally, I would rather have a few people in my hallway know what’s going on (because they probably know already; the walls here tend to be thin) than have the person I live with see me in a compromising position.

When talking to your roommate, you should be sensitive to the fact that he has these needs, and try to restrain yourself from being crass. Be upfront that you want to relay your point as quickly as possible, because your roommate is probably embarrassed about the whole situation. Make it quick, and don’t be awkward.

My roommate frequently has loud sex and it makes me really uncomfortable. How should I talk to them about it?

Chris: There is almost nothing more unsettling than sitting in your room, working on some homework or checking your Facebook, only to be interrupted by the shuffling, squeaking, and moaning that comes with two people having really loud sex. When that happens, it’s just best to either ignore it or leave the room. But the next time you see your roommate, you should really let them know that you are uncomfortable. Just remember, this is the kind of situation where you shouldn’t “tell” your roommate what to do, but ask them what they think they can do to accommodate you. If you try regulating a relationship that isn’t your own, you might get met with animosity. And don’t beat around the bush; address the subject head-on. You never know, maybe they don’t realize they’re being so loud and will try not to bother you in the future.

If you find that your roommate just can’t quiet down, ask your roommate to inform you ahead of time when their partner is coming over so you have plenty of time to get out of the room or apartment if need be. If you ever get stuck with nowhere else to go, and your roommate is still going at it, you should throw on some headphones or blast up your speakers to drown out the noise as much as possible.

Anna: Chris answered this well; I don’t feel that there is much else to say. If you and your roommate share one room, you need to make it clear that your roommate and their partner cannot have sex when you are there. Period. That is non-negotiable, and if you don’t have any notice beforehand, you get to kick them out. If you and your roommate share an apartment or a suite, then you should talk to your roommate about it, but you have to be able to compromise. You should be prepared to use as many noise-blocking techniques as you know.

If you have a question about sex and relationships, submit it anonymously to Anna and Chris. Just click here!