An Expert-Approved Guide To Hooking Up With Your Roommate
The pandemic gave rise to a new dating trend: “room-mate-ing,” which refers to when singles start hooking up with their roomies. It’s not all that surprising, though, as living with someone is already a bonding experience. Combine that with being in lockdown alongside someone and that closeness bumps up a whole other level. Not to mention, quarantine horniness was a very real phenomenon, as so many people were bored, lonely, and starved for physical touch.
But as convenient and enticing as it can be to have a hookup buddy right in the other room, experts warn that roommate-ing can quickly get messy.
“It’s tricky business sleeping with a roommate,” says Chase Amante, a dating and relationship coach for men. “It’s not just about ‘Can I do it?’ but ‘Should I?’ Odds are, one of you is going to get attached. Either you’ll be clinging to her while she tries to see other guys or she’ll be clinging to you while you try to see other girls. And because you live together there’s not really an escape.”
All that said, it can be worth taking the leap — as long as you’re clear on what you want out of it, that is, and if you make sure you and your roomie are on the same page.
Still feeling tempted to get physical? Here are some things to consider in order to keep things as mutually respectful as possible when hooking up with a roommate.
Hooking Up With Your Roommate Is Risky — Here’s How To Navigate It
Do some soul searching
Before you even think about initiating a hookup, experts agree you need to be honest with yourself about what you want out of this situation.
“You need to decide if this is a relationship you want to pursue or if this is a FWB setup,” says psychologist Dr. Isabelle Morley. “If it’s just something casual, you might be better off finding someone else to have fun with, since living together while also hooking up is a minefield.”
According to Dr. Nikki Goldstein, sexologist, relationship expert, and author of Single But Dating, there are some other practical questions to consider: How much do I love the place I’m living in? Am I prepared to move out if this goes south? And how flexible is my rental agreement?
If you’re still torn about whether or not it’s a good idea to hook up, AskApril founder and relationship expert April Maccario recommends making a list of all the pros and cons.
“Your head will already be pushing the benefits of the relationship, so you’ll need a reality check of the possible losses,” she tells AskMen.
Consider the consequences
In an ideal world, you and your roomie could get each other off, maintain domestic bliss, and never have to cope with a shred of awkwardness. But it’s important to consider the possibility of worst-case scenarios.
For example, if you and your roommate have a friendship, Morley points out that you may be risking that friendship by transitioning into hookup territory. You could also lose or damage friendships with other people that live in the same space if you make things uncomfortable.
“The best piece of advice I can give is: anticipate the ending,” she says. “An end to the hookup is inevitable unless you end up dating and staying together forever, and if you pretend the casual fun will last indefinitely then you’ll have a harder time facing the finale.”
Morley advises talking through what an ending to the hookup would look like, as unpleasant as that may seem. Do you stop hooking up if one person starts to like the other? And when the hookup ends, are there any other agreements you want to make, such as not bringing anyone else home for a few weeks? By discussing these things ahead of time, you’re prepared for any potential outcome.
Set clear expectations
Having a detailed discussion about what your hookup agreement will entail may not sound super sexy, but it’s crucial to protecting the feelings of all parties involved. The more clear you are about the expectations, the less likely there are to be any hurtful misunderstandings.
“The ground rules may be different depending on the situation but the key idea is to be compassionately honest,” says Nick Notas, a dating coach and co-founder of the consultancy Reconnected. “If you just want to keep things casual for now but are open to a deeper connection if it happens, great. If you aren’t ready for something serious at all, that’s fine, too — as long as everyone’s on the same page. Many people avoid these conversations because they’re afraid of losing the romantic connection. But if you two want completely different things and you care about this individual, then you should accept that the relationship won’t work out.”
Goldstein highly recommends talking about whether or not you want to be exclusive, along with how it’d be if they brought someone else home, or discussed their dating/sex life with you.
Maintain an open door policy
As with any relationship, the one with your roommate will constantly be evolving. With levels of attraction and feelings growing (or diminishing) at varying rates, as critical as that initial discussion about boundaries is, keep in mind that you will likely need to engage in some ongoing conversations as things progress.
“Encourage open communication and tell them they can come to you at any time,” says Notas. “Reinforce that the most important thing is that both of you feel comfortable and good about what’s happening. This establishes trust, which allows people to feel safe being honest with one another. And remember that emotions are fluid and feelings change. So let them know that nothing is set in stone and you are always open to new conversations.”
Haifa Barbari, dating coach, author, and founder of the coaching app Be What Matters, suggests doing a monthly check-in to see how you’re both feeling about your hookup situation.
“This creates a safe space to talk about how the new dynamic while living together is going,” she explains.
Plus, Goldstein points out that this is a prime opportunity to talk about whether or not you’re feeling satisfied sexually, and whether or not there’s anything new you’d like to try.
As with any life situation, honesty is truly the best policy here.
“Don’t agree to a situation that isn’t giving you what you want or is pushing your boundaries to an uncomfortable place,” says Morley. “Remember that either person could end the arrangement, with or without cause, and that’s a risk you’ll have to be willing to take. Be willing to have a conversation if you reach a point of feeling confused, hurt, unsatisfied, or sad. And be willing to call it quits if it just isn’t working for you anymore.”
And since safety is paramount, Morley also recommends being totally transparent with each other about any decisions that could impact the other person’s health, such as hookups without protection or current STIs.
If you couldn’t tell, hooking up with a roommate is tricky territory. Ultimately, though, experts say it’s just a matter of weighing the risks with the rewards.
“It comes down to whether or not you genuinely feel there’s something more than just physical attraction or a potential sexual experience,” explains Notas. “I’m not saying you have to feel like you’re soulmates. But you should at least feel some sort of real connection — even if it only starts as a casual thing. Random sex isn’t that hard to come by, and the temporary high you get from it subsides quickly. But finding a great roommate and having a stable living situation is much more involved and the return on value is immeasurably higher. You’re going to spend hours with this person every day in your home and you want it to be a positive experience.”
If you know that your wants and needs are aligned, fully comprehending what’s on the line, Barbari says go for it.
“You already know each other so well — your real habits and behaviors behind the façade of making good dating impressions, and that’s more than half the challenge in meeting a good match,” she tells AskMen. “If you can live together, be friends, and have chemistry, lucky you.”