Once upon a time, I had a great roommate. A fantastic one, in fact. She was my best friend, shopping partner, brunch buddy, shoe soul mate, and an all-around awesome gal pal. We loved sitting around watching Top Model and painting our toenails as much as we liked hitting all the best bars in our downtown-Manhattan neighborhood. Part of what made us such great roommates was that we were so compatible. We kept opposite schedules—she worked nine to five and I worked the night shift—so we both had plenty of time to ourselves. We had the same idea of what constitutes a dirty toilet, and we both agreed that sometimes it was okay to let dishes sit in the sink while we worked up the motivation to wash them.
The one area in which we weren’t compatible was our relationships … I was a very private person, while she was much more, umm, demonstrative, shall we say? Oh, let’s just put it out there: she was a screamer. My boyfriends generally stayed hidden out of sight until after we’d broken up, while her gentleman callers were frequent visitors to our apartment and I took to keeping a set of earplugs on my nightstand so that I could block out the telltale squeaka-squeaka that emerged from her room late at night. One night, I came home from work early to the sounds of moans that could be heard from two floors down, causing me to retreat to a nearby bar with a crossword puzzle. Call me crazy, but I just don’t like listening to other people have sex, and this led to many an argument between us.
The reality for many of us young people living and dating in big cities with high rents is that our romantic entanglements sometimes spill over into our roommate arrangements. We have boyfriends or girlfriends and we have roommates, and often the twain shall meet. Luckily, having a happy and active sex life doesn’t have to come at the expense of having a good relationship with your roommate. Or vice versa. After all, boyfriends come and go, but roommates last at least a year until the lease is up.
Keep the Noise Down
Maybe your roommate truly doesn’t care about sex noises, but it’s always nice to keep the volume down. (And I still maintain that nobody—nobody—really enjoys listening to other people get it on.) Sometimes turning on some music is a nice touch, but at the very least, remember that there are other people in the house and behave accordingly.
When You Leave, Your Lover Leaves, Too
Despite being a wonderfully considerate person in most other ways, my roommate had a bad habit of leaving for work in the morning and letting her boyfriends sleep in. I regularly woke up to disheveled men sitting on my couch and eating my Froot Loops. Unless it’s a serious boyfriend that your roommate knows well, it’s polite to ask your date to leave the house when you do. Or at least tell him to find his own damn breakfast.
Your Boyfriend Has a House …Use It
If you and your date both have roommates, take turns staying at each other’s apartment. It gives each person’s roommate(s) some breathing room and prevents anyone from wearing out their welcome. If your date claims that you can’t go back to his house because a) it’s being de-bedbugged, b) his roommate hasn’t cleaned the snake’s cage recently, or c) his mom goes to bed early, consider revising your dating standards.
Make an Introduction
There’s nothing weirder than knowing that some stranger is sleeping in your house, using your bathroom, and possibly rifling through your medicine cabinet. Assuming that a date has been over a few times and you expect more visits in the future, introduce him or her to your roommate. Maybe even suggest that you all go out for a casual drink or spend some time hanging out together as friends. Anything to make your date seem less like the random sex fiend down the hall and more like a known entity to your roommate, who does, in fact, live with you and has a right to know who’s sharing her space. Maybe they’ll get along and maybe they won’t, but at least you’ll have tried.
Save the Kinky Stuff For Later
So you’re into fetishes or porn or dirty talk. Maybe you like getting spanked and calling out “Papi!” Great, whatever floats your boat. But perhaps consider that a Tuesday night when your roommate is sleeping down the hall is not the time to indulge your loudest or most unusual fantasies. Keep it simple on a school night, and save your rowdiest fun for a time when you have your place to yourselves.
If you think that being best friends with your roommate makes these negotiations easier, rest assured that it does not. It’s much less stressful to live with someone whose feelings you don’t care about hurting than to live with someone whom you like and want to see happy. But whether you and your roommate are best friends or perfect strangers, having an active love life and maintaining a happy home requires everyone to be open, honest, and flexible. And maybe resign yourself to wearing earplugs once in a while.