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In college, the frequency with which interactions take place can lead to relationships forming and dissolving on a regular basis. Because these relationships are hard to predict, people often find themselves making agreements with their roommates in the beginning of the year that do not take into account the idea of a significant other in the room or that explicitly ban the presence of such a person. As a result, when one ends up in a relationship, tensions may arise with roommates regarding the duration of the significant other’s presence, the time frames during which these visitations may occur and, of course, the idea of overnight stays. That said, it’s important that those in relationships understand what is appropriate to ask of a roommate and what isn’t.

Having Your Significant Other Over During a Roommate’s Class Periods

I have heard stories of people who thought that having their boyfriends/girlfriends over during their roommate’s class periods without asking first would be a good idea, only to have their roommates furious when they come back early from class or have their classes cancelled. With that in mind, texting them or calling them every single time is annoying for both parties, so a good idea for approaching this is simply talking to your roommate way in advance — as in, the very first moment you decide that you will be bringing your significant other over to the room regularly.

Setting up general guidelines here is crucial, so simply tell your roommate that you would like to bring your significant other over whenever the roommate is in class. Of course, to make sure that your roommate doesn’t have to wander around campus if his/her class ends early or is cancelled, emphasize that you will have your phone on you and that you will send your significant other out if your roommate texts you to warn you that he/she is returning from class early. This way, once you receive permission, you won’t have to constantly text your roommate and your roommate will only have to text you on the rare occasion that classes end early or are cancelled.

Overnight Stays — With the Roommate Present

For overnight stays when the roommate is present, it’s essential to (obviously) ask for permission first. As for the guidelines, make sure to know what your roommate is comfortable with and be courteous. That means straying away from any hanky panky — meaning any kind of sexual activity and making out. This may also include the occasional kissing since some roommates may find seeing or hearing it uncomfortable. So determining what kind of physical contact your roommate is comfortable with you and your partner having is crucial.

Furthermore, determining how frequently your significant other may sleep over is necessary. Some roommates may say they don’t mind you having your partner sleep over, but you have to realize that having someone over can create some uncomfortable situations for your roommates. This is especially true when it comes to changing clothes in the morning and when getting ready to shower or coming out of a shower. For those reasons, many people have rules even about when it’s appropriate for the significant other to stay overnight, like restricting it to when he/she happens to be in the building past midnight (and if their dorm room is too far away) or restricting it to when he/she is in the room if the weather outside is too cold for he/she to walk back to his/her dorm.

Overnight Stays — Without the Roommate Present

Otherwise known as “sexiling” among some circles, requesting the room to yourself so that you can have alone time with your boyfriend at night is common in college. That said, it is important to recognize that you pushing your roommate out for the night also generally means that you will be inconveniencing someone else, this person being whomever your roommate decides to stay with for the night. So being considerate is key. This means asking for the room in advance and understanding that, if your roommate is unable to find a place to stay or does not want to leave the room, he/she has a right to decline.

Adding to this, it is important to recognize that you are already asking for a lot if you are constantly having your significant other come over during your roommate’s classes, come over to nap, come over to hang out, and/or sleep over with or without the roommate’s presence. So if your roommate declines after consistently allowing you to have your significant other in the room a lot, understand that a) he/she has a right to, b) he/she has already given you a lot of freedoms that might actually inconvenience him/her quite a bit, and c) it’s not the end of the world.

Final Words of Advice

Be sure to bring the topic of having your significant other up even after your roommate has allowed him/her to come over frequently. Your roommate may very well change his/her mind on the matter and realize that they are actually more/less uncomfortable with the idea of having your significant other in the room as time goes on. Also, be receptive to your roommate’s feelings and understand that it’s his/her room as well, so he/she has the right to deny your requests.

Furthermore, always approach the topic with “safeguards” for your roommate, or things that will make your roommate feel at ease with the situation. These include: giving your roommate a heads up when having your partner in the room, determining what period of time before your partner enters the rooms constitutes a request made “in advance” (and this may change depending on the situation), and allowing your roommate to change his/her mind on the topic if he/she is uncomfortable or would prefer it to not happen during a certain time period (like finals week). Being receptive and understanding is key, so make sure to always align yourself with your roommate’s needs. If you do that, you’re golden.

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