So, should you have sex with your roommate? Or should you resist the urge for the sake of your long-term happiness? We asked two relationship experts: Gigi Engle, Promescent brand advisor and author of All The F*cking Mistakes: a guide to sex, love, and life; and Jade Wu, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist and host of the Savvy Psychologist podcast. Here’s what they had to say.
The pros of roommate sex
“They’re right there, so you don’t have to make the trek of traveling somewhere to see your lover,” Engle says. Often, we don’t have the time to get ready, take the train to someone’s apartment, have sex, stay for cuddles after, and then head back. If you live with the person, you can have a full lovemaking session in a half-hour, literally, on your lunch break.
“It’s easier to hook up with someone in the next room than it is to spend time on dating apps,” says Engle. After all, there are few things worse than mindlessly swiping on Tinder or Scruff in the hopes that someone nearby is down to hook up. “You can also go on a lot of first dates, but if there’s no spark, you won’t want to have sex with the person. Or they may not want to have sex with you,” says Engle. If you and your roommate share a mutual attraction and both want to sleep with each other, you can right then and there.
Potential for more
You probably already have a connection with this person—and in many cases, you might even be friends by the time you have sex with each other. “This can spark an emotional connection since you already genuinely like them as a person,” Engle says. Get ready to go from living with a friend to living with a partner.
Even if you don’t end up dating your roommate, Jade Wu, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist and host of the Savvy Psychologist podcast, notes that a hookup can be “a way to bond with the person you live with.” A solid bond with a roommate could be especially beneficial to our mental health right now, as many of us are experiencing cabin fever during self-isolation.
The cons of roommate sex
The biggest pro of roommate sex is also its biggest con. “Things will be extra awkward if they don’t go well, because you can’t even avoid each other,” says Wu.
Also, remember this is someone you share a lease with: “If you start having sex and things go sideways, you can’t just walk away, break up, or phase them out,” says Engle. You’re going to have to see them every single day.
“You’ll have even fewer boundaries and less ‘me’ space in a situation where you’re confined in a small space with someone, day and night,” says Wu. They may want to come and cuddle (or have sex) when you don’t want to. That can get awkward.
Rejection is tougher
Both receiving and giving sexual rejection is tougher when you live with someone, explains Wu. While it always sucks getting rejected sexually, you’ll be particularly hurt if your roommate would rather watch reruns of Friends than have sex with you. Or, conversely, you or your roommate may just go along with having sex when you really don’t want to in order to “keep the peace”—which is unhealthy and unfair.
“Because you presumably also have a financial relationship with your roommate (e.g., if you split rent, basic supplies, utilities), getting involved sexually can blur lines and make it harder to resolve conflicts fairly and without drama,” Wu says. Addressing money with friends and roommates is already something that’s complicated and stress-inducing enough without adding sex to the mix.
Often we move in with someone because we’re friends with them already, or at least, could see ourselves being good friends with them down the line. When you have sex, you risk losing that friend, and for what? Having sex a couple of times? “If things end poorly, you risk messing up your friendship and that might not be worth the risk,” says Engle.
So, should you have sex with your roommate?
“I would not recommend it,” says Wu. “It opens up doors for drama, stress, uncertainty, and conflict.” Even though it might be particularly tempting now if you’re quarantined with them, “It’s not what you need in this especially stressful time. Hang in there! You’ll be able to hit the town again soon.”
Engle also advises against sleeping with your roommate. “There is just so much risk involved emotionally and financially,” she says. “I know it might be convenient and seem like the easier option after so many failed Tinder experiences, but hooking up with someone you live with isn’t just a one-time mistake—it can be a choice that follows you, and you probably don’t want that kind of pressure when life is already hard enough.”
The experts say your safest bet is finding sex somewhere else. And since we’re all currently homebound, might we suggest a virtual orgy?
This article originally appeared on Men’s Health