5 Tips For Negotiating Roommate Hookup Rules, According To An Expert

College comes with all kinds of inherent challenges — like making it to that 8 a.m. lit seminar on time, navigating the potentially grim dining hall options, and of course, finding a way to "get some" in your shared living quarters. Hooking up when you have a roomie is no easy feat, and let’s be real: No one wants to get caught unexpectedly in a compromising position between classes. So how are you supposed to keep your intimate activities private when you live in a 120-square-foot box with someone? That's where negotiating roommate hookup rules comes in. Whether you’re living with a rando or your bestie, you obviously you want to remain respectful of your roomie if you’re going to get along for the entire school year whilst simultaneously catering to your own needs.

Setting up some straightforward rules will not only ensure that you know how to handle any potential hookups, but also that you don’t end up being caught off guard when you roll back into your room for a post-finals nap (#awk, to say the least).

“Having these conversations and discovering differences and ways to show respect to each other and to bridge gaps, is what creates good friendships and bonds roommates,” says relationship and etiquette expert April Masini told Elite Daily. “Not having these conversations is a shortcut to roommate drama. The sooner you have these conversations, the less opportunity for misunderstanding and drama there will be.”

However uncomfortable this conversation may be, it's ultimately a win-win for both of you: You and your roomie can pursue some extra-curricular action with the peace of mind that neither of you ends up P.O’d (or with a disturbing visual that you can’t seem to get out of your head). Here are some tried-and-true tips for your nookie negotiations.

Get to know each others’ schedules.

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Hopefully, you and your roommate’s schedules won’t line up entirely. There will likely be a window on at least one day where each of you has a class, work, or some other obligation when the other doesn’t. Get to know these times — in fact, memorize them. These are the ideal windows for hookups.

Speaking of schedules, be mindful of whatever your roomie has going on and fill them in on what’s going on in your life, whether you share a bedroom or have separate bedrooms within a suite. Keeping each other in the loop helps you both to know when it’s not a great idea to bring someone back with you — like when one of you has a big exam you’re studying for or a particularly early work shift the next morning. Consideration is key!

Define your policy.

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While it can be tempting to beat around the bush in this discussion (because it’s awkward AF), it’s important to be super clear on your policy from the get-go. When one of you is trying to make a hookup happen, will you ask your roomie’s permission or simply tell them? Masini says this is a crucial clarification to make.

“Many roommate wars happen because one person tells, and doesn’t ask,” she explains. “This can leave a roommate out in the cold (literally) and it can cause roommate hookup fights. On the other hand, it’s very considerate to get permission to have the room for a hookup.”

It takes less than a minute to shoot your roomie a text and either give them a heads up about your hookup or run it by them. Just make sure you’re both on the same page about whether you need the seal of approval before taking any clothes off.

While we’re on the subject of policies, it’s a good idea to talk about out-of-town boyfriends and girlfriends if either or both of you are in relationships and plan to have a partner stay overnight at any point (whether for a couple days or a week). Hookup rules don’t just apply to casual situations — you both should agree on what’s cool while an SO is visiting. That way, everyone can enjoy each other's company!

Craft a code word.

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Whatever policy you decide on with your roomie, you’ll obviously need to give them some kind of heads-up before bringing someone back to your room (and yes, this is a good idea even if you think they’re busy — because there’s always a chance their class is canceled or they get cut from work early). If you and your roommate are close, you may feel fine being totally upfront and shooting them a text that says, “Ya girl is about to reenact her favorite Black Swan scene. Cool?” On the other hand, you might opt for a code word or phrase to let them know when you’re trying to squeeze in that pre-statistics quickie — something like, “Taking a needle pointing lesson,” or “Whipping up some lemon bars, yo.” When all else fails, a simple eggplant or peach emoji should suffice.

If you’d prefer, you can agree to signal your hookup in a non-verbal way, like putting a scrunchie on the doorknob. That way, if your roomie forgot something in her desk, she’ll know to knock before barging in. How civil, right?!

Strike a compromise.

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What if you and your roomie don’t agree on your hookup ground rules? As Masini says, “compromise is king” in all relationships.

For example, if you share a bedroom and you don’t want any funny business going on while you’re around, you can let them know when you’ll be out of town for the night. Or, if one of you is uncomfortable with spontaneous hookups happening in the room that may prove to be an inconvenience, you might decide to give each other one designated night a week where you have privacy in the room. If either of you has a boyfriend or girlfriend coming to visit and there’s an issue with having a third roomie for the weekend, Masini recommends finding a local hotel within your budget to prevent any tensions from arising. If the idea of being kicked out of your room on any given night annoys one of you, it might help if you name one day or night that’s “off limits” for hookups. That way, everyone is happy!

Be sensitive to your differences.

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It’s imperative that you have this convo in a way that’s open, honest, and above all, comfortable for both of you.

“Having the conversation opens up an arena that may not be as easy for some roommates to discuss as it is for others,” adds Masini. “Some roommates may be very experienced, while others may be virgins. Some may be at ease discussing sex with peers, parents, and strangers, while other roommates may feel shy and shame talking about sex. Getting these differences out on the table makes it easier to be respectful and empathetic instead of misunderstanding and miscommunication.”

In other words, keep in mind that you both have different backgrounds where sex is concerned, and being sensitive to that will allow you to avoid potential resentments down the line.

Living in a dorm or apartment shouldn’t totally sway your sex life. By following these tips you can, indeed, have your cake and eat it, too — as in, getting both your physical needs met and maintaining a healthy roomie relationship. Be clear about your policies, respectful of each other’s boundaries, and sensitive to each other’s differences. You should be able to get off — without getting each other pissed off.

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