You leave your dorm room while your roommate and their significant other are just hanging out. You come back only to find various clothing articles, including underwear, sprawled on the couch, by your desk and everywhere else in the room. Turns out they are in the shower together. Your roommate pleads with you afterward telling you they promise there was no sex happening in there. This leaves you only the option to believe that they had done it on the couch beforehand.
Your roommate has their significant other over during exam week only to sit in the room whispering dirty talk to one another while you are attempting to study.
Your roommate and their significant other plan on having a hot, steamy birthday weekend, and you overhear the talk about sexy lingerie. It was supposed to be in the significant other’s dorm room. Turns out it wasn’t. Without your permission. They were fulfilling each other’s sexual fantasies in the room you share with this person.
Has anything similar to this happened to you before? The stories you read above are true stories of an unfortunate MSU freshman who got to know the term “sexiled” a little more intimately than she would have preferred. Urban Dictionary defines sexiled as “exiling your roommate (usually in a college setting) from his/her room so that you can engage in sexual activity without voyeurism.” [sundberg]
There is no official policy against sexiling because as long as it is sex with consent, nothing can really be done by a faculty member or an RA in the hall. It comes down to a conflict needing to be resolved strictly between roommates. More often than not, however, it is a situation that results in the roommate who’s being sexiled just silently dealing with it. Professor Andrew Barclay, a retired psychology professor from MSU who has been nicknamed Dr. Sex, disagrees with there being no policy.
“If college-age people can’t deal with the selfishness or moral conflicts of a roommate who is using their sex-life as blackmail to keep you out of your own room, colleges have to act in loco parentis to protect the rights of the weak or the shy,” Barclay said. “It is good practice to confront the roommate about taking over a space that is only half theirs.” He even goes as far as to say that definite action should be taken if a student is being repeatedly sexiled.
“MSU should provide them with a new room without charge for the semester so they can get a new room (roommate) the next,” he said. “People who are that self-centered don’t get it and, better yet, will have to learn from their own bad choices.”
Mechanical engineering sophomore Erik Sundberg said he disapproves of the idea and makes sure that whenever his girlfriend comes over, his roommate doesn’t feel uncomfortable. Because with being sexiled, “You wander aimlessly around the hall wondering if you left any of your stuff on the futon that will have to get thrown in the wash once you get the OK to return to your own room,” he said. “I wouldn’t feel comfortable asking him [a roommate] to leave.”
Sophomore math major Brianne Schultz found preventing sexiling an easy feat. “I go into the hallway to talk on the phone, and [my boyfriend] comes over when [my roommate] isn’t there. Problem solved,” Schultz said. [levin]
Lauren Deitz, a freshman biosystems engineering major, feels the effects of living with a roommate who’s in a relationship, but not in the same sense. Is it possible for a single person in such a living situation to feel even more single? “She is really considerate of me and only has [her boyfriend] over when I’m not there,” Deitz said. That, however, still doesn’t prevent her from feeling the effects. “It makes me feel bad when they’re talking on the phone every night,” Deitz said.
Even the freshman with the roommate horror stories who wishes to remain anonymous feels those same effects of living with someone who’s in a relationship. “I felt lonelier… [even though] the situation was so annoying,” she said.
Barclay said that any situation one roommate is in affects the other roommate indirectly.
“The person you live with has moods that affect the observer’s attitudes,” Barclay said. “If your roommate is always euphoric, it tends to piss you off, especially if your life is not so good.” The same goes for roommates who are affected by the person they’re living with being in a relationship. “This argues for keeping the relationship out of the room even though letting it in is convenient for the person ‘in love,'” he said.
[sexiled]Maria Bianchi, a sophomore in political theory and constitutional democracy, looks on the brighter side and relates her roommate’s relationship to any other.
“I am extremely lucky in that I’ve never been asked to leave by my roommate,” Bianchi said. “I don’t think…that having a roommate in a relationship impacts me any more than having friends in relationships.” And one good part of living with someone in a relationship? Sometimes they go to their partner’s place. “It means I get the room to myself more often, which is kind of nice,” she said. But while she has it good now, she admits to having been sexiled before. “Last year I was in a different living situation, and so I am familiar with the term,” she said.
Geoff Levin, a sophomore majoring in international relations, finds himself in the exact opposite situation.
“In a way, I often feel that I have two roommates rather than one,” Levin said. That’s because his roommate has his girlfriend over to spend the night on an average of five nights a week. Levin, however, doesn’t mind. “I have been in relationships before, so I understand where he is coming from,” he said.
If indeed you are planning on sexiling your roommate, sexiled interviewees offer these tips:
-Come up with some sort of code such as something discrete to post or hang on the door that allows your roommate to know what’s going out without announcing it to the entire hallway.
-Set some ground rules early on such as how often, what’s appropriate, and under what conditions.
-Scope out any other possibilities before crashing in the dorm room. Is there any other possible place to go that wouldn’t disrupt your roommate?
-Don’t make it inconvenient by bringing someone over on a weekday or stumbling in at 3 am.
Now, all of these tips wouldn’t necessarily relate to those MSU students described above who are in uniquely convenient situations. The above list would be more for those on the brink of running into the disasters initially described by the anonymous freshman.
On the flip side, if you feel like you’re about to be sexiled, prepare yourself in these ways:
-Pack up some stuff to entertain yourself for a while, like your laptop or homework.
-Start calling your nearby friends asking for a place to stay for a while or for the night, depending on the severity of the situation.
-If worse comes to worst, find a comfy dorm lobby to settle yourself in until you think it’s safe to return to your room.
-If you’re camping out in the area, check the room every so often to see if it’s locked or if there still seems to be breathing inhabitants inside, but do it ever so discretely.
Whether you find yourself on the side of sexiler or the sexiled, it is a sticky situation that can actually be handled in a civil manner. The best advice is to simply talk to your roommate about it, even as potentially awkward as that sounds. It really is a two-way street when it comes down to it as both parties may become the sexiled or sexiler at one point in time.
As Sundberg puts, “It’s not like my roommate never has girls over, either.”