The world is full of cockblocks, but wielding the greatest power of them all is the one that flies the most discreetly under the radar, the most underestimated, the most efficacious: the freshman year college roommate.
I know what you’re thinking: this seems obvious. Of course the person you’re sharing a 12×12 foot room with has the capacity to hinder your sexual escapades. But I’m not just talking about the newfound lack of privacy and inability to get the room to yourself — a roommate’s influence goes so much further than that. (It is worth noting that the subsequent issues are only intensified as the number of roommates in a shared space increases [i.e. forced triples, quads, etc.]).
To get it out of the way, I will begin with the most obvious way that a first-year roommate can guarantee your abstinence. When sharing a space, arguably the greatest risk is that you will be unluckily partnered with a chronic room inhabitant: the gamer, the habitual napper, the societal incel. If your room is consistently taken over by virtual Valorant characters, there is no space for recreational intimacy.
In addition to this, a roommate’s fornication barricade extends beyond their physical presence. Most notably, your roommate directly influences roughly 50 percent of your room’s vibe, which is an extremely risky gamble. Imagine trying to get it on and then looking up to make unprecedented eye contact with a Ghandi poster, “American Progress” artistic replication, or anime minifigure — immediate turn-off (assuming that’s not what you’re going for). And unfortunately for the roommate with the date, some things can’t be unseen and some vibes can’t be restored. No matter how hard you try, once you know that a giant family portrait of someone’s grandma is watching your sex faces, it can be hard to get back in the mood.
Next up we have the issue of cleanliness. Assuming you’ve opted to have a random roommate (or a roommate that you only briefly met through a “Class of XXXX” Facebook group), there is about a 50/50 chance that they will be an inherently messy person. (If your roommate isn’t the messy one, it might be time to self-reflect). While dirty underwear and last week’s dishes can hinder sexy time energy, the greater risk lies in the potential for unappealing smells, or worse, mystery smells.
The smell of Sriracha sauce is permanently burned into my nostrils and elicits a posttraumatic stress response comparable to what I imagine embalming mortitionists experience, all because my partner’s freshman year roommate drenched so much of his food in the sauce that it permeated their walls and resulted in an ever-lingering Sriracha smell. Not sexy. Roommates, take note: be conscious of your smells. If your roommate doesn’t sponsor a smell that gets on your nerves, again, I encourage you to self-reflect. There is nothing worse than an attention-consuming smell that doesn’t match your desired energy.
Finally, even in a roommate’s absence, getting it on in a shared space adds an underlying layer of anxiety regardless of the intensity of one’s pre-planning. The beauty of humans lies in our unpredictability. Thus, even if you’ve spent weeks mapping out your roommate’s daily schedule, there will always be external factors that simply cannot be accounted for: a forgotten notebook, a canceled class — you just never know. A locked door or sock on the handle is sometimes not enough, and unfortunately there is often no avoiding embarrassment.
All in all, sharing a room with a virtual stranger for the first year of college is potentially the most significant cockblock you will ever experience. Even when they aren’t physically present, their influence lingers and dramatically contributes to your celibacy. For the sake of yourself, your future partner(s) and the individual(s) you share space with, get to know your roommate. Establish a relationship where a simple “I need the room” text suffices — where you can address the abundance of old ramen bowls and the potent smell of Sriracha without causing conflict. It will benefit all parties.
The silver lining to all of this is that an unsolved roommate dilemma guarantees ample time to focus on studies. In short, you can thank your freshman year roommate for your 3.5+ GPA.
Annie Position is a student at Cornell University. Comments can be sent to [email protected]. The Sin Series runs during alternate Sex on Thursdays this semester.