Dear Auntie Sparknotes,
I am just about to finish up my first semester in college and it has been going great so far except for a small thing with my roommate.
She and I get along very well and this doesn't happen too often but I feel awkward when her boyfriend comes over. Or rather stays over. So my question: it okay for me to feel awkward and uncomfortable when they are sleeping (and I mean just sleeping) together in the bunk below me? Or am I just being a prude? I don't mind that he comes over, after all it's her room too and I didn't feel awkward when he slept on the futon, but the two of them sleeping on the bed below me just makes me feel, well, awkward and estranged from my own room/bed.
Oooh, this is interesting! And I'll make you a deal, Sparkler: first, I'll tell you that of course it's okay to feel what you feel, be it awkward or uncomfortable or resentful or angry or whatever other surprise sensations that bubble up out of your Feelings Hole. Feelings are what they are, and you'll feel them whether you want to or not, which makes questioning their okayness a pretty useless exercise. What's important is that they're there, and you're aware of them.
Which brings me to your part of the bargain: now that you've got the go-ahead to feel your feelings (Go on! FEEL 'EM!), you'll use that freedom to do a little inner digging to figure out where they're coming from and why.
Because while this seems at first glance like a simple, classic roommate conflict about the presence of overnight guests, it's curious that your discomfort comes not from the boyfriend's presence in your room, but from his presence in your roommate's bed—which suggests that your issue isn't so much one of privacy, but of intimacy.
And that might be worth exploring.
So, purely in the interest of finding your feelings' root cause: Is this a familiar issue for you? Do you get uncomfortable if people kiss, cuddle, or hold hands in front of you? If not, why do you think you feel differently about the similarly intimate, non-sexual act of sleeping in the same bed? Would you still feel estranged and awkward if it were a pair of platonic girlfriends spooning in the bunk below you? A married couple? Your parents? Would it bother you as much if they were sleeping on the couch, or taking an afternoon nap? How about if they were wide awake, but prostrate and cuddling?
Here's why I ask: from your letter, you sound like you, yourself, are confused as to why you're bothered by this—and since you have a good relationship with your roommate, it's worth having some extra perspective if you choose to address it with her. You'll have a better conversation if you can be specific about your feelings — for instance, telling her, "I feel like I'm intruding on a private moment"—than if you come at her with a general indictment of their co-sleeping behavior. (Also: you mention feeling estranged from your room, but there could also be something kind of sweet in the fact that your roommate and her boyfriend like and trust you enough to feel comfy bunking up with you.) And if for some reason you'd rather not talk about this, then the self-examination can really help you deal; sometimes, just knowing why you feel squicked out can be the thing that makes you feel better.
Just remember: you live there, too, and you're always, always entitled to ask for a mutual kibosh on sleepovers. Don't be afraid to. Although, one last word of advice: if you're going to have that conversation, I'd suggest framing it as an issue of not wanting overnight guests in the room, period. Where or how the boyfriend sleeps really isn't your business, and trying to set rules about it just makes you look like the Cuddle Police.
And nobody likes the Cuddle Police.
Would you be bothered by co-sleeping slumber party, or is it no big deal? Tell us in the comments! And to get advice from Auntie, email her at email@example.com.