The Hook Up: Shagging your flatmates


For the third time in my life, I’ve accidentally moved in with another lesbian and, for the second time, I’ve ended up sleeping with her.  We’ve been living together for three months now but it feels like we’ve been married for 40 years. We share a bed basically every night but don’t really have sex anymore, mainly because I don’t want to. We bicker a lot and have become entirely codependent (I have access to her Paypal account). I really like her as a person and we definitely started sleeping together because there was insurmountable chemistry between us. The thing is, she isn’t the type of person I’d normally go for and the only reason we’d even move in the same circles would be because we’re both gay in a very small town.

I’ve been very clear from the beginning that I don’t do monogamy, which has been my line with everyone for a while. But the whole non-monogamous thing started the first time I was sleeping with a flatmate and was definitely, looking back, because moving out wasn’t an option and I didn’t have the discipline not to indulge in coupliness with her, even though I wasn’t actually that into her. I didn’t want to rule out possibilities with people I really was into. But in practice, those other possibilities were severely limited by the relationship with my flatmate anyway and I ended up resenting her as a kind of dead weight around my neck and then hating myself for being a user and a bitch.

I don’t want to be that person again, but I’ve actually tried putting more distance between myself and my current flatmate and it just doesn’t work. Our setup is too convenient and the sex has already been cut out, so not sharing a bed would feel more like I was saying I didn’t want to be friends than anything. But if I meet someone else, I want to be able to act on it unfettered and even though my flatmate says she’d be fine with it, the very relationship I have with her would probably put other people off. Also, this is the second lesbian flatmate relationship I’ve had and in the past I had a similar thing with a guy I lived with. What is my problem and why doesn’t everyone have it?—Not Your Neighbor

Anna says: Why doesn’t everyone shag their roommates? Because it leads to a lot of far more complicated problems, of which you are all too aware, Not Your Neighbor.

I’m afraid to say it, but you already are “that person again.” You’re involved in a crappy, codependent (why do you even need access to anyone’s Paypal account?!), untruthful, and not-ideal-in-any-way-except-your-walk-of-shame-is-shorter relationship purgatory. And the monogamy line is manipulative at worst and a cop-out at best. You need to knock it off, NYN. Like now. For everyone’s sake, not just your own. You’ve roped your flatmate into not-exactly-agreed-upon celibacy because … why? You’re afraid to be honest with her? Because telling the truth is awkward? ‘Cause I gotta tell ya, the longer you drag this out, the worse it’s going to get, and if you like this girl, as you say you do, and respect her as a person and friend, then you need to set aside your own selfishness and be real with her about your situation.

You don’t want to date her or sleep with her. You bicker constantly and feel trapped. I know it’s winter and everything, but your desire for a warm body to sleep next to should be severely dwarfed by all the other crap you and your faux-housewife are putting up with in this scenario.

If you can’t move out for whatever reason, then at least set some boundaries and go back to being platonic flatmates. What you have now may be “convenient,” but it’s not doing you any real favors, nor is it for your flatmate. You had some chemistry, you tried it out, it didn’t work, and now you have to change the circumstances of this dead-end relationship before it turns into real and lasting damage.

It’s only been three months. You’ve still got a shot at turning things around, but first you have to admit to yourself that this isn’t the relationship you want to be in and act accordingly. Roommate hook ups happen — they can be messy, and no big deal, and on occasion, turn into long-term partnerships. I know you live in a small town but you owe it to yourself and your roommate to put the kibosh on the cuddling and be emotionally honest about the mess you’re both in.

I can only speculate why this is a trend for you, NYN, but I’d urge you to take a hard look at previous situations like this and, if you’ve noticed they are fruitless or terrible, to not do it again. It seems simple and it is. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool around with your flatmates three times and it’s on you. Don’t settle for bed death and fighting over the cable bill, especially not at three months! Muster up some accountability, and deal with the awkward inevitability. You’ll all be happier for it.

p.s. Also maybe consider moving to a bigger town.

Hailing from the rough-and-tumble deserts of southern Arizona, where one doesn’t have to bother with such trivialities as “coats” or “daylight savings time,” Anna Pulley is a freelance writer living in San Francisco. Find her at and on Twitter @annapulley. Send her your The Hook Up questions at   

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