What You Need to Know Before Committing Dormcest, From Girls Who've Been There

As a disclaimer, I met my current girlfriend of over two years on move-in day at my college dorm. We instantly hit it off, eventually entered a bit of a dormcest situation, and it kind of snowballed into a serious committed relationship. Oops! Hooking up with someone who lives a few doors down can be tricky, especially when you’re surrounded by friends, classmates, and other past or potential hookups. But it’s also thrilling and casual and it can lead to some great relationships! It’s definitely awkward at times and is not always easy, but here are some things to keep in mind if you’re considering hitting up that cutie down the hall.


I learned, fairly early on in my dorming days, about a little concept called “DTR.” A friend taught it to me after I came to her in tears over choosing which newfound romantic/sexual interest I wanted to pursue (so I’d say I’m not entirely unqualified to talk on this subject.) It means “defining the relationship,” and it is a lifesaver. 

If you’re ready to take advantage of having hundreds of hot, educated peers at your disposal, then you need to get used to sitting someone down and making sure you’re both on the same page about what you want out of it, what boundaries must be set, and what is absolutely off-limits, never-gonna-happen. Be absolutely sure of what you want out of the situation before diving in and don’t be afraid of asking a few simple questions beforehand (and afterwards.) It gets easier every time you do it and — hey! You never know; it could lead to something a little more exciting.

Do some recon

Okay, we’re not going to tell you that dormcest is 100 percent easy and uncomplicated. But there are definitely steps you can take to destress the process. You might want to do some mild reconnaissance before choosing your person of interest: Do you two have any mutual friends? Are they in any of your classes? Do they live on the same floor or in the same building as you, any of your friends, or any of your other hookups? How often is your (and their!) roommate around? These are all things to consider before making a move!

If you’re looking to avoid some awkward conversations, questions, or run-ins, make sure you’re cautious. In the words of Rachel Petty from James Madison University: “It was fun and convenient, but put me in weird situations because two guys I was hooking up with ended up becoming friends (since they lived on the same floor.) If you’re going to hook up with someone in your dorm, my advice would be to keep it to one person — or at least only one per floor!”

Be safe, be smart, know yourself

This goes without saying, but please practice safe sex with all of your partners! If you’re going to be intimate with someone, whether they live one door down or across campus, make sure you prioritize sexual health and safety! Discussing STI guards and contraceptives takes less than a minute and it’s not nearly as hard or as uncomfortable as you think it may be. Be safe, be smart, and the whole experience will be better.

If you’re considering entering a dormcest situation, take the time to really figure out if it’s the right choice for you. If you’re the kind of person who needs a lot of communication from others, if you’re the kind of person who can’t handle the unknown, or if you just don’t deal well with awkwardness, then take some extra caution or consider avoiding dormcest at all costs. While dormcest is a convenient way to meet new people and figure out your priorities in relationships, the last thing you want is for it to turn disastrous. It’s okay if you don’t find Mr. or Mrs. Right! Take advice from Iowa State’s Chelsea Jacks, who says: “If anyone's interested in committing "dormcest," be transparent with their roommate/love interest. Nothing's more awkward than living with someone you've hooked up with and not knowing where the two of you stand. While situationships can be fun, having a conversation with your roommate about your feelings and what you want out of your situation can help you both avoid any future awkwardness (and resentment).”


Look, if there’s a good-looking, well-educated, person of mutual interest who lives in the same building as you then who should stop you from striking while the iron is hot? Living in a dormitory is far from ideal in many ways, so why not take advantage of one of its greatest assets? Dormcest is, surprisingly, a great way to learn (quickly) about what you like, what you don’t, and how to instantly connect with new people. This world doesn’t want us girls taking charge of our desires, so show them all who’s boss and do it if you want to.