Living room littered with roommate's rubbers

Dear Alice,

I have a problem. The problem is my new roommate. We didn't know that he was gay when we asked him to be our roommate because he went out with girls before he moved in. After a month of living with us he started going to gay night at the local clubs and then found this guy. It is a week later and when my other roommate came home from seeing his girlfriend he found condoms all over the place. He didn't even clean up his mess! What should we do? We still have to live with him for another year.

— Help Us

Dear Help Us,

Sharing a space can certainly lead to some interesting experiences. Whether your roommate is snacking on your groceries, leaving the dishes in the sink, or casting off opened, used condoms around the living room (assuming that's what you’re talking about), cohabitating can be challenge. Inconsiderate roomies come in all shapes, sizes, and... sexualities. If you and your other roommate are bugged solely by the mess of rubber rubbish in your common living space, then initiating a face-to-face talk with the litterbug about your mutual needs is likely the best strategy for dealing with this issue.

On the other hand, if the two of you are uncomfortable with your roommate's new expression of sexuality (and this could be the case based on the tone of your question), then consider this: the latex litter problem could be a minor symptom of a more serious issue — your discomfort with your roommate's desire to have sex with men. Perhaps your roommate is scattering his condom footprint in response to unspoken hostility that he's picking up from the two of you. Or maybe he's showing off his sexual prowess because he's getting messages that he's inferior to you. Or perhaps this is his way of telling you who he is, and a roundabout way of getting to know you.

So what should you do? Communicate your concerns about the mess and be prepared to listen to your roommate’s thoughts and feelings. Remember, talking about sex or sexuality with a new person in your life may be a little uncomfortable. Before you take the plunge, you may want to check out Help — My roommate's a lesbian! and From sharing closet space to coming out of the closet.

Who knows — you might all grow from this experience. Good luck!

Last updated Sep 05, 2014
Originally published Apr 18, 1997

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