Living room littered with roommate's rubbers
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 your shared living spaces (assuming that's what you’re talking about), cohabitating can be challenging. 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.
You and your other roommate might consider initiating a respectful conversation with him about your concerns with the mess and be prepared to listen to his thoughts and feelings. It may also be useful to talk to your new roommate about your concerns individually, so it doesn’t feel like you and your other roommate are coming at your new roommate. When addressing your issues, being direct, yet patient might help you see each other's perspectives and hopefully work towards a solution that benefits all parties.
On the other hand, if the two of you are uncomfortable with your roommate's new expression of sexuality, you might consider that the latex litter problem could only 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.
To understand the root of your issue with your new roommate, you could reflect on the following questions: would you and your roommate still have asked your new roommate to live with you if you knew he was gay beforehand? Would you both be as upset about the condom litter if your new roommate had used them with a girlfriend as opposed to this new guy he’s sleeping with? Answering these questions will allow you to look inwards and discover what, if anything, is underlining your discomfort with the situation.
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 in the Go Ask Alice! archive.
Who knows—you might all grow and learn something from this experience. Good luck!
Originally published Apr 18, 1997
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