How to make love on a twin XL: Emerson Smith’s guide to dorm-room love life

(Robert Rigo/ Amherst Wire)

(Robert Rigo/ Amherst Wire)

By Emerson Smith

Sex, pun intended, is a touchy subject. And whether you’re single or in a relationship, the need to make some sweet, sweet love can be hard to escape. When sex and shared living situations collide, calamity ensues. The following are some experience-tested tips on how to best enjoy your college love life.

The Walk In

We’ve all been there. You’re lounging on your extra-long twin sized mattress, engaging in some intimate quality time with your crush or significant other when suddenly you hear a latch click. Before you know it, the door has swung open and there stands your roommate. Chances are they are just as surprised as you, and they are probably not happy about it.

How to avoid this? Communication. Shoot your roommate a text a few hours prior if you think that you are going to have romantic company. If it is a last minute get together, still shoot them a text! It takes no more than a few words, and it will save both of you a world of embarrassment. Some sort of home-wrought “do not disturb” sign (a.k.a sock on the doorknob) can also be effective, but don’t rely on this. Verbal and written communication is more efficient, not to mention more considerate.

What if a walk-in happens anyway? Don’t sweat it. We’ve all seen some things we weren’t meant to see. Laugh it off, and proceed with your life.


Sleepovers are a lot of fun for the two people in on the party, but not so much for your third-wheel roommate. This is another instance when communication is key. If you share a room with someone, don’t spring a sleepover on them without at least 24 hours prior notice. Give them time to find an alternate place to rest for the evening.

If you don’t share a room, but do share a suite or house, remember that oftentimes sleepovers are noisy! It can be fun to be vocal and have the mild satisfaction of hearing your bed frame ramming into the adjacent wall, but if it’s past midnight, especially on a weeknight, consider keeping the volume low. Your roommates will thank you, and muffling each other’s screams can in and of itself be a turn on.

And ladies and gents, if your significant other doesn’t want to sleep over, don’t take it personally. UMass keeps most students on our toes with a busy schedule, and sometimes sleeping in our own beds is a necessity for productivity.


How do you deal when your roommate has a significant other? I can’t say it often enough – communication. Lay out the ground rules early. If their relationship is distracting, and they are crowding the room, tell them! If you want privacy, tell them! Most people can’t read minds. Work out a system with your roommate that works for you, and live by the golden rule: treat your roommate the way you’d like to be treated – hopefully with respect and kindness.


Let’s face it, dorms and college housing aren’t innately sexy. White concrete walls, limited space, small mattresses, and fluorescent lighting are not exactly a recipe for romance, but there are still some things you can do to salvage the mood.

Christmas lights are a great investment for lovers. They allow you to avoid flipping on that retina-burning overhead, and will cast a softer, sexier glow on you and your honey. While lights are a seasonal item, Walmart and Bed Bath and Beyond almost always have a few different kinds in stock. If you are lucky, you might even turn up some groovy consignment lights at Goodwill or Salvation army. Make sure you have some duct tape and an extension cord to put them up with too.

The right music can instantly transform any space. Laptop speakers make music sound tinny and one- dimensional, so if you can shell out a little extra cash, freestanding speakers are a worthwhile investment. Everyone has different musical tastes, so choose your soundtrack accordingly. In my experience, you can’t go wrong with something slow, sweet, brooding, and bass heavy.

Lastly, smell can add a little something extra to your romantic night, and I’m not talking about the pile of dirty laundry that accumulates in the corner of the room. If you are planning on romancing someone in your dorm room, do your laundry first. Clean your room a little. Invest in some sort of pleasant smelling disinfectant and spread that stuff onto whatever surface it needs to go.

If you have incense and are in a space where you’re allowed to burn it, definitely use it! But for those of you new to incense, don’t burn the whole stick at once because it can be overwhelming and unpleasant in large quantities. Wave it around ceremoniously for a minute or two and put it out until next time. If you live off campus, candles are also a great mood-lighting prop that smell just as good.

Although romance during college can be a challenge, it is decidedly within reach. Add the  chemistry  between you and your  partner to any of these tips, and voila. Good luck!

Emerson Smith can be contacted at [email protected]

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