Ask Em: Quit the PDA, OK?

Getting Handsy with your significant other is okay, but not when your roommate is making toast


Dear Em,

My roommate just started seeing another Fordham student, and I am so glad that they are happy! There’s only one problem: They’re always hanging out in our common spaces. How can I ask my roommate to quit with the PDA when I’m in the room?


PDA-phobic Philosophy Major 

ask em column header

Dear PDA-phobic Philosophy Major,

Managing situations with roommates, especially ones relating to significant others, is never easy. In fact, it’s usually hell on Earth. But it’s crucial to open lines of communication early, especially when other students are intruding on your living spaces and making you feel uncomfortable. 

Spaces like living rooms and lounges are communal, and that means that you have every right to set some boundaries on what is acceptable. Watching your roommate make out with their partner is surely not something that most people would like to experience, so you are absolutely allowed to communicate that it bothers you. 

Awkward conversations aren’t fun — and I can tell by the way you opened your question that you care deeply about your roommate — but you absolutely have the right to advocate for yourself and your right to privacy. 

While a sock on the door is the definition of cliché, subtle signals and warnings can help your roommate have the private time that they need.

Make sure that you open the conversation in a productive way. Coming off as combative and angry will only make your roommate defensive and prone to lashing out. Remind your roommate that you love them and support their relationship with their partner but that you need a little more distance from their public displays of affection. 

If you share a room with this particular roommate, work on creating a system for when they need alone time. While a sock on the door is the definition of cliché, subtle signals and warnings can help your roommate have the private time that they need. Make sure to set restrictions on this system as well so that your roommate does not exile you from your room for extended periods of time on a regular basis. You can also ask that the system be implemented in their partner’s apartment as well so that they are not constantly in your living spaces. Hopefully, with a bit more privacy, your roommate will be less likely to utilize common spaces.  

Lastly, check the roommate agreement. While it might have seemed like a joke at the beginning of the semester, having a document to refer back to when dealing with situations like these is helpful. If your roommate responds negatively to your conversation and a residential assistant needs to become involved, make sure that you understand the living agreements that you both made early on in your relationship. Try to honor the plans that you formed at the beginning of the semester, and if your statements don’t line up with how you actually feel, work on adjusting the agreement with your roommate. 

Talking about issues like these in theory is always different than experiencing them in real-time, so don’t be afraid to ask for slight amendments as the semester moves forward. If you don’t live on campus, consider forming a roommate agreement of your own. Its always helpful to have guidelines on boundaries, especially if situations arise that require mediation. 

Good luck with your upcoming conversation! 

All my love,


all my love, emily