Kaylee Wolfe is a sexuality educator, advocate for survivors of sexual and relationship violence, clinic escort, and birth doula. She thinks you should get tested.

dorm

Alright, students of Portland. You’ve spent the last week or so being completely overloaded with mandatory orientation sessions on plagiarism, class registration, and the dangers of binge drinking. You’ve made it through an unending series of name games and icebreakers and cringey evening programs designed to help you make friends with the other weirdos on your hall. But even after all that orienting, I’m sure there’s at least one question your RA hasn’t answered yet: How are you supposed to fuck in such a tiny, squeaky bed?

Experiencing the awkward indignity of getting your rocks off in a twin XL bed is a time-honored college tradition spanning generations. Here are a few basic tips to get you started.

First, set the scene. Let’s be real, most college dorm rooms are only a step up from closets. A little time spent sprucing up your future love nest can go a long way. Get yourself a basic tool set from Reny’s and tighten up the bolts on your bed frame--it will help minimize the chance of squeaking when things get vigorous. Invest in an air freshener to help chase away the musk emanating from your growing laundry pile. Make sure you have condoms, lube, dental dams, and anything else you need to have safer sex handy. And for the love of god, change your sheets at least once per month, and definitely between partners.

Be considerate of your roommate(s). Ignoring the lucky few bastards who score single rooms, chances are you’ve got at least one other human being sharing your living space. There’s a word for people who constantly sexile their roommates without communicating about their plans or taking anyone else’s needs into consideration. That word is “jerk.” Don’t be a jerk.

Know your resources. Ask your RA or a cool upperclassman where you can get free or subsidized condoms on campus. Most college health centers are well-equipped to provide basic sexual and reproductive healthcare including birth control consultations and STI screening and treatment at low or no cost. If you prefer to get care off-campus, you can visit bedsider.org/clinics to find a provider near you.

Strategic positioning. If and when you bring someone back to your room, be prepared for an uncomfortable game of body Tetris. In such a narrow space, stray elbows, hands, and feet are bound to end up in weird places occasionally. Communicating with your partner can help reduce the number of awkward, accidental headbutts that happen, as can using some of these tried-and-true positions:

  • If you’re into penetrative sex, spooning works very well in a twin bed. It also provides easy access to the clitoris or penis of the partner being penetrated (little spoon) for extra stimulation.

  • 69, where you and your partner lay in opposite directions and perform oral sex on one another, can be tricky to carry out comfortably and is (in my humble opinion) a wildly overrated sex position in general. That said, if it works for you and your partner it’s well-suited for narrow spaces.

  • Putting your bed on risers isn’t just a clever way to create more storage space--it can also give you a boost during sex. Having one partner positioned toward the edge of the bed with their legs hanging off can be a great position for oral sex (with the other partner kneeling on the floor) or penetrative sex (with the other partner standing).

Last, but certainly not least, listen to your body and stay true to yourself. I know it sounds hokey, but if there’s one thing I wish someone had told me before college, it’s that. If you feel weird about a situation, pay attention to that feeling. If you don’t want to do something, don’t do it. Cultural panic over hookup culture has done a great job of making it seem like college campuses are uncontrollable hotbeds of casual sex, but lots of research has shown that your peers are making all kinds of different choices.

For example, one study from Harvard’s Making Caring Common project found that although only 52-54% of 18 to 19-year-olds surveyed reported engaging in sexual behaviors associated with hookup culture, that same group believed that on average as many as 70% of their peers were. The belief that 70% of the people around you are doing something can be powerful, and might make you feel pretty shitty if you’re not in that group. But in reality, nearly half of 18 to 19-year olds are dating, in relationships, or not having sex at all. And many people move between hooking up, dating, being in relationships, or being abstinent throughout their time in college. Like any human experience, it’s more complicated than just one story.

There’s no one right way to approach sex and relationships, so take the time to find the way that’s best for you. Just please, please, please use condoms while you do it--it’s a jungle out there (more on that later this month).

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