Navigating the awkwardness of the dorm bed hook-up

    Remember thinking in high school that the freedom of college dorm rooms would let you hook up whenever you wanted and do you remember buying those extra-long, twin sheets for your dorm bed — and seeing how long and narrow they looked?

    Now flash back to the first time you exercised that dorm room freedom to finally hook up without worrying about parents/siblings/pets walking in on you and discovering that the beds really are as narrow as the sheets warned. Whoever designed dorm room beds was an advocate of abstinence.

    I’ve spent the past three years of my college experience trying to navigate the mechanics of the dorm room hook-up, with little success. Sometimes, one leg falls off the bed as one partner is squished against the wall. Even worse, someone falls off the bed, sustaining the “sex injury” (something we all like to pretend we’re embarrassed about, but actually love to share). Last February, a friend came back from studying abroad and was eager to spend the night with an old partner from the previous year. After a night of drinking, she got back to his room and attempted to jump on the top bunk of his bed. Instead of pleasure, she got hours of pain and suffering after breaking her leg. Word to the wise: Alcohol and the top bunk are like oil and water.

    When I began dating my first Northwestern boyfriend halfway through freshman year, I figured the awkward make-out sessions on his bed were either a) my fault, being nervous and inexperienced, or b) his fault (I told myself this was more probable). Instead of rolling over to try something new, I found that changing positions meant awkward conversations that sounded like air traffic control. “You move this way,” I would say. “No, I’m going to move that way,” he would reply.

    When navigating the awkward waters of the dorm room hook-up, there are a few alternatives to try. Use your desk chair — while this can get uncomfortable, it mixes things up from the regular on-the-bed routine. The floor is another option, but the thin rugs cause sore backs and rug burns the next day, so throw down a couple of blankets before getting down to business. And while my friends have hooked up in random spots around campus — the library, the Rock, the Lakefill, the Shakespeare Garden, LR2 in Tech — many of these places produce more paranoia or painful bruises than pleasure, so proceed with caution.

    Try as we might to find fun alternatives, the dorm bed is by far the easiest and most accessible hook-up spot on campus. Those who still struggle with the awkwardness should realize that the first few times you hook up with anyone are always awkward, but once you can communicate with the other person without getting nervous, you can start making suggestions as to how you want to maneuver. After even more time with that person, hopefully you won’t have to say anything at all and a natural rhythm will guide you better than anything.

    A friend of mine put it this way: “I’m always thinking, ‘Can you get off me, you’re kind of hurting me?’ But you can’t say that to the other person.” Many times, she said, one of her limbs falls asleep and she politely waits for him to move instead of asking him to shift. In an ideal world, housing would add six inches of width to all of our beds. But after almost three years or awkward air traffic controlling, I’m not so polite anymore. At some point, you have to learn to get over your fears and insecurities, and wear that metaphorical orange vest with pride. If I’m willing to laugh at myself and appreciate that hooking up in dorm rooms is something I can only experience in college, I might as well just enjoy the awkwardness of it all while I still can.


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