A Guide To Dormcest

Ahh, college. Some people look at it as an institution of higher learning, others look at it as a new place stocked with eligible men and women for the taking. Wherever you fall across the spectrum, you’ve probably heard of the sometimes-taboo subject called dormcest. That means dating/hooking up with someone who lives in your building or on your hall. These types of relations are common both when you first move in and again in the cold winter months when people are less apt to hike to a party in a short skirt and more likely to pick from what’s close and convenient.

However, “dormcest” can be risky business. Getting intimate with someone who lives nearby and who you see just about every day can become awkward, annoying, hurtful or even dangerous. Tread carefully with this, and use this guide to eliminate as many risks as possible.

Rule out the next door neighbors.You will see these guys every day, even multiple times a day. They will probably see you in a towel, coming in drunk from a party and at your morning-after worst. If you hook up with them, you might be starting a FWB relationship where you two just go to each other because it’s easy.  Or, you can get into a relationship. And while might seem super fun to live right next to your boyfriend, think about how annoying it can get. Too much time together is never a good thing.

And if that ends badly? You will undoubtedly see other girls enter his dorm room and perhaps vice versa, which can cause hurt feelings and jealousy.

Choose wisely. If you are looking for a one time hookup/fling, pick a guy who wants the same. If you pick a guy who wants a relationship and seems very clingy in the beginning, you will have a sad puppy following you around for weeks to come.

Respect each other’s space.  Do not bust into his room like you own it, and do not spend all your time in there. Think about it like it was his house. Would you drive by his house five times a day? At 3 in the morning? (If you said yes, you should probably seek some help).

Keep quiet. A dormcest couple in my building is actually doing quite well because they don’t broadcast their relationship to the world. Laurie* and Rob* started out slow in the beginning; I wouldn’t have even known they were spending time together if they didn’t decide to share that with a few friends. They told each other they weren’t looking for a relationship at the time, which allowed them no drama. After a couple months, they decided to make their relationship official, and still they are a pretty low key couple. No one is talking about them and nothing is weird in the dorm because of it.

Make alone time. Another dormcest couple in my hall, Shannon* and Mike*, started getting serious pretty quick. Now they fight all the time, and everyone knows about it (and hears it!). This is a case of too much time together and not really knowing each other. My friend Megan brought up a good point: how can you really know each other if you only spend time together in the dorm, surrounded by friends? You don’t get any alone time like other couples do when they go out on dates.

Make time apart. Spending too much time together can become overbearing. Then you feel uncomfortable in your own space, and you can’t even escape the other person. Make sure you hang out with your friends, do things separate, and set limits on seeing each other in the building.

End it as amicably as possible. Unless you are one of the select few who fall in love and decide to be together forever, you will probably suffer an awkward break up. Resist the urge to have a big blow out fight, use mean insults or to make yourself look like a crazy person. End it as cleanly as possible, and be civil and polite when you see your ex. A smile and a wave make things less awkward and soon you won’t even feel weird passing them in the hallway.

Protect yourself. I hate to admit it, but there are some crazies out there. A girl I know, *Karissa, began seeing a guy who seemed really friendly and cool in the beginning. However, now that she told him she wasn’t interested anymore, he has become obsessive, angry and even threatening. He texts her every day, calling her names and saying he will kill her if she doesn’t call him back. He knows where she lives, but thankfully cannot get into the dorm without the proper authorization. What if you picked a guy like this in your own building? Know someone very well before you start a relationship where they know how to find you, and know how to protect yourself. If you see any inappropriate or threatening behavior, report the person to your campus police immediately.

Those are my tips for making dormcest work, and I wish all those crazy enough to try it good luck! Please share your dormcest stories in the comments!

*Indicates names have been changed.

Maura is a freshman at Rider University and loves chocolate, cheesy wedding T.V. shows, writing, fashion and playing with her overweight (but adorable) Pomeranian. When she isn’t at class or sleeping, you can catch her on twitter @maurahilgar.



  1. […] A Guide To Dormcest […]

  2. Shannon says:

    Dormcest is the ultimate high-risk high-reward friends with benefits arrangement:

  3. kay says:

    i knew about dormcest when i started dating the boy across the hall in the third week of freshman year. however, i threw caution to the wind because i really wanted to be with him. four months later we're still madly in love. however, being apart for winter break, etc, is all the harder because we're used to seeing each other all the time.
    a tip: if you like a guy in your building, hang out with him both in a group of friends, and alone, just as two friends (who flirt occasionally) you'll get a better sense of how much you really like spending time with him and what kind of guy he really is.

  4. Krista says:

    Dormcest definitely has its risks, but it can also work out. My dormcest boyfriend and I actually just celebrated our one-year anniversary yesterday. We're very happy together, and there's no end in sight.

    1. Maura - Rider University says:

      Congrats! You are definitely one of the lucky ones. I think it's all about choosing the right person to dormcest with, because the wrong guy is going to make your living situation awkward, and the right guy can lead to a great relationship.

  5. […] • A guide to “dormcest”.  (College Candy) […]

  6. […] • A guide to “dormcest”.  (College Candy) […]

  7. nicole says:

    I committed dormcest. Oh man, no bueno. NO BUENO. Turns out he's a slut. And I got used. Don't do it people!

    1. Maura - Rider University says:

      Advice from the experienced! Listen up!

  8. Dan says:

    In other words, "Don't shit where you eat."

    Y'all think this is a new concept? It's been around a long time.

    1. wrmcnutt says:

      Well- yeah. But it's a young audience.

  9. Wilbur says:

    I think this chick sounds pretty experienced for a freshman. Is she a third year freshman?

  10. jcrue says:

    One thing overlooked, how about not being a whore and being highly selective about your partners?

    1. MichelleIsBoss says:

      how bout not being a slut shaming up tight b*tch?

  11. M. Report says:

    Clearly the dreaded Dormammu is dead; Not the cartoon villain,
    but the Dorm Mother who patrolled the public lounge which was
    the only place guys and gals could meet, and enforced the
    'One foot on the floor' rule. Circa 1965. >:)

  12. Steve A. says:

    Not sure what link got me here as I'm not in the right demographic I fear :) My version of this led to two kids and 18+ years really happy marriage. So good luck or beware . . .

  13. schmuck281 says:

    Keep it quiet? The soundproofing in dorms is not high quality.

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