An unmade bed with white striped sheets.

Hi Jake,

I think my roommate is using my sex supplies and possibly doing sexual things in my bed when I’m not home. Like most people, I keep all my stuff in the bedside table. A few months back I noticed I was going through lube a lot faster than usual. It seemed weird but I didn’t think anything of it immediately. Then one day last month I noticed one of my toys in the drawer had clearly been moved. Another time I couldn’t find my cock-ring… only to have it reappear a few days later. While I can’t say 100%, I’m pretty sure he’s up to something. I don’t know how to bring it up, or if I even should. I thought about getting a lockbox, but then he’s going to know I know what he’s doing and it could get more awkward. The whole situation is just weird, not to mention it’s costing me money. Lube isn’t cheap after all!

Ransacked Roomie

Dear Ransacked Roomie,

Two words: boundary violation.

Any time someone lays hands on our private personal items without asking, or invades our space sans approval, it’s a breach of privacy. In your particular case, my creep meter is on high, because that space is not only personal, it’s intimate as well. Clearly your “sensual lifestyle products” are to be used in a very private way, and are never meant to be shared with someone unwittingly.

Forget the price of the lube, the greater cost is the loss of your independence and freedom in the very space you call home. Certain things in life are meant just for us (including our bed!), and it’s important to have a concept of personal space where what’s yours is yours, and no one else’s. You shouldn’t have to worry about a bandit in your own home, which should feel like a sanctuary.

What your roommate is up to is a mystery. Could he be into you sexually or romantically and is using your products to feign a sense of being close to you? Does he simply not have the money to get his own stuff and thought you wouldn’t notice? Is he on drugs and can’t control his impulse to create an entire fantasy world around your private sex life? The honest answer is: It doesn’t matter! Whatever his reasons, he never asked you if it was okay.

In a situation like this, it can be helpful to model the kind of behavior you had hoped to receive in the first place. Sure, it might be awkward, but instead of being shady or secretive about it like he has been, I’d approach your roommate directly and honestly. Mention that you’re pretty sure someone has been in your stuff, and invite him to share anything he might know about the situation. If he’s unable to cop to it, you can respect his position outwardly, but be clear that someone has breached your privacy and it won’t be tolerated moving forward. He may deny and get defensive, and that’s okay. You’re just making yourself clear.

This kind of direct confrontation can be hard for some people, but setting boundaries doesn’t have to be rude. There are polite ways to assert yourself. Here are five tips from ScienceofMind.com, and my take on them:

1. Visualize and name your limits

Get clear in your own mind about what’s okay and not okay. Using your lube or cock-ring? That’s a no-no. That toy you bought? It’s not up for show-and-tell.

2. Openly communicate your boundaries

Now it’s time to share with others what you’ve identified above. If you don’t express your boundaries, people won’t know when they’re crossing them. Most people should know what’s acceptable, but unfortunately sometimes we need to state the obvious.

3. Reiterate and uphold those boundaries

If you waver on your boundaries even once, you’re conveying they can be broken. Hold firm, re-state your needs, and never move your own line to please someone else.

4. Don’t be afraid to say no

It may be uncomfortable, but you’re allowed to not like something and say “no”. This isn’t RuPaul’s Best Friend Race. It’s a living situation where rules need to be negotiated and upheld.

5. Take time for yourself

You’re allowed to have your solo sexy time. We need alone time to refuel and recharge. Don’t stop enjoying what you’d normally do just because someone else is souring the situation.

A gay man’s bedside table is a window into his soul, and it should be cherished and treated with the utmost respect. Even if you don’t find the culprit, you can still make it very clear this behavior wont’ be tolerated. If it continues, then I’d hit Craiglist for a new roommate faster than a disappearing bottle of lube.

Jake Myers, Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist, is the Founder of LGBTQ Therapy Space, the first national platform for online therapy for and by the LGBTQ community, matching clients with quality LGBTQ therapists and providing a secure, easy-to-use platform for sessions. Have a question for Jake? Follow LGBTQ Therapy Space on Instagram and send him a DM, or simply stay up to date on LGBTQ mental health tips and trends!

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