Flatcest: Should I sleep with my flatmate?

2 Mins read

Flatcest is defined by the Urban dictionary as “The act of having sex with your flatmate, even though you know this may be inadvisable given that you have to live together afterwards.”

Again and again, housemates are sent into crippling despair, when two people they trusted most start sneaking into each other’s rooms late at night or, worse, “doing it” on the communal sofa. The “don’t shit where you eat” mantra is wasted on undergrads, who often engage in this risqué activity.

In his first year, post-graduate Denny*, 24, hit it off with his flat immediately. After a few months, he and a female flatmate began a friends-with-benefits arrangement. They both explicitly agreed that it was a casual affair, leaving no room for misconceptions to arise. But, as the classic tale goes, Denny’s flatmate “caught feelings”.

Unfortunately, his flat turned on him, jumping on a bandwagon of false accusations and blame. The ostracising situation led to him moving out in his third term. “I didn’t want the drama, everything was super awkward,” he admits.

Luckily, Denny found refuge in friends from his course, so “it wasn’t the worst thing in the world,” he says. But now, he’d think twice: “If I feel like it could turn into an actual relationship, then yeah, I’d do it again, but defo not to just sleep with someone. It’s not worth it,” he cautions.

Postgraduate Olivia, 22, also discourages committing casual flatcest, “particularly if it’s with a sociopath,” she warns. It was Freshers’ Week, supposedly the most exciting part of the school year, but not for Olivia, who unintentionally jeopardised her wellbeing after sleeping with her flatmate.

“Little did I know I’d signed myself up for my very own personal stalker for the rest of the academic year!”


After their one night stand, Olivia’s flatmate began waiting outside her door, appearing every time she was in the kitchen, and “demanding” they walk to class together, unable to let their fling go. Her mental health was damaged by the unsavoury experience: “Your home is meant to be a place you can relax, but I was always in a heightened state of anxiety”, Olivia explains.

As Denny alluded, there is promise of flatcest working out if feelings are reciprocated and students face the situation maturely. Post-graduate Mina, 24, fraternised with the student next door in her undergrad years, kick-starting her happy relationship of two years and counting with her boyfriend Ciro. The couple were drawn to one another and adored living together, remaining flatmates the following year.

Unlike Denny and Olivia’s sour scenarios, Mina believes her and Ciro’s “civilised” communication style kept their romance separate from their flat dynamic. Mina and Ciro “got on really well as friends”, and “didn’t argue”, meaning they had already laid down a healthy foundation.

“If you fight with the person that you’re having sex with, it’s just not a good idea”, she advises. All in all, if you’re compatible in living together so early on, a step that seems to make or break couples, then you’re off to a good start.

So, is the flatmate you’ve been fantasising about truly worth the painstaking gamble of moving out, losing friends, or even gaining a stalker?

* Name changed to maintain the privacy of interviewee.

Featured image by John Althouse Cohen via Flickr CC

Related posts

Let’s talk about sex: the United States of abstinence 

5 Mins read
As abortion access becomes more restrictive across America, is it time for schools to teach a more comprehensive sex education?

Breaking down barriers in creative education

2 Mins read
Artefact talks to UAL students about navigating the challenges of access and equity in art schools.

'Loneliness is not about how many people I'm surrounded by, but how many people truly understand me.'

3 Mins read
As the final semester starts, how do the students in London feel? Has the government’s campaign to combat student loneliness borne fruit?