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Should I Share a Bedroom with my Unmarried Partner at my Parent's Home?

Tricia Christensen
Updated Jan 27, 2024
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When couples are unmarried but cohabitate, debate or controversy may be stirred when invitations are issued to visit parents or other relatives. Couples may wish to share a bedroom on family visits, but may find their desire at odds with that of their family’s.

From the standpoint of etiquette, guests generally sleep where they are told. Usually married partners expect they will share a bedroom. However, depending upon one’s parents’ ideas of moral behavior, the expectation to use the same bedroom may diminish for the unmarried couple.

For some families, this is a non-issue. Parents recognize that their children are in a committed relationship and have no problem with offering a single bedroom to an unmarried couple. In other circumstances, the children recognize that the parents would feel very uncomfortable with the request to share a bedroom, and simply don’t expect it. Other adult children would never dream asking to use the same bedroom with an unmarried partner because the idea of discussing one’s sex life with one’s parents is just too unpleasant to contemplate.

The issue may become more contentious, however, when other issues enter the picture; when, for example, a couple cannot be married, such as the case a same sex couple. In most states, same sex marriages are not permitted. Even if they are, they may not be acceptable to a couple’s parents. Sometimes the issue of being permitted to share a bedroom is really an issue of the adult child wanting the parent to accept his or her homosexuality.

Instead, if a couple wishes to use the same bedroom, and this is really a matter of some importance, the couple may wish to consider staying at a hotel or motel while visiting parents. This may help a family visit be less fraught with conflict.

With both gay and straight unmarried couples, a parent may simply not wish to have a couple share a bedroom. If the parent has strong moral convictions against cohabitation, it is probably unwise to expect that such convictions will suddenly dissipate. If parents can otherwise accept their children there may be no reason to push the issue.

On the other hand, a parent who creates conflict over the situation may warrant making visits short and choosing accommodations elsewhere. For the unmarried couple, most etiquette experts tend to agree that it is rude to request to share a bedroom, when this will upset the parents or undermine their moral stance. Thus, respecting parents’ feelings regarding sleeping accommodations in their own home is only polite.

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Tricia Christensen
By Tricia Christensen , Writer
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a WiseGeek contributor, Tricia Christensen is based in Northern California and brings a wealth of knowledge and passion to her writing. Her wide-ranging interests include reading, writing, medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion, all of which she incorporates into her informative articles. Tricia is currently working on her first novel.

Discussion Comments

By anon1004931 — On May 17, 2021

I think the issue for me was being expected by his family (and in particular his mother) to travel and visit his family for several nights at a time multiple times a year (on the basis of me being in a relationship with their adult son), and yet being expected to sleep in separate rooms even though we were living together. I found it intrusive and offensive.

Ultimately, I just stopped going, even though that caused friction with his parents. Too many years of being excluded. Very hurtful and insulting. I feel that it's one or the other. If you expect me to travel, to spend money, to spend time etc. then treating us like we're adolescents living under your roof instead of grown up professionals who live and work in a different city and who have prioritized visiting you, and made lots of effort and who spent time and money generously for you, is incredibly rude and insulting. It's really demeaning.

His mother used to make passive-aggressive comments (alluding to sex and sexuality - she was pretending to be religious) directly to me, when I was a visiting also, which was harassing and completely objectionable also. I think if you have placed the demand on me (and it came from his mother, not my partner and not me) that I should visit as I am in a relationship with your adult child, then you should host us as a couple.

By bear78 — On Jun 10, 2011

Whether you'd like to share your personal lives with us or not, we know how the modern relationship works these days. I don't expect my kids to live according to my expectations but I do want them to show their parents respect while they are at home. They are free to do whatever they want at their place anyway.

I wish kids would understand how hard it is for parents. I've raised my kids with the values and morals that I grew up with. It's the best I could do, it's the only way I knew how. When I see my kids carrying those values as adults, it gives me confidence that I have done my job well. It gives me hope that they will teach the same things to their kids. And that's why I would want them to expect to share a bed with their girlfriend or boyfriend.

By fify — On Jun 09, 2011

I was brought up in a very traditional Catholic home. My parents are pretty conservative people, especially about relations before marriage.

I have been living with my boyfriend for the past three years. My parents are not happy about it. My dad won't say anything to me, but my mom keeps asking me when I am getting married. She keeps telling me how wrong it is for us to be living together.

The thing is, my boy friend and I love each other deeply. He is just not very fond of marriage and I personally don't mind not getting married. We really have the ideal relationship, and it doesn't matter to me if it is official or not.

I cannot deny however that it hurts me to know how my parents feel about my relationship. I usually go home by myself for visits. My boyfriend went with me a couple of times but only stayed part of a day. I think we are avoiding staying there overnight because we don't know how my parents would react to us if we want to share a bedroom. I cannot ask my boyfriend to go to my parent's house and sleep by himself either. My boyfriend's family does not have a problem with us living together and we have shared a room at their house before.

I fell sort of stuck in between because I do want to honor my parent's beliefs. But I am also very happy with my boyfriend and our life together. I wish they would just accept us as is. I would love to go and stay with them during holidays without this becoming a problem.

By candyquilt — On Jun 09, 2011

I completely agree with the concluding paragraph of this article. We all have issues with our parents one way or another. There are generational differences that prevent us from seeing eye to eye on a lot of things. Sharing a bedroom with your girlfriend or boyfriend without being married at your parents house is definitely one of those issues.

My stance is that if I am going to my parent's house, the best and easiest way to have a nice and enjoyable time there is to just give up and follow their rules. There are some things where I will push my parents because I want them to recognize that I am now an adult and can make my own decisions. But I also know that it's their house and they have their own idea of how things should be under their roof. I would expect people coming to my home to follow my rules too.

I don't see a point in making this a personal fight or using it as an opportunity to prove my adulthood to my parents. I'll sleep in a separate room and all will be well.

Tricia Christensen

Tricia Christensen


With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a WiseGeek contributor, Tricia...
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