words by Tara Michaela (she/her)
I have roommates, two of them, and before moving into this apartment I was stuck in quarantine with my parents. This is a story most twenty-something year olds can relate to. As someone who’s pretty sexually active, I made the strategic decision to choose the bedroom in my apartment furthest from the other two. Still, if somebody walks through my hallway or if sound travels more than I assume it does, there are risks.
Living in a shared space can be an experience filled with care, community, crowding, and chaos.
It can be hard to feel like you get enough time alone, especially to engage in activities you probably don’t want others to see or hear. Part of nurturing the relationships with those in your home is ensuring that they are comfortable, but that doesn’t mean you should give up on pleasure, sex, or orgasm. You should be more conscious about how you do so.
Getting in the mood… silently
Porn poses an interesting challenge. While it might be ideal to hear each moan and breath, that might not be possible if you don’t have headphones at your disposal. If you can’t watch or listen to porn, try using your imagination. Picture the last time you were with a partner and remember something they did that felt SO good. Or make up a partner, let your imagination roam free and picture doing something you’ve never done before, something you might be scared to ask for in real life. Or forget about partners at all, if you really want to turn yourself on, grab a mirror and watch yourself get sexy.
Invest in a silent toy
Ioba Toys specializes in ultra-silent sex toys. Silent toys aren’t less powerful or pleasurable than any others, and they speak to how far technology has come! The OhMyG is all about the g-spot, the OhMyC orbits the clitoris, and the OhMyWand is a quiet take on a classic(ly loud) vibrator shape.
Long gone are the days of loud rumbly vibrations that can be heard from outside the door.
Getting it on (with yourself or someone else) is not something that needs to be kept between the sheets. Showers offer a great alternative because you’re already naked and because the stream of water can be loud. Beds can be squeaky, so avoiding them is key. This could mean doing it on the floor or in a chair as well. If you do choose a bedroom, blasting music or a movie can give a similar effect to the noise of water.
Late @ night is right
If you’re living in a shared space, late nights and early mornings can be the best time to do a lot of things. It can be the ideal time to have a self-sex-sesh without worrying if someone will intrupt your alone time. You can moan, grunt, and switch positions without having to worry about being heard when everyone else is deep asleep. Try putting a towel or old T-Shirt under the door for an extra level of protection.
Add Salve to Your Aftercare Routine
Use Salve post-play (solo or partnered) to soothe irritation and nourish sensitive vulva skin
Get under the cover, lover
I would be remiss if I didn't touch on harm prevention or minimization. Worst case scenario, if someone does happen to walk in on you unannounced, it’s better to be under the covers where you (and your partner) can easily play it off as if you were doing something else. Kindly ask people to knock before entering your room. It’s a good idea generally, but especially necessary if you foresee yourself engaging in solo or partnered pleasure in your shared space.
Slow and steady
For partnered sex, penetrative specifically, your choice in positions can be the difference between a very awkward conversation with your roommates or parents, and complete stealth. Grinding positions, like sitting one on top of another criss-cross-applesauce, encourage slower (and deeper, sometimes more intimate) sex. This is also known as the coital alignment technique. Hugging one another sideways, or lying on top of one another in lying-down-doggy, also only allows for slow movement, and therefore less squeaking or sudden noise. If you do want to go for missionary or cowgirl, remember your speed and try not to get carried away. Staying on your toes rather than your knees in cowgirl can not only help you ride with more rhythm but also keeps you from thudding your bodyweight everytime you come down.
Once again, for those of you reading with partnered sex in mind, say it with me: OUT-TER-COURSE. Outercourse is a term that refers to any sort of sexual activity that doesn’t involve penetration. This could be oral sex, handjobs, fingering one another, licking or sucking any erogenous zones like the nipples, neck, or toes. This term and practice help us redefine what sex is. Penetration is not the end all be all of pleasure, especially for penis owners who tend to masturbate with a tighter grip and might not gain as much from vaginal penetration. Also, vulva owners, most of whom require clitoral stimulation to orgasms and may not reach g spot orgasms at all, benefit greatly from this.
Tell me to shut up
Keeping each other quiet can be really hot. Imagine someone covering your mouth with their palm, how badly you want to ooh and ahh but you can’t. Or someone grabbing a ball gag (or tie, pillow, tape, any object you hold between your teeth that may keep you silent or absorb any noise). It super dominant, which is about 50-65% of all people’s sexual fantasy.
Tara Michaela (she/her) @tara.michaela is a sex educator, writer, and content creator.
Her favorite products Salve and Tonic. "I love Salve because it definitely did the most to get rid of symptoms from yeast infections, but I think Tonic is slept on — it's so multipurpose! I use it for ingrown hairs around my vulva, any dry patches of skin, on my face after doing face masks, on my hair if I straighten it or have a weave, AND it makes my baths super shiny and smell amazing."