“I’m going to my parents’ house to quarantine over the holidays—with my partner. We’re going to be there a few weeks, and my bedroom is right next to theirs. What’s your take on having sex at your parents’ house while visiting (especially if you’re worried they might, uh, hear you)?
This is such an important question, and bravo for being considerate of you and your family’s boundaries! A few weeks can definitely seem like a long time for you and your partner to share a bubble (and a wall) with your parents. As is the case with so many issues relating to sex, the answer to your question largely depends on your own level of comfort, as well as your family culture surrounding sexuality. Some parents are super sex-positive and others cringe at the idea of their adult child sharing a bed with their partner under their roof. So, it’s up to you to identify where you think you and your family fall on that continuum, and then consider if you’re willing to take steps to make any shifts.
In my relationship with my parents, for example, I see navigating boundaries with them as a life-long exploration. I want to be fully myself in their presence, but I also want to respect them. Ultimately you’ll do what feels best for you and your relationship with your parents, but perhaps there’s room for addressing and moving a boundary to accommodate your status as an adult in an adult relationship. If your parents fall on the more conservative side of the sex-positive spectrum and you want to respect their (IMHO) antiquated view that you shouldn’t be a sexual person in their house, go for it. That might be the right decision for you.
Your parents 100 percent cannot tell you what you can and cannot do, but it can and will impact your relationship with them if hearing you and your partner makes them uncomfortable.
That being said, we are all sexual beings and in my ideal utopia, you smile and feel blessed to see, say, your parents’ vibrator or condom or trinket of sexual activity openly displayed with pride. And they, in turn, celebrate your pleasure and your exploration. Put simply: You are sexual and you are allowed to have sex. Your parents 100 percent cannot tell you what you can and cannot do, but it can and will impact your relationship with them if hearing you and your partner [have sex] makes them uncomfortable. Enter the delicate and often exciting art of quiet sex, which can be quite fun. Don’t trust that you can keep quiet? Play some low music in the background to help drown out potential sound effects (Dame even has a playlist ready for you to help you set the mood).
In the time leading up to your stay at your parents’ house, I suggest you make sure you and your partner are on the same page. Together you can cultivate strategies for keeping things discreet while also staying true to yourselves. You can also delicately let your parents know that you want to both connect with your partner and be respectful of them. Communication and comfort are, after all, the two key ingredients required to cook up some fun this holiday season in quarantine.
As CEO of Dame Products, Alexandra Fine translates the nuances of our sexualities into human-friendly toys for sex and sexual wellness products. A lifelong student of sexual health, Alexandra earned her master’s in clinical psychology with a concentration in sex therapy from Columbia University. In founding Dame Products, she intends to start necessary conversations, to listen rather than assume, and to create products that enhance intimacy.
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