Dear Andre,

I’m a college student who has been living with her parents for the past two years until I graduate to save money. My parents and I get along relatively well, but there’s one main problem: I share a bedroom wall with them! I haven’t dated anyone seriously since starting college, but I’m a healthy masturbator and recently thought about investing in my first vibrator. I’m worried about the sound carrying through the walls, though, and while I think my parents are pretty chill about sex, I’m cringing right now just imagining them hearing me! What do I do?

Rochelle

Dear Rochelle,

Parents are the ultimate sexual buzzkill, Rochelle, so I can certainly empathize with your plight. Fortunately, there are a number of things you can try to help create a less anxiety-inducing environment for you to get your groove on with yourself.

First, go on out and get that vibrator you’ve been wanting. Whether you buy it online or in person, make sure that you do your research by reading sex-toy reviews or asking your friendly neighborhood sex-toy store employee for help. Not only do you want to invest in a quality vibrator that’s safe for your body and meets your specific pleasure preferences, but you also want something that’s quiet. As a general rule, rechargeable vibrators tend to be quieter than battery operated ones or ones that plug into the wall.

Once you purchase your vibrator, wait until you’re alone in your house and do a “bedroom test.” Turn your vibrator on and leave it on top of your bed, then shut your bedroom door. Go into your parents’ room and press your ear against the shared wall to see if you can hear it. Chances are, you won’t hear anything. If you do, you may want to do a little furniture rearranging and moving your bed to the farthest wall opposite the shared wall.

Second, consider investing in a white noise machine. Even if you don’t use it to help you fall asleep, turning it on before you masturbate will help muffle and diffuse any noise you’re making, and it’s a bit less obvious than blasting music every time you want to get off.

Third, capitalize on when you have the house to yourself, and get creative! Your masturbation routine will need to get a bit more flexible to accommodate spontaneous times where your parents leave you to your own devices. Additionally, consider investing in a waterproof vibrator that charges magnetically so that you have the option of jerking off in the bath or the shower, where the sound of running water acts as a natural white noise machine.

Finally, I want to acknowledge that everything I’ve mentioned so far allows you to make adjustments to your current situation without having to initiate a potentially awkward conversation with your parents. Without knowing more about their principles and politics, I can’t in good faith recommend that you open a dialogue about being a sexually autonomous adult under their roof, one who is deserving of pleasure and entitled to a safe, comfortable environment to pursue it. Sometimes when we’re still dependent on others for food, shelter, finances, etc, we have to make sacrifices to ensure we don’t jeopardize our stability.

That being said, if you feel as though they’d be receptive to a conversation about you relocating your bedroom to another part of the house that affords you more privacy – such as a finished attic, basement, or office – I’d say go for it. If not for the present you, then for the future you. Because while you may not be dating anyone now, all of your anxieties about being sexual in your own home are going to be dramatically amplified when you do meet someone you want to sleep with. By having difficult conversations preventatively, you’ll be able to make a plan for the future and will be prepared to communicate that plan to any potential partners that come along.

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Andre Shakti
Andre Shakti
Andre Shakti is a queer journalist, educator, performer, activist, and professional slut living in the DMV. She is devoted to normalizing alternative desires, de-stigmatizing sex workers and their clients, andnot taking herself too seriously. Andre wrestles mediocre white men into submission and writes about the resistance for Rewire, Thrillist, MEL, Vice, Cosmopolitan, Autostraddle, and more. She frequently lectures,coaches and advises on the intersecting issues of sexual health, politics and pleasure, race, trauma, gender diversity, sex worker rights, non-monogamy, and queerness. When not working, Andre can typically be found marathoning "Law & Order: SVU" under a chaotic pile of partners and pitbulls, and yes, she knows how problematic that show is. In addition to her work with Baltimore OUTloud, Andre is the reigning polyamory pundit at her biweekly non-monogamy advice column "I Am Poly(amorous) & So Can You!", which you can visit - and submit questions to! - via IAmPoly.net. She encourages you to connect with her on Facebook via "Andre Shakti" and follow her NSFW exploits on Twitter via @andreshakti!