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How Can I Navigate a Sexual Relationship in a Dorm Without Alarming My Neighbors?

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MissBear asks:

I'm almost 18 years old and I've been in a very happy, healthy relationship with a boy my same age. For the past year, we've been experimenting with spanking - it has been a fantasy of mine for my whole life. We've taken things slow, with lots of communication before and after we try new things, and all the necessary safety measures. This has been a wonderful addition to our relationship, for both of us. But next year, we'll both be going off to college. If we stay together, I'm worried about how to conduct that part of our relationship in a college setting, where dorm rooms are close together and walls are thin. It's not a very quiet activity, and I'm worried about people overhearing and misreading the situation. However, I also don't want to go without it for the next 4 years! Do you have any advice?

Molias replies:

Adjusting to a shared living situation where you and your boyfriend will probably have roommates and neighbors close by can be a challenge, but giving some thought to this beforehand, as you're doing, will go a long way towards helping you keep up your enjoyable sex life without alienating the folks on your dorm hall. I think it's only realistic to expect that you will have to make some changes and adjustments to when, how, or how often you and your boyfriend have sex and/or incorporate spanking into it. It may be frustrating, but it's just a part of shared living.

Whether you’re being spanked or not, the etiquette of having sex when you also have a roommate is not particularly complicated but is definitely important to manage so everyone can live together comfortably. Having a good relationship with one’s roommate can go a long way to making all other aspects of college life less stressful. Note that while I'm addressing you here, all of these tips could apply to your boyfriend in his dorm situation as well, if he plans on having you over.

At the beginning of the year, it's common for roommates to fill out some sort of informal agreement contract to establish expectations for things such as quiet hours in the room, when it's okay to have visitors over, and when one or both of you might want privacy. Whether or not there's an official document on hand, it's a good idea to have that sort of conversation with your roommate to touch base on all sorts of things that might cause conflict, from who buys cleaning supplies for the room to whether it's okay to share food in your mini-fridge.

You can see if there are times when your roommate will be away and you can arrange to have your boyfriend over, either corresponding to set times like club meetings or classes or just when your roomie can arrange to be out of the room. It's always best to approach this in a polite way; "We'd love to spend time together; when is that convenient for you?" will get you better results than "When will you be gone?" or "Can you make sure not to come back until late?" Also, if your roommate wants to have time alone in the room or time to have a guest or partner over, try to be as accommodating with them as you’d like them to be with you!

It's a good idea to agree on some sort of signal to indicate that you or your roommate should knock before coming in the room vs. just unlocking the door and entering. When I was in college, a lot of people had small whiteboards on their doors and would sometimes write some sort of coded message (or just "Knock please!") for their roommates to see, or hang a reversible sign on the doorknob kind of like the ones in hotels. This makes it much less likely that your roommate could accidentally fling the door open at a private moment! You’ll at least have time to ask for a moment before getting dressed and opening the door. Interruptions during sex may not be fun, but again, they’re just a part of college life sometimes.

In terms of the specific noise-related challenges inherent in spanking, this is where you’ll probably be dealing more with your neighbors than your roommate. There are some things you can do to lessen the likelihood that neighbors will hear spanking sounds. I don’t know what your preferences are in terms of using a hand vs. other implements, but there are a few qualities to look for that will generally make an implement quieter. Flexible materials create less noise, as do implements that are curved. Denser toys also reduce the noise factor because they make more of a “thud” rather than a “whack.” You might also want to look into objects that have a diffuse impact (like a small, silicone flogger), rather than ones that hit the body all at once (like a paddle). If you can, experiment with some of these options before you move into the dorms.

Playing music can help drown out sounds from sex, either vocalizations or impact noises, but of course you don't want the music to be loud enough to irritate anyone around you, either. Also, of course, it’s a good idea to think about doing what you can to keep your voice down as much as possible during sex, whether there’s spanking going on or not. You could even ask a neighbor to help you figure out appropriate noise levels by turning on music in your room and going next door to see how much travels through the walls with the doors closed. You don't have to say it's related to sex if you aren't comfortable; plenty of people struggle with their neighbors playing music too loud so they probably won't mind you doing an experiment.

Hearing dorm neighbors having sex is something that happens from time to time in college, it’s true. But being considerate of your neighbors, especially if anyone does ask you to keep it down, is always a good idea.

In my first year of college, a good friend’s roommate K had her boyfriend over in the room all weekend while my friend was away. They were into pretty loud and spanking-intensive sex, and were not considerate of anyone else in the area. The neighbors could all hear them having sex and it was pretty clear that little, if any, attempt was being made to keep the noise down. Not only did everyone else in the suite feel uncomfortable with the noises and hide out in the farthest-away room to get away from them, but it made things pretty tense between K and the other suitemates for the rest of the semester. K wasn’t considerate or aware enough of the situation to talk to anyone else about it, and they all felt awkward around her and were frustrated that her sex life was so disruptive to everyone living nearby. There were some other aspects of her personality clashing with her neighbors that contributed to this, but the conflict was mostly down to her lack of courtesy in managing her sex life in a shared living space.

If someone does mention any sounds and either wonders what they heard or asks you to keep it down, you don’t have to give a lot of detail about your situation but it is best to apologize for any discomfort, ask if possible if there are times the neighbor isn’t around and you wouldn’t disturb them, and then continue, moving forward, to try to keep the volume level low.

If it turns out that, even with the precautions you’ve taken, the noises are still at a level that are making either you or your dormmates uncomfortable, you still have some options available to you. Those options involve finding an activity that hits the same buttons in your brain and body as spanking does without the noise. To do this, you and your partner should discuss what components of spanking are the ones that get you going. For instance, the part that some people enjoy the most is the sense of domination or discipline that spanking often brings with it. If that’s the case, then maybe turn up the “you’ve been naughty” dialogue or create a role playing scenario that really heightens the power play elements. You can also have the spanker make the motions of spanking while using something light and soft that won’t make noise; some people use scarves or even large feathers for this purpose.

If the physical sensation is still an important aspect, you have a few options. If it’s the “ouch” factor that appeals, something like pinching might give you a similar feeling. Or, if it’s more about having your butt touched and played with, there’s also the option of asking your partner for a massage on your behind and thighs. Again, experimentation is your friend. It could be helpful (and even fun in its own right!) to talk with your boyfriend about the specific aspects of spanking you find most pleasurable to see what related but quieter activities might work better in the dorms. If you can start the process of discussion and experimentation well in advance of moving into the dorms, it seems likely that you’ll have some good strategies set up by the time you’ve settled in.

Some things to read:

Thanks to Sam W for help with this question!

written 04 Feb 2014 . updated 04 Feb 2014

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