Sex & Relationships
Welcome Back To High School: Sex, Dating, & Social Distancing Under Your Parents' Roof
The only thing more painful than talking to your parents about sex as a teenager? Talking to your parents about sex as an adult. As more and more states issue stay-at-home orders, millennials are packing their bags and heading back home to self-isolate with their families. And they're quickly discovering that social distancing with your parents is basically like being back in high school — but weirder, and amid a global pandemic.
Whether you feel safer outside of a city, have lost your source of income, or want to be close to your loved ones, staying with your parents may be the best (or only) option for you for the foreseeable future. But getting the band back together doesn't have to mean you stop getting it on entirely — you'll just be staring down your old NSYNC posters as you do.
My mom keeps finding my dildos around the house and yelling at me to put them away.
After their roommates refused to practice social distancing, Kai, 25, left their apartment in New York City and headed to their mother's house in southern New Jersey. "My mom keeps finding my dildos around the house and yelling at me to put them away," They tell Bustle. "I had virtual sex the other night. I don't know if she heard, and I don't care."
But not everyone shares Kai's ambivalence — like Jenn, 26, who has been using a white noise machine to cover up the sound of her vibrator when she masturbates. "Under no circumstances am I trying to talk to my parents about them 'hearing noises," she tells Bustle.
According to Dr. Christopher Ryan Jones, relationship and sex therapist, finding time and space to do your thing (whether that means masturbating alone or watching a steamy movie with your boo on Netflix Party) can be especially important when you're living with your parents. Although you may have little interest in creating a "sex schedule" with your folks, it can help to establish some general guidelines.
"For everyone's benefit, it can be good to talk about privacy and setting boundaries to ensure everyone is doing well," Dr. Jones tells Bustle. "Speak with [your parents] about the importance of having alone time and privacy during quarantine."
Dr. Jones suggests having devoted times of the day or areas in your home that are "yours," whether that means blocking off the living room on Wednesday nights to live-stream pilates or asking your parents for bathroom privileges in the morning. For James, 30, that looked like planning his love life around his parents' sleep schedule.
Living with my parents during this pandemic made me realize that, as tempting as it might be for me to be 'carefree' with my health, I’m responsible for their health.
After matching on Hinge while social isolating at their respective parents' homes, James and his date began scheduling nightly steamy video chats. "We mostly talk after 9:00 p.m., because she's at her dad's, and we want to talk privately," James says. "I mean, you don't want to talk about sex when you're around a parent."
Dr. Carla Marie Manly, clinical psychologist and author of Joy from Fear, understands where James is coming from. "When you’re staying with your parents or family members, it’s important to honor the 'house rules' as much as possible," she tells Bustle. "It can be difficult to negotiate a healthy compromise. Non-blaming communication can be a powerful way to set boundaries."
Take Molly, 24, who started seeing someone new at the beginning of March. After talking with her mom, she decided she didn't feel comfortable going out on dates with her crush. "Living with my parents during this pandemic made me realize that, as tempting as it might be for me to be 'carefree' with my health, I’m responsible for their health," Molly says. "I told him we should hold off on hanging out until this is over."
The other night, they heard us having sex and just banged on the wall.
But inviting your parents into conversations about your love life isn't always easy. Rachel, 28, lasted a week in her parents' house with her long-term partner before they began offering their (unsolicited) opinions on her partner and relationship. Their thinning boundaries appeared to match the width of the walls.
"The other night, they heard us having sex and just banged on the wall," she tells Bustle. "We still haven't discussed it."
Although your parents stumbling upon you doing the dirty may make you want to move to Mars, Dr. Manly suggests laughing it off as best you can. "Address it quickly and with humor," Dr. Manly says. "Humor is one of the best ways to address an uncomfortable situation."
And if your parents aren't really the joking type (or their views veer religious or conservative), Dr. Jones says to be patient, but honest. You can even use this conversation as an opportunity to express how serious you are about your partner or assert your individuality. "Allow some time for everyone to process what happened," Dr. Jones says. "What could be a very awkward situation can turn into a very open and refreshing conversation that may never have started otherwise."
Or maybe you'll have to get used to doing it on a twin bed, just like the good old days.
Dr. Christopher Ryan Jones, relationship and sex therapist
Dr. Carla Marie Manly, clinical psychologist and author of Joy from Fear