How to Pleasure Yourself When There’s No Privacy

Written by Maria Del Russo

here were plenty of things I considered when, after four years of living on my own in a studio apartment, I made the decision to move back in with a roommate. In the pros column were the monthly rent savings, the built-in friend, and the fact that it’s not really “drinking alone” when there’s someone in the other room. In the cons column was the fact that I’d no longer be able to sit on the couch in my underwear watching Seinfeld while eating the two different types of pasta I’d ordered for takeout on days when I needed a little “self-care.”

But, after realizing that Carrie Bradshaw was a lying bitch when she claimed to be able to afford a studio apartment on the Upper East Side on a freelance writer’s salary, I bit the bullet and went hunting for a new roommate. After a short search, I found Kristen who, even though she and her apartment were decidedly too cool for me, I hit it off with. Two weeks later, I moved in with her and her Bengal cat.

Things were, and have continued to be, amazing. I was pretty shocked by how quickly I re-assimilated to roommate living. After years of solo habitation, I was worried that having another person in my space would be seriously stressful after the honeymoon phase wore off. But Kristen and I co-habitate in a respectful, harmonious way. We share butter and memes, and we both take turns making the coffee and cleaning the dishes.

And then, one evening, after a particularly tiring day, I said goodnight to Kristen and retired to my bed to put my pajamas on, watch some Netflix, and then go to bed early. But instead of clicking over to the streaming site, I found myself typing in the URL to my favorite porn site and pulling out my favorite blue vibrator. But right as I was about to turn the thing on and go to town, I suddenly remembered—there is someone on the other side of this wall.

How the hell was I supposed to masturbate while living with a roommate?

It wasn’t like I hadn’t run into this conundrum before. I am, after all, a human lady with an active sex drive. I’d bought my first vibrator in college when I had a roommate, and used it when she wasn’t around. I’d covertly watched porn and masturbated with the two roommates I had after that, too.

Just learn to be quiet, dude. Not every sex act is opera-worthy.

In the four years that I’d lived on my own, however, I’d fallen into a pretty ideal situation as far as flicking the bean was concerned. I’d been able to go to town on myself with relish. I could be as loud as I wanted to. I could watch the craziest porn I wanted to—with the sound on full blast—and not have to worry about the person on the other side of the wall. I used loudly-buzzing toys without having to hide them under the covers.

But now, with my cool-as-fuck roommate sitting on the other side of the wall—a girl who definitely wouldn’t judge me for my sexual escapades, but who I definitely didn’t want to face after a particularly loud O over coffee—I was suddenly questioning the logistics of how I’d adjust my masturbation habits. After a few days of trial-and-error, which included an ill-timed un-muting of one of the sex scenes from Outlander, I came up with a series of techniques that seem work out pretty well for me.

The first thing, of course, is to acquire headphones that fit into your computer. They can’t be over-the-head ones, because those are way too cumbersome. I prefer earbuds. I’ve also heard that Bluetooth headphones are clutch because you aren’t fucking with a long cord, but I can’t figure out how to sync my Beats to my computer, so this theory is untested. Second is to use your comforter as a sound blunt between your vibrator and the rest of the world. Duvets are best, because of their extra fluff, but any kind of blanket will do. And, if you tend to be loud when you finish (raises hand), a well-placed pillow over your face helps the situation immensely. Or just learn to be quiet, dude. Not every sex act is opera-worthy.

Or, if worse comes to worst, you can always wait to let it rip until your roommate is out of the house—a very easy feat for me as a freelancer.

Overall, though, I’d call the roommate thing a success, even though I have had to relearn my masturbation technique. It turns out that orgasms are fleeting. But a chill roommate who doesn’t give you side-eye when you pour that third glass of wine? That, my friends, is priceless.