Ten Tips for Dealing with Neighbors Having Loud Sex
Turn up the music, and see the humor and humanity in this predicament.
Posted Jun 15, 2018
I recently returned home from an extended trip. A lot had changed. The trees had leafed out. The weather had turned hot. And a woman on the second floor of the neighboring apartment building had acquired a lover. And she left her bedroom window open. All. The. Time. The window that faces my house. Which is only 10 feet away.
The first time I heard the sex noises, my husband and I were in the kitchen. He rolled his eyes and turned on the radio. “This started up while you were gone. It’s every day. Multiple times a day.” Today it happened at 10 a.m. and again at 7 p.m.
Sure, young love—or lust—okay, fine. But don’t you people have jobs? Hobbies? Lives? And don’t you know we can hear you?
So far I’ve only heard the woman moaning and howling. I quickly run for cover; the kitchen radio is usually sufficient. Tonight, I eat supper at the other end of the house.
What to do? In all my decades of living in close quarters with other humans—save for one night at a B&B—I’ve never had to deal with this. And certainly I’ve never read about this in Dear Abby or Ask Amy.
Google to the rescue! My plea: I can hear my neighbors having sex.
Much to my relief—and horror—this topic is quite popular. In fact, 15.5 million results and counting. I find actual articles on reputable websites. I avoid scanning public forums, fearing the contents might be even more painful, embarrassing, and obnoxious than having our ears scalded by the neighbor. One exception: I look at the boards of a wedding site, presuming that young brides would be civil and helpful. They are.
After four clicks on page 1 of the Google search, I randomly decide to explore page 10. There, I find one more that's interesting and unique to the others. (All 5 links are listed at the end of this post.)
The following 10 tips are a result of condensing and synthesizing this collective wisdom. Even if you’ve thus far managed to escape this calamity or doubt you’ll ever need these pointers, well, 15 million+ results on Google predict that eventually, you will come crawling back here, desperate for this info. So read up.
1. Remember, you’re not alone. Many people live in close quarters or visit thin-walled places. View this predicament as a common challenge, and have faith that you, too, can find solutions that work.
2. Know that it’s natural for you to feel embarrassed. Your embarrassment may be directly related to how mortified you’d be if you discovered that you’d been overheard. Yikes! Give yourself points for being so proper and polite.
3. Give people the benefit of the doubt. Certainly there are those who might thrill at making public displays. But most people are shy about discussing the details of their sex lives, instead of the type who would shout it out. The root of the problem is that too many people are naïve about how well such sounds travel through open windows, thin walls, floors, ceilings, parked vehicles, tent fabric, and across fields of daisies. NOTE TO SELVES.
4. Accept that it’s normal to be turned on when you hear sex noises. Your brain is wired with mirror neurons, which make you automatically imitate the physiology, actions, and emotions of others. They yawn, you yawn. They’re aroused, you’re aroused. You’re not a perv.
5. Keep perspective. Acknowledge that sex is a normal, natural, pleasurable, and often blessed act involving love. And love makes the world go ‘round, right? In fact, hearing noisy sex is far less stressful than hearing a couple scream angrily at each other. And the episode won’t last as long as a colicky baby or a lonely barking dog. Awwww. On the other hand, you'd be a hero to those neighbors if you could gently, helpfully intervene by offering to hold their baby or play with their dog. Intervening about the sex would not be so well-received. Still, you could....
6. Ask them to change their ways. If you are desperate enough or brave enough to intervene, you could write an anonymous note and post it where they’ll see it. Remember, you get more flies with honey than vinegar.
Or you can speak directly to them, particularly if you’re a professional bodybuilder or a social wizard who can handle face-to-face confrontation and/or agonizing awkwardness that may persist until one of you moves away or dies.
Perhaps when they’re in the act, you can holler, “Keep it down! This is embarrassing!” That might make them aware of their behavior and the consequences, in the moment, when it’s hard to deny.
Or you can broach the topic later, by the mailboxes or on the sidewalk, casually mentioning, “You may not be aware of this, but we can hear you having sex and it’s very uncomfortable for us. It’s great you’re having so much fun, but would you mind being quiet? Or shutting the windows? Or soundproofing your apartment? Or calling the fire department when I try to burn down the building?” (This happened in Albuquerque when a distraught man set fires in his apartment, figuring that the only way to escape his lusty neighbors was to be sent to prison for arson. But I digress…)
7. Change your ways. This strategy is generally most successful and Zen-like. It mainly consists of blocking the noise at your end. Shut your own windows. Install your own soundproofing. Procure noise-cancelling headphones. Move to a deserted island. Other noise-blockers of varying effectiveness include earplugs, listening to music, running the vacuum cleaner, turning on a window fan, or even getting out and going for a walk. Of course, being awakened in the middle of the night reduces your options, but earplugs and/or using a fan or white noise machine might do the trick.
You can also geek out on the evolutionary science of our mammalian tendencies. Some researchers postulate that noisy sex can be adaptive; perhaps female vocalizations encourage the partner to keep up the good work as well as enhancing the partner’s pleasure. And voilà!
8. Enlist outside intervention. For example, you could alert an apartment complex manager and ask them to handle it. Or talk to other neighbors for support and strength in numbers. Some people resort to calling the police, but this should be a last resort. Loud sex is not exactly an emergency, unless you’re chronically distressed, sleep deprived, or think someone’s safety is at risk. Then, don’t hesitate to call 911!
9. Contemplate this: Do you have loud sex? Given the pervasiveness of this problem, it's quite possible. Remember, it's common courtesy to refrain from invading others’ private spaces with vociferous displays of your private activities. Be a good neighbor and practice self-awareness, monitor your noise levels, use soundproofing, and be respectful of others. This courtesy is especially important for multi-generational family households.
10. Alternatively, embrace the loud sex. If this works for you and your living situation, take it in stride as a fact of life. And if your nearest neighbors are noisy, this grants permission for you to be noisy too. Back atcha! If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em! Of course, you risk embarrassing yourself and others. Though, wouldn’t that be sweet justice—if the loudest offenders, the ones who drew you over to the dark side, ended up tacking a note on your door? Let the hilarity ensue!
My way of dealing with this? Research and write a blog post. I feel better already. And today, I haven't heard a peep!