Savage Love: Stop eavesdropping on sex next door

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      I’m an apartment dweller in a dense urban area. Last night, I overheard my neighbours having sex—no big deal, right? I consider myself a sex-positive person and have always held and espoused the belief that if you can’t have loud sex in your own home, where can you have it? But the sex I overheard last night was fairly kinky. Someone I read as a cis man was dominating someone I read as a cis woman. They were in the apartment right across from mine—about 20 feet away—and my bedroom window faces theirs. There was a lot of derogatory talk, hitting, name-calling, giving orders, and some crying. I could tell it was consensual—she was very clearly having a good time—and I eavesdropped long enough to witness the post-coital return to equilibrium. Everything seemed great. But, physically, I experienced this as overheard violence. I was shaking and had a hard time getting to sleep afterward. I’m glad I stuck around until the end. It helped me feel better. I guess what I’m saying is that I needed some aftercare. I’m still thinking about it this morning, and I’m concerned that being triggered by my neighbour’s sex is going to become a regular part of my life. I’m wondering about the ethics of the situation: do kinky folks have an obligation to muffle potentially triggering sounds? Or is any overheard sex potentially triggering to someone and am I therefore applying a double standard here? What do you think?

      - The Vanilla Neighbour

      You went from overhearing kinky sex to eavesdropping on it—meaning you went from accidentally hearing your neighbours fucking to intently listening as your neighbours fucked. And you needed to do that. You heard something that sounded violent, but hearing more led you to guess it was consensual sex, and listening all the way to the end—all the way through the aftercare—confirmed your guess was correct. So for you own peace of mind, TVN, you needed to keep listening. But you don’t need to listen next time. If it triggers you to hear your neighbours fucking, don’t listen. Close the window and crank up some music or go for a walk and listen to a podcast.

      That said, TVN, you raise an interesting ethical question: are kinksters—particularly the kind of kinksters who enjoy verbal abuse and impact play—obligated to keep it down? While I think people should be considerate of their neighbours, people are allowed to have sex in their own homes, TVN, and it’s not like vanilla sex is always quiet. But if the sex a couple enjoys could easily be misinterpreted as abuse or violence by someone who accidentally overhears it, that couple might wanna close the window and turn up some music themselves—not only to avoid alarming the neighbors, but to spare themselves the hassle of explaining their kinks to a cop.

      For the record: I would tell a person who enjoys a good single-tail whipping to find a soundproof dungeon to enjoy that in (because that shit is loud), but I wouldn’t tell a person who screams her head off during PIV intercourse to find a soundproof box (even though her shit is just as loud). Instead, I would urge her to fuck at 8 p.m., when most people are awake, rather than 2 a.m., when most people are asleep. (It can be annoying listening to someone screamfuck, but it’s even more annoying to have your sleep ruined by a screamfucker.) Is this a double standard? Perhaps. But it’s one I’m willing to endorse.


      1. Is it safe to hook up again? 2. Will it be safe to hook up again soon? 3. You’ll tell us when it’s safe to hook up again, right?

      - Getting Really Impatient. Need Dick. Really.

      It isn’t.
      • At some point.
      • I will.

      Hey, Everybody: Me and Nancy and the tech-savvy/at-risk youth will be doing a special Savage Love Livestream on Thursday, June 4, at 7 p.m. You can send your questions to or ask them live during the event. I’ll answer as many as I can in one fun-filled Zoom meeting! Tickets are $10 and all proceeds from the Savage Love Livestream will be donated to Northwest Harvest, a nonprofit that distributes food to more than 370 food banks in Washington state. Go to to get tickets!