As a teenager, having sex in your family home is pretty much a rite of passage. Getting bodily fluids on an old Thomas the Tank Engine duvet cover, testing whether a top-bunk can take the weight of two gyrating humans, hoping that your mum won’t notice you’ve stolen her cooking oil to use as a lubricant – it all feels thrillingly transgressive, at the time.

But, as you move into adulthood, romping-under-the-radar can get a little tiring. Now that over two-thirds of single Britons in their twenties are living with their parents, more and more of us have to navigate our sex lives with the stealth of a horny teenager.

I’m 23 and still live in my mum’s flat. Throw in a thirteen year old brother, the occasional visiting grandparent, and a string of neighbours who traipse through our communal garden and you may start to understand why my sex life has become such an undercover operation.

But, as a generation, we shouldn’t have to neglect our genitals just because we can’t afford to pay £1000 per month to live in a converted public toilet in Stoke Newington. Here are some tips I’ve gathered from my many attempts to spice things up in the claustrophobic comfort of my childhood bedroom.

Obviously I’d rather be banging here.

1. If, like me, you live in a ground floor flat, and your one-night-stand doesn’t wish to meet your entire family, permit him/her to smoke, piss, or escape out of your bedroom window. Yes, the neighbours might complain, but a well situated puddle of urine might also stop them from chatting right outside your room at 8am on a Sunday. Two birds, one pool of piss.

2. To make sure that your parents never know the idiosyncrasies of your dirty talk, learn the sign language for phrases like, ‘Oh baby’, ‘Right there’ or ‘You know what, mind if I just do it myself?’

3. Pretend you’ve started brushing your teeth in your bedroom. Not only will this explain ‘that buzzing noise’, it can also provide the perfect alibi for when you rush to the bathroom to spit out some ‘toothpaste’.

4. Heterosexual ladies: sharing a bedroom wall with your parents is a great excuse to give up on faking orgasms. Because it’s one thing waking them up with a genuine cry of pleasure, but disrupting their sleep with an exaggerated ‘Yes, yes, YES’ designed to soothe the male ego is an unforgivable offense.

5. Start washing your own sheets.

Walls are thinner than you’d expect.

6. If you take a lover, and they do pluck up the courage to go the bathroom, make 100% sure that they know which room is your bedroom. Otherwise you risk them coming back and apologising for walking in on your ‘roommate’. Your old, angry roommate.

7. Do not try to use the roommate confusion to flatter your mum out of being angry. Nothing will assuage the fury of a mother who’s been confronted with a tall, hairy, almost naked stranger at three in the morning.

8. Maybe just wave goodbye to shower sex. It’s overrated anyway (have you ever tried giving head in the shower? It feels like you’re being water boarded); plus the acoustics of a bathroom mean that you might as well be moaning and groaning into a megaphone.

9. Plan ahead, so that a love-making session doesn’t coincide with your little brother’s Halloween party. A bunch of children tunelessly singing ‘The Monster Mash’ is the oddest sex soundtrack I’ve ever had to plough through. 

10. Try to find a lover who’s into being gagged, and use it to your advantage.

Oh, and remember, my frustrated fellow millennials, we’re not alone in the struggle. After all, imagine your parents’ disappointment when you came back from uni and they had to stop rutting on the kitchen counter.

Illustrated by Georgia Turner.

Image credits:
Sunil060902 – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,
By Kgbo – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,

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