Savage Love

European Adventures







LW1: Slip sedatives into your son's porridge. My snooping teenagers found my whips, canes, ropes, blindfolds, nipple clamps. They survived.

LW2: If you have to ask about staying in a relationship, it's probably time to get out. Go to Belgium, and don't get Covid-19.


Are you fog king kidding me LW #1? We have a 15 yr old, 10 yr old, 6 yr old at home (and a 19 yr old college student - but she’s back at school now). The older kids like to stay up late, the younger kids like to get up early and everybody can hear everything in our small house. My wife and I have screwed ourselves out of screwing ourselves it seems at times. Basic vanilla is our go-to, and oral is a sometimes thing. I have some sympathy for your plight, CF, but this too shall pass. Dan’s advice was spot on.


@1 curious2: WA-HOOOOOO!!!!! Congratulations, curous2, on scoring this week's SL FIRDT! (firked?) honors and leading the comment thread. Bask in the highly envied glory found only here in Savage Love Land. :)

@2 fubar: WA-HOOOOOOO!!!! Congratulations, fubar, in scoring this week's SECOND (Suckond?) Award for being next in the commentariat. Kudos and bask in the glory. :)


Dan the Man, fubar, and others: Perfect response to LW1. The teenage son disgusted by his parents' lovemaking can always go take a walk outside or move out.

CAREER: Agreed and seconded with fubar @3. Good luck with your career in your move to Belgium. Stay healthy and safe.


Re: Cabin Fever-- If your teenage kid is living in Europe, presumably you and your spouse are somewhere else ... Oh nevermind. That's a grammar joke.

I take a less cavalier attitude towards letting the kid know about your sex life. I see no harm in the kid's knowing that his parents have sex, but it should be only in the most peripheral way. Anything more is a horrible violation of boundaries and parentifying the child. Do send the kid out for a walk in the neighborhood for 2 hours. Don't spell out why. If he figures it out, fine, but no more than that. Also, what's wrong with setting an alarm and having sex in the middle of the night when the kids is conked out. Take your showers then. You'll be tired in the morning, but that's not so bad.

Seems to me the larger problem is finding others to play with and hiding the elaborate toys. Why can't you webcam when he's asleep or out.


Re: CAREER. You know you need to break up with him. Deep down, he knows the two of you need to break up too. The only thing keeping you together is habit and the knowledge that break-ups are hard. They hurt in the short run before things get better in the long run. That's for both of you.

When you say that you "don't see things going down well if you break up with him," what do you mean? The advice on how you should handle the break up, what you should say, how you should frame it, it makes a difference if you fear for your safety or just think he'll start to cry.


"Kinks are hard-wired." Don't you want to condition that a bit, Dan? Don't some people discover kinks after many years? Or have a partner turns them on to a kink? Or is the argument those kinks were always there, and just required the right circumstances to reveal them?


Dan - thank you for keeping the sexual orientation of LW#2 to the very end (and you could have left it out all together); I love the universality of much of your advice - keep it up!


Cabin Fever
I agree that children hearing their parents having sex can be awkward to all involved, though as gutsgutslifelife @ 5 reminds us some cultures and housing situations may not leave much choice. But since that doesn’t seem to be the case for the three of you, maybe you can have an arrangement of some sort.

If your son can hear you he knows you can hear him too. Assuming he also wants, and deserves, some time on his own maybe you can have designated times when he or the two of you go to the tent-extended coffee shop or take a walk in the park. Weather may be an issue nowadays, but that will change in 3 months or so.
Your son may chuckle at first and may be embarrassed, like I assume you will once bringing this up, but despite the awkwardness he is likely to be appreciative and understanding, especially in the long run.


Does CF's son have a bicycle? Buy him a bicycle. That way he can get solo exercise outside without breaking any lockdown restrictions and you two can have private time. Better yet, get everyone a bicycle and you can also enjoy family outings. Aside from that, count your blessings -- you're locked in with someone you love and still enjoy having sex with. Think of all the frustrated kinksters and vanilla people who are locked in without ANYONE to have sex with, and suck it up. None of us are getting to do the things we enjoy, and all of us just have to wait until we can.

CAREER, read your letter back to yourself. You don't say a single positive thing about your partner or about your relationship. You don't give one reason for staying, and many reasons for going. This is probably your first serious relationship. One thing you will learn is to trust your gut, and your gut is telling you it's time to end it. Yes, he'll be hurt. There's no way to avoid that, so rip the Band-Aid and move to Belgium by yourself. (And I guess Dan saw a name on the letter, because I wouldn't have guessed CAREER was a man. Not that it makes a difference.)


Fubar @3, yes. CAREER, if you're thinking "should I end it?", you should end it. People in solid relationships don't ask that question, and if they do, they quickly decide the answer is no -- it doesn't keep weighing on them. Four years is a good run, but you're young, and there are many someones out there who are more compatible with you. Time to move on.

GS @4, listen to Guts @5. More oral sex. It's quiet and your wife will thank you.

Guts @5, per Dan's answer, there is no woman, so I'm afraid this is no opportunity for you to apply sexist stereotypes. See Jaymz @11.

Griz @7, no, a teenager can't move out. Especially not during a pandemic. Mom and Dad could take a page from the teenagers' playbook and play music while they are getting jiggy. Son would know that music in the bedroom means they're up to no good, but would mask any revealing noises.

Fichu @8, I caught that too. Pedant high five! :)
And yes, they can send him out. Nowhere in Europe is it not okay to go to the shop for essential items. Send him out for bread and milk, or something a bit more elaborate if they want him gone for longer. Give him extra money and say he can spend the change on something for himself. Everyone's happy.

Fichu @9, good point. Since they appear to both be men, the safety issue is probably not at the forefront of CAREER's mind; he probably fears a tearful breakdown rather than violence, but if he doesn't feel safe breaking up in person, he should do it over the phone/video chat.

Ens @10, what Dan means is that people who have kinks can't wish them away. That some people develop or discover kinks later in life does not change the previous statement.

CMD @12, good point that a teenager will also want some private time to watch porn/masturbate in peace. They're in Europe, they don't have this American puritanism to stop them from acknowledging that everyone has sexual needs and scheduling some time out of the house for everyone involved.


Ens @10, just noting Dan said "kinks are hard-wired," not "all kinks are hard-wired." Hashtag not all kinks. :)


BDF @ 14, 15. Point taken. Relatedly, I found this article a refreshing approach to the whole "parents having-a sex life while their kids are underfoot" issue.

Admittedly, the couple in the article have a somewhat less complicated sex life than the one in letter #1, but I still think this advice applies, and it accords with that offered by several of the previous commenters.


Mr Savage inadvertently raises the point that we are behind the curve in figuring out binary/non-binary relationships. His vision of fanatical filial devotion to the maintenance of the - however badly fractured - marital unit seems very RC (had Mr Savage been Pope at the time, I sometimes think Henry VIII would have been only one-sixth as notorious) and not necessarily accurate. In the Gentile Country Club Set, divorces tended to occur long after the teens and tweens wanted them, and the couple's sexual connection, often the last thing to go, was frequently the biggest obstacle.
"Living in Europe" - western or eastern? The Netherlands would be one thing, Poland quite another.
Mr Jaymz - Most advice has a universal component and a gender/orientation component - note the concern for LW2's safety in comments that rarely arises when the dumped party is female-presenting. And we only know it's an MM relationship. Of the four possibilities, that they're both bi/pan seems least likely, but I think I could make a decent case for BG. GB or GG.
Ms Fan @13p2 - Well spotted on the lack of positive attributes mentioned. My thought was the other way round - that I would not have thought BF2 to be SS. I wondered a little about how often the lower-driven partner proposes opening the relationship in FM relationships relative to MM, and A2 seemed a little on the mild side until the conclusion.
Ms Fan @13p1 - It amused me that the proposal of parents and their teen enjoying family outings came from another non-parent. I'm sure there must be some who do, but I'd think it much more the exception than the rule, at the very least in the GCCS.


@17 BDF
"count your blessings"

Thank you. I felt like that needed to be said (but I was too damn lazy to, and too irritated to let myself chime in).

@17 venn
"His vision of fanatical filial devotion to the maintenance of the - however badly fractured - marital unit seems very RC"

(While I admit I've already felt free to completely forget the letters/responses in last night's column,) I've often thought and said this (though I think "fanatical" is farther than I'd go, though a tip o' the hat to venn since I enjoy me some good hyperbole).

As always I suspect Dan sees through the prism of wanting marriages to persist not just because of his cultural upbringing, but likely also out of wanting his own marriage to persist. (And, notably, without regard to whether letter writers have children.)

Personally, I think they whole notion of making an absolute ''til death do we part' commitment--particularly when childless--is unrealistically naive. (And in truth I think Dan does too, logically, so I see this tendency as a dissonance.)


@14 BiDanFan: I posted without thinking. D'uh---LW's son is a teenager--he can't just pack up and move out. And during a pandemic, too!. What the hell was I thinking? Obviously my slip was largely due to my not having any kids, myself. Good that you called me on it. I take my lashes with a wet noodle. Gold star recommendation for the parents playing music while they're having sex. Why didn't I think of that? Hopefully teen son will take the hint and they can go from there.




Buy the teenager some noise-canceling headphones; he (he?) can watch the YouTubes or TwitTok or whatever without hearing a thing if it's too cold to go out. I suspect that LW1 and co. are looking for a way to not have to acknowledge that anyone is having sex, which isn't really possible, but there are all kinds of hacks to not have to actually hear it, even in close quarters.


LW1: The three of them should watch the movie "10" together.

Then, every time the parents want to have sex, they should put Ravel Bolero on the stereo.



@21 you beat me to it. High quality active noise-canceling headphones, they work astonishingly well.


Ens.Pulver @16 - thanks for posting that link. I think of myself as having a similar approach. What I've said to the kids amounts to "if the bedroom door is closed and we're both inside, and especially if you hear noises, then we're busy and would like some privacy."

At this age they usually just text us about whatever it is, from their own rooms.

Do people think it's worse for a child to overhear noises from their parents having sex than a housemate hearing their housemates going at it? And does that change if the child is over 18?

Thirding the advice to give your kids noise-canceling headphones.


LW1; Welcome to the World Wide Pandemic. You still breathing, so count that as a plus.
Kids don’t want to hear their parents having sex, western kids that is. Some families live in tents, in Mongolia, and the kids turn out ok, obviously being privy to their parents making more kids.
How old is this boy? Do you really think he doesn’t know about any of this? Ha. Talk with him, age appropriate, minimum details. You’re in Europe, the kids there would know stuff; open relationships, porn, kinks etc, are in the public domain, even here in the colonies.
These poor kids can’t go and play at the moment, given they also aren’t free to make connections due to the World Wide Pandemic. Sad all round.
Ask him to give you guys certain times during the week, Adult Time, where he excuses himself to watch a movie/ go for walks/ whatever, and that’s it.
You’re giving him way too much power, he won’t be giving you the same when the streets are safe again.


@21 John Horstman and @23 delta35: Great idea of noise-cancelling headphones for LW1's teenage son! I wish I had thought of that. BiDanFan suggested music, too.


Griz: I posted a followup message in last week's comments.


@12 I wonder how much of LW1's kid's issue has to do with the fact that he himself wants quite a bit of alone time and privacy for sexual gratification, and is wondering how to get that for himself, and doesn't know how to ask about it. Maybe he's concerned that HE is being overheard. Is he supposed to send his parents out for bread and milk?


While noise cancelation headphones are a great thing to have and will make a wonderful gift, how do you make sure your teenage child will actually use it when you want them to?
(“Oh hi Jonathan, remember that pricy Bose headset we got you as a belated Christmas present? Well, what’s your take on putting it to a good use tonight between 9:30 and 10:45? I’m sure you’ll never wonder why I asked you to, let alone try and find out.”)

I’m still in favor of a talk. No need to get into details yet assure all involved some private time and no question asked. Your child is likely to be appreciative despite the possible initial awkwardness, and your honesty will also inspire them to do things right if and when they have children.


LW1: for a quicky, oral sex works. For kinky sex for which having him around would otherwise make you feel uncomfortable, tell your son you’re going to a motel/hotel for the night. Then do it.


@3 @14 this is terrible advice. Thinking about ending something doesn't mean it should do it. If that was true, all relationships that experience infidelity should just end. Everyone who has gone on vacation with their in laws would come back divorced. It's not as simple as "you're thinking about it so do it." Relationships hit rough patches and some make it and some don't. you have to consider all kinds of factors and think about your expectations and needs.

That said, this one seems finished. Partner inflexible, sex not ideal, finances not ideal and a massive move where at least one of you may change a lot. Time to be done. But because of that, not because you considered ending it.


Venn @17, good point that a man might be more likely to suggest opening the relationship to deal with a drive mismatch. My impression that CAREER was female was based on the fact that OS, monogamous people are generally the ones who don't find it necessary to say so -- a gay man would have said "I'm a gay man," much as CF set out their non-hetero, non-mono credentials right from the get go. The age and drive differences seemed typical of an OS couple as well. But it is possible that I was also applying heterocentrism/projection. Dan doesn't tell us how he knows CAREER is a gay man -- was the letter edited? Did the e-mail address have a male name? Or did he just project as well, absent any demographic identifiers? To a gay man, someone talking about their boyfriend is a gay man unless otherwise specified? Is it possible CAREER -is- female? And again, does it matter? The advice doesn't change depending on their gender, which is the great thing about Savage Love -- and which is why I'm glad straight men like Guts are reading, and hope he continues to do so.

John @21: Unlike in L2, the son's gender is indeed spelled out by CF.

EricaP @24, I think that most of us have a visceral reaction against even the -idea- of our parents being sexual. This seems biologically rooted: children of incest are not genetically healthy, so it makes sense for us to feel repulsion at the idea of sex where our parents are concerned. Overhearing housemates does seem less squicky, because housemates are equals, and in theory next week it might be your housemate overhearing you. If the offspring is over 18, it might be slightly different because, as Griz alluded, moving out would be an option. (As would using a "but YOU do it!" argument to have sex in the house too, presuming the teen is over the age of consent.) But I agree that despite the eww factor of hearing one's parents having sex, there are lots of ways to avoid hearing it. Surely these sexual explorers are creative enough to come up with something.

SNJ @30, not all hotels/motels are operating in a pandemic. In our November lockdown, domestic holidays were specifically prohibited.

Larry @31, did you read the second sentence of my post @14? "People in solid relationships don't ask that question, and if they do, they quickly decide the answer is no -- it doesn't keep weighing on them." Also remember that I was addressing CAREER. HIS ongoing consideration of whether he should end this relationship seems a good sign that he should, no? His relationship has not just experienced infidelity or a vacation with in-laws or any of those other irrelevant exceptions you've thought of; he's not married to his partner, which is indeed a higher bar for ending a relationship to which one has committed for better or for worse. Indeed, this relationship seems finished, for all the reasons CAREER outlines. You don't disagree that he should take the next step from thinking about ending it, so why dispute that advice?


A teenager may not want to think of/ hear parents’ sex, however, I don’t believe it’s a biological imperative, rather a cultural one.
Kids in the country see animals mating and being born. As has been suggested, the boy can put in ear phones and give his folks a few hours several times a week to do whatever they want with each other, thru cams..etc, with in reason. Kids cannot dictate parents sex lives. It’s a sign of a healthy relationship and one day the child will realize that.


Larry @31: "Thinking about ending something doesn't mean it should do it." I wrote "if you have to ask" "it's probably time." That's doubly true if you have to ask Dan. Like many letters, this one smacks of asking permission.


@27 Musicbiker: Thank you! I couldn't log on to YouTube through the link, but going to YouTube directly I found the Widmann Viola Concerto live recording right away. WOW--very innovative!
The solo violist was very percussive. I saw that the piano played was a prepared piano. Among woodwind instruments, was a man playing a bass flute with the long, curving mouthpiece among flutes and piccolos.
Thank you for sharing. :)


Thank you, CMD, for bringing up the point @29 that you can give your teenaged children noise-cancelling headphones, but you can't make them wear them--at least without sounding very weird and suspicious ("Jason, I want you to wear those nifty headphones I got you for the next 90 minutes"). And teenagers, being teenagers, may give a lot of blowback or refuse to wear them. As for ordering them out for a walk without explanation, that may not work so well, either:

// ("I don't want to go out now. I just reached level 18--I'll go later."

// "But Jason, it's important that you take a long walk NOW."

// "Mom, I'm tired; I just want to chill. Why are you nagging me to take a walk?"


// "But Mom, it's snowing hard right now. I just worked out in the basement. Why do I
need to take a walk?"


// "You've never made me take a walk before; what's going on? Is one of you sick? Is
Grandma dying?" ).


I think if you really want to have daytime sex or sex before your kids are asleep, you're going to have to lay down some rules such as the ones EricaP mentioned or those in the Huffington Post column that Ens. Pulver linked to. All of which acknowledge that you have sex. Depending on the relationship you have with your kids, and how much sex gets talked about in your home, this conversation will be awkward or incredibly awkward; there's really no way around that. Which doesn't mean it might not be worthwhile, and it also doesn't mean you shouldn't get your teen noise-cancelling headphones and encourage them to wear them. Actually, it seems to me that since so many of us are trapped--er, locked down--at home with those we live with 24/7, and since many of us are trying to work from home, noise-cancelling headphones for everyone is a good idea. Your teen may come to the idea to wear them when the two parents disappear into the bedroom, all on their own.

Apologies in advance if the formatting I tried to do was screwed up. It looks right int the preview window, but that often doesn't translate exactly.


@32 Couldn't disagree more. You wrote "People in solid relationships don't ask that question, and if they do, they quickly decide the answer is no -- it doesn't keep weighing on them."

People in solid relationships ask that question all the time. People in solid relationships experience depression, infidelity, health scares, and in-law visits all the time. They waver. They think briefly about how much easier it would be to be single and solely focused on their needs. And then they remember why they're there.

People in weaker relationships also ask that question all the time. Sometimes they end but sometimes people change and recommit and form a stronger relationships. Most solid relationships had an early weaker moment where people thought "Is this worth it?" and then decided it did. I look at the strong relationships of people I know and most are like that.

I think we do a disservice when the message is "If you're thinking about it, you're not in a solid relationship so you should leave." That's really easy to say from outside a relationship and is tied to that "true love" bullshit that Dan rails against, that you should always be 100% happy. Relationship happiness is relative and specific to the situation.

I can agree that this person should leave without agreeing with your rationale. If this were your friend, you'd couch it in specifics of their situation, not say "Well you're thinking about leaving so that means you should." I still think it's a dangerous train of thought to head down.


I'm also amused and mystified by all those who keep recommending oral sex for quiet sex.

Okay, so the person with their mouth full (or occupied) isn't making a lot of noise, but I tend to come hard and repeatedly from cunnilingus, and I'd still be moaning and trying to muffle a scream or two, which would be quite easily heard through a closed door, especially if someone had their ear pressed against the door, which my kids would almost assuredly have done at least the first time I tried to go into my room for a little oral-sex romp, due to the sheer unusualness of that phenomenon (see the following paragraph). Doesn't anyone else make noise when they're coming?

I mean, when my kids lived at home, I used to not even masturbate when they were home, because I literally NEVER go in my bedroom and close the door (unless wrapping presents for someone who was currently in the house. If I only wanted to masturbate in December and their birth months, I suppose I could have used that excuse), and the oddity of that would actually guarantee that my children would investigate the strangeness--all the more so, if I ask/tell them to stay out. I was also inhibited because I thought there was a possibility of them hearing my vibrator, and as I said earlier, I tend to make a lot of noise. I can muffle myself, but not completely, and the undercurrent of anxiety about having to silence myself interferes with my ability to relax enough to orgasm.

I realize that I may care more about not letting my children know when I'm having sex or getting off than many people, but I feel like my kids were raised in a very sex-positive environment, so it's more a case of my trying to cling to a little privacy, than a discomfort with my kids knowing I have sex. And yet there's a difference between knowing that Dad and Dad have sex and knowing exactly when Dad and Dad are having sex. I remember hearing my own parents having sex when I was teen, and my response was more amusement than horror ("oh, that's so CUTE--the old people still having sex"), but it still was something I'd rather only have known about in theory.

I suppose if the noise is creaking bedsprings, this advise is moderately helpful, but that can also be addressed by suggesting the couple have sex on the floor or standing up against a wall or piece of furniture.


I mean, in my opinion, all parents can do while they're locked down with their kids is:

1) Wait until the kids are asleep or out of the house for some reason. Take advantage of every opportunity that presents itself, and learn to love quickies.

2) Tell your kids that you and your partner need some private time to recharge your relationship, which needs tending to stay healthy--this is a very valuable lesson to teach them, and it obviously applies to more than sex, so I think it's probably good to have that discussion, uncomfortable as it may be. You don't have to include a direct reference to sex, but if the kids are old enough, they'll get the inference. Then establish some rules à la EricaP's. I think this is probably easier to do if both adults are the kids' parents, because the kids no doubt don't have the issues of "I don't approve of your relationship" stuff that often happens when Dad or Mom is dating or trying to bone a boyfriend / girlfriend / n.b.-friend.

3) Don't have sex until the pandemic is over--not terribly likely.


And I also want to add my voice to the chorus of those saying count your blessings if the only problem Covid has bestowed on you is that it put a crimp in your kinky and open relationship. Hundreds of thousands of people have lost relatives, friends, and partners to this virus. Hundreds of thousands, if not millions, have lost their livelihoods. Many are on the brink of homelessness. Millions of people are dealing with isolation and its attendant depression: they would probably LOVE to live in a house with a partner--or even to have a partner--and kids in it. They would love to have the opportunity to have a conversation indoors without anyone wearing a mask. They would love to have access to hugs or to be able to eat indoors in the company of people they care about.

Try to turn this into a sexy hurdle to overcome and wait out this godawful scourge. In a few years, the kids will have flown the nest and you can swing from the chandeliers all you want.


I really miss the ability to make italics and boldface. fubar or Registered European, can either of you figure out a way for us to do that?


Nocute @36, I think:
"The weather looks nice out there, why don't you go for a walk?"
"Nah, I'd rather play this video game."
"Suit yourself, but in about 10 minutes I'll have your dad hogtied."
would get any teenager out of the house pronto.

Similarly, buying the teen headphones and letting him know in advance that Tuesdays and Saturdays are his parents' date nights will give him fair warning, and then if he wants to wear the headphones he can, or not, it's up to him.

Larry @37, I don't know why you want to make this about depression or infidelity or health scares or in-law vacations. It's not. It's about someone who has not experienced ANY particular relationship-threatening event, he just feels like he's incompatible with his partner, and, like Fubar @34 says, is looking for permission to end the relationship. This is probably CAREER's first serious relationship; he does, in fact, need to be told that his hesitations are something he should be listening to. Neither Fubar nor I is arguing that a single doubt means a relationship is doomed. Something tells me this is personal for you, otherwise you'd be able to correctly infer what Fubar and I mean.

Nocute @38, indeed -- what I meant is that it is potentially quieter than other forms of sex. Can't you scream into a pillow when you're coming, if you have to? Isn't one person moaning quieter than two simultaneously, plus the sound of bodies slapping, or spanking, or dirty talk (difficult when one's mouth is engaged)? If you want to get off and you HAVE to be quiet, oral sex is a good option.
If CF's kid listens at the door, then he deserves to hear what he hears.


Back when "Modern Family" was funny, they did an episode where the kids walk in on Claire and Phil having sex. The kids respond by gifting their parents with a fancy new industrial strength lock for the bedroom door. The horrifying denoument comes when the kids discover that the new hardware emits a deafening thunk when it locks, which now announces to the whole house when the 'rents are getting busy.

BTW belated Happy New Year to all. Hope its not the last year ever.


If the kid wears earphones and they put music on also, what is the problem? So some of this couple’s sexual adventures have had to be closed down, that’s not done to the child. That’s down to the Virus.
If offspring hear a bit of sex, it grosses them out, and joins the growing list of things about parents/ adults which gross them out. Get rid of grandpa because he farts in the living room, and grosses the kid out?


LW1, teenaged years go on for a while, up to age twenty five before the brain is in full adult mode, and not knowing your child’s age here, is problematic. One clue is him saying he can hear everything going on in the house, so I’m thinking he’s fourteen/ fifteen plus. Feeling his own sexual impulses stronger, and I can’t see why you can’t sit him down and talk about sex with him. These are not ‘normal’ times, so his fun times are going to be heavily curtailed for maybe coupla years more. He’s missing out too.
My youngest, who is twenty two says dating for his group is on the back burner because of this Virus, and I live where we have got it under control. For the moment.


Soundproofing the room would be best bet, though that’s hard. Egg cartons do it, I’ve heard. Line the room in them, with easy remove adhesive. That’s if they work.
These are not ‘normal’ times and we all have to adapt to keep surviving.
I read Vit D might help against contagion, which may have assusted our situation, given the sun loves us so.


LW2; you and your bf have been together four years, and you want to bail on him as he’s hit hard times, during a Pandemic. Right. Whatever.


Egg cartons don't actually work for soundproofing, though that's a common idea. It seems to come from the fact that one kind of soundproofing foam looks like egg cartons, see: or


@48: Under a pretext I suppose of "Mommy and daddy are going to a business workshop retreat".


Larry @37, apologies. It seems there has been a trigger event in this relationship -- the boyfriend's filing bankruptcy, which happened just a few months ago and "blindsided" CAREER, as his boyfriend had never mentioned financial trouble. That said, it seems this issue was the final straw in a relationship that was already foundering, not a crisis that came out of the blue to threaten an otherwise strong relationship, as in your examples. His gut is telling him that the relationship is over. "Listen to your gut" is not bad advice.


Nocute @40: Alas, the comment formatting can't be hacked, as they're stripping it out. The SlogBlocker plugin could fake it by posting comments with formatting such as [BOLD]these words[/BOLD] but that would be nasty for everyone that's not using it.

There's a markup language convention where this is underscored and that is bolded, but it doesn't work here.


... doesn't work here, and they strip it out ("this" was wrapped in underscores and "that" in double underscores).


@51, 52: Thank you for the explanation and boo hiss.


@51 fubar
"The SlogBlocker plugin could fake it by posting comments with formatting such as [BOLD]these words[/BOLD] but that would be nasty for everyone that's not using it."

In case that sentence wasn't totally clear to anyone (I think fubar meant to do something like follow the words "posting comments" with the words "in boldface"), fubar was I think saying that (as I speculated weeks ago) the plugin absolutely could bold words inside any pre-determined coding convention...but that people without the plugin would have to see the codes.

(The [bold][/bold] convention which fubar suggested would be rather kind to everyone. Though as a writer of comments, I'd even prefer to type fewer characters such as [b][/b]. And [i][/i] to italicize.)

I'm not saying I disagree, but another way to look at that being "nasty" would be that that would be an incentive for everyone to use the plugin.

Personally, I'm content with the convention I've adopted, which is to enclose a word that I want emphasized with forward slashes like


Though I would enjoy having italics and boldface as separate in our repertoire.


"playing music while they're having sex"

Pretty soon the kids will figure out what the Boléro means.


Good one raindrop.
Yes the kid will know what the music cues for, and if they have treated him as the emerging adult he is, and had a talk with him, he’ll go...Yuk.. and find something to occupy himself. Don’t underestimate these young people.
I remember being in a caravan with friends of my parents, @ five, and being awakened by their lovemaking. I didn’t know what it was, it was a new sound and an ok sound. An imprint on mind I didn’t recall till many years later.


@35 Griz: You're welcome! I am glad that you enjoyed that video. And yes, the bass flute gets a bunch of excellent solos--and solo bows at the end for its player. :-) Also note the use of another unusual orchestral instrument, the contrabass clarinet. It does not have solos (that I remember), but definitely adds to the orchestral texture.


@BiDanFan This isn't personal in any way. I don't get your confusion.

In comment 14, you said "if you're thinking 'should I end it?', you should end it. People in solid relationships don't ask that question, and if they do, they quickly decide the answer is no -- it doesn't keep weighing on them."

In comment 3, someone else said " If you have to ask about staying in a relationship, it's probably time to get out."

Those aren't comments specific to the situation, that's a maxim if I've ever seen one - if you're questioning something in any real way, that tells you what your action should be. I specifically said that I 100% agree with the outcome you two advised (break up). But the rationale you're using for it is extremely flawed. Later, when questioned, I provided some examples of times where people in solid relationships have doubts - some big and some small (anyone who has endured a long weekend visit from in-laws has dreamed of divorce). But people regularly work through those big and small things and find happy strong relationships again. I'd posit that just about every relationship that is strong now had a moment where one or both parties doubted the bond pretty significantly.

This person should leave cuz there's a lot wrong here and they don't really want to fix it. But that's why they should leave, not because they feel doubt. Doubt is only human. I actually am surprised you took that stance, it doesn't jive with my concept of your excellent work here.


Holmes @55, it doesn't matter that they know what it means. It just matters that he can't hear exactly what they're doing. If he knows that when he hears Depeche Mode it's time to go for a walk or put his own music on his headphones, mission accomplished.

Larry @58, and I don't get yours. You have edited my post to suit you. What I actually said was: "CAREER, if you're thinking "should I end it?", you should end it. People in solid relationships don't ask that question, and if they do, they quickly decide the answer is no -- it doesn't keep weighing on them." I was talking -to CAREER-. (Where are those bold markups when you need them?) I didn't say, "Everybody out there, if you're thinking 'should I end it?', you should end it." Do you think my next sentence, "Four years is a good run, but you're young, and there are many someones out there who are more compatible with you," means that I think every young couple should break up after four years?

I do agree with Fubar that as a general rule, if one is having recurring thoughts of breaking up with someone, that's one's gut telling you what's best for one. (Did you also miss the word "probably"?) Like any general rule, there are exceptions. I still don't understand how you've interpreted my words as "anyone experiencing doubts should leave." Indeed, such absolutism is incompatible with my general wisdom (winkyface -- and thanks for the kind words!) so isn't it more likely you've misinterpreted/exaggerated my advice? [b]Young, uncommitted people[/b] who are experiencing doubts should listen to those, rather than fall victim to the sunk costs fallacy and spend a couple more decades with someone who doesn't make them happy. Again, there are exceptions -- just as some people who marry their high school sweethearts stay married for 60 years, but in general, marrying at 18 is a bad idea.

The rationale I'm using for my advice to CAREER, if you were to read my comment @13, isn't that he is thinking of breaking up. It's that he doesn't have anything positive to say about his partner or their relationship. I was also agreeing with Fubar's point that his doubts are telling him something, something to which he should listen.

And you definitely must be speaking from experience with this continued example of visits with the in-laws being universal catalysts for divorce. I've always got on fairly well with my partners' parents; my current primary partner's parents like me better than they do him! :) In fact, when I have doubts, their love and acceptance constitutes a point in the "stay" column. Speaking of exceptions to everything.


Whoops, I meant to change all of the "you"s to "one"s but I missed one. Minus one pedant point.


I agree with you Larry, questioning relationships is healthy.
I can’t get past the tone of the letter, like he’s finding reasons to run, just as his bf needs his support.
The bf seems to have no idea the hammer is about to hit, as he wants to go with the LW. These two have not stayed honest with each other, over four years of intimacy.


Take my relationships with my grown children, some of whom haven’t quite got past some belief they get to define how I am Mother. People’s expectations if they don’t gel with oneself, need to be thrown off, if they about constraining one’s vitality. If they about doing one’s share of the child care/ outside work/ house chores/ office chores etc, these are pragmatic issues. And while they reflect attitudes, it’s easy to see whose turn it is to wash up.


"Our son frequently reminds us that he can hear everything that happens in the house."
"And if your son objects—if he shames you—just remind him that the front door isn't nailed shut and he won't hear anything if he takes a fucking walk."
Excellent answer. If you act like sex is not embarrassing and shameful, if you don't let your son affect your sex life by shaming you, he'll drop the ineffective strategy. Finding ways to give him sexual privacy for masturbation and caning, and yourselves privacy to keep a strong sexual connection, is teaching him that sex is more important than shameful, but private for the people involved, which sounds more realistic for most humans, who do not let shame stop them from pursuing sex. Shaming others is hurtful, manipulative bad behavior, but addressing everyone's needs respectfully will result in the happiest group. So maybe don't swear at him for his manipulations, just show him a better way.

"I don't want to hurt him and I don't see things going down well if I break up with him."
We can't help hurting people who have unrealistic expectations, who expect us to read their minds or do what they want rather than what we want. Our first responsibility is to care for ourselves, so we are in good shape to care for others. In these situations where it's hard to decide how to be least harmful to ourselves and others, I find it easiest to try to treat everyone with respect, rather than trying to save everyone from hurt feelings. So be respectfully honest and try not to contradict yourself. If you love him but don't want to be with him anymore, don't feel "in love" and hopeful about him anymore, tell him the truth. He probably doesn't want to be with someone who doesn't much appreciate him enough to feel "in love". But don't break up and then ask for emotional support or burden him with your indecision or regrets, if you break up then encourage him to find different social support and move on, or stop speaking if you are not both able to move on.

I'd feel bad if I broke up with someone at a low point in their life. I suppose I'd ask them what help they wanted or expected of me, and try to help them develop a plan to improve their life, before breaking up.

The second part, being worried about his reaction, either his bad behavior or his inability to live well without you.. All you can do is treat him with respect, distance yourself if he is disrespectful, and let him discover that he can live without you and be more happy coupling with someone who really appreciates him.

If you feel "in love", like you love someone and want to partner with them, it's more about developing the boundaries that you need to be happy together, setting limits of how much support you can give and disrespect you can tolerate. Because I don't believe in unforgivable actions, I only know that people cannot forgive everything, cannot protect themselves from everything, and it varies from person to person. It seems like CAREER can't forgive financial mistakes easily, or tolerate much sexual mismatch, but sex and money are important romantic considerations for most people.. The worst decisions would be to pretend to still feel committed, or to break up and then change their mind, IMO. But that's because I value respect the greatest, honesty and oath keeping, and otherwise follow my feelings.. I also hope that CAREER doesn't end up with an ambitious, wealthy, disrespectful man, or prioritize money over respect, because I'd be miserable like that. Although it takes all kinds, and maybe I just don't understand them well..


give him sexual privacy for masturbation and camming



"We're storming the Capitol, it's a revolution!"


Phi @64: Lol! Thanks for explaining. I was thinking, wait, the son is doing the masturbating, but isn't it the parents who are doing the caning? ;)


@57 Musicbiker: I did notice the contrabass clarinet (also featured in my second symphony that premiered in 2019). If I hadn't been watching the viola soloist, I would assumer that the instrument played was a drum. So innovative! :)

@63 Philophile: Thank you for summarizing LW1's situation better than I did.
Agreed: Dan the Man--brilliant response to both LW1 (as well as LW2)---their teenage son can take a walk--or, as John Horstman and delta35 suggested--get son a pair of tune out headphones.

@65 curious2: This is beyond sick and disgraceful. Trumpty Dumpty and its violently rabid crime syndicate blindsided goon squad must be removed from the White Trash House NOW. And preferably in industrial sized garbage bags.

Who's hungry for this week's Lucky @69 Award? Tick...tick...tick...


....and the Lucky @69 winner IS............




@69: I humbly accept this week's Lucky @69 honors. WA-HOOOOOOOOO for Griz! I really could use some good fortune and amazing luck right now. :)
This means that I willfully concede all future lucky numbers this week, starting with the Big Hunsky @100 to all other comments.


@70: Oops--make that to all other commenters.
And I haven't even started on the red wine yet!


You got it Grizelda, congrats. May your good luck spread across the land. And this madness cease, this attack on the great Democracy that is the USA.


"@57 Musicbiker: I did notice the contrabass clarinet (also featured in my second symphony that premiered in 2019)."

Wait--you're a composer? You write symphonies? I didn't realize that.

Please point me to your symphonies and other compositions!


I want to read some sex success stories from horny European parents from the last pandemic. Would go far to explain the Lost Generation. :P


DC270 @74: Not to be ageist, but people who were parents of teens during the last pandemic would be at least 130 years old by now.


ncn @40 fubar explained it nicely in @51 and @52. We could think of some typographic convention, which a plugin could then convert to actual bold and italic. There is an existing convention for that (enclosing text in asterisks for bold and underscores for italic), which has the advantage that it also sort of works without being converted to actual bold/italic (most readers would interpret it as such). But as fubar explained (and demonstrated), we can't use that.


We used to be able to use actual HTML, but that often lead to things like the whole page becoming bold or italic if someone forgot to close the tag. So I understand why that was removed. But by needlessly stripping completely innocent things like underscores around words they threw out the baby with the bathwater.


There was WW1, then the Pandemic, DC270 @74. One guesses parents in Europe at that time may not have found much to enjoy.
That War took out so many of our young men, the flu coming behind bringing more grief.


@24. Erica. I think parents are more embarrassing than other adult housemates would be, but not 'worse' in terms of the son's future relationship to partnered (or any) sex.

It doesn't seem too unusual to me for a young teen to be squicked out by his parents' having sex. Quite possibly, in his mind, sex is something he should do, or that should be open to him as his future, as something that affirms his independence, not the resort of his home-making and providing parents. Or, at a certain level of fantasy, he might think this. In what tone is he saying that he 'hears everything'? It could be just a joke. Some people may have assumed he is seriously shaming and sex-negative, when all that's involved is teenage gaucherie. CF should just back at him in a non-confrontational, non-sexualising way e.g. 'but isn't it good that your mother / your father and I still love one another?'; and if the child still makes a point of being aversive, tell him to go out, walk, shop, exercise, whatever.


@72 LavaGirl: Many thanks! There is a blue wave of good fortune, indeed, sweeping across the U.S. with the election of two Democrats--at last, flipping our Senate once again. This makes Chuck Schumer our Democratic Senate Majority Leader (eat my shit, fuck off and DIE, Moscow Mooch McConnell!).It's interesting to note that McConnell finally conceded Joe Biden's / Kamala Harris's 2020 White House victory a little too late, nervously tucking his tail between his legs. I haven't heard anything since about ol' Moscow Mooch. I wonder if he applied for a new job as Vladimir Putin's pool boy? Good riddance!

A surge in RepubliKKKans resigning--including a good number of Trumpty Dumpty's most loyal. Mike Pence has conceded the results of the 2020 General election to Congress, and Nancy Pelosi has begun Article 25 Impeachment proceedings against DJT. Trumpty Dumpty and his ugly, batshit crazy insurrectionist followers should be subjected to the guillotine if their agenda is to push the rest of us in the U.S. back to the American and French Revolutions of 1789. We shoot rabid dogs, don't we? Off with their heads!

@73 Musicbiker: I have a website,, active since its initial launch back in 2013, with gracious tech assistance from a wonderful trombonist friend. My website offers my earliest composed works, featuring solo pieces for piano, flute, ensemble works for flute choir and other woodwinds, brass, and strings, and includes the premiere of my first symphony from my senior recital in 2007 at Western Washington University in Bellingham.
I don't yet have a recording of my second symphony on my website yet, but hope to upgrade what I have most recently composed. Otherwise I can offer mp3 sound recordings of my latest works.


@80 Griz: Okay, now it's my turn: is not opening for me. Can you help?


@81: Musicbiker: Maybe if you tried what you had suggested for me:. Try going to YouTube under The Drowning Pool, Western Washington University, March 15, 2007. Hopefully it should should come up. You could also try typing in, too, without the dot in the middle and see if that works.
Or, if you're comfortable posting your email address I can send another link to you, with mp3 sound recording attachments. I hope this helps. If it does, enjoy! I would love to get your feedback. :)


Harriet, "In what tone is he saying that he 'hears everything'? It could be just a joke."
Then it's time for him to learn that when he's the only one laughing, it's not really a joke. There's no need to assume intentional manipulation, I don't even believe that most manipulation is intentional. Only to observe that his parents are not having sex because they are embarrassed that the child can hear. I'm glad the consensus is that it's ok to have sex even though a child can hear (if you're courageous enough to have a straightforward conversation about parent's privacy and explain the boundaries). That the teen should really rather learn to take some responsibility in blocking uncomfortable noises with headphones etc, rather than expecting his parents to fix everything..


Harriet, also I agree with your example wording, straightforwardly saying that sex is good between married people is a better way of handling this than giving up sex in the shower and stressing out trying to have silent sex otherwise.


Interesting point Harriet... and good follow up points, Philo ... re the child thinking they should be the sexual animal now, in this story. Brings in all the complex feelings which go on between children and parents, ones that shift and change as the child grows.
A good counter to him feeling ‘left out’, and only children experience this a specific way, is for both parents to make sure they spend good chunks of one on one time with him. Playing video games, going for a walk etc.


Yes adolescent children don’t want to hear/ think of or know that their parents are sexual animals. That’s on them to work thru, not the parents to stop enjoying each other. Geez. Child rearing is hard enough, and parents need to help their kids see boundaries, as they become adults. And don’t think it ever stops. This parenting gig can go on till death, weaving along.


@83. Philophile. I think my response to the letter was that the lw was a bit selfishly or pettishly putting their sex life ahead of caring for their teen. The situation of lockdown is a temporary one, embarrassing for both parents (having sex) and the teen (presumably not having sex or having to jerk off quietly)--but this too shall pass. I would have no view either way about parents who insisted on having their usual unbridled uninhibited sex, with their teen hearing, or parents who couldn't bear themselves to utter a sound with their child next door. Either is well within the range of what people are like.

I don't think it can be laid at the son's door that he should be mindful of his parents' feelings and slope off so that they can have sex. What's wrong with the adults going to bed earlier and having silently experimental sex while the boy is still downstairs?


Feelings, can be talked thru, Harriet. And who says this pandemic is temporary? Could be another year or two before it is brought under control to some extent.
Nobody says anything about the kid sloping off, rather accepting that his parents’ sex life is None Of His Business. Never has been and never will be. Just like his sex life is none of his parents’ business.
Hearing them is a different matter and voila, noise killing head phones.


@81 Griz: Thanks!

Re the general topic of LW1: I have wondered how this is handled in other cultures, where the families are all in one room together or otherwise do not have any privacy. Large families + no privacy --> hmmmm


Harriet @87, for nearly a year they have been putting the child's needs ahead of their own. Of course they are tired of it and "selfishly" want to have more enjoyable sex again. They are looking for ways to strike a balance between meeting their own needs and ensuring appropriate boundaries with their teen son. Why shouldn't he "slope off" for some fresh air now and again, it will do him good. And vice versa, as CMD has said.

Have you ever tried to spank or peg someone silently? I'd love to see the results of that experiment. And why are you assuming they have stairs? They live in Europe, where homes are smaller. Every wall may be a party wall. "I would have no view either way about ... parents who couldn't bear themselves to utter a sound with their child next door." Except that such parents would be selfish or pettish. There are plenty of good suggestions from Dan and commenters. Hope the CFs can find some ways to improve things, as this too may take some time to pass.

Music @89, one guess is no kink, at minimum.


Music @89, because clearly they do still have sex, the evidence being the large families. :)


Congrats on the 69 Griz!

Harriet, "I don't think it can be laid at the son's door that he should be mindful of his parents' feelings"
Why shouldn't he respect his parents and their sexuality and other feelings? Why shouldn't he occupy himself elsewhere when his parents take private time to work in their marriage? Why should his parents protect him from sex noises? Do you think sex noises are harmful?

I think it would be harmful if the parents tried to butt into the son's sex life by making comments about his loudness or getting "concerned" about annoying parts of his sexuality, so they should teach their son that concern trolling and sex shaming doesn't work. I think that they should respect their son, but it's also important that the son respect the parents, and learn how to treat people with respect in general. And I think it's important to be able to address uncomfortable subjects calmly and directly. So we'll have to agree to disagree.

"What's wrong with the adults going to bed earlier and having silently experimental sex while the boy is still downstairs?"
Nothing, if that's the way they want to have sex, rather than a way to pacify their teen son. But they want to have sex in the shower and to stop worrying that being overheard may hurt their child. They might be too fragile to discuss sex calmly and directly, and their son might be too fragile to hear sex noises without fear and anxiety. Counseling could help the parents talk about sex calmly, or the teen to manage any fear and anxiety, if they want a change.

Sometimes people act out when they need attention, so I like Lava's idea about spending quality time together, too.


The two leading causes of failed relationships are Financial Difficulties and Sexual Incompatibility. You've got both. This isn't going to work long term, so cut it now.


At its heart the issue with CF seems to be, "We're too embarrassed by the idea of our son overhearing us having sex to have sex." The obvious answer seems to be, Stop being embarrassed. This is about the parents' feelings, and they can change their feelings. If the son teases them saying that he can hear them, they are within their rights to laugh it off. He is their son, he shouldn't have this power over them. Once they make the decision that they have the right to a sex life despite being parents, take a few sensible steps like buying him noise cancelling headphones, putting on music, saving their noisiest acts for when he's out, and/or letting him know when his parents' date nights are, they have the power to just jump into the sort of sex they want to have and push thoughts of their son out of their heads. Sure, it may be awkward at first, but once they've committed to changing their mindset on whether they'll feel embarrassed it will get easier.


I just had a little fantasy about fubar's plugin recognizing spammers, reporting them for us, then hiding them even before they get deleted.

I know the "recognizing" part is /way/ too much AI to ask for.


@89 Musicbiker: If you listened to any of my composed works via my website, what did you think? Many are among my earliest, on up to 2010. My more recent music from 2011-present, including my second symphony is on file. :)

@92 Philophile: Many thanks! Griz needed the welcome delectable shower of good fortune. :)

Who's hungry for the Big Hunsky (while I politely decline; another commenter must take the next upcoming honors) ? Tick...tick...tick...tick...


@97: I haven't listened yet. I shall.


@88. Lava. The conversation the couple are having with their teenage son seems to stop at:

Son: I can hear everything, you know!

That is, CF and his/her partner do not follow up with:

CF: Well, yes, do you hear anything you are embarrassed by?

They seem to be too embarrassed to say that. The son could say, 'I hear you having sex'; they could say, 'that's nothing to be embarrassed by'; the son could say, 'I can't help being embarrassed' and they could say, 'take a walk. Like, literally take a walk'. But the conversation doesn't develop that way. If it did, I would imagine that the upshot would be their desired result: the teen going out and exercising, giving them a window for fucking-time.

@90. Bi. Yes, they could live in a two-bedroom flat.

I am very noisy being pegged and wouldn't have it any other way.

In fact, this problem does come nearer to me than I have indicated, in that I worried about having audible sex when the child of my partner, with whom I was co-habiting (hell, I was the homemaker), was going through puberty. The child, I will emphasise as much as I can, was stellar; all my concerns were with what the young teen would think hearing anything. My fears or thoughts were compounded by anxieties that the sort of sex we were having would be taken as non-standard--we were both anatomically male; and I was living as a woman pre- any kind of op (except for a tracheal shave etc.). In fact, the sex we had was fairly standard, even agricultural; but obviously no one would could have known that but us; and it would never have seemed that way. My point is that the worries were all in my own head--what would Social Security or Youth Services think?; what if the child's mother raises an objection?; wouldn't be shaming if it got out? Bad for the child at school if the kid's schoolfriends teased her about her father whipping the skirt off ... whatever it is they might call me?

I think in retrospect that this concern about being heard, on impinging on a young teen, was just an occasion for me to air my queer self-doubt or self-hatred, my trans self-doubt. Either the child didn't hear or didn't care. Or they didn't think the relationship was peculiar or non-normative in a bad way. But I don't think it's selfish or pettish e.g. selfish of one partner towards another to care about something as slight as a peep, a little squeak, out of the bedsprings in certain circumstances.