How to Have Sex in Communal Living Spaces

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While on holiday sojourns, you might just end up sharing a room with your partner and your friends or relatives. So where on earth are you supposed to have sexy time? A car? No. A bar bathroom? Please, that’s too dirty. Just abstain for two or three nights while you’re sharing a room under someone’s roof? Who do you think we are, nuns?

A curious reader queried the New York Times’s “Science” section about the issue, though not from an etiquette standpoint, from a purely anthropological one. “New York Times,” the reader writes, How did primitive peoples, like Native Americans who lived in long houses with 20 families, get enough privacy for intimacy and intercourse?”

Apparently, one way was just to let the children watch. According to one anthropologist, the Trobriand Islanders would have scoffed at our Puritanical mores, taking no precautions “to prevent children from witnessing their parents’ sexual enjoyment.” When it was grown-up-time, the child was simply told to “cover its head with a mat,” like some version of “earmuffs.” 

On the more modest end of the spectrum, the Huron tribe of the Great Lakes chose to seek out privacy by leaving their dwellings and having sex in “surrounding woodlands,” resulting in seasonal variations in the annual birth cycle. As many Midwesterners know, no quickie is worth risking hypothermia for.

The last anthropologist queried revealed that most primitive societies just went the old college dorm route: Do it in the dark, keep it brief, and be quiet. Because “no one seems to care or mind about absolute privacy unless illicit encounters are taking place.”

The interesting exploration serves as both a delightful history lesson, and perhaps, a guide for all the brazen lovers sharing rooms with family members or friends, living in communes or college dormitories, or those who just don’t care about traumatizing their children later in life.

How to Have Sex in Communal Living Spaces