These questions and answers concern relationship issues between young adults, like how and when to have sex. I added them to the already posed article about having sex with parents nearby. I define young adults as between 18 and 30 years of age. Addition questions and comments on my answers are invited.
Having Sex with Parents Nearby – May 25, 2020
Do I have to tell my parents I’m gay? – May 30, 2020
Sexual Relationship with College Roommate? – August 28, 2020
Sex Without Having Sex – November 18, 2021
Having Sex With Parents Nearby
May 25, 2020
Question: Is it shameful to have sex with family members nearby?
Frank answers: I wasn’t sure what to do with this question because it is so general. Yet I suspect the questioner has some specific situation in mind.
A number of possible situations come to my mind.
We’re in the midst of a pandemic with stay-at-home recommendations. Could it be a married couple living in the home of parents? Parents expect their married children to be having sex. That’s how grandchildren are produced. There’s nothing shameful about that. Just keep the bedroom door closed.
Could it be a married or an unmarried couple visiting the parents of one of the partners? Many of us are not visiting family members during the time of COVID-19 due to travel restrictions and physical distancing. When those restrictions are lifted, the first traveling most people do is to visit family.
Or is it a case of a single son or daughter living at home with parents who wants to connect with a girlfriend or boyfriend? Maybe a high school boyfriend or girlfriend? Maybe a college friend? That would be a specific and timely situation as spring terms are ending. I’m going to assume that this is the situation that concerns the questioner. I’m also assuming that the question comes from a young man.
Readers may still find my answer interesting and perhaps applicable to their situation. Having sex with family or parents nearby is always awkward.
For starts, if the parents agree to a visit, or even to bringing a local friend into the house, they would want to be sure that the guest is not a carrier of COVID-19. The guest would have to be tested, and test negative, and then quarantine for fourteen days to make the visit safe. Bringing someone into the house during the pandemic without taking these precautions would definitely be bad behavior that puts you and your parents at risk for contracting the coronavirus.
Let’s assume that these precautions have been met. By asking if having sex with your partner with family nearby would be “shameful” you already have a sense of the complications this situation raises. I am curious, however, as to why you ask if having sex with family nearby is “shameful” rather than, say, “awkward.” It makes me wonder if some connection between sex and shame was communicated to you, perhaps by your own parents or by your religious tradition.
For whom would having sex with your girlfriend with her or your parents nearby be shameful? Would having pre-marital sex go against the parents’ moral values? Have you and your friend discussed this issue? If you have not had sex previously, are each of you ready to have sex for the first time with each other in such a tense situation? Or have you already had sex with each other and you’re looking for a way that it can happen again? Is your friend comfortable with having sex with parents nearby? Her (or your) comfort level about this has to be respected.
Or, are you an invited guest in your girl friend’s parents’ home? How should you behave while under their roof? That may be part of the ethical issue you are raising. Also consider that if their daughter is bringing home her boyfriend, the parents will be especially interested in getting to know you. (Is this guy a future son-in-law?)
Where would the sex happen? In her or your bedroom? In a guest room where you might be sleeping? Would one of you be sneaking into the other’s bedroom at night? How close are these rooms to the parents’ bedroom? Sometimes the walls can be pretty thin.
Or would the location for sex be downstairs, say in the living room while the parents are asleep? Does the home have a finished basement family room? Does plotting out how and where you can have sex with your friend’s parents nearby make it seem like you are being sneaky about it so the parents don’t know that the two of you are doing it? Is that what could be “shameful” about the situation?
These are important considerations. Let me say bluntly: Adult children don’t need to tell their parents that they are having sex. But are you comfortable saying something like, “You don’t have to make any extra accommodations for my friend’s visit. We’ll sleep together in my room.” Your mother would surely want to know what she has to provide by way of hospitality. Or short of that, you could say, “We’re going to [whatever room] for privacy. Okay?” Your parents would expect that you don’t want to use your time together watching TV with them and they would probably try to stay out of your way. But are there other, especially younger, siblings at home whom you have to maneuver around to have space for intimacy?
There’s nothing inherently shameful about adult couples having sex with other family members nearby, but there are relational issues. In my view even parents with traditional negative attitudes about sex before marriage need to give adult children some leeway on this no matter what they think about it, and they usually do so out of respect for their adult child. Maybe you are at your friend’s parent’s home. They may have some awareness that their daughter and you have been having sex. Parents often guess these things even if their children say nothing about it.
Navigating these situations is always awkward. Whether married or not, couples want privacy when they have sex. Just as it was awkward for your parents to have sex when you were a little kid who was likely to barge in on them, so now it’s awkward for you as young adults to have sex when parents (and other family members) are nearby. So it has been since time immemorial, I suppose. People living in tight quarters always had to be creative strategists to find a time and place to have sex. When it comes to sex in the family compound, privacy for adults has to be respected.
Pastor Frank Senn
Do I have to tell my parents I’m Gay?
May 30, 2020
I read your Frank Answer About Gay Integrity with great interest. I’m gay. I knew it already in my teen age years but it became a certainly once I went away to the university. I’m living in an off-campus apartment with a gay roommate whom I met on campus last year. We’re both third year students, although the academic year is over early during to the pandemic shut down. We’re finishing our course work online and will probably return to our parents’ homes at the end of our lease and maybe find some summer work. I hope we’ll be able to connect with each other over the summer and look ahead to living together again next year. But here’s the thing. Your article strongly endorsed gay integrity as “coming out,” and you invited readers to post coming out stories in the comments. I’ve come out to friends on campus, but not to my parents. They’re conservative Christians and I don’t know how they would react. So my question is: do I really have to tell my parents? Maybe some day it will be necessary, but I’m just not ready to deal with that right now.
Frank answers No. You don’t have to tell your parents that you’re gay or that you’re living with another gay guy. Since you’re at the end of your junior year at the university, I assume you’re probably about 21 years old. So you’re not a minor. You’re an adult responsible for your own life. Your parents don’t need to know about your sex life either — even if they know your sexual self-identity. I’m sure with the novel coronavirus pandemic and the uncertainty about life in general right now, including your academic work, you don’t need another tension tp deal with.
But I wonder if your parents have any hunches about your sexuality. When our sons came out to my wife and me, it wasn’t a surprise as much as an “aha!” moment. Now some things about each of our boys made sense to us. I also wonder what your relationship to your parents has been like over the years. Have they been loving and supportive parents? That’s something you’ll have to assess. The chances are that if they have been loving and supportive to you, their son, they will probably also be loving and supportive to their gay son. The parent-child relationship is pretty strong throughout our human lives.
You will have to weigh that over against their conservative Christian faith, since that seems to be an issue that holds you back from coming out to them. What have they been taught in their church? What have you heard them say about homosexuality or gay people in ordinary conversation? Do they know any gay people? What do they think about those people?
You said that someday it might be necessary to tell your parents that you identify as gay. How far off is that “someday?” You say you and your roommate will probably split over the summer but find ways to reconnect. Yes, you will want to maintain your relationship in the flesh and not just virtually. That might mean visiting each other in the other’s home. I assume it won’t seem strange to each set of parents to have the young man their son has been living with come for a visit and perhaps discuss fall plans for living together again if and when your university reopens for in-person classes. Has your roommate come out to his parents? If he has, what was his experience like? If your relationship has had some intimate aspects, how will you express those when you are visiting in each other’s parents’ home? (That would be an issue even with a boyfriend/girlfriend relationship. I’ll tell you that it’s something my wife and I had to ponder when our sons and our daughter had boyfriends over to our house during their high school years and were hanging out in our basement family room.)
Let me say that any conversation between you and your parents should be just within the family, not including your boyfriend in the discussion. Hopefully, when the time comes the discussion will be at your initiative, not because your parents ask about your relationship with your boyfriend. It should also be at a time and place when you can give the topic your undivided attention. Not, for example, at some other social event when your bombshell announcement will derail the other event.
As I said in my blog article, I can’t imagine the difficulty of coming out to your parents, even if they are loving and supportive. And you need to realize that if it will be difficult for you to break the news to them, the news will be equally difficult for them to hear and digest. You say you knew you were gay already in high school, yet look how long it will have taken you to discuss it with your parents? You can’t expect them to adjust to the news that their son is gay the moment you tell them. They may actually react better than you think. After all, we live in a society that has become more accepting of homosexuals. But it will still take time for them to adjust to the idea. They will probably pepper you with questions. Your best approach will be honesty about yourself and your feelings. And express your love to them. If and when such a conversation occurs, I hope it will end with a hug.
Sexual Relationship With College Roommate?
August 28, 2020
Question: I’m just starting my freshman in year in college during this strange time of the coronavirus pandemic. I found your blog this summer and really enjoyed reading it. I appreciated your views on topics like masturbation, naked male bonding, and gay integrity. Jerking off in my room at home or a few times with my buddies this summer has been my only sexual outlet. I also decided over the summer that I’m gay because I like being with boys more than girls. I’ve moved into my dorm and have a roommate whom I’m just getting to know. I’m wondering if I should tell him that I’m gay and ask whether we could jerk off together sometime. I saw your answer about naked male cuddling and I’d like to experience it. It would provide relief from the tensions of starting school during the coronavirus pandemic. What do you think? – College Joe
Dear College Joe:
There’s a lot going on your life. You’re moving onto a college campus and into a dorm room with another guy during this COVID-19 pandemic. You don’t know how well your college community will deal with the coronavirus and whether you will be able to finish the term on campus with in-person classes. This is a lot to be anxious about. To that add the mental turbulence of discerning your sexuality.
You’re sharing a room or a suite with another guy who is also away from home for the first time and faces the same anxieties you do about going to college during this uncertain time. You two really need each other. You will be talking to each other, including about personal matters, as you get acquainted. What will you share with each other?
Roommate relationships can be full of land mines. You’ve got to live with this guy and you want it to go well because it can be a real bummer to have a roommate you don’t get along with. In general I would be careful about coming on too strong to your roommate until the two of you get to know each other better. I’d hold off on telling him that you decided you’re gay as the first thing. You don’t know what his reaction would be to the news that he might have a gay roommate. Homophobia is deeply embodied and can come out in strange ways.
The important thing is to share with each other things about your lives and backgrounds. If eventually (not as the first thing) you share some of your sexual experiences in the past he may share some of his, if he has any to share. For example, if you tell him you jerked off with your buddies, you can tell from his reaction and response whether this turns him on or off and learn whether he has had such experiences. That could also open up a conversation about your sexuality and his. By then he’s gotten used to sharing living space with you.
Actually, you don’t say what your living arrangements are. Campus life even in the dorms can’t be normal under the coronavirus circumstances. Are you two living together in a single room or are you in a suite with adjoining bathroom and bedrooms? I’ve heard and read that a lot of students have private rooms because of COVID-19 precautions.
In any event, you are in close quarters and are likely to see each other naked at some point. If not because you share a room, then because you share a bathroom and you may both need to be getting ready for an early class at the same time. Are you comfortable being naked in front of someone else? How does your roommate handle nakedness? A lot of guys your age haven’t had much experience being nude with other guys like some of us older guys had when we were your age because of gang showers (even in college dorms). I would be careful not to show too much interest in his body, like getting a hard on the first time you see him naked. If he’s straight and suspects or knows that you’re gay, that could give him cause for alarm. If you’re together in the bathroom and you have a morning woodie, are you embarrassed about having an erection? Is he? Is an erection on a male really something to be embarrassed about? Can you joke about it?
Masturbating when you share a small room with another guy has always been tricky. (I know from decades ago when I lived in dorm rooms with roommates.) All the guys do it. In the dorm arrangement with two to a room many waited until they had the room to themselves to jerk off. But there was always the risk that the roommate would return unexpectedly and catch you in the act. That could be an embarrassing experience for both of you. You could do it at night while you think he’s asleep but he may hear you breathing harder and the mattress creaking and know what you’re doing. If you sleep in bunk beds you know what the guy on the top or lower bunk is doing. If you each have your own room that solves the problem. But since masturbation is not a taboo subject today like it was when I was your age, and if your roommate is comfortable discussing it, I suggest talking about it. Then neither of you have to hide the fact that you’re going to be jerking off as need arises.
You mention naked male bonding. Ordinary male bonding should be a part of your relationship first. This includes doing things together, like eating together, going to the library together, exploring your college town together, etc. Become friends and be relaxed with each other’s nudity. Boys are likely to walk around the dorm room or suite or even the residence hallway semi-naked. If you can be physically naked with each other, that makes it easier to be emotionally open. And the opportunity for naked male cuddling may arise.
That reminds me to tell you that you will not only be getting acquainted with your roommate but with other guys in the dorm. In my freshman year my relationship with my roommate was pretty perfunctory, even though we shared the same room. He seemed to be uptight much of the time. I found myself hanging out with other guys in our hall. One of them (who was two years older than me) became my roommate the next year — in fact, the next three years in college, and two years after that when we went to seminary together. He was my best man at my wedding. So we really bonded as buddies. Yet even in my sophomore year, when rooming with the guy I had bonded with, I developed a friendship with another young man and we went on a canoe trip together at the end of the spring term. The point is, you may develop a friendship with another boy in the dorm whom you get to feel pretty relaxed, if not intimate, with.
The academic reality you face is that some of your classes may be online. Or if too many positive cases break out the college may go on lock down. So you and your roommate may be spending a lot of time together in close quarters. As horniness arises, you and your roommate may turn to each other to do some “experimenting.” It’s a well known phenomenon that when men are deprived of women they turn to each other for sexual release. Your roommate might turn to you unexpectedly and say, “Do with me what you did with your buddies last summer.” This could be your opportunity to jerk off together, if that’s what you want. There’s nothing uniquely gay about it. It’s just simultaneous masturbation, and all boys and men masturbate. And it’s the safest form of sex. See what I wrote below in answering a question about sex during COVID-19.
Now — continuing this fantasy — the quarantine situation is ripe for the naked cuddling you desire. Just tell your roommate or your dorm friend, “I really need a human touch. Would you come and lay with me.” It would be best if this was a natural development in your relationship rather than the result of too much alcohol. It’s actually not too uncommon for boys and men to cuddle and sleep together, as perhaps you read in my previous brief answer about apartment mates cuddling during COVID-19 (scroll down). Maybe your roommate or dorm friend has already done this. Being body-to-body naked, however, may be a new experience for both of you.
If this happens and you spend the night sleeping together naked, maybe nothing else will happen. OR, maybe horniness will arise and the two of you could end up getting into heavier stuff. (Try to avoid kissing on the mouth during COVID-19). As in all things sexual, if he resists going further, take it as a “No.” If he wants to go further…well, that’s up to you. Should it happen that the cuddling turns into a more sexual activity than just spooning, the two of you need to consider whether this was a special occurrence between friends or the beginning of a regular practice. You want to avoid taking your relationship farther than either of you care or dare to go, because here’s the thing: you’d like to continue being compatible roommates or dorm friends, learning from each other and supporting each other during your year on campus in this time of COVID-19. Developing a sexual relationship especially with your roommate strikes me as having some relationship pitfalls that should be avoided.
Best wishes to you and your roommate for a successful academic year. I’m sure you’ll figure out these relationships. If other issues arise, don’t hesitate to send another question. I hope you’re able to stay on campus for the year and not be sent home because of an outbreak of COVID-19. That requires everyone following the rules. Be safe. Be well.
P.P.S. “College Joe” responded:
I appreciate your thoughtful and wise response. You guessed correctly that I am alone in my suite room and connected with my roommate (really a suite mate) through the joint bathroom. We don’t actually see each other all that often during the day. College during COVID-19 is not very social. We even bring our food back to our dorm rooms from the cafeteria. My roommate and I and others in the dorm are being very cautious about physical contact to avoid testing positive. I’m still thinking about my sexual identity but my sex life for the time being will be in the fantasies your words and images stimulated. Thanks for those!
Sex Without Having Sex
November 18, 2021
My boyfriend and I met in college and have kept up our friendship since graduating. We travel to see each other on weekends, staying in his apartment or mine. Our times together have developed into a budding romance, but I’m not interested in having sexual intercourse until a marital commitment is made. My boyfriend respects this but says that we can engage in a sexual relationship without going all the way. If we’re naked together making out he becomes aroused and says he needs to masturbate to release his sexual energy. I’m OK with that. I’m even thinking that maybe I could help him do that. What do you think? – Virgin
Dear Virgin Girl. Virginity before marriage is a time-honored Christian tradition, and also taught in other religions and societies. Marriage is really the two becoming one in coitus. It is possible to hold off if each partner is willing to be disciplined and abstain from sexual intercourse. But if you’re having a “make our session,” a lot of sexual exergy builds up and masturbation is a way to release it. Young men especially masturbate quite frequently. Your boyfriend probably does just thinking about coming to visit you and being able to connect body to body. Quite frankly, the male of the species seems to need some way to show off his stuff when mating. It’s also common in the natural world for the female of the species to play hard to get. I mention this just to say that in the natural order of things, you’re situation is not out of the ordinary.
Your question is whether you can participate in his desire to masturbate. I think there are benefits to that in your relationship. You’re recognizing his need and partnering him in this sexual act. (Yes, masturbation is a sexual act.) The question might come up about whether the masturbation should be mutual–that is, he masturbates you as well as you masturbating him. If you practice solo sex, you might consider this possibility. The second benefit is that you each get used to someone else bringing you to orgasm when you’re each used to autoeroticism. In coitus you will also have to learn how to bring your partner to orgasm and learn how to encouraged each other in doing that.