This is a hearty confession from a gay neighbor who sought help from experts because his neighbor [a woman] thinks he’s too noisy during sex with his boyfriend in the bedroom.
I’m a gay man living in a conservative suburb of a relatively small city. Several years ago I bought a townhouse and though I don’t socialize with the neighbors, I like living here very much.
Two months ago a new family moved into the unit next to mine. At first, they seemed friendly enough—their son, about 4, was a little noisy but that’s life.
About two weeks ago, the mom approached me while I was getting into my car and asked for a word with me. She said that their son’s bedroom was on the wall next to mine, and he could very obviously hear me having sex a few nights prior.
I was shocked (it’s not like we were particularly loud) and mortified and said I’d try to keep things quieter.
She told me that she thinks it’s for the best if I move my bedroom, or have sex somewhere else, just in case her son hears. I refused but said I would definitely try to be quieter.
So last weekend my boyfriend was over, and we ended up having sex sometime in the afternoon. While we’re going at it there was a knock on the door—of course we ignored it, but the knocking continued.
It was my neighbor, as we discovered when she started screaming at us!
I won’t share everything she said but the gist was that I was deliberately corrupting her innocent child.
I have no idea how to handle this. I’m in my own home and while we aren’t carrying on like porn stars, there is (I guess?) some noise.
The woman caught me leaving for work and told me that if I didn’t stop “exposing her son to lewd behavior” that she was going to call the police and have me arrested as a sexual predator.
I doubt that’s possible but in this day and age—who knows? She very well could turn the other neighbors against me.
Any suggestions besides sound-proofing options (which I am looking into) and/or preemptively calling my lawyer?
Answer from an expert:
I can’t imagine a 4-year-old saying, “Those vague and muffled sounds I hear must be gay sex—Mother, what’s gay sex?”—it sounds like his mother is unnecessarily escalating the situation every time she overhears you.
It should go without saying that you are not doing anything wrong by having sex in your own home, and based on the care you’ve taken to keep things relatively quiet it’s unlikely that you’re violating any city noise ordinances.
Her attempts to scare you by threatening to have you arrested as a sexual predator (for having consensual sex with another adult in the privacy in your own home) are cruel and homophobic and completely groundless, but I certainly understand your anxiety.
I cannot imagine your neighbors would think poorly of you if this woman went around trying to smear your reputation by saying “He sometimes has sex with his boyfriend in his bedroom and we can overhear it, a little”—the unreasonable party is crystal clear in this narrative, no matter how she tries to spin it.
Call your lawyer, flip on a bedroom fan or a white noise machine in the bedroom until you’re able to soundproof your walls, and do your best to steer clear of her until you have a strategy for protecting yourself.
Even a baseless, nuisance claim filed against you could cause unnecessary pain and humiliation, and I hope you’re able to get good legal advice as you figure out how best to avoid this nightmare neighbor.
Mallory Ortberg, is a writer and an adviser using the nickname [Dear Prudence]. She’s a co-founder of the Toast and the author of Texts From Jane Eyre.
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