How to Do It

I’m Newly Living With a Couple, and I’m Having a Little Sexual Problem

A woman looking frustrated.
Photo illustration by Slate. Photo by MangoStar_Studio/iStock/Getty Images Plus.

How to Do It is Slate’s sex advice column. Have a question? Send it to Stoya and Rich here. It’s anonymous!

Every week, the crew responds to a bonus question in chat form.

Dear How to Do It,

I am living with friends (a couple, if it makes a difference) on their couch during shelter-in-place. When I first moved in, my libido was really low from all the stress. Now that things are starting to settle down, I’m finding myself incredibly horny all the time—I would masturbate all day and night if I were back in my studio. I feel like I will die if I don’t. Obviously, I can’t do that with my new roommates, but do you have any suggestions on how to curb my libido and/or tips on masturbating when you have roommates?


—Seeking Release

Stoya: I feel for this writer SO HARD.

Rich: We’ve been going through a tough time as a species.

Stoya: There’s this joy of recognizing one’s own inconvenience in the plight of another that’s making me smile. I have a roommate, and no door on my bedroom.

Rich: No door! Is that by design?

Stoya: No door! The cats are thrilled, but us humans would prefer a door. I think whoever designed the apartment thought that area would be an office or something. Anyway—I usually masturbate when he leaves the apartment, because I don’t know when he’ll leave again. Whether I’m aroused or not.

Rich: Yes, this is what I would suggest first.


Stoya: If he’s home for like a week straight (as during the spring), I’ll take the vibrator into the bathtub—with the door closed—and use it while the water runs. However, if the bathroom is shared, there’s timing to be aware of.

Rich: It might be awkward but consciously scheduling alone time might be worth looking into. People need their privacy, and you don’t have to be specific while proposing that you should be able to have some with regularity.

I think this time is forcing people to be creative and modify, which can actually be energizing. If for some external reason this person feels like they can’t masturbate in the bathroom—say, because they always masturbate with porn and they feel like they can’t do that in the bathroom, well, try it without porn. Try new ways. I also think a bit of forced limitation might be a good thing for someone who is inclined to masturbate all day and night? Get yours absolutely, but that level of interest seems like it could cut into your life pretty quickly and become a distraction.


Stoya: I assumed hyperbole, or that if they had the opportunity, they would get bored after a few days.

Rich: A fair assumption, especially when coming from someone who is climbing-up-the-walls horny. But just saying.

Stoya: But yes, if that’s a literal nonstop solo stimulation fest, slow it down before you give yourself an abrasion.

Rich: In terms of curbing libido, sometimes a monklike total abstinence does the trick. Like Teddy Pendergrass and/or Buddha said: The more I get, the more I want. I’m not recommending cutting sex out of one’s life entirely, but desire does often beget more desire.


Stoya: Exercise and cold showers actually do help.

Rich: Mindfulness in general could be useful, as achieved through but not limited to meditation.


Stoya: And generally doing something proactive to take your mind off of your arousal

Rich: Sublimate!

Stoya: That’s how I’ve been coping.

More How to Do It

I’m a woman in a wonderful, long-term relationship with a man. Our relationship is happy and easy, we communicate well, we have lots of common interests, and we also have a mutually satisfying sex life. It mainly takes the form of penetrative sex, occasional mutual masturbation, and me giving him blow jobs. While I really enjoy giving oral sex and my boyfriend really likes receiving it, he dislikes giving it, and I’m indifferent to receiving it. It’s not a turn-off, but it also doesn’t really do anything for me. But some of my friends insist that our oral preferences create an imbalance in our relationship—and that his dislike for giving oral is some sort of subtle, maybe even unconscious, expression of misogyny.