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Let’s be real: Sex means different things to different people. We don’t all do it the same way. Whether you’re queer or straight, young or old, in a new relationship or an old relationship, there is no one set way to have sex. But, when most of us imagine sex in our heads, there’s probably one thing our mental pictures have in common: Sex is loud. Which begs the question, how do you have quiet sex?
In porn and other mainstream depictions of sex, quiet sex just isn’t a thing. Sex is loud. It’s a noisy, messy act. Even when you have your “moves” down pact, it’s a given that something is going to go awry. Maybe you knock over a lamp with your foot. Maybe you and your partner fall out of bed. Maybe your partner literally screams. We’re certainly not judging.
For what it’s worth, some partners are naturally silent during sex. Natalie Finegood Goldberg, CST, LMFT, notes, “Some people are naturally quiet during sex, and don’t express pleasure through load moans and groans, whereas some people are quiet because they struggle to fully relax and release their inhibitions.”
Age can also play an unexpected role. Jane Fleishman, PhD, a certified sexuality educator, explains, “Some people, especially older adults, are quiet during sex because they’ve been so used to having their children around that they’ve grown used to having to keep the volume down. With the persistent stereotypes of older adults as being either sexless or too sexual, some older adults have opted for being more discreet.”
Even if you’re not usually into quiet sex, you might come to really enjoy it. “Some people don’t like to make noise in general. Perhaps they’re usually soft spoken, and so loud sex is out of character for them,” says Rosara Torrisi, PhD, founder and director of the Long Island Institute of Sex Therapy in New York. “Others enjoy quiet sex because it usually occurs when they’re in a more public space and there’s a thrill of potentially being overheard.”
Whether you lean toward quiet or loud during sex, there’s definitely a time and a place for quiet sex to be prioritized, especially during the holiday season. The sleeping scenarios tend to be less than ideal (because it wouldn’t be the holiday season if your parents didn’t overpack the house, now would it?) and now you’re trying to get it on in your childhood bed while your parents are just a creaky staircase and a paper-thin wall away. Or maybe you’re trying to get in a quickie in the car before anyone realizes you’re taking an awfully long time to bring in those groceries.
Quiet sex doesn’t mean you can’t find a way to have good, passionate sex. Some people even prefer it. We spoke with some experts to figure out a few positions that’ll make it easier for you to have as-close-to-silent-as-possible-sex, because who said quiet sex had to be boring?
Sex therapist Marissa Nelson, LMFT, explains, “Since this position offers deep penetration, with the bottom partner’s legs wrapped around the other’s waist, muffle the screams by making out and lightly choking one another until you orgasm,” says Nelson.
“The bottom partner can make this move extra-intimate by wrapping his or her arms around and under the top partner’s arm, resting your hands on her shoulder, thrusting upward with a penis or strap-on,” says Nelson.
Since the top partner will have nothing to muffle their moans, they can try this practice, according to Dr. Torrisi: “To be quiet altogether might take some practice if loud sex comes naturally to you. You could try loud breaths with a fully open throat, sort of like panting, and attempting to refrain from forming guttural moans or throaty exclamations. You can also try keeping the throat open for breaths while only breathing through the nose, like you’re taking in the smell of hot chocolate and breathing out through your nose like you’re trying to blow out a candle with your nose.”
Put your (or your partner’s) fingers on the clitoris and rub it in the same rhythm as your partner’s thrusting. You can also put a pillow under your stomach for maximum penetration and ‘G-spot’ stimulation, according to Nelson.
You can also use a pillow beneath your face to help keep quiet. “I suggest making your wild noises into a pillow or blanket to muffle the sounds,” says Dr. Torrisi.
The top partner should move his or her pelvis in a rocking motion to stimulate your ‘G-spot’ with the bottom partner’s hand, penis, or toy, and then in a circular motion for a possible blended orgasm. “The person on the bottom can use their free hand to put over their lover’s mouth,” says Nelson.
“This girl-on-top position, facing away from your partner, is great for anal stimulation from behind, and masturbating,” says Nelson.
“If you’re the giver, take your hands and put them on the receiver’s ass while you’re pleasuring them,” says Nelson. “Have the receiver grind his or her pelvis on the tongue for maximum sensation. The giver can also use two or three fingers at a time to penetrate and stimulate the ‘G-spot’ while giving oral sex.”
This can also be an opportunity for fetish play. Dr. Torrisi notes that for some, quiet sex can offer a chance to go behind vanilla sex, explaining, “Sometimes [quiet sex] could be from fetish play where someone enjoys playing a role that requires them to be quiet, such as a doll or asleep.” In a position like this, the receiver can play with the concept of being asleep (while ultimately consenting to the act, of course).
A version of this article was originally published in December 2016.