Neighbours want to destroy our relationship


Dear Aunty Julie, I live in a face-to face apartment in a crowded compound. People don’t seem to mind their business here. I cannot have privacy even though I live in two rooms. It seems the thin walls in my apartment make it tough for me and my boyfriend to be intimate, during conversations, during sex, without the neighbours reacting. If I’m on the phone and tell him how I feel about him, the couple next door starts to crack up. I thought at first it was a coincidence, but it has happened about eight times. Once I even said, “let’s talk later because the neighbors are listening” and they shut right up. What’s most offensive to me is if we make a noise above a whisper while talking or making love, we hear the neighbours react by sarcastically making sex noises and laughing next door. This feels like a big invasion of privacy. It’s making me self-conscious to make a peep during intimacy.Do you have any suggestions? Frances, Lagos Dear Frances, Everybody values privacy especially in intimate situations. And, it’s hard to think of a positive side to having paper-thin walls. If the neighbours were your friends, your set-up would have let you to play a little practical joke on them involving a conversation you “accidentally” let them overhear. But, since you don’t seem to be on great terms with your neighbours, it seems best to focus on privacy-enhancing solutions. The first advice is to limit your self-expression during sex or even during conversations with your partner because what the neighbours might hear puts an unfortunate burden on your relationship. It’s polite to consider that other people might not want to hear your every word or listen to you have sex 24 hours a day, but intimate conversations and sex are natural and nothing to be ashamed of. Still, some privacy is clearly important. Do the neighbours have any kind of regular schedule? Maybe they’re usually away from home at certain times. You might use those times for more private activities or conversations. Have you ever spoken directly with your neighbours? If you’d rather not talk with them, and it seems like they’re always there, maybe playing some music could camouflage your conversations. Rearranging your living space might also enhance your privacy. Could you move your bed or bedroom farther from the wall you share with the neighbours? Hanging a thick tapestry on the wall might also offer some noise-dampening effect. If you can’t move somewhere with thicker walls, increasing the ambient noise level in your living space may offer you more privacy, or at least prevent you from hearing your neighbours make fun of you. Hopefully, you can focus on enjoying your music and your boyfriend.
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