Dear Lennie...

Advice from our resident gay Agony Uncle.

Dear Lennie...

Welcome, dear reader. Uncle Lennie is back to dispense some wisdom.

I’m not saying that I know everything, but I’ve been around a bit. I’m happy to share some insights and advice to help you tackle whatever problems, challenges, or dilemmas that you’re grappling with.

How can I ask the upstairs neighbour to lower the volume on his sex life?

Dear Lennie, I live in a block of flats. I never see much of my neighbours, but during lockdown I’ve become a lot more aware of my upstairs neighbour. I think his name is Daniel – at least, that’s the name that seems to get called out fairly frequently in the loud sexual encounters that I can’t seem to avoid hearing. What’s a polite or subtle way that I could suggest to Daniel that he turns down the volume on his hook-ups? Joe, Stockwell.

This is a problem that isn’t necessarily caused by lockdown, but we’re all having to spend a lot more time in our flats than we’re used to. Inevitably, that makes us more aware of the routines and rhythms of our neighbours.

Part of the issue could be that your neighbour’s active sex life is a regular reminder that you’re not getting as much action. Obviously, during a lockdown, casual sex is pretty much off the menu, so it can feel a bit unfair if not everyone is playing by the same rules..

Also, we probably wouldn’t be having this conversation if you were occasionally invited to join in. Have you tried checking the dating apps to see if you and Daniel might have a bit of a connection?

The bottom line, however, is that there isn’t a polite or subtle way to discuss sex-volume with your neighbour. However you try and tackle that conversation, it comes off a bit creepy. “So, I’ve been listening to you having sex…” or “Next time you’re getting banged senseless…”

It’s probably time to invest in some noise-cancelling headphones, or some earplugs. Let Daniel carry on with his endless sex-fest. Put your attention elsewhere.

Should I try and seduce my straight flatmate?

Dear Lennie, my flatmate is straight but I think that there’s an increasing level of sexual tension in the house. Maybe it’s just wishful thinking on my part? These social distancing restrictions have severely limited my sex life. It’s just the two of us in the flat, it would be fairly convenient if he was into a bit of action on the down-low. But what if I’m reading the signals wrong? I really like the flat and don’t want to mess everything up. Should I make a move? Should I say something? Or should I just ignore it completely? Bryant, Haggerston.

Excellent question, Bryant. Excellent.

For readers who aren’t familiar with Haggerston, it’s a neighbourhood in London. It’s inner-east London. Trendy, without being crazy expensive (by London standards). It’s a pretty gay part of town. Locals will affectionately refer to it as Faggerston, just on account of the number of gay guys who live there. It’s not homophobic to say that if you’re gay – it’s an affectionate term.

The thing with Haggerston is that although there are a lot of gays that live there, it’s also got a lot of the artsy east London guys, as well as some of the sexy nerds that work in the tech firms around Old Street. There’s every chance that Bryant’s flatmate is actually a straight guy.

I have a general rule of trying not to sleep with flatmates. Sure, sometimes these things are beyond control, but it’s really not a great idea – if it goes badly, it’s hard to avoid them if you’re sharing a refrigerator. But, in our new-normal, the old rules don’t really apply any more. So, I can think we can all agree that if there’s any flatmate action to be had, then it should be enthusiastically embraced.

What’s encouraging is that Bryant is self-aware enough that he realises that this could all be in his head. He’s horned-up. His hormones are raging, and most normal outlets aren’t available to us. When you’re horned-up, it’s easy to imagine that everyone wants to have sex with you. No judgment, we’ve all been there.

To be honest, Bryant, I think you owe it to yourself to test the waters with this potentially bi-curious flatmate. However, you’d be wide to proceed cautiously, and don’t back him into a corner – figuratively or literally.

What you don’t want to do is call a house meeting and table an agenda item about whether or not you should have sex. Instead, try putting some signals out there – gently, subtly, give him the green light. Let him feel like he’s able to make the first move, if he wants to.

What sort of signals could you give? The options are endless – you can have some fun with this.

A shared bathroom is an obvious flashpoint. Leaving the bathroom door open while you’re having a shower is a blatant signal of “please come in and fuck me in the shower.” Another classic is bumping into him as you come out of the shower – “Oh, my towel fell off!” is flatmate flirting 1.01.

What about working out together? Gyms are currently closed – you could suggest doing something fitness-related together. Start off with going for a jog together, or something like that. Maybe you could do a workout together in the park. Find some online sessions that you could both do together in the living room. “It’s getting hot in here, right?” In no time, you’ll both be shirtless. Your end-game here is something like naked yoga. There’s lots of naked yoga classes currently available online. Show him your downward dog.

Some sort of saucy game can be a good way to break the ice. Things like spin-the-bottle and truth-or-dare don’t really work if there’s just two of you, but anything that involves a few drinks and having a few laughs is a good way to get a bit of intimacy going. Strip Poker is the obvious choice, but try and plant that seed and let him suggest that game.

Spice up your conversation with a bit of sex talk. Letting him know that you’re feeling a bit sexually frustrated is a good way to see where his head is at. Make a joke of how much you’re masturbating. Ask him what he’s masturbating to. Ask him what lube he’s using. In this context, making a bit of a joke about how you’d be happy to have sex with him if he’s up for it, allows you to plant that seed while still giving everyone the space to laugh about it and walk away if it’s not going to happen.

Does that help? Keep us posted, Bryant. We need to know if you managed to bang that bi-curious boy!

Is it cheating if I don’t tell my boyfriend that I got an erotic massage?

Dear Lennie, my boyfriend and I have been together for about five years. We’re pretty much monogamous. I was complaining to a friend about being stressed at work, and he recommended a massage therapist. During the booking process, the masseur offered me the option of an erotic massage – that’s what I went for. It was great! But I told my boyfriend that it was a sports massage and I didn’t mention the happy ending. I’m feeling guilty about not telling him the full story. Is that cheating? Alex, Elephant & Castle.

There’s a lot to unpack here, Alex. I guess the starting point is that if you’re feeling guilty in some way, that’s your conscience poking you into action.

I love erotic massages. Honestly, I don’t see the point in having any other sort of massage. Based on my experience, I’m imaging that you’re naked, the masseur is naked, and there’s hot oil going everywhere that hot oil needs to be. The best.

Everyone’s relationship is different, and “cheating” is such a subjective term. However, in general, the most stable relationships are generally built on trust and honesty.

You’ve mentioned that you’re “pretty much” monogamous. That suggests that maybe you haven’t really had a frank conversation with each other about what ‘the rules’ are of your relationship.

Even when you’re in a relationship, it’s okay to want to explore your sexuality in ways that don’t necessarily include your partner – if you’re both okay with that and no one is getting hurt in the process.

You probably should just bite the bullet and own up to what went down and use it as an opportunity to talk about where you’re at in the relationship and how you want to explore things going forward.

If you wanted a slightly less confrontational way out of this situation, you could mention to your boyfriend that the masseur who gave you the sports massage also offers erotic massages, and that you’d like to book one for your boyfriend so he could experience what that would be like. His reaction to that suggestion is going to be a pretty clear signal on how to proceed from there.