The Bravo TV show Summer House is essentially a cautionary tale about what can happen when you hook up with someone who you're also sharing a vacation house with for an extended period of time. For those who haven't seen the entertaining reality series, just know that the drama is off the charts, for obvious reasons.
"There’s usually a tribe-like dynamic that is created in a group house," says Sari Cooper, LCSW, certified sex therapist and director of Center for Love and Sex in New York City. "If there are cliques, or sexual duos, or thruples, they tend to ruin this communal vibe."
But if you're about to get away with a group of your friends over the long weekend, you might have your sights set on vacation sex with another housemate — and you should absolutely go for it. "Adults are entitled to their sexual pleasure on vacation as long as it’s consensual," Cooper says. The question is, how do you get away with hooking up without pissing off all your temporary roommates?
The etiquette rules vary depending upon whether you're going to the house with your partner or as a single person. If you're single and hoping to meet someone, Cooper's advice is to stay sober enough to meet someone, "because you're usually calmer [without alcohol]," she says. As always, it's important to make sexual decisions for yourself and communicate your limits before you hook up, she adds.
Couples, on the other hand, should talk ahead of time about how they want to use their vacation time, says Lisa Schwartz, PhD, a AASECT-certified psychotherapist in Philadelphia. "For some folks, vacation is the only time life permits for sexual activity," she says. "For others, they prefer to see if it fits in and prefer to take in other activities, especially if it is a unique travel opportunity." If you and your partner decide you do want to have sex on this vacay, the key is to carve out time to make it happen, Cooper says. That might mean staying home when everyone is out and about, having morning sex, playing music to muffle any sounds, or using a "Do Not Disturb" door hanger.
If you're worried about being "rude," that's very conscientious of you. But Dr. Schwartz says that having sex in a group house isn't really rude as long as it's in the privacy of your own room. However, while other areas of the house might intrigue (especially if it's a fancy Airbnb), you should clear it with your roomies to make sure it's okay that you have sex in the hot tub. "I would recommend talking with the group to discuss the boundaries of the 'public' spaces," she says.
On that note, Cooper stresses that it's important to keep your hookups somewhat private, especially if you're a single person. "Once shared, it changes the dynamic of the whole group, in addition to the manner in which others in the house treat you and your sexual partner," she says. That "tribe-like" vibe that we mentioned before can turn into gossiping, teasing, and potential judgment, she says. But, if you're cool sharing deets about your hookups, obviously do you.
And if you follow all of these tips, and still end up getting walked-in on by one of your house mates, your best bet is to acknowledge the humor, Dr. Schwartz says. This avoids any awkwardness in the long run, and potentially curbs some of the drama, too.