Every week, Mallory Ortberg answers a few additional questions from readers, just for Slate Plus members.
Q. Neighbor with good ears: My wife and I have been married a very long time and are very happy. However, due to my job and the fact that we own our home in another part of the country, we are often temporarily separated from each other. As a result, I masturbate often, usually daily and at very odd hours. I do this in the privacy of my apartment, but I suspect my upstairs neighbor may be hearing me as I pleasure myself.
I have tried to be very quiet, and it could be my imagination, but I have noticed that when I masturbate my neighbor seems to hang outside near whichever window I am closest to. She has to come downstairs and go outside and around our building, so I doubt it is a coincidence.
Am I obligated to maintain silence in order to have privacy, or should I simply continue with my relaxation and just ignore her? I keep the shades and curtains closed, but I think she might be listening at the window. It is just a bit creepy. I could report this to the manager or the police, but I am a bit embarrassed given the circumstances.
A: Surely closing the windows and turning on a fan is a more sensible alternative to reporting someone to the police for “possibly hearing you masturbate.” Your neighbor may be behaving like a creep, or you may just be overly paranoid. (Or you may delight in the possibility of being caught and are hoping to see your letter published for an even bigger thrill, in which case: Congratulations!) Either way, there are easier solutions to your possible problem than calling your landlord.
Q. Robbing the cradle? I’m a mid-20s graduate student who recently went out briefly with a man 10 years older (also a student). He broke it off a few days ago, saying that although he liked me a lot, he thought the age gap could present too many problems. I think he is prematurely judging a potentially great thing, despite our different tastes in pop culture. Do I go back to him and say this or take him at his word and move on?
A: No. You can’t talk someone out of breaking up with you. He thinks the age difference is too wide to bridge, and that’s all that matters. Whether you disagree doesn’t enter into it. It only takes one person to break up; it doesn’t have to be carried out by unanimous vote.