What Should You Do When a Cell Phone Rings During Sex?

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Photo: Innocenti & Lee/Corbis

Cell phones! They interrupt us. They interrupt dinner. They interrupt symphonies. They interrupt breastfeeding. But what about when they interrupt S-E-X? A woman wrote to Slate advice column Dear Prudence asking whether she should dump her boyfriend for answering his phone mid-coitus:

The other day as we were being intimate, his mother called him on his cellphone. ... This time, he answered the phone and continued to have sex with me as he talked to her. I was livid and disturbed, not to mention feeling cheap in a very Oedipal way. ... I can't help feeling that this should send a self-respecting young woman packing and running. Am I overreacting?

Yes, you are overreacting, Prudence replied. But a question remains: What is the etiquette when a phone rings during sex? Ignore completely? Find the phone and silence it? What if the ringtone is romantic? Here are the four strategies for dealing with phone calls and text messages during sex, and how to know which one is right for you. 

Total Ignorance: Awkward things happen during sex. Some — like squishy sounds or a newly discovered blemish — are best left unacknowledged. A ringing cellphone isn't that embarrassing, but if your powers of denial are strong, you could deny the existence of the phone entirely.

Use this if: The ringtone is quiet; the phone is far away; you are in the throes of a passion so great that you CANNOT stop for a second, not even to giggle.

Partial Ignorance: Probably the most popular option. Giggle, roll your eyes, make a joke, something. As the call goes to voice mail, resume sexual activity. If necessary, brace yourself for the "you've got mail" chime that follows.

Use this if: The phone is too far away to reach; your ringtone is fun to hump to.

Find the Phone and Silence It: Second most popular option, despite requiring awkward naked clambering at a swift speed. For this method to be useful, you need to do it faster than the call goes to voice mail, otherwise you're interrupting sex and running around naked for nothing.

Use this if: The phone is right next to you; your ringtone is extremely humiliating and/or involves the voice of child.

Find the Phone and Answer It: Who makes phone calls these days, anyway? If your phone is ringing, it's probably something important, you really need to take this call. Yes, it will be creepy, but creepy-sexy according to the following scenes in movies and television:


Kate Mara Hot Sex Scene in House of Cards by kurisu73

Use this if: You know your sex partner really well; you don't know your sex partner at all and don't plan to see him again; your sex partner is Johnny Depp; the sounds you make during sex are just regular talking.

In Conclusion: Doesn't everyone leave their phones on vibrate and only communicate by text message, anyway? Who are you monsters with phones that ring, and friends who want to talk out loud? Phones should not hinder sex; they should enable sex, through dirty text messages and Grindr and Tinder and that one Emoji that's supposed to be a nose but looks like a penis.