If your sex education was typical, you probably grew up hearing about “the birds and the bees” or the stork that brought you.
And if you were really lucky, perhaps you had parents who held their breath and sputtered something about penises and vaginas and sperm and eggs in a five minute sex education fiasco that pretty much guaranteed none of you would ever broach the topic again!
Maybe you got a clinical sex education film or slideshow in eight grade science class or, if you grew up in the 90s or later, even some well-meaning health educator who showed you how to put a condom on a cucumber. But none of these things constitutes the kind of sex education we need—the kind that helps us know how to have the rich, deep, healthy sex lives we all long for!
Starting at around age 15, I got my sex education from lurking in bookstores after school.
I learned from one book how to masturbate with a dripping bathtub faucet (what a revelation!) and pored
over other books to try to figure out how to please my partners (yes, I was an early bloomer.).
It didn’t take me too long to learn about all the different tabs that could get inserted into all the different slots or about the pregnancies or STDs that could result. But frankly, all of this sex education was missing the biggest piece I needed: the piece that could help me come to understand and accept myself as a sexual person and then embark on the adventure of figuring out what I most wanted and needed from the wide world of sex.
In a way, women have it easy. There are always men around who are willing to further our sex education—for their own ends, of course! But even having sex with many people, both men and women, didn’t give me the kind of sex education I most longed for—the kind I’ve had to cobble together for myself over the decades.
The truth is, the kind of sex education a woman needs can never really be given to us by any outside person or source, because what we really need is to take ownership of our own experience and desires! Still, some outside sources might have pointed me in the right direction…
So, what’s the sex education I wish I had had?
Here are the top 10 things I wish someone had told me when I was 15:
1. Inserting tabs into slots is only the tip of the iceberg!
Sex is a wonderful, challenging mystery. It can and will feel totally different with different people—and with the same person at different times—even if the mechanics involved are exactly the same.
2. Sexual chemistry isn’t love.
It’s a whole ‘nother animal. That’s why
we can have great sex with someone we don’t love and lousy sex with someone we do love. It’s worthwhile to see if we can love the person with whom we have great sex—or improve the sex we have with the person we love—but it’s important not to confuse the two.
Our body is not a machine.
we have sex within a relationship, our sexual pleasure will be deeply impacted by the level of trust, safety and connection we feel. If sex starts fading in a relationship, we should not just try some new tricks; instead, we should look more deeply into what may be getting in the way.
4. “Great sex” is not just one thing.
“Great” can mean tear-each-other’s-clothes-off hot or it can mean sweet, slow, gentle, deeply connected lovemaking. It can mean a five minute quickie or several hours spent luxuriously exploring each other’s bodies without ever even touching the genitals.
5. Great sex—or bad sex—can happen with anyone.
It can happen with men and it can happen with women. It can happen with people
we love and with people we don’t. If we have “bad” sex with someone with whom the sex has previously been good, no need to panic! Instead, we should get curious. What’s changed, inside ourselves, inside them, in the relationship?
6. Sex can be an incredible vehicle for learning about
we do automatically—and what we don’t let ourselves do, even when we really want to—can open doorways into major growth and healing, if we let it.
7. Sexual fantasies can also be doorways into self-knowledge.
Sometimes we fantasize about what we really want and then sometimes our fantasies are a way to try to process old trauma or help us bear something difficult by eroticizing it.
We should not assume we want to act out our fantasies (and we should not assume we don’t.) Instead, we should let our fantasies be question marks for ourselves and potential teachers.
we can stay in our own body and we’re our own experience, it’ll make sex hotter and deeper for us and our partners.
we’re in the middle of sex and we’re not enjoying it, stop!
Don’t fake it. Faking it is like a way of raping
ourselves! Instead, we take the risk to tell our partner gently that we need to take a break—even if we’re not sure why. This may sound like a radical step, but it can open up much deeper possibilities for intimacy.
10. Sex changes over time—both within a relationship and within
us as we age.
That’s because it’s alive and everything living changes over time. Let it! Every day,we should cultivate an attitude of exploration, interested curiosity and discovery about what sex is for
True sex education can only happen when
we become willing to educate ourselves about the amazing, quirky, unique, desire-filled, fearful, adventurous, shy, bold sexual being we really are. May it be a magnificent process of self-exploration, self-acceptance and self-love!
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Apprentice Editor: Yaisa Nio / Editor: Cat Beekmans
Photo: Wikimedia Commons