10 Things I Wish Someone Had Told Me About Sex When I Was 15. ~ Ruth L. Schwartz

Via Ruth L. Schwartz
on Apr 17, 2014
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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 end, 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’d 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.

3. Our body is not a machine.

When 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 ourselves.

Noticing what 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.

8. We should not worry so much about pleasing our partners.

If 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.

9. If 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 us today.

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!



How to Sex.


10 Sex Techniques to Evolve Your Lovemaking. {Adult}


3 Things Everyone Should be Saying During Sex. 


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Photo: Wikimedia Commons


About Ruth L. Schwartz

Ruth L. Schwartz, Ph.D., is the cofounder of Conscious Girlfriend: Queer Women & Lesbians Creating True Love (find them on Facebook, Twitter, or Tumblr). She and her beloved, Michelle, just celebrated eight years together.


21 Responses to “10 Things I Wish Someone Had Told Me About Sex When I Was 15. ~ Ruth L. Schwartz”

  1. I just gave this to my 15 year old daughter. Thank you for your words, they help to further our candid conversations about love and sex.

  2. talenta says:

    Nice article!
    In my younger years I thought that sex was all about pleasing the other party, but with time I figured out that showing my own pleasure in sex is what really pleases the other.
    On a slightly different note, in my experience a lot of men do not realise that a woman's body is extremely sensitive and if she's relaxed, a woman could get super turned on by simply stroking her back gently or kissing the inner part of her lower arm. These are just examples, but many people believe that sexual pleasure comes only through using the genitals in some way. And 15-year-olds definetely need to know that isn't the key to a good sex.

  3. CarolesGhost says:

    Wonderful article! I wish when I was 15 someone had told me what I was doing *was* sex! I had such a strict Catholic upbringing, for the longest time I was in denial (or just ignorant?) of the fact that not just genital insertion is sex. I thought that doing those "other things" meant that I was still a "good girl." Having that information, I would have been able to understand my desires, my relationship to sexuality, and how I thought about sex culturally much earlier than I did.

  4. atenea says:

    Loved this, thanks!

  5. Than says:

    Honestly, #8 kind of flipped a switch, I think. In me. Thanks

  6. debradeangelo says:

    Ah… the old dripping bathtub faucet technique… other girls knew about that? That said, I must beg to differ… you were not an early bloomer. I started taking a LOT of baths at age 12. 😉

  7. Wow, that's so cool that you gave it to your 15 year old! I'm thrilled!

  8. I meant about reading up to try to please my partners at age 15 🙂 But you did beat me on the bathtub technique, it's true!

  9. Wonderful, I'm so glad!

  10. You're so welcome!

  11. Jason says:

    This was a great article. Point 7 was especially a "thinker" if you will.

  12. Donna bracken says:

    Faking it is raping yourself? That’s the most over the top comment I’ve very read. As a real survivor of rape, I find that to be disgusting and inappropriate Ruth. I expect more out of you.

  13. Dorene says:

    Actually, I could not agree more with your comment that faking it is like raping yourself. If you haven’t experienced this, great for you, but if you have, then you know what it means.

  14. Hannah says:

    but shes right with that in a way… I was raped too, years ago, and there is a moment when I have sex now -sometimes I have kind of a flashback, a bad feeling. And if I dont tell, if I stop, if I try to fake the rest… Its horrifiing.

    If you dont want to have sex, no matter in what moment, no matter if you allready have it in these moment, stop it.

  15. n.eddy says:

    Somebody please explain the dripping faucet technique to me.

  16. karen says:

    Great read! 🙂 thanku x

  17. Catherine says:

    Love this article. As a sexy sixty something I am excited to know the truth of these ten ideas at last!

    Thanks for your candor!


  18. Stefi says:

    Also a survivor of rape, I feel that Ruth struck some gold with this insight. After having a few rocky years separated and finally getting back together, the first few times my fiancé and I slept together again I was faking it and putting on a show for him and inside I was cringing. I’m still dealing with that choice (not stopping during the moment) because I’m viewing it/feeling it mildly as, well, rape. It’s not, and I know it’s an unresolved issue I have with myself for not stopping when I *wanted* to. That being said, I think this insight is valuable/relevant for some people who have or haven’t experienced sexual abuse in the past.

  19. Cleo says:

    BEST sex writing I have ever read. Thank you!!!!!!!!!

  20. Krystal says:

    Absolutely! My bff turns me on with the simplest touch. Usually without trying, lol. But the love making that comes from it is amazing and magical and fulfilling.

  21. Rhona says:

    This is a great article, great read. Will definately bear in mind for the future. I too agree that faking it is a kind of rape. It's a horrific feeling. I had it once with an ex and knew the relationship was over in that moment. I have vowed to myself, if I ever want to stop, I will say. Although it's nothing like being forced, I have to say, it is not something I wouldn't want anyone to endure.