Recently, I came across this post on MindBodyGreen: 5 Truths I Learned About Sex in My 20s
While the spirit of the article is good, I disagree with a few of her points and felt it was important to offer a different perspective.
Feeling empowered (consenting) is the single most important aspect of sex. If you feel empowered, you’re better able to make healthy choices, to set clear boundaries, and to live your personal truth. In fact, empowerment can look like allowing someone to shame you or beat you or restrain you if that’s what you desire.
The author uses her own journey as the basis for this discovery, and it’s a powerful one. I’ve been on a similar path myself, admittedly making a number of mistakes along the way.
I want to offer my two cents on each of her five points. Then, I want you to weigh in by commenting below with your own thoughts and experiences.
1. Keep your value high.
The author states, “Sex is a super intimate experience.” Sex can be super intimate. I prefer it that way. But it doesn’t always have to be, and that’s OK.
I agree with her that carelessly giving yourself away is dangerous. That said, I disagree with her assertion that you spread yourself thin when you have sex with someone you don’t know. I’ve had sex with people that I barely know and we’ve created incredibly intimate, powerful exchanges. Stuff that I’ll remember forever, even though I’ll never see that person again.
Now, I certainly do a fair amount of vetting, so I am picky about my partners. But that’s not to say I have to know someone really well in order to feel like I’ve made an empowered choice. My value is high as long as I feel good about what drove me to make my decision. End of story.
2. Casual sex is not a valid way of getting to know someone.
Here’s the thing. The author feels that casual sex is… well, casual. I’m not a huge fan of casual sex. I’m not really built that way. That said, I realize that casual encounters can work. They can be hot. And, starting a relationship with sex in no way determines the longevity a relationship or the sex happening within it.
A healthy long-term relationship is based on shared values, open communication, and a willingness to grow and change together. But, too much intimacy can kill eroticism. Just read Ester Perel’s “Mating in Captivity” for an incredible look at why.
I don’t know about you, but I want a little excitement in my sex. So, what if I connect with someone who is sexy and kinky and feels like a great fit and we hop right in the sack? Why couldn’t that be the beginning of something incredible?
Casual sex and intimate relationships with a healthy sex life are not mutually exclusive. It all comes back to empowered choices. It’s a stale paradigm for today’s woman that sex somehow negates relationships. Want to have sex on the first date? Go for it. Trust your gut. Follow your heart. Ask them good questions before ripping each other’s clothes off and you might find you have a really great partner/lover on your hands.
3. Create strong boundaries and find ways to communicate effectively.
I love this one. Strong boundaries and open communication. YES. A hundred times yes.
“Sex is not a show and it’s not a competition.” It’s not a way to hold someone hostage, either (meaning, you shouldn’t withhold sex as a punishment or to manipulate a situation). Too, sex can be a show, but I don’t think she means that kind of a show.
I know the author was writing to a somewhat traditional audience, but I also can’t let this go. Sex may not be between two people. Sex can be with two, or three, or more, and still be intimate, powerful, and emotional. That said, I totally agree that all parties “should be equally active participants”. Also, “boundaries and comfort levels should be discussed gently, carefully, and with respect.”
Whether I’m engaging in vanilla sex or kinky sex with power exchanges, when we’re negotiating the actual sex, we are all energetic equals. We all have an equal say about limits, boundaries, desires, and needs.
Here’s where I disagree, though: “It also takes time to get to know someone and learn how they communicate.”
Eh. Sometimes. The more I get to know someone, the faster I can read their non-verbal cues and understand the subtext behind the words they’re saying. But, that’s not to say I need that in order to have great sex.
I know people who love pick-up play. They meet someone and on the spot negotiate a scene or a sexual encounter, and then go for it. Specifically, a presenter at Dark Odyssey: Winterfire said she adores pick-up play, that she has some pretty specific limits and boundaries, and that she’s really great at communicating them and asking the right questions of her potential partner to see if they’re a match.
This is more for varsity level playing, but again – trust yourself. If you meet someone in a bar, you hit it off, and you’re starting to get that sexy, juicy urge, there’s a way for both of you to have an open conversation about what might come next, where everyone feels valued and understood before the clothes come off. And if that person isn’t willing or able to have that kind of conversation, then yeah… game over.
I’m not particularly good at this type of stuff, so I don’t do it myself. But I know plenty of people who are, and that is all kinds of awesome.
4. Sex does not solve loneliness.
She nailed this one. Sex doesn’t solve problems, period. The author says, “There are tons of ways to connect with other people in meaningful ways besides sex.” She’s right! There are.
But again, if I’m coming at sex from a place of empowerment and I just want to fuck? Well, then sex might be an awesome way to get that itch scratched. As long as all parties involved understand the outcome and agree to it, rock on. Also, sex can be tremendously healing. I’m not suggesting that we use sex as a way to fix problems, but it can be a balm that eases the ache, that creates a temporary connection that allows me to surrender to the present moment and achieve a few hours (or minutes) of bliss. It’s just I need to know that’s what I’m doing before I dive in or hurt feelings can erupt on both sides. Self-awareness – it’s important.
Conversely, I’ve found that sex can increase feelings of loneliness if you passively let sex happen. You can choose to do whatever you want with your body. Just make sure when you choose to do something, you’re choosing it from a place of power, awareness, and confidence. You have to know yourself before you can expect to explain your needs to someone else.
Don’t be ashamed of mistakes, either. We all make them. We all have encounters that we look back on and think, “Wow. Not the best decision I’ve ever made.” And that’s OK. Learn from it, apply that new lens to future encounters, and you’ll be stronger for it.
5. Keeping your numbers low eliminates awkwardness, drama, and weirdness.
No no no no no no noooooo. The assumptions and judgment happening here melted my brain. Just no.
Numbers have nothing to do with shame or regret unless you want them to. That’s an antiquated idea, one that involves a ton of slut shaming.
“Being mindful of who you sleep with helps eliminate potentially bad situations down the road.” I totally agree that mindfulness is important. But I can be mindful and fuck a whole ton of people at the same time. Again, these things aren’t mutually exclusive.
I admire the author for digging deep and examining her own behavior. It’s not easy to peel back the layers of shame that many of us have around sex. However, our own journey should never be used as a way to silence or shame others. Are my numbers huge? Nope. Not yet, at least. Will they be at some point? Maybe!
Who knows what opportunities will prance my way? So many people are exploring non-monogamous situations these days that it’s inappropriate to assume everyone wants that one true love, happily ever after story. What if I meet someone who makes me feel like a goddamn warrior, who pushes me to achieve my dreams, and loves me fiercely, but what turns them on is watching me get fucked by someone else? I say ROCK ON. That’s a mindful, informed choice we’re making about our sexual activity, and there isn’t any drama or weirdness.
Bottom line – be courageous, walk your own path, ignore the conventional wisdom that says sex has to be one magical way or you’re doing it wrong. I reject that assertion completely.
I honor the author’s path in realizing what makes her feel her very best. I disagree that her way is the only way to have a healthy, self-aware, passionate, empowered sexual experience.