So a little background. I thoroughly enjoy talking about sex. I especially enjoy sex stories. I have at least 4 friends who know that when they pick up a new sex partner or they have a particularly interesting sexperience, they have to call me immediately (well maybe not immediately, but at least in a timely manner) to report. I remember Cameron Diaz’s character in “In Her Shoes” (I can’t believe I used that movie as a reference point) saying that half the fun in sex is talking about it. I agree with that statement wholeheartedly.
The other day, I was speaking with a couple of my friends – one of whom knows she has to report sexperiences, the other who I speak alot about sexual health with in a more Public Health, education, impersonal kinda way – and sex came up (as it always does in my cozy basement apartment). Specifically the awkwardness of conversations with (potential) partners about getting tested separately or together came up. And it got me thinking about how in a (/my) world where sex is everywhere, there are so many important conversations about sex that people aren’t (/i’m not) having.
So begins the awkward/honest/necessary-conversations-that-my-mother-never-told-me-how-to-have (and by my mother I mean my mother, my friends, the tv shows that raised me, etc.):
- Have you been tested? This is a conversation I don’t know how to start without being ridiculously awkward, blushing and making a lot of disclaimers and saying “ummm” alot before I even say anything. I’ve heard it suggested so many times at sexual health workshops, in female sexual empowerment books I love, that going to get tested together is a great date idea. I actually do believe that. I even suggest it to friends. Have I ever done it? No! People engage in unprotected sex on a regular (sometimes we seem to forget the word following “oral” is “sex”) without ever having conversations with their partner(s) about when the least time they were tested was, who they’ve had sex with since (here it’s sometimes necessary to define “sex” for the person) and what protection (if any) was used.
- Should we stop using condoms? Although this has never been a necessary conversation in any of my experiences, I’ve had many friends who are in serious relationships and never know when/how to have that conversation. So one day they run out of condoms, they just never get around to buying more and they never have a conversation. A few things to think about when you are thinking about stopping using STI protection are when was the last time you each had sex with someone else (some STI’s can take months to show up on a test), how often are the two of you going to get tested because often the more we care about someone the harder it might be to tell them something that disappoints them (like ooops you cheated), and do you trust this person with your life cuz some STI’s are forever, and that just leads to even more awkward responsible conversations with future partners.
- Did you like it? Not in the way that’s soliciting ego-stroking during post-coital cuddle. But the multi-part question that solicits information to get you on the pathway to better sex: a) what did you like? so you can continue to do/do more of it. b) what didn’t you like? so you can cut that shit out or do it better. c) what would you like to do/have done that didn’t happen? so that if you and the person are both comfortable with doing it, you can add that move/act/action to your (ever expanding) repertoire.
I’m sure there are many more conversations my mother, Friends and Girlfriends didn’t tell me how to have, but I think those are three pretty important ones. The world would have you think (well at least I thought growing up in my world) good sex would be easy. But I’m realising more and more through my sexperiences and those of my friends that it requires so much communication and so many awkwardly scripted moments and conversations. But I’m learning. And I’d like to believe it’s all worth it.