Sex tips you won’t find in Cosmo magazine

Image source: Good old Cosmopolitan

Image source: Good old Cosmopolitan

I feel the need to say this outright before I launch into this post: young people have sex. And I am not interested, for the sake of this post, in the debate about who should or shouldn’t be having sex; because the truth is that many young, unmarried and even single (gasp!) people do, regardless of whether or not other people think we ‘should’.

This post is not about Shoulds and Shouldn’ts.

Okay, now I’m happy to launch into it.

From my own experience and from people that I’ve spoken to, navigating the world of sex for the first time can be confusing and daunting. Initially I secretly thought that everyone else knew way more about it than I did, only to find out years later that most other people (or at least most other women/girls – I haven’t had the conversation with as many men) felt just as confused about things as I did.

So there are no sex positions in my sex tips. Sorry. But you have your own equipment and you can work out all the different ways it fits together in your own time – and if all else fails, there is always Cosmo. (Although, from the limited exposure I’ve had to ‘sex tips’ from Cosmo et al, there are way too many bad marine animal analogies for them to be of much worth anyway.) These tips are ones I wish someone had given me years ago, because when you figure them out in retrospect it’s painful to realise how much simpler things could have been.

1.       You’re allowed to talk about it.

You’re allowed supposed to talk about sex with your sexual partner(s). You’re allowed to bring it up with your friends. You do not have to pretend that you already have all the answers. Because the truth is, no one can have all the answers. Everyone’s body is different, everyone likes different stuff, and the global set of answers, rules and how-tos does not actually exist.

Early on, my approach was to nod sagely in sex-related conversations and pretend I knew all about what was going on, and then go home and Google furiously to try to work out the answers to all kinds of dilemmas. Why does this hurt? Do I have to do that? How do I do this? Am I supposed to like that?

This is a terrible approach. Not only because it traps you in a bubble of panic and shame, but also because the other person isn’t going to know what’s going on in your head if you don’t tell them. This should be a no-brainer, but for some reason we assume that if there’s something going on in our sex lives or with our bodies that isn’t seen on either porn or rom-coms, we’re abnormal and shouldn’t even bring those things up. Absolutely not true.

Recently I had a conversation with a male friend who was a bit horrified to learn that for many girls, initially sex often isn’t that good, and sometimes is quite painful. He was mortified that he hadn’t known. The thing is, the reason he didn’t know was simply that no one had ever told him. Sex is not a one-size-fit-all thing (that was definitely not meant to be a pun); and while your mood lighting preferences are none of my business, keeping each other in the metaphorical dark is not a sexy idea.

 2.       There is no Golden Grooming Rule.

When I was 15, a guy I was seeing told me that under no conditions was it at all acceptable for women to have pubic hair. None. Ever. It was disgusting, no man would ever touch an unshaved woman with a ten foot pole (thank God, I suppose; there’s certainly no need for 10 ft poles in such a context). Far from telling this guy that I’d do what I wanted with my body and he could take it or leave it, thank you very much, I actually felt supremely grateful that he’d given me this piece of wisdom. Imagine if I had gone through my whole life being the only woman on the planet who even had a tiny bit of pubic hair! What a disgrace I would have been! I would have ended up as a laughing stock on the Internet – perhaps even internationally! What a life saver he was!

Total rubbish, of course.

My emphatic tip here is: do not assume that all other women keep their pubic areas as hairless as an eight year old’s. We’re not eight. We’re women, and we grow hair. Some women do shave it off, some people wax it off, some people trim it, some people leave it as it is. You probably still won’t be unique if you dye it purple and shave pictures into it, so do whatever you like with your pubic hair and don’t assume the rest of us women are keeping some Secret Grooming Rule from you. We’re not.

 3.        If you don’t feel like sex or aren’t enjoying it, there’s nothing wrong with you.

Regardless of your gender, you’re not actually supposed to be perpetually up for having sex. And if you do have sex and you’re not enjoying it, that’s definitely not something you should be keeping to yourself as some sort of shameful, embarrassing secret. Talk about it. Ask people stuff. Talk to your partner. Try different things. Sex is way better when it’s something you and a partner can talk about and openly experiment with than when it’s a transactional performance with no communication. That kind of secret-keeping attitude is a recipe for boring sex.

 4.       If you do feel like it and are enjoying it, there’s nothing wrong with you either.

This doesn’t need a lot of explaining and I don’t want to get all preachy. And is sex risky? Yes. Does protection always work? No. Am I suggesting that you should go and have sex if you’re not already? No.

But. Is having sex a dirty and shameful thing? No. Is there something wrong with wanting to have it? No. Will the Devil book you a spot in Hell if you do it outside wedlock? Probably. But that’s your call to make, not anyone else’s.

 5.       You have not ‘lost’ anything just because you’ve had sex.

Virginity is not a real thing. It’s not something you can ‘have’, it’s not something you can ‘lose’, it is literally just a socially constructed concept used to separate people based on whether or not they have participated in one arbitrary activity. You are not worth more or less based on whether or not you still ‘have’ this mythical virginity nonsense-thing. It’s not something you should wish you’d ‘kept’, and it’s not something you should be in a hurry to ‘lose’. I was in a hurry to have sex because I felt that in my particular social circles at the time, being a virgin was shameful. Once I had sex, I realised that of course it made absolutely no difference to anything – my body was the same, I was the same person, I had no new knowledge or wisdom. Why are we so obsessed with sex that we need to label people based on whether or not they’ve had it? It’s destructive, it’s ridiculous, and it’s not something you should have to stress about.

If you’re after more ‘tips’, I still discourage you from turning to Cosmo (remember the marine animals). Instead, here are some of my picks.

7 things sex education should have taught us but didn’t” – The Good Men Project

“So Your Dick Isn’t Perpetually Hard” – Kat Muscat, Scum Mag

“It’s Okay to Want Sex” – The Good Men Project

Have a lovely time. x