Sex positivity is not just about being open-minded of others' sexualities and their choices. It's also about being non-judgmental of your own sex life, and any perceived inadequacies, which sometimes is the hardest thing to do.
Here are five sex things you should never feel bad about:
1: Not having sex
Clearly you're interested in sex because you're reading this column, and you probably are inundated with articles from other sources espousing sexual freedom too – whether they're from The Guardian or Cosmopolitan. However, taking in constant information and advice about sex can lead you to feel inept in your own sex life. If you're not having sex, you should never be ashamed of it. Those of us who write about sex are not having it all the time. In the last decade I've gone everything from a few months to up to a year without sex. Not having it is just as normal as having it.
2: Not wanting "porn star sex"
So you don't like making loud noises in bed. Neither do actors in porn films. You're not completely shaven all the time and ready to go, either. Neither are they. Maybe you don't like super-freaky positions, or perhaps you don't like to spit, swallow, deep throat... whatever. Porn stars probably don't either. It's okay to want quiet, loving, sensual connections that seem vanilla by porn standards. Never feel bad about feeling "plain" in bed – what you see in porn is all an act.
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3: How your naked body looks
One of the follow-on effects of living in a porn-obsessed culture is that we're worried about how our naked bodies look when we are having sex. Don't ever be ashamed, or even focused, on how you think your body and its angles appear to an outsider. If you're worried about what you look like during sex, you'll only enjoy half the sex. Have some faith that the person you're with is clearly into you, and that's enough to have a great time.
4: A low sex drive
Lots of things affect our sex drives, and they go up and down with life events. Stress, depression, anxiety, or fatigue can put anybody's sex drive at the lower end of the scale. So can medication, travel, too much or too little exercise, alcohol, drugs, the list goes on. You should never feel bad – or let someone else make you feel bad – about a dip in your libido. It's okay to not be up for it for periods of time because you have stuff going on in your life. Just make sure you're communicating the reasons why to your partner so they don't think they are doing something wrong.
5: Things going wrong
Sometimes a sexual encounter doesn't go the way you plan. Normal bodily functions come into play. Periods happen. Erections get lost. You hurt yourself or start to cramp. You make a mess. This stuff is all normal and it's near-guaranteed your partner isn't worried. Sometimes things just go wrong when you're having sex (perhaps even more so if you're experimental in bed). Don't be ashamed when something natural breaks your stride. We're all human. The best way forward is just to laugh about it and not take yourself – or sex – so seriously.