How can I feel more confident when discussing sex?
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I feel really insecure about sexuality, being a bit of a “taboo” subject for me, especially with my parents and my friends, even my closest ones. I don’t feel comfortable talking about it, and I have almost no sexual experience being single at 22 years old (not none, I am not a virgin but don’t have much experience).
I fear sometimes that I am weird since I don’t have experience at my age and I’m not comfortable talking about it. Is it weird? What could I do to be more secure and confident with this topic? Should I mention to my close friends that I struggle to be confident with this topic?
First, thank you for asking this question. It’s a brave question about an essential topic. It’s something that many people wonder about, so no, you’re not alone or weird. I think for many people (myself included), it can take some work to feel confident about our sexual experiences. It can be even more challenging to feel secure when talking about sex with others.
Before diving in, I want to clarify that, while sexuality is not always synonymous with sex, that is how I’ve interpreted its use in this question.
Generally speaking, sex in Western cultures can feel like a taboo subject, so I’ll reiterate that you’re not alone in your feelings. No rule says you should have certain experiences by a certain age. I’d caution against anyone or anything telling you otherwise. Similarly, you don’t have to have conversations with others about sex if you don’t want to—it’s not the only way to gain confidence about this topic.
That being said, it sounds like you’re seeking solidarity in your experiences and that you’d like to better understand what sex looks like for other people your age. While it will vary and look vastly different for everyone (as sex should), you may find it helpful to talk with your friends about their experiences.
Here are a few practical steps I’d recommend:
1. Books. No surprise here, but I think it’s best to read books by the latest and greatest sex writers. Knowledge is empowering and can help us feel confident when broaching subjects with others, especially for the first time.
These books specifically are great for better understanding ourselves as sexual beings. They can also help us build a sexual vocabulary, which can make us feel more secure when talking about sex.
2. Speaking of vocabulary, you may find it helpful to think about the language you’ll use when talking about sex with others. For example, you’ll likely make different conversation choices when talking about sex with your parents versus your friends or doctor. Recognizing that different relationships require different boundaries and vocabulary choices may help you feel more empowered and confident.
3. Have conversations about sex with yourself first. What do you think about sex and sexuality? What have your experiences been like versus your expectations? What is it that you hope to gain by having more conversations about sex and sexuality with your friends?
Consider answering prompts like these in private (try journaling or meditation) before broaching the subject with others. Alternatively, you may find these prompts helpful for initiating conversations. Here are some additional tips for talking with friends about sex.
Remember that sex and sexuality—while unique and individual for everyone—is a shared experience. Even if it seems like you’re alone in your feelings, you’re not. You may even discover that by talking with friends, others in your close circle feel similar to you and want a safe space to discuss sex.
Sometimes talking about something is the best way to demystify and normalize it. Because you are normal, and sex is normal. These conversations can be normal, too.
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Kayti Christian (she/her) is an Editor at The Good Trade. Growing up beneath the evergreens in the Sierra Nevadas, she returns to California after a decade split between states—including three years lived abroad. With an MA in Nonfiction Writing, she’s passionate about storytelling and fantastic content, especially as it relates to mental health, feminism, and sexuality. When not in-studio, she’s camping, reading memoir, or advocating for the Oxford comma.