The Sex We Talk About and the Sex We Don’t
Talking about sex with your girlfriends is one of life’s simple pleasures. So why does it have to stop when everyone falls in love and settles down?
When you’re single and hooking up, talking about sex with your friends is as free-flowing as a fresh pitcher of bellinis at brunch. ‘He has a micro penis’. ‘He has an anaconda in his shorts’. ‘He can’t get it up’. ‘He’s amazing at oral’. ‘He slobbers like a St Bernard during oral’.
Good, bad, hot, hilarious, and everything in between, if it happened to one of your main b*tches in bed last night, there’s no such thing as TMI.
That is, until you all start falling in love.
Notice how sex talk mysteriously starts to dwindle when your group starts getting serious with boyfriends or girlfriends? Once you are in a relationship, the carnal conversation splits. There’s the sex you talk about and the sex you don’t. “When you’re hooking up, talking to your girlfriends is an opportunity to explore and be curious and get a sense of what’s normal,” says Megan Fleming, PhD, a Clinical Psychologist, certified Sex Therapist, and Instructor at Cornell University. “There’s a big difference when, all of a sudden, you’re honouring a more serious relationship.” Demonstrating the 45-degree crooked angle of his wang with your index finger, for example, tends to lose its sparkle once that wang belongs to your fiancé. Talking about a significant other’s sex game, right down to the thrust, can be socially awkward too. Your friends meet him, partake in Sundays with him, and become friends with him. “It crosses your mind that ‘F*ck, I’m bringing him to her wedding. I can’t tell her about his weird balls’,” adds Sanaya, 28.
Talking about your relationship sex can even feel like betrayal— especially if it’s a complaint. When she was single and playing the field, Ramya, 33, provided detailed reports of her hookups to her friends. She remembers imitating to her former roommate an odd, teeth-gritting face one guy made when she got on top. But once she started seriously dating her now-husband eight years ago, she stopped confiding in even her best friends about their sex life.
“When you get into a relationship, you start to see yourselves as a unit and you’re fiercely protective of that unit,” she says. “Even if he does something weird in bed, you tend to keep those details closer to the vest.”
When the sex talk fades away, sometimes that safe, girlfriends-only space for getting advice about sex fades away too. And by silently carrying the weight of that weird thing he did—or didn’t do enough of—“You’re perpetuating the idea that relationship sex is always wonderful and that people don’t talk about it when it’s not,” says Kristen Mark, PhD, an Assistant Professor and Director of the Sexual Health Promotion Lab at the University of Kentucky. “Most relationships have their sexual ups and downs. But when no one else is talking about that, you think, ‘Oh my gosh, I must be alone in this’.”
“I’m definitely more likely to tell my best friend that my boyfriend and I had a rocking good time on vacation, if you know what I mean, than to tell her about those ruts where we don’t have sex for three weeks because we’re both stressed out and tired,” says Juhi, 33. Opening (back) up to your friends about your sex life could not only demystify relationship sex, says certified Sex Therapist Nan Wise, PhD, an Assistant Research Professor at Rutgers University, but, “if people were more open and authentic about their sexuality in their friendships, they would feel much better about their sexuality with their partners.” Verbalising to your friends what’s bugging you could help you sort out your feelings and better express them to your partner. “Talking about relationship sex to your friends can be respectful,” she says, “especially if you’re asking for advice or support, as opposed to bashing your partner...or his balls.”
Sanaya had followed her friends’ lead and stopped talking to them about sex with her serious boyfriend. But a year into the relationship, deep down, “I was low-level worried that we weren’t having enough sex,” she says. So she broke the sex-talk seal and asked a dinner table of close friends how often they did it. Turns out, they were all having sex a couple of times a week, about the same as Sanaya and her man. And they all wanted to be having it more. Of course, there’s no such thing as ‘normal’ —only normal for you. Still, knowledge is power—and can relieve your stress. “It made me feel so much better,” Sanaya says. Then their convo turned to anal—was anyone into it? And, OMG, almost getting caught by one’s mother-in-law during the holidays! It’s proof that you don’t have to stop talking about sex with your friends when you fall in love. You can talk about it in brand-new, equally fun ways.
This article was originally published in the November 2015 issue of Cosmopolitan India.