Things I Have Learned About Sex and Sexuality

I know I am posting a lot lately, but it just so happens that I’ve got a lot of nearly finished drafts lying around, so all I am doing is putting the finishing touches on them and scheduling them. Enjoy it while it lasts! But just to warn you, this post is definitely not work-safe, and if you’re kinda squeamish about sex talk you probably won’t care to read it.

Anyway. A little while ago, I was interviewed for this article [Edit: link stripped because of this] (I’m identified as Elizabeth Collins there, which is sort of a half pseudonym). The interview was much longer than one might otherwise assume from reading the article, and the interviewer asked some very interesting questions. One of those questions in particular I was at a loss to answer on the spot, but I thought it was certainly worth exploring further.

She asked, “What have you learned about sex/sexuality, from your experiences with it?” (paraphrasing, of course)

“There are so many things,” I said, “I really don’t even know where to start!”

My perspective on sex of course changed gradually. My parents tried to raise me conservatively, and for a while I kind of held on to those values not so much because I believed they were right (in fact, I thought my parents had gone insane), but because there was no adolescent stirring within me to contradict them. I didn’t necessarily think it was wrong for other people to have sex in their teens, but me? I was going to wait. Because I didn’t want to do it, so it seemed right to wait. I always thought I would end up wanting to have sex someday… and I was right. Sort of. Because I don’t want it the same way that other people do. I chose to do it for many different reasons, none of them involving attraction (at least not sexual attraction) or desire. In part, I did it because I wanted to challenge myself, find out where my limits are, see whether I was really so indifferent about sex as I thought I would be. And as it turns out, I can hold out just fine in a sexual relationship, as long as the other person is supportive. And I’ve learned a great deal in the process.

So here are some of the things I’ve learned:

  1. There is no such thing as an “innate understanding” about sexuality, even though asexuals may be tempted to think that sexual people have this. Attraction or no attraction, nobody knows what sex is or how to do it innately. You have to learn to get good at it. And nobody really knows why they like whatever it is that they like, they just do.
  2. There is an extraordinary amount of things to be learned about sexuality, and some people must apparently be spending hours and hours going through google search results looking for sex tips, because my piddling little blog post compiling some sex tips for asexuals is certainly not listed in the first few pages, with the search terms they are using!
  3. Unfortunately a lot of people who write guides for certain sexual techniques (like cunnilingus) like to (annoyingly) assert that anyone you try them on will love it, without taking into consideration that different people have different preferences. According to them, people who don’t love it are just repressed.
  4. There’s definitely more than just two types of orgasms for women, although some of the ones that are mentioned here leave me scratching my head. I find it kinda weird that she goes off into talking about “energy orgasms” and such but completely fails to mention something like a “nipple-gasm” (orgasm reached purely from stimulating the nipples, with no other stimulation of any kind) which I would imagine would be somewhat more common? I dunno, but it seems like it would be at least worth making a broad category for something like that, wouldn’t it? It doesn’t fit any of the ones she’s described. Anyway, I find the mysticism about orgasms to be really over-the-top, to the point that it’s confusing. They’re nice, sure, but are they really THAT special???
  5. The hymen does not just break and stay open at the same width as your last partner. If you don’t have any penetrative sex for a while, the vagina will gradually tighten up again. Some women even have hymens that will completely regenerate. So for women especially, that kind of sex tends to be easier/less painful if you do it relatively frequently.
  6. But we should also keep in mind that penis-in-vagina sex can hurt for men, too.
  7. Communicating about sex is especially important. Don’t allow anyone who says, “It’s your problem, not mine” to be (or continue to be) a sex partner.
  8. There’s more to sex than just PIV, anal, or oral. It’s not even all about penetration. Going outside the traditional box can be very helpful for an asexual/sexual couple. Or perhaps just for any couple, because intercourse can be used as a sort of standard formula, a way of avoiding discovering what each person likes and how sex might be better… and, for asexuals in particular, it could be used as a way of avoiding dealing with sexuality as much as possible instead of taking it as an active learning experience.
  9. There are some sexual people who are not so much visually (or sonically) attracted to people, but just attracted to certain body parts or (imagined or real) situations. This makes the question of what constitutes sexual attraction a little more complicated.
  10. Male and female genitals are really not all that different. Given the appropriate hormone balance, male genitals will become similar to female ones and vice versa. There’s a limit to that, of course (which is why bottom surgery is common among trans people), but it is way beyond what most people would expect. I won’t go into the details of it unless people ask, but really, it’s impressive.
  11. Yes, sex CAN be intimate! The phrase “making love,” stupid and corny as I still think it is, does exist for a reason. Most people use it to refer to a specific kind of sex.
  12. Dwindling interest in sex can indeed be caused by relationship problems. And sometimes having more sex is a way to facilitate re-bonding, although it certainly can’t be used as a replacement for intimacy or as an excuse not to engage in other, non-sexual forms of bonding.
  13. If something exists, there’s probably someone out there who has a fetish for it. Did you know there’s such a thing as a sneezing fetish? Tickling? Farting?
  14. Power dynamics are very important to consider. Make sure you find a balance (or imbalance) that you’re comfortable with.
  15. Sex is gross. And that shouldn’t be a big deal. There is also a learning curve, so it’s best to have a sense of humor about it.
  16. Different types of lube and condoms most certainly make a difference.
  17. Because C is a sex toy enthusiast, I have learned more about sex toys than I ever wanted to know. Now, I certainly don’t disapprove of sex toys. But you know, every time I walk into a porn store I am still completely overcome by confusion and the desire to laugh.
  18. Totally unrelated to C: did you know there is a Twilight dildo? Creepy! (Check out the comments, they’re hilarious.)
  19. Some people have been so badly educated about sex that a 20-year-old (American) woman will freak out about getting pregnant after only having slept over at a guy’s place. Nothing sexual happened at all, not even clothes coming off. True story! She also believed that guys could die from getting blue balls, and I have a very special story about that, but it will have to wait for another time. She’s a special person.
  20. In that light, I thought I’d link you all here: Stuff Everyone Should Know.

Edit: I totally forgot that I had scheduled this post to go up last night, so I was a little confused at first when I saw the comments, haha. Just to round it out and make it even, and because I thought they were important to include, I added two more points.

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9 thoughts on “Things I Have Learned About Sex and Sexuality

  1. I once dated a woman who had extrememly sensitive nipples. She would sigh with pleasure if my fingers as much as brushed up against them. Had I known about it then I would have attempted to give her a nipple-gasm.

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  2. As it turns out, it is also possible for men to have nipplegasms, but I don’t think this fact is discussed very often.

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  3. I figured out that I’m asexual knowing about the life of others asexual people. Everything that I have read before about asexuality just didn’t make sense to me…

    Today I have learned a lot… but almost everything by myself…

    But I’d like to make you a very simple question (more 2 to explain that):

    Do you really believe that asexuality is about “do not experience sexual attraction”?

    First of all: What the hell is sexual attraction?
    Second: If it is possible to a asexual (at least 99% of them) experiment sex… why they don’t try to develop this “amazing” function of their body?

    Wouldn’t be stupid have the possibility to experiment such wonderful thing and don’t do it?

    – Just curious

    p.s.: I’m asexual

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    • Júlio, I think something is getting lost in translation, here. I don’t completely understand this sentence:

      “If it is possible to a asexual (at least 99% of them) experiment sex… why they don’t try to develop this “amazing” function of their body?”

      I’m going to assume you meant to say “If it is possible to be asexual and experiment with sex” and ignore the “at least 99% of them” part because I don’t know what that is referring to (99% of what? asexuals? 99% of asexuals do what?). So, sorry about the omission, but I really can’t address it if I don’t know what you mean by that.

      Anyway, yes I do think it is about sexual attraction. My working definition of sexual attraction is: sexual or erotic interest in another person. By that, I mean that you would find that person sexually exciting, that they inspire a sort of erotic passion in you. That passion is not the same as arousal (key point), it is an emotion and not a physiological response.

      It is definitely possible to have sex with someone who does NOT inspire such a passion, although in that circumstance it can become more difficult to become aroused and the act can be seen as a chore. But that is not a necessity of becoming sexually involved with someone who you do not consider attractive.

      I am asexual, because I have never felt sexual attraction to anyone. But I still chose to have sex because I wanted to experiment for various other reasons.

      It would not be stupid for someone who has the capacity to experiment with sex to choose not to do it. That’s like saying everyone should eat chicken pot pies because they have the capacity to try it. Say I don’t like chicken. Should I still try chicken pot pies just because I can?

      It is reasonable enough for someone to assume that if they don’t like the ingredients of a certain food, they also won’t like the food itself. Likewise with sex. If you don’t like kissing or touching etc. then why assume you will like sex?

      So no, it’s not stupid to not try sex if you don’t think you will like it. In fact, I would assert exactly the opposite: it is stupid to have sex if you don’t want to. Because that has very grave negative consequences, whereas not having sex if you don’t want to have sex doesn’t.

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  4. I really like your definition of sexual attraction. You’re right, erotic passion is not the same as arousal. Although I would guess that for a lot of people, the two go together?

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  5. Ha! #19 is so true. My roommate thought I needed birth control because I had a guy sleep over in my room. Yet she believed me when I said I never kissed the guy. Her father’s a preacher, no surprise there.

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