Relationships

15 Great Reader Comments on Sex

Best Reader Comments on Sex

For our best reader comments series, we’d love to have some girl talk. Here are 15 funny, steamy comments on everything from scheduling sex to what really happens on wedding nights…

On knowing what works for you:

“From water pressure and electric toothbrushes as a teenager to my bullet now, I’ve been grateful to have a fulfilling solo sex life. Solo sex taught me what I liked, and age has given me the courage to communicate it.” – Meghan

“I’ve never liked vibrators. The noise, however subtle, distracts me, so it becomes like having a lawnmower or electric egg beater in the bed. HOWEVER, I use my hands. I’d encourage everyone to learn to make themselves come through masturbation. It feels great to understand what makes you tick sexually and how the individual mechanics work for you.” – Tess

On wedding-night antics:

“We waited to have sex until we were married. We threw an afternoon wedding, so we would have plenty of time to ourselves that night. I was really nervous, so we took a shower together to relax first. When we did have sex, we were so excited that we gave each other a HIGH-FIVE during the act! We still laugh about that to this day.” — Rachel

“We danced until the end of our reception before stumbling back to our hotel. The first thing my husband and I did was plop down onto the floor and open all the cards and count the money, then we giggled and gossiped about guest antics (like the older lady with the see-through dress!). Then we washed our faces, changed into pajamas and slept so soundly that we were late to our wedding brunch the next morning. It was a pretty perfect night.” — Alejandra

On the power of pillow talk:

“My partner and I save all of our serious talks for when we’re lying naked in bed. There’s a vulnerability, an honesty, and a focus that seems only to be available to us when we’re laying side-by-side, skin-to-skin.” — Donna

On sleeping in separate beds:

“My husband and I sleep in separate rooms because of his intense snoring. Also, he’s a night owl and will often wake up in the middle of the night, open his computer and start working! As far as sex is concerned, I love going into his masculine room. I love his sexy charcoal sheets, dark furniture and framed black-and-white photos. Then I retreat to my bright room. And vice versa. We both keep necessary accoutrements in our bedside tables. It works for us.” – Laura

“I’m autistic, and it’s pretty common among couples where one or both partners are on the spectrum to sleep separately. Because many of us autistic folks have major sensory sensitivities and REALLY dig our alone time, co-sleeping often just doesn’t make sense! And I don’t know anyone who’s relationship is the worse for it.” – MT

On timing it right:

“We don’t go so far as to schedule sex, but I’ve been known to put it on the to-do list of weekend chores. That notepad sits on the counter, and it always makes us laugh to see ‘hot sex’ between ‘take recycling to the dump’ and ‘replace lightbulbs in kitchen.’ And it always gets checked off!” – Doña

“My husband or I will wiggle our eyebrows at each other and say, ‘Can I make an appointment for later tonight?’ and the other will generally respond, ‘I think that can be arranged.’ I asked him if he thought it was depressing that we had been reduced to making appointments, and he responded, ‘Making an appointment for a root canal is depressing. Making plans for sex is awesome.'” – A.

“My girlfriend and I have been together for almost a year. I like taking the term ‘sexually active’ to heart: while we have sex about four times per month, we’re always very sexually active. We constantly kiss, touch and send each other sweet messages throughout the day. Also, never underestimate the power of a teenage-style make-out session!” — Jenna

On consent:

“I grew up in a Catholic family where we didn’t discuss sex, so my sex education came from peers, my Catholic school and Cosmopolitan Magazine. This situation has hammered home to me the need to educate my children, a girl and a boy, about what equates to consent: that changing your mind is ok; that asserting your decision clearly is good thing; and checking that your partner is consenting during your encounter is the right thing to do. Unlike my education, I will have open and honest discussions around sex and relationships, no matter how uncomfortable.” – Julia

“Pushing boundaries and having an element of surprise is part of what makes flirting and sex thrilling, but I worry about the assumption that asking for consent is unsexy. I’ve had experiences where I’ve been making out with someone, and he says ‘I’m really into this. I’d love it if we kept going. How about you?’ Having a partner who checks in doesn’t erase the thrill of the encounter; knowing that the person I’m with cares enough to actually ask for consent makes me more attracted, not less.” – Erin

On talking to kids about sex:

“We taught our kids the proper names for anatomy when they were one. My favorite story is from when my son was two. We went to a bakery to get a treat, and I read all the options aloud to him. I’ve always encouraged our kids to order for themselves, so he did: unfortunately, he asked the woman behind the counter for a ‘red vulva cookie’!” – Michelle

“It’s hard to initiate conversation with my pre-pubescent daughter (‘Mom, I already know everything, this is, like, so embarrassing’), so I’ve found it works better to leave books and pamphlets lying around. She’ll read them and come to me with questions a few days later.” – Nathalie

On always learning:

“I hope everyone gets a chance to read Come As You Are by Emily Nagoski. I am midway through with a well-worn copy that has passed through the hands of four girlfriends. The author breaks common misconceptions and really makes strides to personalize and authenticate women’s sexuality.” – Jessica

What would you add?

P.S. 14 great reader comments on dating and a surprising sex tip.

(Top photo by Heather Hazzan for Land of Women.)

  1. Emily says...

    Something I wish I could tell all women: don’t rush to homebase! The first guy I had sex with we’d been doing everything-but for months and it was great to already feel super comfortable with each other’s bodies, know what each other liked…it made the step to PIV sex so natural, fun, and not painful. It makes me really sad to hear women who go from 0 to 100 “just to get it over with” and have a bunch of discomfort along the way…

  2. lana says...

    I’ve been married for thirty years and on our wedding night after a very long happy day we went to bed. I had high hopes! My newly minted husband smiled and looked at me lying in bed next to him and said “you looked beautiful today”. He promptly rolled over and immediately started snoring.

  3. Jule says...

    I was a virgin until I was 29 and started dating my now husband. My lack of experience slightly embarrassed me, I didn’t know how to broach the subject…until our 5th date when we went upstairs to his bedroom. After getting hot and heavy I decided to blurt out “Wait, I’m a virgin!” at the most inopportune time IMAGINABLE. After the shocked look left his face he hugged me and said “I wish I had known, I would have planned a more romantic encounter!” We laughed our heads off and made plans for that Friday to make it special. We’ve been together 9 years and our time in bed is wonderful. I think the key for us is listening to each other, providing positive feedback (we often have a “sex rundown” where we recount everything that really worked), and planning ahead for when we’ll have time to be intimate.

    • Vicki says...

      Just lovely.

    • Scout says...

      Thank you for sharing this! I’m going on 27 and still haven’t been kissed. The longer it takes the more anxious I get about it. I’m glad to know I’m not the only one!

    • Daniela says...

      I was 26 when I met my current boyfriend and was so nervous to tell him I was a virgin. When I finally did, it was no big deal to him at all and he later joked that he’s glad he doesn’t have to be jealous over any guys before him! Ha. So even though we may freak out about our lack of experience, a great guy won’t care.

  4. Karsen G says...

    I love reading about other people’s wedding night! Our friends got married the weekend before us and had the sexiest wedding night. We got married at my family’s lakehouse. My husband passed out in the master bedroom directly in the middle of the bed. I couldn’t get him to move and when I finally climbed into bed, he ended up flinging his hand over and punching me in the face. Needless to say, I slept in another bedroom. He said when he woke up alone in the morning he knew he was in trouble. 😂

  5. Matilda says...

    I posted about this in a reply, but I am in the fairly unique position of being a 40 year old virgin. It’s nowhere near as funny as the movie :).

    I suffered from OCD and anxiety from my teenage years, into my thirties, so I dating wasn’t really a thing I did. In fact socializing wasn’t a thing I really did!

    In the last five years everything has changed. Therapy and medication have changed my life. I am a completely different person, or rather the person I always was is finally coming out.

    I’m now a member of serval different fitness groups, and run clubs, I have so many wonderful new friends, and I am following my dreams and going to graduate school in the Fall. Instead of hiding, I’m the one who starts conversations and plans things. This would have been unimaginable 5 years ago! Still, the one area I can’t seem to figure out, is dating and sex.

    I’m slightly terrified of revealing my virginity at my age, and that’s in addition to the general anxiety of the first time! Also, having never really dated, I can’t even imagine myself in the role of girlfriend. Most people think I am about 8-10 years younger than I am (appearance wise and personality), so that complicates things as well.

    I just feel so frustrated by the whole thing, and although I am not sure I want a one night stand, I almost just want to go out and find someone to get it over with!

    • Gloria says...

      Best of luck to you, Matilda! It sounds like you’re on an amazing turning point. :D I need to stop hiding too — I make silly excuses for myself, and it makes me feel like such a…non-living person. I hope you find someone who is understanding and patient and makes you feel safe and comfortable. (Is that so much to ask for?) xx

    • lana says...

      I felt like I wanted to lose my virginity too! But, I wish I hadn’t. I truly hope you find a wonderful partner and you both can fully enjoy the experience. It is a lovely gift to keep until you find the right person. I know it sounds strange, but everyone you have sex with stays with you in your mind. Don’t give it away to any one who isn’t worthy. Most of the pleasure of sex is between your ears, not your legs.

    • Sharon in Scotland says...

      Hello!
      I think you are off to a fantastic start, lots of clubs, mixing with and getting to know plenty of like-minded people. I would be surprised if you hadn’t taken the eye of someone. Maybe you could also try a activity specific dating site………..one for runners?
      If you have had no experience I think it’s probably best to go gently, making out is fun and you’ll get to know what you like doing and have done to you.
      I wasn’t looking for “the one” and have never wanted to get married, so when I got to nearly 41 it was a question of getting it over and done with, with someone I liked and fancied. The man I fancied was 11 yrs younger and lived in a remote part of a really remote Scottish island. I told him about my virginity, (in the middle of it) and he was lovely, we took our time and it was enjoyable, if a little painful. I’ve never regretted it as I never met anybody I would have willingly waited for. If you trust, like and fancy the person then that seems like a good basis to take things further…………..if that’s what you want to do.

    • Franzi says...

      Hi Matilda! Thank you for sharing your story. I think you caught the great opportunity to creat a relationship to a person you haven’t been able to for 40 years – yourself! Congrats! Will there be anything more difficult?
      I sometimes wonder why everybody makes auch a fuss about virginity and sex. Trust and feeling of security with a partner or a friend is so difficult to build and so sexy! Compared to this, sex is just minor.

    • T says...

      Matilda,

      You sound wonderful. I have a different perspective than some I’ve read on this thread. Sometimes sex can be a powerful bond between two people, but sometimes all it is is a fun activity. Just because you sleep with someone does not necessarily mean that you’ve given anything to them or carry them with you always. Sex can be momentous, but it can also be mundane, in the best possible way. It is simply a reflection of whatever relationship you have with the person.

      Practice safe sex and be kind to your partners and honest about your goals. Also, only choose partners who are kind to you. But it’s ok to want to have sex because you’re curious or for the physical pleasure of of it.

      I’m rooting for you!

  6. Laur says...

    Love this post and the comments! A lot of you mention seeing a sex therapist to help work through things like a stale sex life with your husband, after kids, changes in libido/interest, or just to figure yourself out a bit…. but where does one find a (real, and really good) sex therapist?? Please help! :)

    • Julia says...

      I once heard an interesting suggestion made by a sex therapist. Over a time span of several weeks, the couple in question was NOT allowed to have sex but to do everything else – except sex. However, they were supposed to work on getting close physically (hug, cuddle, kiss, touch wherever they liked…). The therapy worked: The couple eventually craved for finally having sex.

    • Erin says...

      Start by calling individual or couples’ therapists and asking if they address issues around sexuality. If they don’t, ask who else they recommend locally.

    • sarah says...

      I have found the best therapists through my therapist friends. Even if you don’t feel comfortable asking specifically about a sex therapist, ask for couples therapist suggestions, and then ask the suggested couples therapist for suggestions!

    • Katrina says...

      A good place to look for a sex therapist would be psychologytoday.com or goodtherapy.org. Each of these are a search base for any type of therapist and it has numerous filters so you can narrow down what you’re wanting help with and from what type of counseling.

  7. LS says...

    I’d love to know how other women deal with their partners watching mainstream porn. On one hand, I know my boyfriend has the right to enjoy his “solo sessions” as he pleases (it’s his body!), but on the other hand it’s been so disappointing to discover that he’s in a way being part of an industry that depicts women in such a misogynistic, violent way! An industry that I think is responsible for distorting so many people’s ideas about sex and the female body/sexuality. And my boyfriend considers himself a feminist ally! Am I just a prude? So confusing!

    • B says...

      We have dealt with this same issue. My husband and I agree- we don’t think masturbation is wrong in and of itself, but we both have major reservations about the porn industry. The answer for us was erotica. Reading a sexy story is hot!

    • C. says...

      If you are interested – Check out the Dear Sugar podcast for a couple of enlightening discussions about porn (I think they devoted 2 back-to-back episodes on the topic).

    • B. says...

      I’m in the same boat. I’d love if Cup of Jo would do a post on this.

    • Jen says...

      My husband watches mainstream porn once in a while, and I don’t really care. We talked about the negative aspects of it and he mentioned how the industry treats women and depicts certain things as the norm, but he was very firm that he doesn’t think of me that way, that it’s something totally outside reality for him– and I admit that I like watching it occasionally, too, so I decided to let it go.

    • Julie says...

      You are definitely not a prude! So much research shows the desensitizing, often damaging effects of pornography (both in terms of the industry and the way it changes brain function, particularly in adolescents). It’s difficult to navigate being sexually expressive and open-minded while trying to reconcile the serious issues you mentioned. Bravo to you and your boyfriend for having conversations — it’s not an easy topic, even though culturally porn seems like no big deal.

  8. Claire says...

    Hormonal contraception can have a huge impact on our bodies in so many ways; usually reflected by low libido, reduced sensation/harder to climax, dryness Etc. This needs to be addressed more. There is the non hormonal/ copper IUD but I personally love using the Natural Cycles App. It’s as effective as the pill if used correctly (it has an algorithm that makes it much more effective than the old Rhythm Method/Natural family planning). Also; it is a great way to really get to know your body and be in sync with it at all stages of your cycle. I tried about 10 different kinds of combined pill but nothing feels as good as your body and mind in its natural state. I hope this helps someone out there. xoxo

    • Monica says...

      Would love to talk more about Fertility Awareness Methods here on Cup of Jo!

    • Ysabela says...

      Thank you for this information. I am tired of using hormones and don’t want to put anything in my body (many of my friends and family have had bad experiences with IUDs). Are there any other forms of natural birth control out there? Has anyone heard of the ‘billings method’?

    • Nikki says...

      Agreed! Every woman should read Taking Charge of Your Fertility by Toni Beasley. I was embarrassed that at 30 years old I knew so little about my own body… such an informative and important read.

    • JulieB says...

      I’ve been using the Ava bracelet since my last baby was born (it’s not foolproof postpartum since I don’t have a regular cycle yet), and it’s been so helpful to have an easy way to track all my fertility markers. I’d definitely recommend it!

  9. Victoria says...

    I was single and celebrate for over 5 years.I’m in a new relationship, nearly 12 months, I’m on struggle street as my love is on anti depressants and our sex life is non existent. I try so hard not to take it personally, which is a huge struggle as I’m not sure how to get around this as I know he feels bad about this as well.
    Sometimes I let this get me so down and feel as though I’m not loved, wanted or needed.
    I need to realise it is not me and the need to focus on times to set aside for the intimacy with viagra. Although I feel super guilty as cannot climax while in these antidepressants.

    • Elle says...

      I recommend the podcast “Where should we begin” by Esther Perel – no real solutions there, but she’s a wonderful couple’s and sex therapist and works in a number of episodes to unpack some of what you’re experiencing and seems to help the couple flip the script. It’s pretty incredible and listening in on some of her sessions has helped me gain a new perspective on some things happening in my own little relationship world. Good luck to you! You’re wanted and needed, and you’re certainly not alone in this struggle.

  10. CASS says...

    My partner and I met when we were young- and have been so well matched since- it’s been 14 years, now more than 1/3 of my life! Which feels amazing and tired. After many years and having a kid, our sex life has definitely suffered. We recently opened up our relationship- both so we could explore our sexual desires as individuals but also as an act of preserving our relationship. It has certainly had it’s challenges, but I am surprised this hasn’t come up in this post. It feels both healthy for us as a couple to prevent stagnation and also as individuals who still have desire for new connections, intimacy and growth.

    • Amanda says...

      I’m so curious about this. Was it mutual or did one of you push the benefits on the other? How do you negotiate the communication? Do you have rules set up or is it completely wide open?

    • chris says...

      Thanks for posting this. I have been married longer than I have not been married and we also recently opened our marriage. So far it has been positive, but more difficult for my husband than me. We are still figuring out the boundaries but our communication has improved immensely!

  11. Vicki says...

    Just what I needed to read. I have recently turned 50 and in a new relationship after being single for 5 years. I’m slowly learning that I need to communicate my thoughts and feelings more than just shutting down.
    I sent my love a text this morning suggesting we have a date night in with dinner a bottle of wine. Watch a little tv and then make love. 💕

  12. Sylvie says...

    I haven’t read the comments yet but i personally feel that masturbation shouldnt be taught/ encouraged when young….and maybe the opposite. It can interfere with success in sexual relationships later on When with a partner. Not always but sometimes, it did for me.

    • What? says...

      Girl?

    • Rachelle says...

      I think masturbation is something that most (if not all) adolescents experiment with during puberty when hormones start raging. Given how much shame (religious or otherwise) there is surrounding the topic, discouraging it seems very unhealthy. On a personal level, I wasn’t able to enjoy sex with a partner until I learned how to get myself off.

  13. Lindsay says...

    My husband was getting really tired of always initiating and so he kinda stopped! and we’d only have sex maybe 3 times a month! He really needed me to be the one showing interest, but I really hate initiating it, it even turns me off for some reason! So! I luckily came up with a perfect solution that is working really great! We just plan on having sex every other night! Haha it’s great.

  14. Ashley S says...

    These comments are absolutely amazing. So honest, open, and helpful. I think so many of us struggle in these areas and often feel so alone since talking about sex with friends (especially when you’re in a long term committed relationship or marriage) feels like a violation of your partners privacy. Bravo to those who have shared and helped other women feel seen and heard!!

  15. Morgan says...

    I cannot recommend “She Comes First” and “Passionista” (both by Ian Kerner) enough. One book is technically about the art of pleasing a woman and the other about a man, but I think couples should read both. You’ll learn so much about yourself and each other! I have read these books with a few partners and they all learned a thing or two (or twenty!) from them. I’m married now, but we still reference them all the time. :)

  16. This blog is a bright light (read: a trustworthy guide) in an often dreary (read: increasingly confusing) world. Thank you Joanna. Thank you so much.

    • sasha says...

      Amen to that. It’s like a refuge. Even when COJ tackles difficult, sad and controversial topics, you know people will treat one another with respect and with courtesy. I wish the whole world could be this way.

  17. Whitney says...

    I recently shared some things with my youngest sibling as she had just married and started having sex. I told her to find someone she is comfortable with and ask whatever questions she had about sex or things related to it, as they come up (she had a small list for me right then when I offered that advice). There are no stupid questions and Google helps too! I also told her EVERYONE experiences ups and downs with sex over the many years of a relationship and life changes, don’t worry that you are the only one (some people just don’t talk about it). My biggest advice was, it’s great! And fun! And you might think its fun and exciting in the beginning, but it is still exciting and new many years later.

  18. Katie says...

    Consent is so sexy. I’ll never forget the guy (one night stand in another city) who told me in a kind voice, “Just tell me if you wanna stop at any point”.

    • L says...

      Yeeesssss! That is seriously a turn on.

  19. Sharon in Scotland says...

    I was very shy growing up, compared myself to my slimmer, prettier sisters who went out and had boyfriends, I stayed at home on a Saturday night, ironed my little sister’s clothes, waved her goodbye and spent the evening reading and YEARNING!
    I didn’t kiss anybody until I was 21, with someone older, very attractive and completely unsuitable.
    I had such strong feelings, wanting a physical connection but totally convinced I was unattractive. It didn’t help that I went to an all-girls school. I remember really liking my brothers lovely friend, but had to leave the room if he come in, he thought I didn’t like him!
    It was only when I moved to the Outer Hebrides that I finally started having fun and finally, when I was 40, nearly 41, laser targeted a quirky, sexy young man, (11 years younger) and lost my virginity!! It hurt and I bled, but it was done and he was lovely.
    It’s been a mixed picture since then, I’m still trying to get a consistent sex life while I still can and want to………………on-line dating can be horrible and it can also lead to interesting things!
    Internet porn has also been a mixed bag, the vast majority doesn’t really do it for me, but there are some wonderful erotic images, you just have to wade through the overly staged, scary genitalia, completely smooth women, (smooth as eggs, each and every one), head banging thrusting and gynaecological close ups!
    I’ve learnt that I don’t orgasm vaginally but am confident about guiding a man’s hand to where it has to go to finish me off

    • Matilda says...

      Wow, did this ever resonate with me! I just turned 40 and I am still a virgin. A combination of things led me here, including very bad anxiety and OCD, which has really only been resolved in the last 5 years. But also, Going to an all girls high school and a mostly women’s college, also didn’t help!

      Now I am happy to say I am taking the world by storm, going to grad school, involved in a million social activities, runnning ect.

      Unfortunately, the one thing I still can’t seem to figure out is dating and sex, and a big piece of that is how awkward and nervous I feel that I am still a virgin at this age.

      I have really felt like it will be this huge issue when the time comes. I was so happy to read your post and see that maybe it doesn’t have to be, and that I will not be alone in having this experience. Thank you so much for sharing!!

  20. The idea of sleeping in separate rooms really appeals to me because I’m a light sleeper and my husband is a heavy one. I do think it would create a lot more intrigue and excitement for the sex too!

  21. LG says...

    Like some of the others commenting, I have experienced a big drop in libido since having a child. She’s almost 3, but it’s just been so different on this side of marriage. We are SO tired. We try to aim for having sex during nap time on the weekends – this has been the easier time to plan for- but naps are becoming less frequent (!!!). Before having a child, I was more of the initiator (a combination of personality and religious-based suppression issues, I think) and at times this hurt my feelings. Now that we both are on the same page as being less likely to initiate, I have felt guilty and panicky at times, wondering what is wrong. I am on an SSRI and have been on one on and off as an adult, so I can’t say I think it entirely causes my low libido. The guilt and panic I had definitely played a role in some panic attacks I had last year – I was certain it meant I was not attracted to my husband and that a divorce was imminent and/or that it meant I was gay (even though I’ve never been attracted to women).

    Fast forward to now, the panic is gone but at times I do wonder “what if” – what if I wasn’t on medication, what if I was with someone else, would it be different? Is it okay that sex is different now?

    Either way, just wanted to share this with others who have had/are having similar experiences.

    • Lisa says...

      You are not alone. We are finding our way back, slowly, but you have described my martial situation exactly following the birth of our second child. Things change with time, and that is okay. We’re humans, we grow.

    • Nicole says...

      have you ever read any of Sheryl Paul’s website? She addresses a lot of this stuff and I think you’d find it useful!

      I get panicky and guilty about this too and I don’t even have kids nor am I married to my boyfriend. You’re not alone.

    • sasha says...

      LG, when my kids were little sex was so infrequent and my partner and I bickered so much too. It. Was. Hard. I was so happy to be a mom, so in love with my kids, so completely disinterested in sex. Sigh.

      Somehow we made it through. Adult kids now. No bickering. And a lot of sex, and it’s really good. It was always good, I just didn’t want it when my plate was already so full. But now it’s like we are catching up and so in love.

      I so wish women talked about this more. And men too. If we knew it was normal we wouldn’t feel like such shits for not wanting sex. For years. It’s fine if you have little kids and lots of sex too. But I think it really is normal to go through a long dry spell. Best of luck to anyone in it. I recommend actually addressing it with your partner. I think most don’t understand why it’s happening and take it completely personally. That must be so hurtful.

    • Finley says...

      Thank you for sharing. I’m a mom of 2 kiddos and full time professional and I can’t muster up the energy or interest in sex. So much guilt and I beat myself up. Wonder if he will stray and think “could I blame him?!?”. Just hanging in there, getting each task in front of me done, one at a time. So sex is basically another task at this point, which is so, so sad and never what it was before. I do have hope, and now even more so, after reading your post. Thanks and I’ll keep hanging in there:)

  22. Great post. I just want to add that I’ve found not talking to your kids about sex / leaving it up to Catholic school to educate them can be super harmful, at least in my case. In Catholic we were taught, “This is a sacred act used to make a baby,” and not much more. As a result I grew up with these self-slut-shamey (new term?) feelings every time I so much as wanted to make out with a boy I liked that lasted well into my twenties as I slowwwwwly had to unlearn most of the stuff I’d been taught in Catholic school (and not just about sex.) I know my parents had good intentions but for this reason I will never, ever send my kids to any kind of religious school at all.

    • Ann says...

      I relate so much to this. Grew up with a very loving but religious family. Catholic school for 12 years. I so much wanted to be the good kid growing up that I was also very religious, mostly to try and make my parents proud. That included catholic views on sex. Now I don’t consider myself religious, but I find myself dealing with shame around sex. The idea that it is a good and healthy thing in a relationship is very hard to drill into my psyche no matter how much I believe it to be true in general. Dressing in a sexy way on purpose still makes my stomach squirm with shame. My boyfriend and I had a great sex life early on but now that we are closer my shame factor seems to be rearing it’s head. It’s like I have this problem with him finding me sexy, as if it is a shameful thing. I’m only realizing in these couple of years how much that messed me up. I’m trying to work through it and will definitely avoid raising children in this way at all costs. If you have any tips on how to unlearn this self-shaming behavior please pass them along!!

    • Amy says...

      Ditto THIS ^^

    • @ Ann

      Tips to unlearn this behavior … for me, I think a lot of it comes from the fact that I went to a super liberal, diverse college. For the first time in my life I had non-Catholic friends–they were Jewish and Muslim and Protestant and atheist — and I watched the girls around me sleep with who they wanted, when they wanted, and feel no shame at all. I can remember waking up on a Sunday and lamenting over breakfast how I’d made out with TWO guys at a party the night before, and one of my roommates saying to me, “So WHAT? You’re single, they’re single, you had fun, do what you want!” And another time one of my roommates saw a guy leaving my room, and I said something along the lines of “no judgment!” and he (my male roommate) said, “Why do you always say stuff like that? We don’t judge you, you judge yourself, and I don’t understand why.”

      So I think seeing that my experience with sex (and in most of these instances I wasn’t even having sex!) was so not everyone else’s experience with sex, and everyone else seemed to have a much healthier relationship with it than I did. So I tried the “stop with the self-judgment thing” and over time, it worked. Now I can look back on my single years and think, “I’m glad I experienced all that before settling down,” instead of thinking, “Ugh, I was so slutty.”

      I think a lot of it was also the culture of the ’90s and early ’00s … I don’t know how old you are but that’s when I came of age and society in general was a lot more slut-shamey then than it’s getting to be now. Something that helped me realize this was stupid was how I was called a “prude” when I wouldn’t fool around with anyone at the beginning of college, a “cock-tease” when I fooled around a little but wouldn’t do more, and then finally a “slut” if I did do more … I was like, this is so dumb! There’s no winning! And guys get called nothing at all! I know we still have a long way to go, but I’m so happy women and girls seem to finally be getting the message that it’s okay to like sex!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      “women and girls seem to finally be getting the message that it’s okay to like sex” = i had a surprising experience learning this. i always felt like i shouldn’t act like i liked sex, especially sex for sex’s sake, when i was younger. but then i watched the first few seasons of gray’s anatomy in my mid/late twenties and the female characters loved sex — they wanted to have sex with people, no strings; they pursued other men and women; they had flings, etc. it made me feel so free and empowered.

    • @Joanna, Yes! I love early Grey’s, partly for that reason, too. Kinda wish they’d kept those themes more prominent in later seasons, maybe I’d enjoy it more now :)

      Stories (be they TV, books, or something else) are also a great way to normalize “taboo” behavior. I write YA and am striving to include more sex positivity from girls’ points of view in my work (which I’ve already received backlash about — one literary agent told me my novel was “not clean” enough for her. oh well!)

  23. Vivi says...

    Love this!
    I would love if you could write something about vaginismus. I only recently discovered the word for my condition (thanks to the books unorthodox) and I would love to know how other deal with it.
    I grew up in an open, sex-positive environment – but didn’t have sex till 24, because the few times I tried, it “didn’t work”. And when it worked, with a steady boyfriend, after several tries, it hurt, and not only the first time. II have no STD, it gets better when I have regular sex, but after a longer break, with a new partner, I am again at that point. It’s one of those (several) ways my body is different. I love sex, I still have orgasms – but the pain is nothing that turns me on. I ignore it, like I ignore pain when I do sports.
    I used to feel ashamed that my body didn’t work right and now that I’ve realized what I am constantly doing, even more ashamed of being a grown up woman who can can’t communicate.
    So I am trying to be loving with myself and my needs and the slow progress, last time I said something to one not-so-good-position, so… I know my partner would appreciate it, I just feel so ashamed of, you know, not telling him right from the start.

    • Megan says...

      Second this! Not just vaginismus but sexual disorders in general. I was luckily to receive treatment for an issue right away because my doctor knew the right people to call. . .a lot of women suffer in silence for YEARS because they don’t know the first place to look for support (e.g. women’s pelvic floor physical therapy).

      On the sex note, we were both virgins when we got married and because ignorance is bliss, our sex life is GREAT :)

    • Ro says...

      Hi Vivi,
      Fellow vaginismus sufferer here, so my heart goes out to you! Your story sounds so similar to mine. It was a little over a year ago that I was officially diagnosed (at age 30). I’m still on my journey of treatment, but I believe it can be overcome! I don’t know where you’re at in your journey, but there may be others reading this too so I thought I’d share some things that have helped me immensely: 1) pelvic floor physical therapy (referral from my doctor) 2) dilators from the vaginismus website 3) the vaginismus subreddit. I tried to keep this short but there’s so much to say about this unheard-of/misunderstood topic – great suggestion for CoJ! hugs to you <3

    • E says...

      Agreed with the suggestions below and if you can afford it, try to find a sexual health doctor or sex counselor!

    • m says...

      Vivi, if you haven’t already, I would encourage you to talk to your doctor about finding a pelvic health physical therapist. I suffered with painful sex (and accompanying shame, guilt, and anxiety) for years because I didn’t even know this was an option. I don’t have vaginismus but tight muscle bands that cause a lot of pain and prevent penetration—a lot of the work I do with my PT is desensitization, and training my brain to respond differently to the pain so that my body will drop the defenses and pain response. The muscle tension and accompanying underlying pain will likely always be there, but I’ve been amazed how much functionality I’ve been able to gain just from these techniques. The Call Your Girlfriend podcast has a fantastic pelvic health episode that gave me a good idea of what to expect when I went to the pelvic PT. Above all else, know that you are not alone!

    • KB says...

      I agree too. I have vulvodynia — pain with sex — and it took a long time even to realize that it’s a thing that can be treated rather than just how things had to be. Painful sex/pelvic floor disorder is not something people talk about, and I went to several doctors who simply brushed off my concerns. Things have improved with physical therapy and a great specialist, but I still don’t have pain-free sex and it hurts too much to use menstrual cups. I can’t even fathom having sex more than one time in a single day because of the residual pain (and until recently couldn’t fathom sex two days in a row). It definitely affects my libido and relationship and often feels incredibly lonely.

    • Em says...

      Yes to all of this! I’m in my mid-20s and just figured out I have vaginismus a couple of months ago. This is after years of painful pelvic exams, having a hard time with tampons, and uncomfortable attempts at penetration that made dating incredibly difficult. There’s so much misinformation and silence around painful sex that I just thought I was “too small” or hadn’t met the right guy. I still have no idea how to approach this discussion with a partner, but it was such a relief to finally connect the dots.

      If anyone else is at the beginning of this process, I’ll pass along one piece of advice from my gynecologist: get some lube and a vibrator (whatever size will fit. it can be a bullet) and use it at least every 2-3 days. It’s only been 2 months, but I’m already seeing that I can manage my response to the initial pain and anxiety and dilating is something I look forward to. I can even use tampons now! (also, was kind of fun to walk out of my annual exam with a professional opinion on what new vibrator to get.)

    • LB says...

      Yesss! At 32 I finally saw a sex therapist about pain with intercourse (which I thought was “all in my head”–gaaah!) and she referred me to a pelvic physical therapist that made all the difference. I also realized that I was carrying a lot of shame about my “inability” to have/enjoy intercourse and taking the step to get PT and therapy around these issues was a major breakthrough. This is TOTALLY a topic COJ should do a piece on. Please please please. There’s so much silence and shame around this topic. (Notice how so many of the commenters only use their initials in this chain of replies? Coincidence?)

  24. Mara says...

    I’m 100% with you, Sophie!! It’s difficult for me to even talk to my close friends about, because they’re stuck on sex as a barometer (and I care what people think, to a fault. These convos never end well). It’s hard for me to push my feelings of rejection and undesirability aside and remember that my husband has complicated issues. Well, we just have to enjoy the other moments of intimacy and affection :-)

  25. Having been raised in a religious household, having sex outside of marriage was just about the worst thing you could do. I didn’t wait in general, but I did with my now-husband, and we both think it was the wrong decision for us. We were so hot for each other while we were dating, so once we were “allowed” to, it was like I had taught my body to shut down right before it got good! Our sex life has never been great, and we both really want to fix it, but there’s so many feelings mixed up in it- fear, hurt, embarrassment- that it’s hard to get past them. I also wonder if my IUD has anything to do with my low sex drive? Does anyone else have that experience? I don’t know. I can tell there is some psychological thing keeping me from enjoying myself during sex (entry still hurts me, actually, and sometimes I get so ticklish I can’t relax). It all just feels like so much work for not that great of a payoff that I’m never interested unless I’ve had something to drink, and I don’t like depending on that. I just can’t seem to get myself there, either alone or with him, and it makes me feel like something’s wrong with me. Does anyone else feel that, or has struggled with that? I see people recommending that Emily Nagoski book, so I’ll check that out, but…any other recommendations? I just want to want to have sex with my husband.

    • WB says...

      Ever since we had our third child my husband and I have had a difficult time getting back into our sex groove. At the end of the day we are tired both physically and emotionally. I get anxious if I think one of the kids is stirring in bed or the baby is crying out. To combat this and relax we often massage each other. It’s super intimate, good foreplay and when intercourse actually happens it’s quick and good. It might help you and your husband find pleasure.

    • Denise says...

      Lindsey this comment literally made me tear up because I relate to your exact situation! The not waiting over all, waiting with my husband, and now not being that into it! My girlfriends recommended a faith based book called the Gift of Sex by Clifford and Joyce Penner that I’m planning to read this summer. Apparently it really helped! I hear some parts are strange, but other parts were so encouraging and helpful they were ready to jump in the sack immediately because of the writing!

    • Lauren says...

      My heart aches for you. I haven’t experienced a lot of what you describe, but the IUD could definitely be a factor. That said, I would seriously consider talking to someone – alone or with your husband. I think we tend to only think therapists, counselors, etc. are only for times of acute distress, but I’ve found they can actually be super helpful for something like this.

    • Lauren says...

      Lindsey – We’re right there with y’all. I was raised in a deeply conservative household and we waited until we were engaged (my husband had previous partners.) Our sex life was dry for the first couple of years and only recently improving. We’ve had so many conversations (and fights!) about how not allowing our physical relationship to develop as we were getting to know each other has effected our marriage. My husband is generally glad that we waited – he says it allowed him the space to become emotionally attached – but I disagree. Mostly I’m just very resentful at that religious community for a lack of a nuanced conversation around sexuality and the enormous toll it has taken on our marriage. Our New Years resolution this year was to have more sex. Like all resolutions, it was the best at the beginning of the year, but we’re trying to double down this summer. Never, in all the “talks” I heard growing up about sex, would I have imagined that this is where I would be.

    • Lindsey says...

      Thank you all for your sweet, encouraging replies! <3

    • CS says...

      I just want to tell you that I had an iud inserted a few months ago and it lowered my sex drive and created all sorts of other problems. I wound up having it removed and am still not quite myself. I want women to know that if they have an IUD and are suffering from depression, irritation, or low sex drive, it’s quite possibly the IUD!!! My doctor was encouraging me to keep it, but I am in my 40’s and I really know myself and my personality, and the IUD was changing me. I am so happy it’s out. Please, if you are having problems, consider having it removed, and then give your body some time to rebalance. Google it! Try: ”Mirena mood swings”, “IUD lowered sex drive” etc. IUDs might be great for some, but are terrible for others. Good luck!

    • Alice says...

      You should look up Ester Perel’s podcast, Where Should We Begin. She is an amazing relationship therapist who of course talks a lot about sex. One of the podcast epiaodes cover this issue exactly. I don’t remember what she said but I highly reccomend it!!!

    • Jenna says...

      Another reason to get the IUD out: some of them (like the popular Mirena) have been linked to higher cancer rates in a huge study that came out of Denmark. I mentioned it to my gynecologist and she had no response. And the longer you have it and the older you are, the higher the risk. Not good for moms like me who got the Mirena because I wanted a long-lasting method of birth control for their late 30s and 40s! Here’s the article, which, unfortunately, has a headline that only mentions birth control pills:
      https://www.nytimes.com/2017/12/06/health/birth-control-breast-cancer-hormones.html

  26. Great post. Thanks for sharing. Love that you are willing to discuss this topic. I really enjoyed this format to read.

  27. Colleen says...

    Coming from a family that had an unsaid don’t ask, don’t tell policy about sex, I cannot emphasize enough about talking/educating your kids about sex. I did not have sex until I was 18, it also the first time I’d ever seen a penis. Sex was so unknown to me that I really thought a blow job included well, blowing. Ahh! I’m still resentful none of the women in my family helped prepare me for such a terrifying stage of life.

    I can laugh at it now. But I had a lot of shame and confusion from childhood even through my early 20s. I didn’t know what my body was going through or how to obtain what my instinct was dying for- sexual release!

    It took some trial and error in college to discover the joys of masturbation, and to stop feeling guilty/gross about something so natural!

    So please, educate, educate, EDUCATE. There may be some embarrassment and awkward eye contact, but your kids will thank you later on.

    • Colleen says...

      Errect penis* lol

  28. L says...

    I know that this is a very specific problem, but it would be amazing if you could do a piece on couples that DON’T have sex. That has been my situation for the past 5 years (out of 15 years together, total), and it has been incredibly painful for me.

    It’s my husband that has no interest. We recently discovered he has low testosterone, and he has started treatment for that, but things haven’t really changed. We’ve been to counseling and he says he loves me just as much as ever, but just doesn’t have the desire – for me, or anyone.

    We are in our late 30s, and this isn’t how I want to live the rest of my life. At the same time, is this a reason to break up a family? I would love to hear from other readers that have been in this same boat.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      that’s a great question, L. thank you so much for sharing your story, and i’m really sorry to hear about this hard time. we’d love to talk more about this topic. xoxo

    • Carrie says...

      That’s so hard L. I’m sure it’s equally hard on your husband too. You have probably thought of all these things, but is there anyway for now that you two can make out? Sexy touching/groping? Think if it as kind of like the things we did before we were ready for sex. Or maybe just lots of hand holding and sweet kisses to keep that physical connection alive. Would your husband be interested in getting steamy with foreplay, and then watching you pleasure yourself? I hope the treatments start helping, for the both of you! I am a fierce believer in marriage and my heart is always rooting for each one I read about. Our hearts sing out our wedding vows on the day we marry but real life is just so brutal sometimes. Thinking of you.

    • Sophie says...

      Hi L,
      I just replied to someone else’s comment on this below but I really wanted to reach out to you as well. I’m in the same boat as you and it’s just heartbreaking. My husband is on anti-depressants and it’s killed his libido almost entirely for several years now. Like your husband, he also reassures me that it’s not personal and he’s very much in love with me, but it’s so tough not to take it personally when your husband doesn’t ever crave that sexual intimacy. It’s very hard to be so attracted to your partner, but not get to enjoy their bodies as well as their hearts. I’m in my mid thirties and I think the same… Is this how things are now? Is this my life? One without sex and rude-playfulness and naughtiness with my favourite person? It’s a really tough concept to come to terms with.
      Jo, I would also love to see a feature on this….. low libido in men or a lack of sex life in a relationship and how to deal with that. It’s such a lonely place to be, and I’d love to know how other people handle it.

    • Hadley says...

      Would love to talk more about this. In my first short-lived marriage, we never did because I never wanted to – I wasn’t attracted to him. Now, I understand why people want to have sex every day and it’s been almost five years with my second husband.

    • anonymous says...

      I have experience with this. After our child was born, my husband I barely had sex for YEARS… we tried various things (counseling, doctor’s appointments, reading books on the topic, talking about it with each other, etc.) and nothing seemed to work – we both seemed to have low sex drives. We even talked seriously about getting a divorce. I asked him if he even wanted to have an open marriage (he wasn’t interested). But, eventually, we got our groove back and started having sex again on a regular basis. Oh and one thing that really helped me was managing my stress levels (acupuncture was a huge help here). Some people will say that if you haven’t had sex for a certain amount of time that you can never fix it, but that’s not necessarily true. Hang in there. Hugs.

    • Anita Slominska says...

      L. You are definitely not alone. I was in a sexless marriage and for me this DID become a reason to end it. It was not easy though (the “breaking up the family” part, the divorce part) but I have no doubt it was the right thing to do. I was tired of convincing myself that I could let the sex go but in my heart I knew I was hungry for a passion and intensity that was no longer there, and seemed irrevocably gone (in part because we let problems slide until they accumulated to the point of being unmanageable). The grief was real but so is the personal growth and re-awakening I experienced after separating. After an initial period of going on the rebound, I have been celibate for 6 months. Not sure if I will find what I am looking for, and even if this will be a life-long partner. But this is what I know: I have freedom to explore and the courage to be on my own. It feels really good. Take care.

    • sasha says...

      I don’t want to give medical advice, but someone mentioned antidepressants and libido. My husband takes Wellbutrin, and it doesn’t effect his sex drive at all. Perhaps you could talk to your Dr and try a different medication?

    • K says...

      I know this is a somewhat taboo response, but many couples deal with differences in sex drive in later years by opening up their relationship in some ways. I know that can seem daunting and scary, but it can allow one to maintain emotional intimacy with one’s husband while still fulfilling your needs! The LoveCast by Dan Savage (a podcast) talks a lot about this!

    • J says...

      Wow, this comment really hit home for me. I’m 29 and my partner is 32 and for the past 2 or so years, we have probably had sex a dozen times. Maybe. We have been together for 7 years and for the first few years we could barely keep our hands off each other. It’s so different now.

      We’re both at different places in our lives and careers now and are more tired/stressed. But it’s still hard. Especially because he is the one who has mostly lost interest. We’ve had so many conversations about it but we can’t seem to break through. I feel so lonely and guilty and ashamed about it. It is so so so hard to be attracted to your partner and have it feel like they are turning away from you. He assures me that it’s not personal but it’s so hard to not take it that way.

      I have no answers but your comment made me feel less alone and less like a freak. I hope that I can at least help you feel less alone as well.

    • Vicki says...

      I hear you. I’m in a new relationship, nearly 12 months, I’m struggle as my love is on anti depressants and our sex life is non existent. I try so hard not to take it personally, which is a huge struggle as I’m not sure how to get around this as I know he feels bad about this as well.
      Sometimes I let this get me so down and feel as though I’m not loved, wanted or needed.
      I need to realise it is not me and the need to focus on times to set aside for the intimacy with viagra hoping we both have an enjoyable time.

    • Bippy says...

      L, based on my sad experience it will not get better. If you can support yourself financially or figure out how to do so, get out now.

    • KAH says...

      I was with someone for 8 years, half or more of which I could count on one hand how many sexual encounters we’d have per year. Neither of us were happy about it but we never figured out how to fix it. By the time we tried counseling, we were too far gone. Maybe if we’d tried sooner? He was still my best friend and a truly wonderful and fun person, but anything beyond that was gone between us. I was about 30 at this point and decided I was too young to give up on having that very important (to me) aspect of a relationship. We didn’t have any kids to complicate separating, so I ended it (truly one of the hardest things I’ve ever done). There are aspects of our relationship and that person that I still miss and may always will.

      However! Since then I changed jobs, moved to a different state, and have been in a relationship with a wonderful man for almost 2 years (though we’ve know each other since high school — another story). I can honestly say that I have never had a better sex life. Our relationship is great both in and out of the bedroom, though very different from my previous. My level of desire and physical compatibility with this person far outweighs what I had in my previous relationship. Though the decision to end my previous relationship was painful and scary, ultimately I think it was the best choice for me. I love my new life.

      Unfortunately, in these situations, no one can tell you what the right thing for you to do is. Ultimately, you have to decide what you can live with, and what is most important to YOU. It’s never easy, and there’s always risk involved no matter what choice you make. Stay with what you know and what is comfortable but risk feeling dissatisfied or like you could have more? Or leave and risk being alone or regretting your choice down the road? There are pros and cons to both sides. It’s YOUR life, and life is short. Consider the effect on others, but don’t sacrifice yourself to keep others happy. Just make sure whatever choice you make, you’re prepared to live with the consequences, whatever they may be.

    • Becca Cantrell says...

      L and Kah, especially, your words hit so close to home for me. It’s truly the most difficult thing to imagine, separating from my wonderful husband “just” because he has no interest in sex/we can’t figure out how to make our sex life thrive. I don’t know if I’m strong enough to make a move, but I hope I will be soon so I don’t feel continue to feel like I’m just stuck here waiting for a magical solution. The Mary Oliver poem “The Journey” someone referenced in the poetry post last week has seemed to ring in my ears the past few days:
      “One day you finally knew
      what you had to do, and
      began”

  29. RKB says...

    I love this all so much – I feel like I’m surrounded by a group of girlfriends, wine in hand, sharing and doing life together! Ok so advice time (because you ladies are awesome!). I’ve been married just over a year and have a wonderful man who loves and desires me. As much as I enjoy sex, I just can’t climax (with him! or any man). I grew up in a world where we didn’t talk about sex and while I’ve come a long way with it, I just haven’t been able to bring it up with him. Any suggestions on things to try or tactics to bring it up? I really want an awesome sex life :)

    • Carrie says...

      After being married for almost three (together for 5) this past year is when things really started to get good. My husband has mastered the art of pleasuring me with his hands. I used to resist because I wanted to orgasm while we were having sex but I don’t stress about that anymore, and just go with the flow. Pleasure during sex is 100% in my mind, so it also helps if I think graphic, filthy thoughts haha. Dirty talk is so hot but I’m nervous to do it with my husband, that’s something we haven’t tried yet.

    • A says...

      From another cup of Jo post:
      ‘Want to hear a fascinating finding? As few as 7% of women can reliably orgasm from penetration alone — basically, if their clitoris is close to their vagina. “Clitoris-vagina distances less than 2.5 cm — that’s roughly from the tip of your thumb to your first knuckle — tend to yield reliable orgasms during sex,” writes the L.A. Times. But other women, with larger “V-C distances,” find it more difficult or just plain impossible.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      yes, A.! and if you have a larger V-C distance, and thus don’t have an orgasm during penetration, you can also experiment with using a vibrator or your hands during sex. so helpful to read all these comments!

    • Kaye says...

      I’ve been having sex for 8 years and I have always had to do the climaxing for myself. But my husband and I are always in it together, making it really good together and, to be honest, what my husband does do to me feels AMAZING (In a slightly different way), eventhough the act of climaxing can’t be done without my help. Also, I have two sisters who can’t climax with penetration alone and two that can (I’m not one to shy away from questions with people I’m close to). The minute my littlest sister started having sex I called her up and shared this info and she happily replied that she was the same and had been quietly wondering if she was weird.

    • Carol says...

      RKB I too am one of the majority who can’t orgasm from penetration alone! While it doesn’t bother me, I’ve found partners in the past who couldn’t understand (due to depictions of sex in films where the couple magically orgasm at the same time from missionary sex) and they seemed to take it very personally, so much so that I felt pressured to fake orgasms when I was younger (which absolutely does not help the issue and I would never do that these days). Nowadays I just say “I love sex with you and it feels fantastic, but just like most women, I can’t orgasm just from penetration. It’s like I can climb 70% of the way up the mountain and the view is still really good, but I need something else to get me to the summit.” Then you can just request that he go down on you before or after sex, or use hands or a vibrator for clitoral stimulation during sex, for example.

    • Jule says...

      I don’t climax from sex (though the act of penetration is very pleasurable), my v-c distance is too far. My husband always always gives me an orgasm during foreplay, either using his hands, mouth, my vibrator, or a combination. Sometimes I get too in my head and won’t get there and that’s fine, the act of being intimate with him and then the sex itself is always worth the attempt. It also helps if one of you uses a hand or vibrator for outside stimulation during intercourse. If anything, it’s a sexy image for both of you :) I hope you find what works for you!!

  30. Heather says...

    On talking with kids…it came up so much sooner than I realized with my own! When my now 6yo was 4, he engaged in a “show and tell” session with a girl friend and and later confessed to me, “I laughed because she had a funny penis!” Oops. (Cringe-laughing.) How did I let that happen?? He still seemed so little but I quickly realized we were already behind. I was so unsure of where to begin and how much info to give and a friend recommended, “It’s Not the Stork” (for ages 4-7) and it was a great help! Partly because it helped provide me a guide for what was age-appropriate (important for me because I realized in my mind he was so much younger than he really was) and also because it helped me to become comfortable talking about it with my littles. He enjoyed the book and still asks to go back and re-read sections. And it helps reinforce that we use correct terms for anatomy and that we can have open discussions…both really important as a foundation for protecting kids from predators. I’d definitely recommend for other parents of little ones!

  31. Carrie says...

    I have a question (insecurity) I keep close to my heart and never speak of to anyone: is there anyone else here who gets hurt feelings when their husband masturbates? I don’t know how else to re frame it in my mind- it’s really hurtful to me. Especially if we haven’t had sex in a week or so for whatever reasons, why is does he choose this over having sex with his wife? Our biggest fights have been over this. It is my own personal belief that as husband and wife we are meant to have shared sexual pleasure. I hate being left out of the equation. Am I alone in this?

    • Renee says...

      I caught my husband earlier in my marriage once doing this. I asked him why, his reply was that it was just easier and he didn’t feel like seducing me. You need to talk to your husband about this and let him know that it hurts your feelings. Maybe try counseling?Communication is key.

    • jen says...

      personally in our marriage, i believe that it’s totally fine/healthy for each of us to masturbate separately sometimes, and also have sex together sometimes. they’re totally different acts, like apples and oranges. for me sometimes i’m tired and i just want a physical release, and that’s what masturbation is good for. i looooooove my husband and i looooooove having sex with him; and i also enjoy masturbation as a part of our overall sex lives. carrie, i hope it might help to know that other happy couples do it too?

    • Maria says...

      Don’t take it personally! Try masturbating without him-you will see, it’s fun! I love my husband and I love sleeping with him but I do not care about his masturbation! Don’t sweat it.

    • N says...

      It really makes me so sad that this hurts your feelings. Please know that it is completely normal for partners to masterbate and also love having sex. It’s not a personal affront. Definitely try talking this through with your husband, and try to understand that you’re both humans and this is a human part of sexuality. It’s not a failing on your part or his.

    • Carrie says...

      Oh how I wish I was as relaxed as the rest of you, and N, trust me, I wish it didn’t hurt my feelings either! I have been working through it, really trying to change the way I view it. This is just life: always striving and growing. I’m okay with the process :)

    • B. says...

      Along this vein, I wonder how others feel about their partner using porn? I understand masturbation, but porn is a different territory, and I fear it may ruin my relationship.

    • L says...

      I wish my husband would masturbate more frequently – then he wouldn’t be wanting sex as often as he does! I feel like I’m married to a teenager! Love him, but damn…

      In all seriousness, sex in any form should be enjoyed. Ask him to let you join in the next time he’s going to masturbate. You’ll likely enjoy yourself and may even discover a new thing or two that your husband (or you!) like.

    • Nicole says...

      I’m so glad I’m not the only one who has felt this way! I feel like if my husband just wants to do his own thing in that regard, then he should go for it so to speak, but my insecurity (is it an insecurity, or something to legit feel weird about?) comes from the fact that I’ve caught my husband watching porn. I find this weird because when we started dating, I stopped watching porn (was never really into it anyway…) because I figured he wouldn’t like that, and he told me that he didn’t watch it anymore either. It just makes me feel badly about myself and our relationship if he tells me he loves me and only wants me in that way, but he’ll masterbate to those video that are, let’s be honest, a very poor view of women :( Idk how to feel about it.

    • J.T. says...

      Oh! I’m sorry to hear this, and can totally see how you feel this way. Hm, my experience is different. I totally love my own time to masturbate and to just enjoy myself. I equally enjoy sexual intimacy with my husband. It would make me feel pretty sad if he felt hurt with me enjoying myself alone. I never substitute privately masturbating for real intimacy with my partner. I guess what I’m trying to say is: for me, it’s just about having an extra fun time with myself, and I love/ cherish time with my husband dearly. I sincerely hope that your husband feels that way about his/your own situation!! Definitely talk to him about your feelings though. <3

    • Ana says...

      You are not alone! I feel left out the equation, too! Me and my husband have been together for three years and a half. Sex was amazing the first year, we used to have sex almost every single day and it was so good! I knew that he also masturbated and he knew that I enjoyed solo sex too (I have masturbated since I was eleven) And we talked openly about it and make jokes. I also knew that eventually things would calm down, and they dId. Now, most of the times he avoids sex. My libido is still high, I thought maybe his had dropped. Last week I found out that he watches porn, and he masturbates, so his libido is ok. Therefore, I guess it’s me. He watches teens. I turned fifty last month (this is my second marriage). You can’ t imagine how insecure I feel about my body now. I simply can’ t compete. And I think I’ m still ok -for a fifty years old lady-. I mean, yes, still small waist and big boobs, but saggy without the bra. He turns me on like no one has before, no matter if he gains or loses weigh, I don’ t care about his body.
      And he cares about me, and shows his love every day. But I feel I have been replaced. And sex is very important to me. I love it and it makes me feel closer to him. I have even considered surgery (a friend of mine is having a mastopexy next month). I have considered abandoning him, though I would suffer a lot because I deeply love him, and we have sooo many plans for the future. Should I give up on sex with him and buy a dildo and explore though I am sure that could never replace real sex? I feel lost.
      By the way, that is another issue you could write about: ageing, how to deal with it. How to learn to be invisible: you know, the day when no matter how sexy the dress, how revealing the top: no one will look at you.
      A.

  32. Amy says...

    It’s felt like a lifetime search for me to find tasteful porn for my solo sex life. The stuff out there now is appalling, often violent, and all about a man’s pleasures. Has anyone found anything not like this?

    • Jess says...

      Try Erika Lust videos!

    • Meg says...

      I’m a new convert to romance novels/erotica after hearing an interview with Bea Koch of The Ripped Bodice on A Few Things Podcast. Determined to help a small, new, woman owned business with a really incredible mission (they’re the first romance focused bookstore), I went to her shop (co-owned by her sister!) and had her recommend a few books to me and cannot put them down. If you want a hands off reading experience, you know, to do other things, I’ve loved audio books!! One of the main reasons I think it’d be a great fit for you is that the majority of novels I’ve read/listened to – even if they deal in casual, one night stand-ish sex – go much deeper into the emotional intent and affect of the characters, both male and female. Also, all have done a phenomenal job of demonstrating what consistent and hella sexy consent can look like, even in sub/dom relationships or when the characters are moving into uncharted territory for themselves..

      Links for more:
      Author Alisha Rai on sexy consent in novels: https://www.shondaland.com/inspire/books/a13123520/alisha-rai-writing-sex-consent-women-of-color-romance/
      The Ripped Bodice: http://www.therippedbodicela.com/
      Podcast Episode Interview that started it all: http://www.ofakind.com/stories/9174-listen-up-self-care-and-a-crash-course-in-romance-novels

      It’s alllllmost ruined video porn for me. I’ll use video for quick fixes, but most of the time, I miss the lack of emotional story. Hope this helps! I’d be more than happy to recommend specific titles too.

    • L. says...

      Speaking for myself and many other women I know, lesbian and solo porn is the biggest turn on (even though we’re straight)! Try it!! Look up Lesbea on YouTube :)

    • Amy says...

      Amazing recommendations — thank you all!!

  33. Mara says...

    My husband and I have been together for over 10 years and had steamy, five-times-a-week sex the first couple years. There was nothing we wouldn’t try, no place we wouldn’t do it. But not long after that, my husband was hit with chronic medical issues, and me more recently with depression, and if we’re lucky we have sex once every 6 months now. I won’t lie that this doesn’t bother me a whole lot, BUT, we kiss, hug, flirt-touch, impromptu slow-dance, etc all the time. It really bothers me when people look at a mid-30’s couple and act like something is majorly wrong if they don’t have sex once a week or more. Even crackpot advice columnists and the like say that sex is a barometer for the relationship. We are ALL different. My belief is that sex isn’t everything — there’s intimacy, affection, and other ways that a relationship can be strong.

    • Sophie says...

      Thank you Mara… I’ve been with my husband for five years, half of which has been spent having not very much sex at all. We’re very much in love and affectionate with each other (ditto to the impromptu slow dancing!), but my husband is on anti-depressants which while tackling his depression brilliantly, absolutely kill his libido. It’s really tough being constantly bombarded with this idea that we’re ‘broken’ because we don’t have sex often. It feels beyond our control, and is a real point of contention for us both. He feels ashamed that he’s never in the mood (not even to masturbate), and I’m heartbroken that I don’t get to be intimate and sexual with the love of my life. It’s not easy, and it’s a really lonely place to be, so thank you for providing a little spotlight of comfort and solidarity.
      xoxo

  34. Laura says...

    Hey CoJ team, I’d love a post and some reader feedback about sex during pregnancy. I’m currently 22 weeks pregnant and totally freaked out by the whole thing, but I know some people swear pregnancy was when they had the best sex of their lives. I’d love to hear about the experiences of some other women!

    • MelTown says...

      Hi Laura!
      I have three kids and I can tell you that with my first two pregnancies my sex drive was nonexistent. Like, totally gone. With the third, my sex drive was crazy high and I had the magical pregnancy sex everyone loves to talk about…until I had a complication that took sex off the table. My point is, every pregnancy is different, so if you’re not into sex that’s normal, and if you are super into it, that’s normal too. If your pregnancy is progressing without issue sex is totally safe! You might have to get creative with positioning as your belly grows, but if you want to have sex experiment and have fun! If you’re nervous about health and safety you can always chat with your healthcare provider for reassurance. Good luck, and congratulations!

    • Caitlin says...

      I’ll add that I’d love the conversation to include postpartum sex! After infertility and then low sex drive during pregnancy, I feel like we are having to re-discover a normal sexual relationship. I would love to hear about other women’s experiences, as I’m sure this is a common theme even if few people are talking about it (at least in my world!).

    • Hannah says...

      This was true for me. The first trimester, forget about it. I was so nauseated that just getting near my husband made me gag.(poor guy!)
      But the second trimester was a different story allllltogether.
      A few factors that contributed:
      1.) I wasn’t preoccupied with getting pregnant(because hey! Already pregnant!)
      2.) wasn’t self conscious about my belly because hey! there’s a baby in there, it’s supposed to look like that
      3.)extra blood flow, plus levels of progesterone climbing daily had me…well, climbing daily. 😉
      3rd trimester was also great, just a little less gymnastic!

      If this isn’t the case for you, though, don’t worry about it. Really. Its more like a bonus- if it hits, it hits. But if it doesn’t, you’re doing just fine. You don’t have to BE a babe while GROWING a babe.

    • M says...

      I just gave birth to my baby a month ago, so I’m just a little ways past where you are now! I just want to say, go easy on yourself. I don’t know if this is your first pregnancy or not, but it’s such a transformative time, and it makes sense that that would extend to your sex life as well. I personally didn’t find that I had the best sex of my life during pregnancy, but we had a pretty rockin’ sex life before I got pregnant, so I had a high bar to compare it to! ;) I was also pretty sick almost the whole 9 months, which puts a damper on things. Some of our “sexytimes” were great and others weren’t, but I came to be OK with that (especially when dealing with things like vaginal dryness, thanks to all those pregnancy hormones). I think the key is complete honesty between you and your partner… especially as it gets closer to the end of your pregnancy and the “logistics” of sex get a little trickier (i.e. fewer workable positions!). Just keep an open, honest conversation going about how you’re both feeling about everything — and resist the urge to compare your experience to others’ experiences, or to what you think it “should” be. Everyone is different! It will get back to normal, I promise. Maybe a new normal, but a normal nonetheless.

    • Ashley says...

      Congratulations on your pregnancy! First, if you have a healthy pregnancy, sex is absolutely safe! If you have any concerns, you should talk to your healthcare provider. In the spirit of sharing pregnancy/postpartum sexual experiences, here is mine. After the first trimester nausea subsided, I was so excited to have the pregnancy sex everyone talks about. But I began experiencing decreased sexual sensation, which at first made it impossible to orgasm, and as my pregnancy progressed and the decreased sexual sensation intensified, made having any sex very difficult. It was not as though I did not have a sex drive/was nervous/felt self-conscious, but rather I could not feel any sexual sensations/stimulation. We basically stopped having sex because it was so uncomfortable and painful for me. It was really hard for me on an emotional level, as I was missing that closeness that sex brings. Postpartum the decreased sensation issues went away. However, the site of my tear/stitches was very painful for approximately 7-9 months, making vaginal intercourse impossible. We were able to get creative and have other kids of sex, but that was also frustrating on an emotional level, as I was 100% ready to be done with pregnancy related sexual dysfunctions. Additionally, when researching both issues online, there was not a lot of information on these topics. Articles mostly praise pregnancy sex and chalk up not waning to have sex to not feeling “sexy” with a belly. This was not the case with me. Further, articles indicated the tear site may remain painful for a much shorter period of time than I experienced. And in both instances, my doctor just kept recommending lube, despite my insistence that dryness was not the issues (and I have a lube that I love). Frustrating. For postpartum sex, I recommend listening to The Longest Shortest Time “Parents Guide to Doing It.” It’s a great podcast and definitely made me feel better about my situation. My husband and I were eventually able to get back to a normal sex life, and are currently trying for baby 2. As every pregnancy is different, I am hoping this issue does not repeat itself, but we will see. Fingers crossed for great pregnancy sex!

    • Hi Laura,

      As an Ob-Gyn and a pregnant person (with #2), I can tell you that sex during pregnancy is like sex during all other times in that sometimes people are interested in it, sometimes people are not interested in it, sometimes you have to come up with new positions, and all the time communication is really important.

      While there are few reasons why sex during pregnancy could be risky to you or your baby (e.g. if your cervix is dilating early or you have had preterm labor symptoms), these are pretty rare and likely you would have already talked to your provider about them if they were happening to you. I would encourage you to talk to your provider and ask if there’s any reason you shouldn’t have sex in your pregnancy, if you need an extra “go ahead” :)

      I agree with so many commenters that this is definitely something we do not do a great job talking about as a society or during prenatal (and post-natal care)!

      This is part of why my colleague Jenn and I started a podcast this year called “The V Word” — (as in VAGINA!) to try to demystify and de-stigmitize topics like this in women’s health. Our most recent episode was on “The Vagina Postpartum — not just about sex, but definitely about sex :)

      We would love if you and the other amazing readers of COJ would check it out and let us know what other women’s health topics you want to know more about!

  35. Heather says...

    Has anyone dealt with an absolutely DEAD sex drive? I’ve been married for over a decade. We work opposite schedules and only have a few hours together in the evenings. Pair that with about eight years of infertility and you can imagine what our sex life is like. I’m just over it. I’d like to have a massage, some cuddle – without the idea of having to “finish.” My husband sees it at as a failure if there’s no orgasm. It’s just disappointing and frustrating. Can anyone relate?

    • Em says...

      You’re not alone, Heather! I was never a very sexual person, and after having a baby my libido dropped even further. But, like you, I love physical affection and intimacy with my partner without the pressure to “finish.” It’s tough because he is very sexual and would love to increase our frequency. I’m hoping when the baby is older and I finish breastfeeding I will get an uptick, but who knows? Would love a COJ post on how to increase libido and/or handle the issue!

    • M says...

      Have you been to a sex therapist? I went to one and it changed my LIFE. While I am not married, I was in a long term relationship and we did not have sex for two years. It turns out it was because of a medical issue I had, my estrogen levels were post menopausal. So, we worked to get those back up and get my mental game strong again. I just thought it was me with my low sex drive, but it turns out there was a biological reason why sex wasn’t happening.

      We talked a lot about the concept of what sex is during therapy, and a lot of men DO see it as needing to finish. We worked to unwind those beliefs and to not feel guilt if a big grand finish didn’t happen. Definitely worth checking out a sex therapist in your area, and I would read the book “7 Principles for making your marriage work” by John Gottman. Hope this helps!!!

    • Maria says...

      YES! Heather. First of all-find friends who you can talk to about it. It’s astounding how many I found and how talking about it really helped me. Talked to your OB, or PCP-sometimes they can recommend something as well. I’m in the same boat. My sex drive is dead. For various reason: thyroid cancer (screws with your hormones), young kids, together for over 20 years. I have to schedule it and act it out sometimes. I had to compromise to once a week, even though, my natural sex drive is more like once a month, or even once every two months. It sucks that we, women, have to “fix” ourselves, search for pills, therapy, help, while the men are just like, I need this from you. And I get it-of course they do, it’s part of marriage, but it just feels like a sad, one sided journey that you are on. And forget cuddling-to my sexually starved husband that’s a green light for him. Or, even, if I’m not wearing a bra, the man is ready to hump. He’s learned to respect my boundaries now, many, many fights to accomplish that, but still, I wish it was different.

    • Alyce says...

      You HAVE to read the Emily Nagoski book. Actually knowing the real science behind what’s going on is a total game changer. And beyond the science, it has guided activities that help you figure out and get in touch with sex positive contexts that allow for better sex.

    • Mara says...

      It’s interesting hearing these perspectives! My natural state is to have sex twice a week, but with my husbands’ medical issues, it’s once every half year or so. The grass is certainly greener on the other side; how I would love it if simply my bra-less self would get him going!

    • Jess says...

      Just to throw in a comment on the other side – my boyfriend has a very low sex drive, and I’m the one with the high libido. There are so many complexities with sex, emotions, and a relationship, and often I hear that oh it’s crazy if the guy doesn’t want sex, he must not be into you, but I’m learning that that isn’t the case. Many men also have low sex drives and that’s something we are also working through. Good luck!!

  36. KL says...

    I’m just not that into sex. My partner and I are on the same page about it, which is good for both of us. We have a SOLID companionship, we are each other’s best friends, and love spending almost all of our time together. I think some people may see it as sad, but I also think some people may identify with that a lot, too. It’s what works for us!

  37. Emilia says...

    Cup of Jo readers: tips on having sex for the first time? I’ve heard all the usual:) Is the idea of waiting for someone special ridiculous?

    • Not at all! But I think you can apply the term “someone special” more liberally than traditional wisdom might dictate. Do you need to wait for a “first love?” Not necessarily. Definitely wait for someone you feel comfortable and safe with. A little secret: Your first time probably won’t be your best time. And that’s OK. I think society places far too much an emphasis on the importance of your first time. It’s a life experience, for sure, but there’s no need to turn it into something spiritual, if that doesn’t feel right for you.

    • C. says...

      No, not at all ridiculous! I think it is quite a wonderful idea, and I think a lot of people make that choice. Honor yourself, always. My only suggestion would be to not wait to get to know and love your body on your own.

    • Becky says...

      No not at all. I think trust is where it’s at for so many reasons. Do u trust this person with your body? Your health? Your privacy? If you can check all of these things off then that is your special someone. It may be a friend or someone who turns into a spouse or long term partner. If you haven’t found that person yet why be so casual about it? I was so picky when I was younger and I never regretted that. I had little bits of doubt with some of the guys I met and after my gut instincts were confirmed! So glad i didnt jump into anything. Trust your gut is what I always say. When it feels right, it feels right.

    • RN says...

      There is *nothing* ridiculous about waiting. Doing exactly what you want, when you want, with a person you want is the best way to guarantee enjoyment :)

    • AMB says...

      For what it’s worth, my first time ended up being with a random guy at a bar (met him through an acquaintance) and I have no regrets! I had been in two relationships prior to that with guys who I thought were special at the time, and even though I was curious about sex, it didn’t happen with them. By the time I met this random guy I was tired of waiting and wanted to see what it was all about, haha. Never spoke to him again! BUT now I am three years into a relationship with a very special man, and we have very special sex :)

      I think a lot of pressure is placed upon your FIRST TIME and while I of course you should only have sex if it’s a safe, consensual situation, it’s really only the one of many times you’re going to have sex–even if the first time isn’t super special doesn’t mean the times in the future won’t be with a special person. However, if you want to wait for someone special, there is nothing wrong with that either! I just wanted to share this point of view because I wish someone had said something like this to me back in the day!

    • Emilie says...

      Hi Emilia, I waited until I was 22 and don’t regret it! I agree that you should get to know your body and what’s pleasurable for you in the meantime, and then when you do have sex with a partner you will know what works for you. Also, I would suggest using lube! SO much significance is put on virginity and sex, especially with women, but you’re the same person no matter what your status.

    • Carrie says...

      I wish I had waited to have sex until I met my husband. I’m not sitting and lamenting over it, but there is a small sense of regret that he is not my first. I love him so much, what a beautiful thing that could have been.

    • m says...

      I don’t think the idea of waiting for someone special is ridiculous, at all. I don’t regret my decision to wait to have sex with my husband at all, but I do regret some of the attitudes and beliefs I held about sex that originally led me to that decision. (Lots of religious-based guilt and a lack of knowledge about my physical self and health.) I wouldn’t go back and change my decision to wait because I think it’s what I would have chosen even if I wasn’t dealing with emotional and mental hang-ups about sex, but I am still crawling out from under those unhealthy perspectives despite being in an committed, loving, and safe relationship. So I would just encourage you to examine your reasons for wanting to wait and make sure it’s because that’s what an emotionally healthy and happy choice looks like for you, and not because of anyone’s expectations but your own.

    • Jay says...

      Not ridiculous! I’m 28 and still haven’t done it. While I do struggle with shame and embarrassment and “left out-ness” it’s mostly because the guys I’ve dated haven’t been special enough (for a variety of reasons). I just remind myself, I can still make myself happy and I also have taken off a lot of the pressure to make it “special”. I’m more open to the idea of casual sex now than I was even 3-4 years ago.

    • Emilia says...

      Thank you for all the lovely comments. I really appreciate it ❤️

    • Julia says...

      I waited until I was 28, and don’t regret waiting at all. I grew up in the south and took the “wait til marriage” warnings to heart. By the time I graduated college and got to grad school, I was so freaked out about the idea of having sex – what the heck are you supposed to do with all those limbs?! – that it didn’t happen there either. In my late 20s, I started feeling self-imposed pressure to get it over with, because I worried that if I kept waiting, it would be even more awkward when I finally did have sex. When it finally did happen, it was with a “special someone” like Rachel described above, who I trusted and felt I could be honest and open with about my inexperience.

      I still don’t know what to do with all those limbs, but I’m really glad that I waited until *I* was ready and comfortable with the person I *wanted* to have sex with. I think the act itself will always be a little awkward, but it’s a lot easier to enjoy sex (I wish someone had told me that enjoying sex is something you totally get to do!) if you’re not also worrying whether the other person will judge you.

    • Nigerian Girl says...

      I’m in a similar situation as Emilia: waiting for “someone special”, struggling with sexual frustration, social awkwardness and embarrassment at being an older virgin. Plus also wondering if I’ll even be good enough for that special someone. I can’t talk to anyone in my life about this so I’m very grateful for your wonderful comments. Thank you.

    • RN says...

      To Nigerian Girl, you are good enough as you are. Try to really feel that if you can. That way it is easier to judge when you do meet someone whether you are respected and loved in a way that makes you open to having sex with them, regardless of whether it is your first time or not.

      Btw I comment as someone who lost her virginity as a teenager and doesn’t regret it. Best friend waited until much older and felt some of that social awkwardness but forged on and also doesn’t regret it. The person she eventually met loved her and loved her decision to wait because it was part of her independent thinking. Both ways are good. Just try as much as possible to do what you feel you want, and the more you can untangle that from social pressure either way the better. Also seconding the commenter who said it is good to get to know your own body in the meantime…it will help with sexual frustration and your lucky partner will thank you later!

    • L says...

      I chose not to wait until marriage. My first time having sex with each person I’ve loved was special in its own way. If you’re safe, comfortable, and into it, you do what feels right to you. That’s all there is to it. And yes, know thyself.

    • J says...

      I felt I was in a similar boat as you last summer. I was a 27 year old virgin, and I just wanted to get it over with and see what all the fuss was about. I had several one night stands with not “special” people, but it was fine and gave me a sense of empowerment (I can just go out and have sex if I want to!) coming from a Catholic upbringing. Once I got that out of my system, I felt so much more confident and comfortable finding true, meaningful relationships. It was a weird way of going about it – but for me, I just had to get it off my chest, in a way, so it wouldn’t be haunting me every day! There’s no right or wrong way!

    • Nicole says...

      Not ridiculous at all! I waited until I was 23, and I’m marrying my “first” this year! Obviously that’s not how it always works out, but I waited until I feel that real connection. Not that sexual connection, the kind of feeling where I knew that he was someone who actually was trying to “make love” with me, if that makes sense. Other guys I dated were great, but I could just tell when things got sexual that they really just wanted to have sex with me (which isn’t bad!) which was not what I was looking for. On that note, though, if you feel it’s the right time, trust your gut!

    • Rose says...

      My first time was not with someone special, which I don’t regret at all, BUT it was so *dry*/not actually all that pleasurable that it was a year before I felt compelled to have sex with anyone again . . . so I would say that if you want it to be a good experience, the most important thing is to have sex with someone you feel comfortable talking to about sex (and, if possible, someone who has had a girlfriend before, for going-down-on-you skill reasons.) You also obviously want to pick someone that is mature enough that they’re going to respect you/your privacy afterward and are not going to go around running their mouth about you (particularly important if you share a school/workplace.) <3

    • Gloria says...

      Jay and Julia – I had been scrolling through the comments hoping someone would bring up this topic! Your replies pretty much match my experience and gave me some relief that I’m not the only one (which is what it feels like among my friends and family). I’m 29 and still haven’t done it — I’m not waiting for marriage or anything, nor do I want to. I just never met a guy I wanted to have sex with, and when I thought I wanted to, it was an LDR which didn’t work out. I definitely agree with everyone in waiting to feel safe and comfortable — when I read that, it clicked and was rather reassuring because I have been feeling the same frustration and mild embarrassment and the desire to just get it over with. Sometimes my insecurities get the better of me and make me wonder there’s something wrong with -me-. So thanks for this comments section!

    • Nigerian Girl says...

      @RN I’ll keep this in mind. Thanks.

    • Julie says...

      Emilia, I lost my virginity at 29 to my now husband. I have a high sex drive, but never had the urge to sleep with someone with whom I didn’t have feelings. My I slept with my guy, I didn’t deem him as special or the one, but I trusted him, felt comfortable with him emotionally and physically, and knew he was a good guy. Do whatever you decide, just make sure you’re doing it for you.

      Also, make sure you have enough foreplay to get aroused. Lubrication is your friend!

    • cs says...

      Not ridiculous at all but I will say that I waited for 2 years before having sex with my first boyfriend and immediately wondered why I had waited, I felt no different. Maybe it was because he was the right person and waiting was good for me but I’ve always felt that in my case I would have been fine not waiting.

    • L. says...

      Not ridiculous at all! I waited until I was married (I was 26), and I don’t regret waiting one bit. The emotional security that come with exploring and learning about sex only with my husband is something I am so thankful for.

  38. Jade Lees says...

    I know it is such a personal opinion how to educate your children about sex specifically but as an adult I am really very thankful that my parents have always used anatomical terms and been very honest with us regarding sex and puberty. Age of consent here in Australia is 16 and I remember my parents buying both my twin brother and I condoms and lubricant for us and really opening that dialogue as something normative – not at all taboo. I have worked in pharmacy for the past 14 years and the number of young people embarrassed or confused by contraceptive options astounds me. I remember reading that statistically condoms are one of (if not the) most stolen items from shops and as awkward as you may think or feel it is – we on the other side of the cash register really aren’t judging at all.

  39. Kitty says...

    Like Michelle mentioned above, we’ve also taught our boys from a young age the correct anatomical names for their genitals and emphasized the private nature of their bits. But my boys filter out like 95% of what I say, so I had no idea that this was sinking in until one day as I was changing my 2-year-old’s soiled diaper and he totally scolded me: “MAMA! Stop touching my butt — IT’S PRIVATE!” I have to say, I was pretty pleased with him.

  40. Carrie says...

    I had the same upbringing as Julia. Growing up I had lots of misconception about sex and pregnancy. I heard that when a boy touches your hand, you’ll get pregnant. If he kisses you, you’ll get pregnant. It’s either we were misinformed or just knew nothing at all. But then hormones kicked in and a lot of girls I knew got pregnant even before we graduate college. Now that I am a mother of a boy and a girl, I promised myself that I’ll keep an open mind and educate my children properly.

  41. Sarah says...

    This post seems out of place After the excellent post about children being ripped from parents on borders earlier this week. I know this will be moderated and not posted… But seriously… It’s in poor taste

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      thank you so much for your note. we thought long and hard about what to post about yesterday because our minds and hearts are completely consumed by family separation. we wanted to keep the posts soft and about real life (poetry, sex) and relevant and connected to our readers. we felt that fashion/beauty/sponsored posts didn’t feel appropriate yesterday. i hope this makes sense; it’s a hard balance to find during a hard week. meanwhile, we donated as large an amount as we could to RAICES, and we will keep doing so. we will also keep posting about the asylum-seeking families and ways to help on the site and social media. thank you so much, sarah, for caring so much about this issue.

    • Rae says...

      Thank you so much Joanna for this thoughtful reply. This approach makes a lot of sense to this reader!

    • C. says...

      Personally I welcome this shift, and don’t find it in poor taste at all. I am doing what I can for the crisis on the border, and then I still have to go on living. Both this and the poetry post speak to my inner well being, and I am grateful to be reminded.

    • Katie says...

      I think the poetry post was a pitch perfect follow up. Healing for the soul after all the heartbreak we are trying desperately to fix.

    • Amanda says...

      I understand both where both Sarah and Jo are coming from, but I just want to relay some advice my mom gave me when September 11th happened.
      I came home from high school that day and sat myself in front of the TV, watching the news coverage and feeling so much horror and despair. Rather than making me turn it off and shielding me from the news, my mom instead gave me some time to make myself informed and let it all sink in, patiently answering any questions I had. At a point, though, she gently suggested I go outside, breathe deeply in the fresh air, and consider what I was thankful for, and appreciate anything good that had happened that day.
      I admitted that I felt like I couldn’t, because so many people were sad and suffering and, although not directly connected to the tragedy that day, I felt I carried the burden of sharing in that pain. But what my mom told me that day has stuck with me almost two decades later. She told me that it’s okay to be sad, and mad, and that you can carry a piece of that around with you while you process what’s happened. But you absolutely can not let the grief and the anger consume you. Make place in your heart for the despair you feel, because it’s normal, and it’s human, but don’t forget to live your life.
      In this regard, Jo, I want to thank you for highlighting a deeply important issue and giving us ways to take action, as well as helping us live our lives. I believe you can care about the current border crisis as well as have an excellent sex life- the two are certainly not mutually exclusive!

    • rachel says...

      pleasure, connection, and fulfillment are never in poor taste.

    • Lis says...

      A small story: At a family member’s funeral, my 4th-grade nephew was giggling to a song he made up for the ride over. As my brother turned with the ‘stern face’ and probably an apt lecture about what a somber time this was… J. just blurted out ‘Dad, I know everyone’s sad but I can’t have a meltdown every second of the day!’

      Sarah, I understand. But honestly, if you like me browse CoJ during a brief devouring of lunch, I took it as a side of relief (and don’t feel guilty about a 3 minute read about). And truly, that wisdom has gotten me through a whole lot of this year’s bullshit.

    • mikaela spann says...

      A post on sexual intimacy, that encourages women to come together in the comments section to discuss with respect, tenderness and levity issues that affect us all as we forge relationships with ourselves, get married, have children to build families, the very serious thing so many refugee and migrant parents are trying to protect doesn’t seem to be in poor taste at all. Not unlike laughter at a funeral…bad things happen in life, but they are not the only thing. It never hurts to step back and take in a broader view.

  42. Liberty says...

    I grew up in a strict, religious household, and found myself away at college at 18, never having kissed a boy. When I met my first serious boyfriend, I was totally upfront about the situation, and he offered such a sweet, practical solution to consent and boundaries. He said he’d act as my mirror, and would take my advances as permissions that he could “go there” too (can you tell he was a theater nerd?). I never felt pressured, and I think it encouraged me to be assertive with my desires with future partners when I was always more inclined to just “let things happen.”

    • Rachel says...

      I love the idea of being the other person’s “mirror” and I’m wondering how many people naturally handle consent that way. I didn’t even realize it, but this is exactly what my husband did when we first started dating (though he initiated the first kiss :).

      Other guys–not so much. I always had to ask them to stop at a certain point, even when giving signals (like not mirroring and even backing off). I’m curious what other women have experienced with “mirroring” (with both men and other women).

  43. I’ve been reading cup of jo for a while. Sex is one of those topics that is tough to discuss especially coming from women. I commend you on a tasteful and entertaining way of addressing some of the topics we think about but don’t dare say out loud.
    I keep coming back for the genuine, real-life content. The articles feel like it is coming from everyday woman which is exactly what I need at times. Thank you for the great work!

  44. Lucia says...

    Okay, embarrassed to say, but I feel clueless when it comes to masturbation and get grossed out using my hands, but don’t know quite what to do with a toy (and I’m not a virgin). Pointers?

    • CB says...

      Masturbation doesn’t interest me – it’s doesn’t have to be part of your sexual rhythm. I haven’t read any comments on this, but just in case you don’t want to be into it – you don’t have to be into it!

    • Anon says...

      I was like this too. I had enjoyable sex for quite awhile before I figured out orgasming on my own. And it has taken my enjoyment and my partner’s to a whole new level.
      I recommend feeling sexy, before you start. Maybe a movie? Or a romance novel? A shower or bath and silky skin.
      Use lube, and a simple vibrator to start, like a bullet. Get naked, get imagining, and just start touching with the bullet. When you feel something good, do a little harder, faster. Know that it might take a while. And it’s ok if it just doesn’t happen. Keep trying, you will get it. Taking the pressure off and relaxing is really key. And once you get a little success, keep practicing because you will just get better.
      Best of luck! This is an important life skill imho 😊

    • Nicole says...

      Check out this comic by the amazing Erica at Oh Joy Sex Toy: https://www.ohjoysextoy.com/masturbate/

      I’m sorry to hear you are “grossed out” when using your hands; it might be worth examining why that is! I find that approaching my own body (and my partner’s) with a loving appreciation for all it can do puts me in a much better mindset when it comes to sex.

      If you just can’t get into using your hands, spend some quality time with the Oh Joy Sex Toy archives to find a toy that might work for you (plus instructions on how to use it)!

    • K says...

      No need to feel embarrassed at all :) I’m sure so many people are in the exact same boat! Just wanted to quickly recommend that you check out OMGYes (google it, it’s the first website that’ll come up). It’s an amaaazing resource – an app that combines a ton of research on everything about the female orgasm, including a very detailed overview of masturbation techniques (among other things). Very sex positive and women-centric. Detailed and specific, but not silly or over-the-top either… Stumbled upon it a year ago and shared it w all my friends… (for what it’s worth – *not* sponsored, not paid, just a true fan!) hope it helps!!

    • J.P. says...

      Great question! Advice from me, just one person, but who’s been masturbating since (approximately) 5 years old: get your mind in the right place. That’s different for everyone. Assuming you’re alone, you’ll probably want to be somewhere comfy (no rules, anywhere you want, could be your bed, in the tub during a bath, on the couch, etc) and just get into the mindset. I personally love watching or reading something racy to get my mind going and just touch yourself as you’d like! Don’t put any pressure on it (“I MUST orgasm the first time!”) and just focus on relaxing. Good luck!!

    • Lucy says...

      This was me for years! I bought a tiny vibrator about a year ago and can’t believe I didn’t do it sooner. I put it against my clitoris and move it around a bit till it feels good while reading or watching something sexy. This has given me the confidence to try a similar technique with my hands, although it does gross me out a little as well.

    • Natalie says...

      Use lube, no matter whether you use toys or fingers or whether you are wet or not – game changer.

    • Katie says...

      Two words: detachable showerhead. Cold water, warm water, whatever!

    • Lora says...

      Lucia, pick up a toy and experiment, girl. Don’t buy one of the hard shell ones, choose something like a jackrabbit. Its rubbery and softer. They take batteries but why bother, you can manipulate and control the speed yourself. Play around and I promise you’ll find what’s best for you. :)

    • Regarding embarrassment: I get it. But the thing that changed everything for me was reminding myself, over and over, that no one can see inside my head. It’s the one place in the world that’s truly private. So think all the dirty thoughts you want, no one will judge you! I’m sure you’ve heard this before, but your brain is really the best sex toy. If your imagination isn’t aroused, no amount of vibrators will turn you on.

    • KJ says...

      Try reading lesbian fiction! I learned to masturbate as a young teenage girl by accident because I discovered a book of short stories about lesbian relationships and there were some surprisingly good tips . . .

    • Kaitlin says...

      Hey Lucia, I wanted to offer a couple thoughts to you after reading your comment. If you’re grossed out by using your hands (but still want to try) perhaps consider a light fabric barrier so there isn’t direct contact- something soft and light that feels good but eliminates the ick feeling. Additionally- trying your hands in the shower or tub may be a good starting place that feels comfortable for you. Otherwise, toy wise, I’d suggest just to keep trying new areas and sensations until your body lets you know you’ve found a good fit.

  45. T says...

    Ha! Nathalie’s comment has me JUST NOW realizing I was tricked as a teen. I stumbled across ‘salacious’ literature in our family bookshelves as a teen, namely: Everywoman. I snuck it away and read every intimate tidbit that I was far too shy to have ever asked anyone about. Well played, Mum, well played.

    Also, we had a local radio station that had a talk-back sex segment on at around 9pm, it’s hilarious as adults to confess it to our peers because we were ALL tuning in and thinking we were the only ones doing it. This was the 90s by the way – getting sex tips from the ‘wireless’.

    • TD says...

      Sex with Sue? I totally listened to that secretly as a teen. It was very enlightening.

  46. Jenny says...

    I tried OMGyes, a subscription website that has videos and short, science-driven articles about what works for female sexuality and I found it really interesting. I’m in med school, I worked at a sexual health clinic. But I had never thought including framing– like changing up what you think about yourself in bed– would be such a game changer for me. It’s thoughtful, hot but not porny, and suitable for anybody with a vulva or who wants to get someone off who has one.

  47. Hannah says...

    I second that, Amy! :)

  48. Heidi says...

    My kids are 9 and 11, and I learned so much reading Girls and Sex, by Peggy Orenstein. She strongly advocates talking to girls (and boys) about consent, about the importance of learning self pleasure and about navigating modern technology. The lessons will be shared with my kids (more as they get older), but were also really valuable to remind myself. Thank you for all your writing this week, be it frivolous or profound.

  49. b says...

    I just bought a Kindle copy of Come As You Are, along with The Woman Code, which has been making the Instagram rounds. The crew at Cocokind is reading it and sharing snippets on their stories sometimes. As someone who got the sex talk from her now ex-best friend and is not in a relationship of any sort, but craves physical touch, I’ve had to learn how to manage these sorts of things on my own.

  50. Elizabeth says...

    Posts like this are why I love Cup of Jo so much. There’s so much wisdom in these posts, comments. Reading them feels like taking advice from the older sister I always wanted.

  51. My son is 9 and while he’s not going through puberty yet, we want him to use us, not just his peers or media, as resources when it comes to bodies and sex. I left a copy of “Guy Stuff” on his bed last summer (it’s the male counterpart to the American Girl body book “Care and Keeping of You, they’re both honest outlines of puberty and body care) and let him know that nothing is out of bounds to talk about. Since then, he’s asked a lot of questions about puberty and come to us with questions about myths he heard at school and it’s been a great way to break into a family dialogue about bodies, sex, and consent.

    • Colleen says...

      We just did this too with our daughter. School teaches puberty in 4th grade; I just told her the puberty and sex stuff before it came up in class.

    • Ann says...

      Thank you for this! I couldn’t figure out the equivalent to the American Girls book. I teach 3rd grade and have some very curious students. They were so open and honest in class, not afraid to ask any questions. I want them to take this wonderment and curiosity home with them. I’ll recommend both books for summer reading!

    • Paula says...

      please do not buy the books American Girl “care and keeping of you”-they are awful! the technical information is all there but they feed into the stereotypes that are outdated and frankly stupid (people might laugh at you for your freckles-lol, WHAT? but also, if your daughter never thought about weight, because you probably worked so hard to have a positive body image,guess what, this book will plant that seed!) Just read the reviews on Amazon. Most moms agree.
      I can’t speak to the boys version of that book because I do not have boys. But now I’m curious.

  52. Amy says...

    I can’t wait to read this comments section! Love these community-type posts from CoJ. I learn as much from the comments as I do the actual post. So great to have this as a resource.