We're Not Great at Talking About Sex, or the Way Sex Makes Us Feel
A friend sent me this blog post by Emma Lindsay, it's making the rounds on social media. It's about why dating men makes her feel like shit. It's good. She's a good writer. She's detailed and elaborate in a way I can only one day hope to be. But then again, I may never get there, men aren't wired to talk about sex.
Her post isn't about why men don't talk about sex, or their sexual feelings. Instead, she argues,
that people who sleep with men tend to feel worse about how they look than people who sleep with women.
She touches on why this is, and it has a lot to do with men's shame around their sexuality. I don't disagree with her, but I'm not ready to write about that quite yet. I still have a lot of shame of my own to unpack.
To write about it today would be doing you a disservice. Actually, that's just an excuse for not wanting to write about it, but it's good enough for me.
I started reading her other posts, and found myself wanting to read her posts all morning. I can't do that though, I need to be writing by 9AM every morning, or else I won't write anything at all.
She Says That Men Don't Talk About Their Sexual Feelings
She's right. We talk about sex, just not the way women talk about sex. Men talk about sex in broad terms, "We had sex last night, it was awesome." Or, "she gives great head."
There's very little description of sex, just a statement of fact that sex had happened. That's as far as it goes, with my friends at least, it's not very sophisticated.
I'm not saying my friends aren't sophisticated, just that it's not acceptable for men to talk about sex the way women do.
Being honest about our sexual feelings is seen as vulnerable, and vulnerability is a sign of weakness. You can't protect the tribe if you're weak. We're hard wired to show strength.
This Frilly Writing Is Best Left for the Sexting
You won't hear a straight guy tell his friends,
I was so turned on. We still had our clothes on, and I walked up behind her and pressed myself into her. I gently wrapped one hand around her neck and slowly tilted her head back until I could bring my lips to hers.
No straight guy has ever talked to me about sex that way before. And I've never described my sex life with this level of detail to another man.
I have however, used this level of detail while sexting. I'll dig the texts up one day and share them with you. I almost did it last week but I was too shy. Or ashamed. I'm not sure which.
Are gay men more descriptive than straight men when they talk about sex? I don't know, I'm not an authority on gay men though, I only blew that one dude that one time. And those two other times, and there was that one trip to Thailand. But I'm not ready to talk about those times, yet.
I'm Afraid of Being Too Honest
I see it in my writing.
It's hard to write about sex without making it sound like I'm bragging. After I wrote about how promiscuity ruined my sex life, my good friend said it sounded like I was bragging. "Poor Shaun, getting laid too much." It wasn't my intention. I felt bad about it, but I didn't edit the post. I left it as is. That was the best I could come up with that day.
Any writing about sex is better than no writing about sex. I'm trying to get better at describing the complex feelings that sex and love bring up. It's almost always hard, and scary, and I don't want to do it. Usually when I really don't want to do something, it's an indicator that I should.
The First Time Someone Asked Me What I Liked in Bed
This is what I told her,
I like sex. And blowjobs.
I think she was looking for a little bit more detail, but the language wasn't available to me. It still isn't sometimes, but the more I do it the easier it gets.
It's still awkward, but I like telling people that it's only awkward if you make it awkward. So, I should take my advice and not make it awkward. Easier said than done when we're talking about sex. Why though?
It's Not an Excuse, It's an Explanation
That's what my crazy ex would tell me every time she called to explain why she was late. That's neither here nor there, I just wanted to share that with you. It makes me laugh now, it made me furious then.
In any case, the best explanation that I can come up with for why men aren't better at talking about sex is that we were never taught how. No role models. We didn't learn it from porn, our parents didn't teach it to us, and none of our friends knew any better.
We're destined to stay this way unless we start doing it differently, and to do it differently means going against everything we know.
Are We Doomed?
No, were not. But we've all got some work to do, me included. I don't have answers today, but I will commit to making some changes with you.
Let's challenge ourselves to talk about sex more openly and with more depth. I could use help there as well.
1. I'm going to be more descriptive and specific while talking about sex.
Instead of saying that I really like sex and blowjobs, I might say, "I really like blowjobs but since I'm uncircumcised, slower and gentle feels better to me". I'm going to challenge myself to say more than I would normally say. Anything above the status quo is a win, and little wins add up over time.
2. I'm going to talk about something in my sex life that brings me shame.
This week I'll find a trusted friend and share something I feel shame about. You can do the same. A fantasy that you're ashamed of having, something that you did in the past that you wish you hadn't, or a feeling that comes up during sex that you don't like.
3. I'm going to forgive myself.
For not knowing what I don't know. Talking about sex isn't easy, and as long as there's awareness that I could be doing better, and an honest desire to change, I will forgive myself for not being where I want to be today.
You should do the same.
Shaun Galanos is The Love Drive. He lives and write in Montreal.