Issue 5The Happy Trail

Responding to student requests for sex advice

Couple laze in bed Photo Credit: Pexels

By: Anna Sweetland

  Just because we’re “adults” does not mean that we know everything about sex. Yes, we can credit this to insufficient sex education or lack of experience, but every sexual encounter is different. We should always ask questions about how to best please our partners and ourselves. 

  As an aspiring sex therapist, I aim to be a person who can help answer those questions. On Tuesday, March 8th, I asked the University of Puget Sound student body via Instagram if they needed any sex or relationship advice. Preparing my responses to their submissions has truly been great practice.

  For instance, some people mentioned terms or experiences I wasn’t entirely familiar with. Lesbian bed death. Have y’all heard of that? I hadn’t, and I’m gay! A quick Google search revealed that lesbian bed death is the idea that lesbian couples have less sex than other couples in the later stages of their relationship. Knowing that now, I really resonate with this anonymous student’s experience.

  There are so many different ideas of what a queer relationship should look like. Queer sex is advertised as liberating and drastically better than heterosexual sex, and while that may be true for some individuals, this leaves queer people without that experience feeling inadequate.

  A fluctuating sex life is common for any long-term couple. It’s easy to fall into a routine and begin to prioritize other aspects of your life over sex, but remember if sex is a vital part of intimacy for you and influences your wellbeing, then it is a priority. Conveying to a partner that sex is important to you does not make you a sex addict. If you believe that you and your partner are not having enough sex, then you need to discuss a compromise that is respectful of both your boundaries and desires.

  Another submission builds off of this discussion of navigating our own sexual feelings. One anonymous junior said, “I am female-identifying with a male-identifying partner and I just don’t understand my sexual desires? If I’m single or while doing long distance I pretty much never feel horny but when I’m with my partner I do. Or at least I think I do? I do enjoy sex but I don’t know how much of my desire comes from societal expectations or actually wanting to have sex.”

  These are such valid questions to ask ourselves. How do we know when we’re truly horny or just behaving that way out of perceived obligation? How do we know which of our desires are truly our own and which are just results of our upbringing? I’ve asked myself these numerous times. So in a way, my advice to you is also my advice to my past self.

  There is not a quota for how often you should feel horny. If you don’t feel sexually aroused when you’re alone, there is nothing wrong with that. Some people are most turned on by the intimacy or the connection of being with a partner, so perhaps it’s that connection or that romance that gets you going more than anything else.

  I would trust that when you feel like you want to have sex, then you truly do. While it can be beneficial to reflect on our sexual preferences and desires, you don’t need to pinpoint all of their origins. Analysis is a good thing, but over-analyzing can do more harm than good. Pay attention to what you’re feeling mentally and physically in the moment; if you’re truly feeling that urge and undeniable desire to have sex, then you probably truly want to have sex. Trust that you know what you want, and try not to invalidate those genuine feelings as being socially-influenced.

  Finally, another anonymous junior wrote, “Hey! There’s a cute boy in my bio class and I’m pretty sure he’s at least somewhat into me. We are in the same lab and I think he goes out of his way to ask me questions but we’ve never talked about anything besides class before! How do I break into personal conversation or ask him out without coming on [too] strong in case he’s not interested?”

  This is one of those age-old experiences that no matter how many friends we advise through it, when it happens to us it’s just as nerve-wracking. But in a good way! I feel those “I have a crush” kind of butterflies for you. My advice is to first perform a good old social media stalk to see if they are already in a relationship (and don’t forget to check the tagged photos). If you pass that stage, then I’d say some of the easiest ways to transition from school to personal conversation is to either ask something about their outfit, their weekend plans, anything small that’s not too oddly personal but can produce some good follow-up questions to get to know them better.

  I say shoot your shot. Once you’ve started to talk about non-academic things and you’re still interested in going out, just ask if they’re free over the weekend because maybe there’s one restaurant you’ve been meaning to go to and you don’t want to go alone. Whatever route you end up choosing, you have my support! Good luck!

  Thank you to everyone who submitted questions! If anyone else has similar experiences or needs other sex advice, fully feel justified in approaching me on campus for some impromptu guidance. I know not everyone has someone close by to ask these kinds of things, so I can absolutely listen non-judgmentally and provide some recommendations!