Being “sex positive” means you’ve tested positive for enjoying sex and desiring it as an important part of your life. Just kidding. Sort of. You’ve probably seen the expression, so let’s consider what it really means. Sex positivity is definitely a state of mind or a life philosophy. It does not mean you are constantly having sex. It does mean you believe sex is a key part of a healthy adult life and that you are open to embracing and exploring your own sexuality. You are also non-judgmental about others discovering, enjoying and celebrating their bodies, sexual behaviors, gender and identity, always with consent. “Someone who is sex positive is open to learning more about their own body, other people’s bodies, as well as consent, intimacy, and how to communicate about sex topics,” informed Rachel Needle, PsyD, a psychologist in West Palm Beach, Florida, and the co-director of Modern Sex Therapy Institutes, a company that trains couples and sex therapists around the world, in a recent article in Health. Here are a half dozen things to know to make your approach to life more sex positive:
- For starters, it is important to know that being sex positive can be positively beneficial for your health. Sex bolsters your immune system, strengthening your body’s ability to fight off germs and viruses. In one study at Wilkes University in Pennsylvania, for example, researchers showed that students who had sex once or twice weekly had higher levels of a certain antibody compared to those having sex less often.“Sexually active people take fewer sick days,” says Yvonne K. Fulbright, PhD, a sexual health expert in a WebMd article.
- Understand that being sex positive for a woman can be different than for a man. Mainly, to be free sexually, women must overcome centuries of suppression of their sexuality and having strict modesty imposed by every authority figure in their lives. Joy Eidse, a registered social worker in Manitoba, Canada, covers it fairly thoroughly in a 2019 blog, “12 Ways to Increase Your Sex Positivity”: “Sex, which I understood to be defined as heterosexual p & v (penis and vagina) intercourse, was to happen only inside a state and church sanctioned marriage. In order to ensure that this happened, Girls, with their much weaker sexual impulses, were responsible to set the boundaries and put the breaks on any sexual interactions with boys. I was informed that as a girl, this is done by dressing modestly, be not staying out late, avoiding parties, and by never flirting (this included calling a boy on the phone for ANY reason; giggling too much; or revealing a crush -to ANYONE).”
- Be clear about what you want. True for any aspect of sexual relationships – or just a healthy relationship in general – open and clear communications are always ideal and preferable. In bed, you never want to force someone to guess what it is you desire to do or have them do to you.Writing about her sex positive journey for Bustle in July 2019, Amanda Chatel says once she gained the confidence to vocalize what she wants, now there’s no stopping her! In the true spirit of openness, she’s also not afraid to ask questions or share what she’s learned along the way.“I can put into words what turns me on, what turns me off, and what little kinks I have and would like to sexually explore,” she says. “I’m not afraid to use certain words, to give my partner direction, or to explain how my body responds to different sensations. To the best of my knowledge, none of my partners have been psychic, so I shouldn’t keep them guessing.”
- Don’t put down someone else’s turn on. In other words, embrace the whole wide world of weird. If a partner opens up and reveals something they really, really want to do that you really, really don’t, understand that people possess a diverse continuum of sexual desires. Yes, let them know you’re not into that, but discuss it politely with them to see if there’s a way to give you both a happy ending without any unhappy feelings. Or as The Everygirl recomomends, Don’t yuck someone else’s yum.
- Know that you are always entitled to fabulous, mind-blowing, consensual sex. Everyone is. Whether you’re young or old. Whether you’re in the best shape of your life or are showing some wear and tear from age and life.“When you’re in bed and making love, your partner’s not worried about any little imperfections a woman might have,” says Hilda Hutcherson, M.D., author of Pleasure: A Woman’s Guide to Getting the Sex You Want, Need and Deserve (Perigee). She advises following men’s lead: They rarely let anything keep them from having sex, no matter how large their belly may be or now much hair they have on their back.
- If you’re not already, how do you become sex positive? You can start by being conscious of your thoughts or observations about other people. If you are troubled by what they wear or the fact that they are in same-sex relationship, for example, stop and reflect on why that bothers you. Maybe you grew up in sex-negative family or culture, so that’s something you need to address.“It requires an ongoing dedication to becoming increasingly inclusive and aware,” says Aida Manduley, LCSW, therapist and sexuality educator. “It requires a commitment to practicing anti-oppressive philosophies and practices.”
Additionally, if you have children, you may want to check out an informative sex-positive resource: @sexpositive_families. It was created in June 2017 by Melissa Pintor Carnagey, a Black and Latinx sexuality educator and licensed social worker based in Austin, Texas. “What’s so powerful about @sexpositive_families is that it gives you the tools to check your sex-negative behavior so that you don’t pass those messages to your kids,” says Texas-based sex educator Goody Howard in a healthline article, “What Does It Actually Mean to be ‘Sex Positive?’” by Gabrielle Kassel.