- Many people are uncomfortable talking about sex, but these conversations are important: They enable us to maintain healthy and satisfying sex lives.
- One specific conversation that goes underprioritized is how we can embrace our sexuality to the fullest—three keys include recognizing shame, accepting desires, and considering the biological nature of sex.
- First, understand that many people attach shame to sexual experiences, often due to being shamed in the past for exploring their bodies or engaging in sexual activities; then, work to free yourself from this shame.
- Second, permit yourself to feel comfortable about your sexual desires; if you practice safe sex, you can give yourself the freedom to explore and enjoy these desires.
- Third, consider the biological nature of sex: Humans were made to want, have, and enjoy sex because it is a biological imperative.
Many of us shiver or clam up at the mention of sex (we’ll get into why later) but talking about sex (when and where appropriate) is vital to our health and wellbeing—these conversations allow us to understand safe sex practices, explore our personal feelings about sex, and ultimately maintain a healthy, as well as satisfying, sex life. One specific conversation that goes underprioritized is how we can embrace our sexuality to the fullest.
Embracing one’s sexuality means feeling comfortable and confident about sexual inclinations and activities. This involves recognizing shame, accepting your sexual desires, and thinking about the biological nature of sex. Let’s walk through each step:
1. Recognize shame.
Many people feel uncomfortable talking about sex. Why? Because shame surrounds this “taboo” topic. Rachel Keller, Licensed Clinical Social Worker, explains that it is totally okay and normal to talk about sex and explore your sexuality, before delving into why we might attach shame to sexual experiences: “It is natural and healthy to explore one’s body, starting in childhood and through all stages of life. It is also natural to experience sexual desire and to act on that desire, when done in a safe and consensual way. If you feel disgusted about your body or sexuality, it may mean you are carrying shame or judgments that don’t belong to you.” Keller goes on to explain that many of her clients can recall being shamed for exploring their bodies when they were children.
Think: Can you recall a time when you were shamed for exploring or being interested in your sexuality? Maybe your parents taught you that sex is immoral. Or, maybe you saw a movie in which a character was shamed for engaging in sexual activities. Explore these potential causes and try to track the shame back to its roots. Then, work to get rid of this shame. Remember that you are in charge of your sexuality. You don’t have to talk about sex if you don’t want to—but if you do want to, then you should! In the same breath, you should explore your sexual preferences and desires as you see fit. Doing so is key to embracing your sexuality.
2. Accept and feel comfortable with sexual desires.
Also, as you explore and embrace your sexuality, it’s important that you gauge your level of comfort every step of the way. Sometimes, guilt (or the shame we talked about earlier) can get in the way of feeling comfortable with sex. Here’s an important reminder: Desire is something you wish or long for because it brings you satisfaction. Only you can know and say what makes you feel satisfied, happy, or fulfilled. This is true for every area of your life, but we often forget or neglect this truth when it comes to our sexuality.
So, check in with yourself as you seek and discover pleasure through sex. First, be sure that you are practicing safe sex. Johns Hopkins Medicine offers clear guidelines:
- Communicating consent with the individual(s) you are intimate with.
- Using protection to prevent unwanted pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
- Talking about safe sex practices and/or concerns with a healthcare provider.
- Scheduling regular checkups.
If you check these boxes and practice safe, consensual sex, you can give yourself the freedom to explore your desires. Remember: You shouldn’t feel shame or guilt about doing so.
3. Consider the biological nature of sex.
Finally, one final note as you embark on this journey to embrace your sexuality, consider the biological nature of sex. Humans are wired to crave sex. Why? Because our existence depends on it. Joann Rodgers, director of media relations and lecturer at Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions, explained during a recent interview: “People and indeed all animals are hard-wired to seek out sex and to continue to do so. I Imagine that is evidence that people at least like sex and, even if they don’t, they engage in it as a biological imperative.”
It’s simple: We were made to want, have, and enjoy sex. When you engage in sexual thoughts or feelings, you release the feel-good hormones in your brain, which makes you feel good! In sum, sex is natural and also meant to be enjoyed. Hopefully, considering this biological nature of sex, you can further embrace your sexuality.