Don't set boundaries when it comes to sex, give it your all and never hold back
10 years ago, when I embarked on this journey to become a sex therapist, one of the main reasons I did was because I did not think that sex was that big of a deal. We have all these rules (read: hang ups) around sex. We put so much emphasis on it, we’ve taken the joy out of something simple, that should be fun and pleasurable. We have turned a very natural instinctual human behavior into something way bigger than it needs to be. At the very least, it is something that we do, to release stress, to feel good, to connect with people we like (and love), to make babies, to live life. But as a society have become dependent on the sexualization, the having desires and then we feel deprived of it, we worry we are not good enough, we worry we won’t get aroused, we worry that we’re too sexual, and we worry about our partners sleeping with others, being sexually attracted to others. We worry too much about what people think about our personal sexual practices. We do it in secret. We avoid talking about sex. We pretend sex doesn't exist, yet we think about it all the time.
People assume that as a sex therapist, sex is at the center of my life. Yes, as an educator I do talk about sex and write about sex. But in reality, in my real life, sex is an integrated and balanced aspect of who I am. As it should be, as it always has been. As it also is for most people, initially before they were hurt and/or shamed about being sexual.
I didn't grow up in a super liberal household. We didn't talk about sex at all. I lived in a very conservative community, where people were ashamed about everything! So I get it. But, I didn't truly get it, meaning I never did identify with it. I don't see the point in shaming people, except that it makes us feel better about ourselves. So, I became drawn to the outrageous. But over time, it wasn't so outrageous, really. It all felt so normal to me. People called me open-minded, but I just never liked small-confined spaces. And, definitely, my open-mindedness has led me to many places (and parties … ) that many people may not go to otherwise. And, I don’t think it’s that big of a deal.
I don't think it makes me promiscuous or loose. I don't think the gender of your partner matters, as long as both (or all) are consenting adults. I don’t think it matters if we don’t have sex at all, if it’s not that important to us or if we are not in the mood. I don't think it matters if we have 1 partner or 10 partners. I definitely don’t think we should make arbitrary boundaries around sex. For example, what women often do when they go on their first date with someone, with rules such as “No sex until the third date.” Okay, fine. But don't expect anyone to follow your rules. No one owes you anything. And finally, I don't think we should put boundaries on other people's sex lives either, I.E let our partners choose their own sexual path. We don't have a right to define it for them!
We often treat sex like money. We either go crazy and spend a lot, then feel bad about it. Or, we are constantly saving it up for a rainy day. We use alcohol as a crutch, as an excuse to be more sexual, instead of just stepping up to the plate and letting it be, naturally. We walk around scantily clad or we cover up and shame those who do embrace their bodies. We shouldn’t need to use labels such as polyamory or sex addiction to define our sexual differences, but we do because there is a societal standard of what is acceptable in terms of sex and sexuality. And why does sex addiction even exist? Sex addiction exists because of an unnatural obsession with something that is natural. Because as a society we've made it awkward to talk about sex. But images on those billboards, and magazine of scantily clad sexy people are everywhere, so we want more, we need more, of something that is actually very natural. So, then everyone wants to look and feel sexy but no one wants to talk about it?
And, when I talk to people, they all say the different things. Some are okay with having a lot of sex and lots of partners, while others will slut-shame, not only others but themselves, and while others will hide their sexual proclivities. So, there really is no baseline for what is normal, there is only our perceived baselines of normal, which are usually based on devaluing our own sexual worth, and making our personal value based on our sexuality.
In my book Love, Lust and Lube—I discuss the fallacies of saving yourself for the one. If we believe too strongly in 'the one', such that there is only one person out there for us, one Mr. or Mrs. Right. Then we could be waiting around forever, and never jumping in with two feet, living in the present moment. We are then constantly looking around, over our shoulders, instead of enjoying what we are doing in the moment, loving the one we are with, so to speak. The concept of Mr. and Mrs. Right, the soul mate is all fear based anyway. It undermines our value as a unique individual on this planet and suggests we need a second-half to complete us. It puts restrictions on our sexuality. In my book, I also discuss ways to become more comfortable with being single, while also being sexual.
The bottom line is that as a society we need to stop being cheap with our sexuality. Stop making such a big deal about sex.
1—Have sex when you want to have sex. It's not that big of a deal. You are a hot commodity regardless of your sexuality and who or how many people you sleep with.
2—Our sexuality is not the whole of who we are. Our sexuality is just a small part of the whole.
3—Stop playing games and putting up walls around sex. I get it, you don't want to get hurt. So, don't have sex with the guy, but don't wait around for him either.
4—When we put up boundaries and limitations on our sexuality and sex lives, we inadvertently put boundaries around our relationships and our lives in the process. Get out there, live your life.
5—Stop telling others how to live their lives. Have a partner? Tell him or her what you want, and ask them what they want. Don't assume they're saving it up for you, and don't necessarily expect it unless you've agreed on it.
Moushumi Ghose is a Sex Therapist and Author.