I've been reflecting on my early days of learning about relationships and sexuality.
Thinking back to when I was 12 or 13, everything people offered felt very unintentional. At home, there weren't any conversations or education around relationships, sexuality, pleasure, or consent. At school, the education was very logistical, like how to put a condom on a banana.
The truth is, we live in a culture that doesn't support frank, open, loving, compassionate, curious, and reflective conversations about relationships and sexuality.
Here are five things that I really wish I had known as a young woman.
#1: Honest conversations about early experiences.
It would have been so nice to know that the awkwardness, discomfort, or unease in relationships is absolutely normal and that there's nothing wrong. The purpose would have been to normalize the process of getting to know what feels good for you, what works, what doesn't, and the funny stories in between.
#2: Good education about how bodies work and arousal.
There was a lot of terminology that was thrown around when I was in school like blowjob, hand-job, and 69. I didn't understand what these terms meant. I remember singing an Alanis Morissette lyric at the dinner table about "wine, dine, 69 me". Nobody educated me what that was! I really wish I'd had good, frank, honest education about bodies, sex, and how everything works.
#3: Empowerment to make choices that felt right for me.
I wish I'd been asked about what feels right for MY body and MY mind.
- Do you want to kiss?
- Do you want to hold hands?
- Do you want to wear that bikini or would a full piece feel more comfortable?
I wish I'd had opportunities to safely explore my feeling and been encouraged to listen to what my intuition was telling me. What a gift that would have been!
#4: Encouragement to reflect
Life is a journey of learning, which means our mistakes aren't really mistakes, they're just opportunities for growth. I wish I'd been taught to ask myself:
- Did that feel right?
- Did it not?
- What would I want to do next time?
- What did I learn from the experience?
#5: Boundaries to keep me safe
When you have a growing brain, you aren't necessarily going to make the best choices to keep yourself safe. Sometimes you need someone to step in and say, "I don't think so."
I'm curious to know how you feel.
When you reflect back on your early experiences, what would have been nourishing, supportive and empowering for you?
What kind of conversations would have helped steer you in the right direction and perhaps helped you avoid negative experiences that you may have had?
It's time we start talking about this openly. If we don't, the next generation won't benefit and the cycle of giggling, secrecy and shame will continue. That's not okay!
Send your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know what would have been really great for you to know.
We don't just have to blindly imitate what we experienced when we were young. We advance and that's a good thing!