If your upbringing was anything like mine, you didn't overtly learn much about sex and relationships while growing up. You probably learned how to solve algebra equations, the conflicts that led up to World War II, and maybe acquired practical skills like how to sew a button or dice an onion. You may have gotten some biological background related to sexuality, such as an overview of reproductive anatomy and processes. Maybe - just maybe - you had some sort of formal education related to sexual health and safety.
More than likely, however, what you learned about sex and relationships came from more informal means. You probably learned how to demonstrate love and manage conflicts (in either healthy or unhealthy ways... or somewhere in between) from watching relationship dynamics around you - your parents, family members, friends, or in the media. I can almost guarantee that you received zero direct education from either school or caretakers about how to be a good lover... how to provide sexual pleasure to someone else; how to provide pleasure to yourself.
While I would describe my own upbringing as fairly liberal, the only education I remember pointedly receiving prior to adulthood was about puberty and a very (VERY) strong message about avoiding pregnancy. Coming from a single-parent household, it was instilled in me from a young age that I never needed to depend on anyone else, and that education and a career was more important than a romantic partnership. I subconsciously watched those around me navigate relationships - for better or worse. Sometimes I was able to process those things with a caretaker or mentor, sometimes I didn't.
When I became a full-fledged adult (BARF) and started studying communication in college and later sexuality and relationship dynamics, I was finally able to connect scholarship, research and theory to real-life experiences.
This may sound totally obvious, but ACTIVELY LEARNING ABOUT SEX AND RELATIONSHIPS (through reading, activities, self-reflection, practice, etc.) completely changed the way in which I engage in sex and relationships.
I became a different lover. A different partner.
Think about it. When you learn new knowledge or skills at say... math?... you change the way you like, DO math, right? And usually that process makes doing math easier, quicker, more effective and more accurate. You become better at it! Like, when I was a young munchkin and wanted to multiply 9 times 7, I would have to draw out nine tallies, and then nine more tallies, and then nine more tallies, until I had drawn out nine tallies seven times. Then, I would count each of those tallies individually, and they would add up to 63. Great! I was doing math, I was successfully multiplying, even though it took a decent amount of time to complete the task. But, when I learned the trick about holding all my fingers up and then putting the seventh one down and six were on one side and three were on the other and that 6 -3 was my answer, EVEN BETTER! I was a quicker, more practiced multiplier. And then after I studied multiplication tables over and over and over so much that I had them all memorized and I immediately knew 9 x 7 equals 63, I was really heating up! There's no stopping me! I'm efficient AF at multiplication! Even better news! Nowadays I carry a phone on me practically at all times that can tell me what 9 x 7 equals if I ever have a brain fart. Fucking genius!
Y'all - sex and relationships are the same way. Learning skills and strategies to successfully navigate these TOUGH yet ESSENTIAL topics can make you BETTER at them.
Unfort, we live in a time and society where talking about sex is often taboo, nevermind actively engaging in sexual study. It's not like when you were a teenager your mom sat you down and told (and showed) you how to eat pussy so you'd know how to please a vulva-having partner one day, right? (Although this concept is not inherently immoral - for example, there is evidence that in ancient Greece it was customary for older mento engage in sexual relationships with teenage boys in order to teach them how to be a proper lover). And since there are SUCH LIMITED avenues to acquire factual and honest sex and relationship education, knowledge-hungry lovers end up learning from places that are easy for them to access: the media, and specifically porn.
While I am typically pro-porn, I emphasize the importance of its critical consumption. Porn is made for entertainment - not education. It is fantasy. Like all media, it does NOT accurately reflect reality. Yet BILLIONS of folks (yes, billions of media and porn consumers are out there) are both directly (ex. "jackhammer a pussy to provide pleasure") and indirectly (ex. "pretty vaginas are pink with tiny labia") learning MISINFORMATION from the media and porn about how to interact romantically and sexually with others. This, my friends, is scary.
And not to be all Gandhi-like on you or anything (is this the first time Gandhi was named in a sex blog?), but this, peeps, is why I do this work. Healthy and fulfilling sexual and/or romantic relationships (heck! even platonic ones! so many of the skills and strategies I teach cross over into ANY relationship) can have such a substantial impact on our health, happiness, and overall quality of life.
Everyone - every single person - deserves to experience love, deserves to experience pleasure, and joy, and desire, and feeling desired, and cared for. We (at least, most of us) were unintentionally raised to believe that these things just happen to us, that they are spontaneous and magical (don't tell anyone I ever said this, but fuck you, Disney) and natural and occur without work or effort on our part.
Being a skilled partner takes education, and practice, and work. Building and maintaining relationships with other (complex, complicated, sometimes even bat-shit-crazy) humans is FUCKING HARD. I been super duper lucky to have the time and opportunity to be able to read a whole bunch about this stuff, have been trained by some really incredible mentors and have even gotten to learn from some of the experts in this "being good at relationships" field. My hope is that I have done a lot of this work so you don't have to. Through blog posts, and coaching, and livestreams and now even through an online course, my motivation is to translate for and provide you with the most important little nuggets of information to have wildly exceptional love and sex lives.
You deserve it, my friend. xo
What were some things you learned about love while growing up? What about sex? Were these things that someone intentionally TAUGHT to you or that you learned through observation and experience?