Have you wondered if your sex is ‘normal’? People often ask me if the sex they are having is ‘normal’. This seems to be something that many people are concerned about.
If you want my opinion, giving and receiving pleasure with one’s body is perfectly normal. That is what sex is supposed to be all about – pleasure. But I feel like I need to take this a step further and break down exactly what I mean by ‘normal’ sex.
Before I do, I understand that what I am about to say may not be the ‘average’ experience, and that saddens me. However, we are talking about sex being pleasurable here, and so I hope that the more I continue to do the work I do (counselling, educating and empowering), this becomes the average experience – or at least the basics of any sexual experience.
I am also aware that far too many people don’t discuss basic sexual things with their partners, so having these discussions regularly may sound a bit far-fetched. A fair amount of the relationship counselling I do, is helping couples have these conversations in a way that doesn’t feel threatening or criticising. These couples are my favourite, because they are not coming to me in times of crisis, but rather because they recognise that their communication skills could be improved upon, and they come for sessions as a method of preventing problems later on.
Everyone involved Wants to be.
Basically, what I mean by that is, everyone has enthusiastically opted into the activities, knowing full well what they were getting into. They all want to be there. They all have the possibility of ending their involvement at any time, without negative consequences.
That might seem obvious, but I am hearing more narratives where people are confusing the absence of No with the presence of Yes. Yes! means that you want to be there, you want to be participating, and that you are enjoying yourself. An absence of no does not equate to a yes, it is simply an absence of no.
Do you want to be doing these things? Does your partner(s) want to be doing these things?
Does everyone involved have the option not to be there, without fear of negative consequences? What do I mean by that? Sometimes, people feel that if they say no to certain things, they might loose their partner. An example may be someone not wanting to do oral sex, but continues to do so because they think their partner will leave them if they don’t.
You might be thinking, if they can’t be honest about their sexual preferences, they shouldn’t be with that partner. It’s probably not so clear cut for that person. This is just an example of how, when we don’t check in with our partners about what they would like to do, we make assumptions that just because they are doing things, they want to be.
Another example of negative consequences is where a person is given an ultimatum of sorts: partake in these sexual acts ‘willingly’ or loose your job/get demoted/[insert threat relating to work/home/family life here]. I have counselled people who have experienced harassment in the workplace, some of them felt that they had no choice but to engage sexually with people in authority. Sometime, no sexual activity was actually engaged in, but the person in authority would ‘brag’ to others about imagined sexual activity as if it was a reality, and my clients felt that they were not in a position to challenge that allegation with the truth that nothing had happened.
These power dynamics that are closely related to some negative consequences are slippery, because these cases are complicated by the very nature of the uneven power dynamic.