What Does Healthy Sex Mean?
By Eva Fournel
Graphic by Tess Adams
Regardless of how you define your sex life and sexuality (kinky, vanilla, frequent, or occasional), we deserve to feel safe and fulfilled, while mutually sharing that experience with our partner(s). Healthy sex means expressing our sexual energy to enhance our physical experience, as well as our self esteem and that of our partner(s)’s, elevating our emotional well-being. In simple terms, sex should feel good, physically and emotionally.
Openly communicating with our partner(s) is essential to ensuring the experience is equally pleasurable and comfortable for all parties. It’s okay to set boundaries, and to make those boundaries clear. While trying new things in sex can be thrilling, it is valid and crucial to announce if a new step is going too far. There is no shame in knowing our limits; you and your partner(s) can create a safe word to signal that one party wants to stop, if the experience starts to escalate in an unwanted way. Not listening to yourself could potentially blur the lines between pain and pleasure. You know what you’re ready for more than anyone, and your partner(s) should respect that.
While setting boundaries is significant, consent is always of the utmost importance. Ensure that you and your partner(s) are at the same mental and physical capacity to engage in sexual activity from the get-go (substance use, intoxication, etc). Once you are engaging, there’s nothing wrong with asking “is this okay?” If you’re doubting your partner’s willingness and reciprocation, trust your instincts, stop, and talk about it. Talking doesn’t mean convincing them, rather it means listening and understanding. By listening and respecting your partner’s concerns, together you can decide next steps. Asking and listening creates mutual trust that can manifest into healthier, safer, and hotter sex.
Communicate not only before, but during sex too! Sex isn’t a one-man/woman show. Listen to your partner. You could watch all the porn in the world, read all the “best tips”, have the highest body count and practice to show off, but when it comes down to it, your partner most likely knows what they need better than anyone. So, ask them; not only will you enhance each other’s experiences, but learning from each other is fun, beneficial, and potentially valuable for future sexual experiences.
Leave the Rest of the World Out of the Bedroom
One of the greatest aspects of sex is the escapism: for some time, we get the chance to block out everything beyond this moment. Yet, we still let societal stigmas and expectations creep in.
If you watch pornography, remember to take it all with a grain of salt. Pornography is casted and directed — it’s a show, one typically curated by and for straight men. It’s a show that often lacks racial, gender, and body diversity, setting expectations for what sex is supposed to look like. According to pornography and societal expectations, penises are large, a perfect vulva is white, hairless, and naturally wet, women are always loud, and “sex symbols” are clearly drawn out and preached to you.
These expectations can cause so much unnecessary sexual anxiety. It’s introspective to recognize how society may be impacting our perceptions of sex. Only you and your partner(s) get to decide what sex looks like to you. The rest of the world can stay out of it.
We are meant to enjoy the sex we’re having — sex is no chore or obligation. Healthy sex is safe, respectful, consentual, and mutually pleasurable. Remember to listen, express yourself honestly, block out the negative distractions, and have a good time!