As a sex educator, I regularly ask adults, "What were you taught about sex growing up?" I can't tell you how many respond with,
"I had the talk with my parents, but that was it."
"A little bit in health class, but nothing about sex itself."
Does this sound familiar? Most of us enter our sexual relationships tragically unprepared but then have no idea what to do about it. And then, because of the taboo of talking about it openly, too many of us struggle for years, experiencing incredible emotional or physical pain, ending otherwise wonderful relationships and wondering what's wrong with us.
Nothing is wrong with you. You just weren't given the information necessary to succeed. You have gone about feeling like somehow you were just supposed to know all this relationship stuff.
The following five points will help you see you are not only not alone but also capable and deserving of good, solid information and education about sex and intimacy.
1. Just because we have the capacity to have sex, doesn't mean we know how to have sex
This concept became abundantly clear to me when I was trying to breastfeed my first baby. I thought it would just happen naturally because that's what was supposed to happen. Wrong. Breastfeeding was challenging. I needed books and education about the process.
The same goes for sex. Although your body may be mature enough physically to engage sexually, the process is much more complex than that - as anyone who has ever had sex can probably attest to.
Unfortunately, since any sort of talk and/or instruction about adult sexuality is fairly taboo in our culture, too many are left to try and sort this out on their own. If I wouldn't have had some sort of help with and instruction on breastfeeding, I would've given up almost immediately. My body was prepared, but I was not.
What do you know about the process of sex itself? About your body? Your partner's body? What's the difference between desire and arousal? What's contextual relational sex? What's foreplay to you? To your partner? What turns you on? These are questions to explore in your sex education.
2. Sex is a skill to be learned, just like anything else
When you are able to see sex and intimacy as an adult skill to be learned, honed and cultivated, it opens you up to incredible possibilities. You no longer feel like something's wrong with you because this area of your life is challenging but instead feel empowered to do something about it.
Yes, God created our bodies, but that doesn't mean He sent an instruction book along with them (if someone has one, please, please share it!).
Everything we've ever learned about our bodies and how to use them we either learned through trial and error (like walking) or by someone else teaching us (like eating or using the bathroom). Just because sex is usually something we begin learning about as young adults, doesn't mean it doesn't follow the same process.
3. Female sexuality is not male sexuality
Surprise! Women and men are different!
Although that statement seems like an obvious no-brainer, our culture tends to expect women to want and have sex like men. And when a woman doesn't, then something is "wrong" with her and she needs to be "fixed."
If you are a woman or are involved with a woman, take the time to learn the differences in approach, context, the concept of relational sexuality and so on.
Understanding these things will go a long way toward helping you and your partner achieve the type of intimate relationship you hope for.
4. Movies, music videos, lyrics, books and other media teach a distorted image of sex
Since we don't talk about sex, teach about sex or give ourselves and each other permission to actually learn about sex, most of what we learn comes from some sort of media. And the media is always about projecting truth and reality, right? No editing or embellishment there. (Are you catching my sarcasm?)
Sadly, our sex and intimacy education is grievously imbalanced. I can't think of a time - ever - when one of my intimate moments was backlit and airbrushed and had just the right musical score at just the right moment with the right choreography of body movements.
No one in their real lives can compete with or hope to imitate fully what is portrayed on the big or small screen or described on a page.
If you're involved in a relationship with a real human being and you're a real human being yourself, take time to discover what real sex and real intimacy are. It will bring you the satisfaction you are seeking.
5. Sex isn't static for anyone; it's constantly changing throughout our lives
Since the day you were born, your body has been in a constant state of change, and that change continues until you die.
Your 20-year-old body is not the same as your 40-year-old body nor your 60-year-old body.
And yet, we think how we went about sex during the first year of our relationship should be the same after having a baby, developing diabetes, becoming less flexible, losing a job, having a 60-hour work week and so on.
Alisha is a Life Coach specializing in Sex and Intimacy as well as the co-author of a recently published book titled Real Intimacy; A couple's guide to healthy, genuine sexuality. Find her at or realintimacybook.com