Auntie SparkNotes: I Feel Terrible About Enjoying Sexytimes
Hey there, Auntie!
I'm an 18 year old girl and a freshman in college, and I've been dating a wonderful guy for about 4 months now. He isn't my first boyfriend; I dated a guy in high school for about a year and a half, but that guy was emotionally detached and we kissed exactly once, for about half a second. (You heard me. Once.)
My current boyfriend makes me feel ways I haven't felt before. We've gotten to about second base, which is faster than I expected to go, but I don't regret that. What I regret is… enjoying it.
When we make out, I get really into it. I even moan a little, sometimes. But afterwards, I'm overwhelmed with regret. No one talks about the HND in my house, and I always thought girls weren't supposed to enjoy this sort of thing. That if sexual things happened, the guy would just do these things to me and I'd just lie there and take it. I'm not sure where I came up with these ideas, this is just how I've always felt.
I've talked to my boyfriend about it, since he always thought my embarrassment was because of something he did. He was shocked that I feel this way, and he's tried to talk me out of it. He even suggested I should DIY HND, to use Sparkler terms. But Auntie, just thinking about that frightens me. I wouldn't know what to do at all. I'd be petrified with fear.
I know that my thought process is likely horribly inaccurate, but how can I stop feeling this way? I cycle between having fantasies, to mentally screaming at myself for wanting such things. Please help!
Holy cow. "The guy would just do these things to me and I'd just lie there and take it"?!
Geez, Sparkler. That's not just horribly inaccurate; it's actually horrible, period. And I don't know where you got these ideas either, but I wish you would stick them in a time machine, slam the door, and send them back to the 1800s where they belong! (Or alternatively, just nuke 'em to bits. Because let's be real, the idea that women shouldn't want or enjoy sex wasn't doing anyone any good back then, either.)
And when it comes to how you approach the HND, here's the deal: you don't have to get comfortable with sex, or sexual activity, on any schedule but your own. It's up to you to make your choices about when you do it, and why, and with whom. But whenever you do engage in sexual activity, whether it's tomorrow or next year or several decades from now, for crying out loud, it is supposed to be fun.
You know that, right? I mean, human beings are designed to desire and enjoy the HND; it's one of nature's tricks for ensuring that we keep on making more humans. And here's a lovely little piece of trivia to blow your mind: not only are human bodies physiologically engineered for sexual pleasure, but a female body is engineered to enjoy it way, way more than a male one. A man's penis has about 4,000 nerve endings on it. A woman's clitoris, which is much smaller, has 8,000. (EIGHT! THOUSAND!) And while dudes use their sex parts for other, non-sexual purposes (like peeing, or dressing up in a tiny cowboy hat and waving around at parties), the clitoris has literally no function except to feel good when someone touches it. It exists for the sole purpose of giving its owner pleasure.
All of which is to say: If nature didn't intend for ladies to get a big kick out of physical intimacy, you wouldn't have a body part that is specifically, exclusively, brilliantly designed to help you do just that.
Not that this information alone is going to solve your problem, of course. It sounds like you've managed to internalize some seriously insidious and unhealthy ideas about your own sexuality, and getting away from all that fear and shame will take time. But when it comes to your first steps toward a healthier outlook, this is a good place to start: with the undeniable evidence, in the form of your own god-given anatomy, that your desires are normal and natural, not weird and shameful.
Beyond that, your path to a better relationship—with your boyfriend, and with your own body—is probably going to require three things: time, patience, and the assistance of a qualified therapist. And lest you feel weird about the idea of seeking help for this, please know that you're not alone. So many people who grow up in homes where sex is a shameful taboo end up feeling exactly like you, and escaping from that mindset to a healthier place can be really difficult and traumatic. It's not that you can't get there on your own, but some counseling will help you get there more quickly.
And in the meantime, see if you can't enjoy the journey. Dig into the annals of literature, film, and television for an education in how sex can be wild or exciting or strange or awkward or funny or even disappointing, but how the one thing it isn't is shameful. Read The Almond, or Where the Stars Still Shine, or the diaries of Anais Nin. Watch The Dreamers or Atonement or Masters of Sex or The To-Do List. Use the resources available to gain a better understanding of psychology, biology, and physiology as it relates to you. Get acquainted, be it theoretically or autoerotically or with the help of your lovely boyfriend, with the vast, wild realm of physical intimacy. Allow yourself the leeway to be curious without being guilty, with the sole caveats that you also be safe, be smart, be kind to yourself and others.
And while you're at it? Have fun. Because you're totally supposed to.
Got something to say? Tell us in the comments! And to get advice from Auntie, email her at email@example.com.
Want more info about how this column works? Check out the Auntie SparkNotes FAQ.
Sparkitor note: We've updated the header pic from the vintage Auntie art.