Why do I feel guilty for keeping my sex life to myself?

WORDS BY Lyla Gray

“I like to keep personal, intimate details confined to my mind.”

One day, I started to feel not so normal anymore, after I rolled my eyes at a dirty joke made by one of my co-workers and noticed I was the only one not going along with it. I forced myself to participate by faux-laughing along in the break room, a place where, in my predominantly female workplace, my friends would unpack all the details of their not-so-romantic weekend rendezvous.

Sex has always been a central part of the conversation in my friendship group. As a woman in her twenties who is friends with a lot of other women in their twenties, conversations over coffee and uni work normally end in long-running jokes about unfulfilling foreplay, awkward walk of shame recounts, and a comparison of experiences regarding how ‘big’ or not so big it is.

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I found myself slowly getting tired of these discussions. The conversation would start with us talking about how our lecturer spits whenever he talks and would end in someone’s casual joke about… well, maybe I’ll leave that one to your imagination.

As women, we are inundated with ideas about sex before we even engage in it. Remember running to the store and hiding in the bathroom, ripping open the sealed section of Dolly Magazine, and flushing the remains down the toilet so your mum wouldn’t know? In my household, this led to a lot of blocked toilets due to ‘unknown causes’ (please Mum, pretend you didn’t read this) and a lot of ideas floating around my head about how glorious sex was going to be one day.

People like social media influencer and reality television personality Abbie Chatfield have made talking about sex cool, and normalising women’s casual conversations surrounding sex has been a huge step in the right direction. While I encourage women to continue talking about sex and growing comfortable with these conversations, for me, these are conversations I don’t enjoy having.

This realisation has opened up a lot of insecurities for me. What type of a millennial am I? I don’t enjoy talking about how unsexy sex can be. Daily scrolls of my TikTok For You page are filled with casual sexual innuendos, and me desperately clicking the ‘not interested’ button to change my algorithm.

I hop onto Instagram to see friends sharing funny Tinder DMs, and again, find myself uninterested. When it comes to contemplating sexual positions and exposing fantasy worlds, I feel my brain simply shut off. After a long history of conversations like these arising, I’ve realised I would much rather watch mind-numbing television than engage in meaningless, surface-level discussions about one night stands.

Since I opened up this can of worms, I’ve begun to contemplate how this simple fact about me could disrupt my friendships. I’m more cagey than most of my friends – I like to keep personal, intimate details confined to my mind and I hold them close to my chest. Is that so bad?

Over time, I found myself withdrawing from conversations where I felt like I was being coerced to open up about my sex life. Instead, I switched off and pretended to find myself distracted by a game of Tetris on my laptop. We were indulging in sex talk like it was premium gossip.

My friends would ask if I had something to hide, and immediately my bucket of insecurities would overflow and an endless stream of thoughts would unravel: ‘That’s it, I’m not normal. After all, what woman in her twenties hates talking about sex? Have you ever seen Sex and The City? I’m the weird one here!’

There is also another issue. Social media tells me I’m not a true feminist if I’m not open about sex. As a woman, I should be so proud of myself for being sexually active and honest about it, and if I’m not, I must be ashamed. I’m a feminist who doesn’t like to talk about sex, so how many points do I lose on the feminism scale for that?

But I’m realising as I navigate life and am open and honest with the important people in my life that I’m still worthy of being a woman and a feminist, despite my desire to keep my sexual life to myself. Just because I don’t talk about sex, it doesn’t make me any less worthy or deserving of receiving it.

If you struggle to talk about sex with your partner, try these tips.

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