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It Was Fun, and I Want to Tell My Friends, But....

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Secret_girl asks:

I was with this guy down at the beach late in the night and we started to hook up. It got a bit heated and asked me if I wanted to try something new. I said yes (I consented). He started to eat me out following with me giving him oral.

I'm scared that if I tell any of my friends I'll get judged. Girls are like that these days :( It's not like I regret it or anything. To be honest, I enjoyed it. I'm just afraid because there is so many labels being thrown around.

Heather Corinna replies:

For most of our global history, people have rarely been free from the judgment of others about their sexual lives. Unfortunately. Mind, we can say the same for pretty near every part of human life and behavior: some people are judgy or sanctimonious about some things sometimes, and some of those people, some of those times, choose not to keep it to themselves.

So, this isn't anything new. I'm a big sexuality history geek, and as far as I know, this has been an issue for pretty much forever. Same goes for the various disparaging words or labels people can and do put on other people's sexualities or sexual lives: sadly, we've a long, rich tradition of that kind of crummy behaviour.

Of course, what gets judged, by whom and how is all over the place. Whether we're talking hundreds of years ago or today, one person might judge us for making a given sexual choice, while someone else might have strong, negative opinions they cannot seem to keep to themselves if we had made a different one. As I explained in this answer here, there's simply no sexual choice or set of sexual choices anyone can make where they are going to have everyone's approval, or be magically free of other people's judgment. No matter what you do or don't do, someone's not going to like it or put some kind of judgment on it.

The best we can do is to take the time to really figure out what we want and what is best for us at a given time, make sure any sexual partners we have feel the same way about what we do together, and then share things about our sexual lives with people who are safe for us: with people we know, even if they might not agree with all our choices, will accept and respect them, and accept and respect us as people making our own, unique choices.

A lot of people still walk around saying, "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me." Of course, you and I know that's not true: words most certainly can hurt us. Since our sexual lives and sexualities tend to be very vulnerable, sensitive and personal places, certain words or judgments put on them or us can really hurt and feel just awful. I certainly understand feeling scared and nervous about that. I'd also say we're currently experiencing a whole lot of that in our world right now.

I'd say if you have the clear sense that someone might disparage you like that, or get all super-judgmental about your sexual choices? If you know or strongly suspect someone will have nothing positive to offer you when you share these kinds of things, but only or mostly negatives? Don't tell that person. This is the kind of thing we usually will only want to talk about with people we trust. I think it's safe to say that if you don't know if your friends will or won't call you crummy names, that's a sure sign you don't have that kind of trust with them yet. If they already do that, then you would certainly have good reason not to trust them in this regard.

By all means, if you want to take that chance, and it feels pretty safe, but know you might have to call out trash-talk or stand up for yourself, it's not like that's a bad thing to do. It can be a great thing to do that benefits everyone involved. But we also have to take care of ourselves, and we're just not always going to feel up to taking those kinds of social risks or entering into those kinds of arguments when it's so personal for us. If you don't, it's not like you're less-than-fantastic because you just aren't up to dealing with callouts around a given thing at a given time. Whatever works for you, and whatever you feel able to handle -- or like you even just want to -- is all good here.

Your sexual life gets to be as private as you want it to be. You don't have to tell anyone about it.

But you probably just want to: we usually will want to talk about our sexual lives, the highs and the lows, the stuff we're finding out and the stuff we wind up having worries or questions about, with someone. I always advise, for people of any age, that we make sure we have at least one person we can trust to talk to about our sexual lives when we need to, both for the stuff that's so awesome we're sure we'll explode if we don't share it, and for the things we're worried about, or need help thinking or feeling our way through. A sexual life lived in total isolation, or when we only talk to sexual partners about it, doesn't tend to be or feel so awesome.

But beyond filling those needs, no one HAS to tell anyone about any part of their sexual lives or experiences if they don't want to or don't feel emotionally safe doing so.

If you don't have any friends now where you feel pretty sure you can tell any of them about things like this without calling you names or crapping all over you in some way, then it's probably better for you that you don't tell them and find a safer person or group of people to talk with about these things.

This really isn't about "how girls are," for the record. What it's probably more about, if you've heard these particular girls doing sexual trash-talk, is how these specific people, who just happen to also be girls, are. Expanding or changing your social circle some so you have some friends who you know will respect and accept your sexual choices, and be excited about them when you are, rather than judging you for them, may be something it's come time to do for you. Just like there are people who probably aren't or might not be sound for you to talk to about your sexual life, there are people who are, of any and every gender. You need to find those people. They're out there, you just might have to look beyond your current circle of friends to find them.

Your friends don't all have to be girls, by the way. We can have great friendships with people of all genders: many of us do. Of course, guys can be crummy about sex in this way, too: talking to guy-friends versus girl-friends doesn't mean you're magically immune from sexual judgment. But sometimes we can find, in general, or at particular times in our lives, or about particular areas of our lives, that we're more comfortable with one gender than another. If you're feeling like your girl-friends aren't the right folks to talk to just yet about this, it might be that a guy-friend is someone you feel more comfortable sharing this with. As well, if you're going to try and expand your social circle, just opening it up more to people of other genders might make finding new folks to develop new friendships with a lot easier.

I hope you know that even if no one else you know right now would think your experience was awesome and okay, it's really you who decides what sexual experiences are right for you, good for you, and you who decides what you do or don't enjoy sexually.

If someone else put a word on this experience you didn't like or that wasn't true about your experience, that doesn't change your feelings or your experience. Someone else's words don't determine your reality, your sense of self, or your experiences of your own sexual life. And what someone else thinks about your sexual life isn't even a fraction as important as what you think of it is.

Since it sounds like as of right now, you might not have a friend to talk to about this, I want to finish up by taking a few minutes to be a not-judgy friends for you in regard to this.

Yippee! You had a sexual experience you enjoyed and feel good about. How cool is that? That's how it should be, and I'm glad you got to do something that was fun for you that you also are glad you took part in.

(If you want, we can play pretend that you tell me every detail, and I think it's all awesome for you until you manage to overshare something that makes me all squicky -- but in the goofy way, not the judgmental way -- and then it becomes our favorite in-joke. That was always one of my favorite parts of sharing with friends like this when I was younger. Hell, it still is.)

I do just want to make sure that you know the activities you engaged in do pose potential STI risks. So, if you didn't do them protected - using latex barriers, especially a condom when giving him oral -- I'd strongly consider doing that moving forward or in doing this again. Especially if "this guy" means a new or newer partner who you haven't been exclusive with for a long time, and who may or may not have only been sexual with you in the last six months or so since he was last tested, if he has been tested (and vice-versa). Hopefully, if you didn't have a talk that involved talking about safer sex before you both chose to have these kinds of sex, you can be sure to do that the next time before anything gets heated, or gets started at all.

Not doing that protected, just like doing what you did period, doesn't mean you're a < insert whatever disparaging term you're afraid of being called here >.

What does mean is you could be taking big risks with your health. As your surrogate friend, I just want for you to be able to enjoy yourself sexually as you want to -- and I think it's great when you do -- but to be able to do that and stay in good health.

I'm going to leave you with some links related to all of that, as well as a couple I think you might just find handy right about now.

(I included that last one because it speaks to some of the social politics you're worried about here, so I think you might appreciate it rightabout now)

written 02 May 2013 . updated 02 May 2013

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