Welcome back from break, fellow sex fiends. Everywhere I go on campus I see friends reuniting. The Sunken Garden has been turned into one giant Hallmark card, complete with giggling girls, men giving each other firm handshakes, and unnecessary amounts of picture-taking. Renewed bonds of friendship seem to be falling from the trees.
All the bro-love and exaggerated hugging really remind me of how important friends are — to sex. In addition to being your wingmen and occasionally receiving “benefits,” your friends can help you develop a healthy and mature sexual identity.
It’s beneficial to talk to your friends about sex, but many people are hesitant because of societal taboos concerning sexual expression. Those people were taught never to talk about naughty parts with anyone. But it’s OK to let go a little. You don’t have to tell the world your most private details, but you should at least try to open up to the people you are close to.
There are many good reasons to talk to people about sex, but it should be stressed that you can’t talk to just anyone. Sex is a personal and complicated topic. Being recklessly open with everyone about your sexual identity can lead to awkward situations and nasty rumors.
Among friends, however, one should feel safe. Friends are people you share your life with; why should your sex life be excluded from them? Friends are your greatest resource in the sexual world. When classes and textbooks are too clinical and pornography is too idealized, your friends are your only ties to the real world of sex.
Talking about sexuality demystifies it. Hearing other peoples’ opinions and views helps you realize that you’re not the only one navigating the obstacle course that is sexuality. Discussing your experiences helps you learn what’s normal. Who better to talk to about these things than your closest friends? You already trust and understand them.
Asking a friend a question about sex can help shed light on your situation. He might have solutions to your sexual problems that you would never have come to yourself. Or he might just have some skills to impart — like how to unhook a bra with one hand, or what to do if the condom breaks.
Beyond inquiries, friends are there for you when you just need to tell someone — anyone — about the horrible, incredible, disgusting or kinky thing that happened to you last night. They can laugh with you at the mishaps and fan your ego when you feel like bragging.
At some point, however, a line must be drawn. While it is a good thing to be open about your sexuality, it is also important to use discretion. Even your closest friends don’t need to know all the gory details. You can get your point across without getting too graphic; respect the boundaries of your friendship. We all have sore spots and topics we don’t want to discuss. Sex is a topic particularly fraught with discomfort and awkwardness.
Eventually, you’ll fall into the groove of open, mature sexual conversations with friends. You’ll learn how much you’re willing to share and hopefully feel more comfortable with your own sexuality. You might also find out who your real friends are along the way.
To those of you who have already found the happy medium, see how much further your boundaries extend. How comfortable are you, really? Here are two easy tests: watching pornography with friends and playing naked in the kitchen. What better time than now to explore your sexual limits?
__Maya Horowitz is the Flat Hat sex columnist. Although she prefers chatting face to face, also has AIM, Gchat, Facebook chat and a Twitter.__