Some things bear repeating. This column about sex education for all ages is one of them. Replacing our fears and judgments about our sexuality begins with our willingness to become curious learners. There might not be a more healthy review we can commit to than re-thinking how we think about sex. The most growth-filled question we can ask about sexuality is when we focus our attention on what we don’t know. Opening to this space of not knowing is the heart of wonder and the seed of sexual positivity.
Most of what matters and gets better in life happens through education; yet remarkably, when it comes to sex, many people were not only deprived of sexual education in their youth, but have carried the ignorance is bliss thing way too long into adulthood. In fact, when it comes to cultivating and sustaining an erotic life, persisting in not knowing may well be the kiss of death. Usually what we don’t know about is shrouded with our fear, which can easily turn sexual encounters into regretful decisions with risky consequences. Consequently, three of the most powerful predictors of an evolving and passionate erotic life include cultivating a natural curiosity about your sexual self, opening up to the vast expanse of sexual experiences that live inside of you and discerning true sex education from sexual entertainment.
Curiosity is curative; a natural and beguiling capacity that defines our humanity through its urge to understand, to explore and to go beyond our own limits. As the mother of four, I witnessed over and over how little I actually taught my kids, but rather how much of their education was about me keeping them safe to explore their curious wanderings. When it comes to sex, our curiosity to one of the most essential and mysterious aspects of our personhood was stunted, shamed and through religious dogma or family culture taken away. The opposite of curiosity is judgment, which explains why so much sexual behavior that we don’t understand is not really questioned as much as it is judged. It also explains how so many people get to a place where they deeply believe that there is only one way to have sex- the way they know, which is a guaranteed path to sexual disappointment.
Education, erotic and otherwise, is only possible for a mind that is open. Being open to learning about the countless ways there are to express and experience your sexuality is a creative act, perhaps one of the most procreative aspects of living in a human body. This does not mean that you give up your values or relinquish all your boundaries to have better sex, but it does mean that the view gets more expansive. Creativity is another rung on the ladder of curiosity and it is the opposite of being narrow-minded. Making something new out of what is in front of you when it comes to our sexuality can be as simple as paying closer attention and being more present. These practices don’t apply only to your sexuality and in fact the more you begin to employ wonder and expansive thinking to what you eat, what you wear, and who you spend time with, the more that your sexual life will bloom alongside the rest of your life. Too often, we sequester our sexual life as something unique and distinct from the rest of who we are. Our sexuality is a mirror into the way we live. Being more creative and open minded about your entire day will change what happens in your bedroom.
Using sexual entertainment as a guide for a better sex life is like eating junk food as a primary source of nutrition. A little sex entertainment can be fun, like the occasional hit of junk food, but it isn’t education or nutrition. Sex entertainment can add a little spice to a sex life that is already open and curious, but it is not curative when you are stuck in a place of judgment and fear. There are so many incredible resources for real sex education in video, books, virtual and live therapy and counseling that there is no excuse not to seek out real help. Some of the most memorable and important moments of my life happened in a therapist’s office, in part because when I got there, I was truly curious and interested in learning how to think differently so my mind was totally open. Even in the most distressing moments of recognizing how we have made our own boxes that limit our life experience, there is the light of education that cuts away at what has kept us from our best life, our best self.
Learning about our passionate and erotic impulses is a curative, maturing and freeing education that will not only bring more pleasure and aliveness to your nights, but will trade the limits of your judgments for the light of curiosity through your days.