Safer Sex Revisited (Part Two: An Excerpt from It’s Not About the Sex)

When do you experience nurturing, safer touch—both sexually and platonically? How is it for you?

Seth: With my partner, touch feels safe. Sometimes I’ll go for a therapeutic massage. Also, when hugging friends.

Colin: I experience healthy, safe touch with a massage therapist I work with who is nurturing and respectful. I also experience it with brothers in the program when we exchange hugs after meetings.

Mario: It feels great that touch is possible as a nurturing activity instead of an adrenaline-filled, rush-producing activity.

Alex: I dog-sit a lot, and sometimes I study with the dogs next to me for hours. I sleep with the dogs next to me. I do a lot of that kind of touch because I love animals.

When you were growing up, did you have the “birds and the bees” talk with your parents? Most parents leave sex education to the schools, and that curriculum still seems to boil down to anatomical parts and a rather dry description of traditional heterosexual mating. Depending on when and where you grew up, sex education was likely either lackluster or nonexistent, and you were left on your own to figure things out.

It’s not too late to find role models or mentors to have these conversations with. By speaking with a trusted confidant who has more experience and wisdom, you’ll give yourself the gift of humility and camaraderie. Sexual compulsivity causes profound isolation. Conversely, sexual recovery helps you develop connections and trust. Ask for the birds and the bees talk from someone you respect; doing so can only repair past sexual wounds. 

Shining the light on your sexual health helps you shift from problematic sexual behaviors to fun, safe, liberating, and playful sexual activities.

Action Steps: 

  1. Expand your sexual conversations by sharing openly and honestly with a confidant.
  2. Discover safe ways to celebrate your sexual self. Keep a log of what feels fun and exploratory, and what feels limiting and depleting.
  3. Track moments when you integrate sex and intimacy, as well as times when sex and love are compartmentalized.
  4. Take a closer look at your sexual blueprint—those experiences in the past that were most satisfying for you. Don’t censor yourself. Notice which memories felt compulsive, and which were relaxing.
  5. Be honest with yourself about what works for you sexually or not.

List the erotic desires that you want to explore from now on. Discuss your sexual vision with a trusted confidant.

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