Dear Therapist: I’m more liberal about having sex than most of my friends and I can feel that when we share dating stories. (I should say that I'm single and actively dating). It doesn’t make me feel insecure around them but I definitely feel judged. I’m not sure if/how I could get them to loosen up, or be less judgmental. I feel like we should all be able to speak freely about our desires and experiences amongst friends. Would love to know a therapist’s opinion!
Frame Therapist Allyson Cole weighs in…
First and foremost, I am impressed that you are confident in expressing your sexuality. It is difficult for most people to feel good about their sex lives and to express their sexuality openly. Parents often directly and inadvertently send the message that sexuality is something to be kept private. Even though some aspects should be kept from children until they are developmentally ready to understand, children can easily translate this privacy into a belief that sex is something to hide or even be ashamed about.
As a psychodynamic therapist, I believe that our behaviors, feelings, and emotions are related to our experiences in childhood. It might be helpful to first think about what in your life led to this openness regarding your sexuality. If you are comfortable, consider sharing how you got to be so sexually free with your friends. Then ask them about their values around sex and how they learned about sex as children and teenagers. Are their values based on religion, shame, fear, trauma or maybe being exposed to sex too early in life? If so, they may have a difficult time understanding your sexual confidence.
Our brains automatically judge others and put them in categories, but we can often make faulty assumptions regarding the exact nature of those judgments. Ask your friends directly what they believe and think about sex, and then try to understand where it comes from in their lives. Share your story about your sexual development if it feels like an emotionally safe environment. Consider your own judgments of your friends for not being able to talk about sex openly. The more we understand each other, the more we tend to accept each other.
About the author: Allyson Cole, Psy.D. is a Licensed Psychologist in California and New York and the co-founder of Create Outcomes Psychological Services. Allyson specializes in empowering women by developing their self-worth and confidence through individual therapy, group therapy, and specialized retreats. Learn more, or get in touch, by viewing her Frame profile here.
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