When I was single, I set up something I called my “slut support system.” It was a way for my friends and I to support each other’s sex lives as we first explored what it meant to be sexually active adults. We shared all of the juicy details of our hookups, cheered each other on when things were going well, and looked after each other’s safety. We were young and sexual and we celebrated that sexuality as fully as we were able — no slut-shaming allowed. It was a pretty great time in my life and it taught me the importance of supporting my friend's sex lives.
My friends and I still stuck together even when things went sideways. So take, for example, the night that a relatively new friend and I realized that not only were we unknowingly seeing the same dude, but that he was sending me texts about how amazing he thought I was while hooking up with her. Total dirtbag behavior, right? But instead of getting mad at each other, we realized that he was the one at fault and ambushed him at his house. Like, we literally knocked on his door and confronted him — and then neither of us spoke to him again.
My sex life is much less hectic (although definitely no less great) these days, but I’m still all about supporting my friend’s sex lives — and not just the slutty ones. (And of course, I use “slutty” in the most pro-slut, sex-positive way.) I have friends who have only had a couple of partners; friends who are into the triple digits; friends who are sex workers; and friends who are married to the person they lost their virginity to. All of those choices are totally valid and deserve as much celebration as the next — and celebrate them I do!
But celebration is just one way that you can (and should) support your friend’s sex lives. Here are seven more.
1. Bring Them To The Doctor
Our genitals — like every other part of our body — need to be checked out regularly by a doctor. Make sure to get a full STI work up, but also just get a thorough look around down there. And if your friends don’t have health insurance, Planned Parenthood has a sliding scale.
When I was in college, I had a friend who had just started having vaginal intercourse and was having pain every single time she had sex. She was confused — rightfully so! — and it was starting to get in the way of her brand new sex life. But some part of her just assumed that’s how it was supposed to be (it’s not) and I stuffed her into my pink station wagon and drove her to the local clinic to get checked out. As far I as know, her vagina is pain-free to this day.
2. Buy Them Sex Toys
Or at least go with them to buy sex toys. Most people need a little bit of support going to a sex toy shop for the first time, and going to a sex toy shop with your bestie is hella fun. So make it an outing! Go grab a couple of cocktails before or after and check out your local smut peddler.
But if there aren’t any great, female-friendly sex shops in your area, you can still find great stuff online. My personal favorite for gifts right now is Unbound, which curates amazing sex-related boxes for a range of different folks. Check out the Rebound box (for that friend who’s getting over someone and needs a little self love) and the Femme Fatale box (for the badasses in your life).
3. Set Up Check-In Systems
This is a safety move that I think is so essential. Because we live in an effed up, misogynistic culture, sexual assault is a very real threat. And, unfortunately, it’s a threat that’s used to police our sexuality. We’re told that it’s dangerous to have sex with strangers we meet at bars, for example, even though the majority of people who are sexually assaulted are assaulted by someone they know.
One way to help protect yourself (and your friends) — and from that fear that keeps us from doing what we want sometimes — is a check-in system. You’ve probably already done something like this if you’ve ever walked home on your own from a bar. Be the designated person a friend tells when they’re headed somewhere and who they contact the next morning. Even better, have them let their date know that they’re doing that by saying something like, “Give me one second, just have to let my best friend know what I’m up to.”
4. Talk About Your Own Sex Life
I think one of the most important, sex-positive things we can do is talk about our sex lives with our friends. Share the details! Brag about the good stuff and also commiserate over the bad! Talking about your own sex life with your friends lets them know that you’re open to hearing about theirs and also normalizes sex, turning it into just another part of life — which is exactly what it is. The more we get this stuff out in the open, the less shame and hurt can exist around people’s sexual choices, and that’s great for everyone.
5. Just Listen, Without Judgement
Whether your friend is sharing their triumphs, telling you about a new kink, or lamenting a crappy lay, sometimes it’s important to just listen. It’s also important to keep any judgement out of your response, so avoid words like “normal,” “weird,” or “gross” — and try to control your face? Remember that the thing that gets one persons rocks off might the be thing that makes the next person run screaming from the room, but that all sexual choices are created equal as long as they’re not hurting anyone else.
And of course, cheer them on when it’s appropriate. Nothing feels better than having your sexual choices — especially ones you were nervous about, like a new hookup or trying out a new interest — validated by friends.
6. Hook Them Up With Your Friends
If your friends are single or non-monogamous and you have other awesome friends who are also single or non-monogamous, hook them up! Invite them to cool parties where other hotties will be. Make connections and support them. Your friends are all great, right, so why wouldn’t they love each other?
7. Respect Their Boundaries
And, ultimately, respect your friend’s boundaries. Some people are going to be more down to share and others just aren’t. Don’t push a friend to do or say more than they’re comfortable with and realize that we’re all coming from different places. Your job as a friend is to support them, however that plays out.
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