“Why would someone enjoy that?”
“I just don’t get why someone has sex like that?”
“Why do you do that? That’s gross!”
Have you ever heard someone something like this? I definitely have. Whether it’s about spanking & bondage, anal sex, role play, casual sex, or, yes, intercourse, there’s often a little laugh. But the laughter is usually a way to deal with the discomfort, rather than finding genuine humor.
The thing is, everything that you like about sex, someone else finds really unappealing. Even something that is quite common like kissing. I can promise you that someone out there finds it incredibly unarousing or disgusting. And that’s OK. Because here’s the secret- you don’t have to get it.
You don’t have to get why some people cross-dress. You don’t have to get why some people like bondage. You don’t have to get why some people enjoy intercourse. You don’t have to get it.
I think that the world would be a better place if we each aimed for accepting that other people like to do things that we don’t. Here’s a non-sexual example. I really don’t care about sports unless I’m playing them. I don’t watch them on TV. Conversations about them put me to sleep. I simply don’t care and to be honest, I don’t get it. And yet I manage to have great friendships with people who love to watch sports. It’s not that hard- when they tell me that they had a fun time at a baseball game, I say something like “Cool. I’m glad you had fun.” And then we talk about something else.
So why is it often so much harder to do that about sex? What if we could just accept that tastes vary and that’s ok. In fact, think how boring the world would be if we all did things the same way?
One of the common responses to “tastes vary” is something along the lines of “what about sexual assault/risky behavior/sex that causes harm?” There’s a big difference between accepting sexual diversity and not having boundaries. Almost all sexual practices can be done within the container of consent and risk management. Sexual diversity is about what you like to do. Consent and self-care is about how you do it. Don’t get them confused. And don’t try to use one to cover up discomfort over the other.
One great way to learn to accept sexual diversity is to recognize that when you have a reaction, that’s at least partly your personal reaction and not 100% about the other person. Rather than saying “that’s gross,” try saying something like “I find that challenging.” Or even “I find that disgusting.” When you acknowledge that your reaction starts within yourself, it often becomes less potent and you actually gain power over it. It’s not the other person “making” you feel that way at all. It’s your reaction to their behavior and you don’t need to blame someone else for it.
So yeah, when you have one of those moments (and we all do), just remember- you don’t have to get it.