We’re sex positive and think you deserve to be, too

sex positive - positive peers

By: Jennifer McMillen Smith, MSSA, LISW-S, Division of Infectious Disease and medically reviewed by Ann Avery, Infectious Disease Physician at Metrohealth Medical Center

So what’s the deal with sex positivity? Well, being sex positive just means you understand that consenting adults should get as much sexy time as they want — no more, no less, and however they wish it — without all the negativity people who are close-minded associate with it.

Being sex-positive is important, especially for health professionals. American society makes it super easy to see sex as something dirty. People can associate sex with negative emotions like regret, shame, anger, self-loathing, and fear.  But that’s not sex’s fault, sex is a natural and very human thing to want and to do. There is nothing wrong or dirty about it, especially when done in the shower! 😉

If you have negative feelings and opinions about sex, it’s okay…welcome to the club! You’re not alone. However, please keep in mind that this is no excuse to push those feelings and opinions on others.

Plus, carrying all these bad associations around can do a number on your sex drive. And that can make sexy time…a lot less sexy. You don’t deserve that.

Becoming sex positive can be a process for some, but it’s worth it.

Here’s what you need to know about being sex-positive:

sex positive - positive peers

It’s all about consent

The founding principle of sex-positive thinking is that as long as people consent to the kind of sex they’re having, it’s fine. Threesomes, group sex, fetishes involving whipped cream or superhero costumes — it’s all good as long as everybody agrees that they’re totally into it.

Yes means yes, no means no, and maybe means letting people make up their minds at their own pace and not trying to talk them into doing stuff they don't feel like doing right now.

Sex-positive people call things off the minute they start noticing their partner isn’t having a good time.

sex positive - positive peers

It’s not about judgment or shaming

A sex-positive mindset means that you don’t judge other people’s consensual sex habits, and they don’t judge yours. Don’t yuck my yum!

These days a lot of people are into shaming people on social media — “slut shaming” and a whole bunch of other nasty habits that make feel people feel bad about their sex lives.  This even happens sometimes in doctors’ offices, which to be extra clear, is not okay.

Haters gonna hate. But that doesn’t mean you have to. Sex positivity means that you accept people for who they are, what they like, and you’re accepting of their sexual histories.


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Communication makes it possible

In your personal life, being sex-positive also means talking to your partner(s) about exactly what you like and what you’d rather avoid. You can’t read minds and others can’t read yours.

Just being able to freely talk about what turns you on (and off) can be a kind of freedom you’ve never experienced before.

And if you’re living with HIV, it means you can talk about your status and expect your partner(s) to talk about theirs. Everybody can relax and have a great time if their status is out there on the table.

For doctors and other health professionals, communication is an important part of being sex positive, too! Sex positive communication in a health setting means setting aside whatever opinions you have of sex, listening to your patient’s sex history and interests without judgment, and offering a buffet of relevant options to help empower them to have a happy and healthy sex life. Condoms are great, but they aren’t for everyone.

sex positive - positive peers

It can happen gradually

You don't just turn on a switch and instantly become sex positive. You start by accepting where you are now and trying to open yourself up to new perspectives.

Working your way into a sex-positive outlook lets you evolve naturally rather than try to force things.

It’s easier said than done

When you’re so into someone that you can’t stop thinking about them, it’s really hard to share. If they want four lovers and you want just one, conflicts are bound to happen.

If you’re into kinky stuff that makes your partner cringe, it’s tough to find common ground.

The bottom line of sex-positive thinking is accepting people as they are (no matter how difficult it is) and freeing your mind of the notion that sex is dirty or nasty or negative.

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Positive Peers is made possible through a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Health Resources and Services Administration, HIV/AIDS Bureau Special Projects of National Significance (SPNS) Grant to The MetroHealth System. Click here for more information about the SPNS grant initiative.
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