9 Mortifying Stories Of How Millennials Learned About Sex

Twenty-Something Tuesday

You would think with the Internet, the sex talk would be null and void in these days. Anything you want to know is an eye-opening Google search away. But millennials are the last generation to come of age before the power of the Wikipedia really got going. Sex was more acceptable to talk about, but it still came with a lot of subterfuge and super sketchy parental conversations. So we’re looking back at the horrifying, hilarious, and awkward ways we learned about the birds and the bees getting it on.




Under the guise of taking me shopping in a big city about two hours north of my hometown, my mom loaded up eighth-grade me into the minivan and proceeded to hurtle down the interstate. During this time she decided to put in a Focus on the Family sex-ed cassette tape set, narrated by James Dobson. So basically we’re in the car for two hours listening to James freaking Dobson tell me the mechanics of intercourse, and I am mortified. In hindsight, though, I’m sure I wasn’t as mortified as my mom. She’s usually a cool cucumber, but I think we filled up with gas about 27 times on that trip just so she could get out of the car. —Haley




Prior to the Car Ride From Hell, I had been attending middle school for two and a half years, so it’s safe to say I already had a pretty good idea of what sex was—or at least the basics of it. And I’d gathered those basics sometime in the seventh grade during P.E. class, huddled around a Men’s Health magazine while reading the two pages of fine-print text following a Viagra ad. A friend had swiped it from her parents’ house and we all thought it was hilarious. Now I just think it was a super weird thing to do. —Haley




I was 15 and had my second boyfriend (whom I probably had not even kissed at this point). On our way to the grocery store, my mom told me, “Erin, I just want you to know, I put a box of condoms under the sink in your bathroom. The box is open so I can’t tell if you’ve used any.” In retrospect, that’s an awesome approach, but at the time, my virgin ears were burning. I took one out later to see what they looked like, and it somehow ended up in my parents’ bathroom (we blame the apparently super moral housekeeper). Erin




When I was in high school, I was very uncomfortable with the idea of a guy going down on me. My mother must have overheard some of my phone conversations, because one day she sat me down at the table and said, “I’m concerned you’re not getting enough pleasure out of your relationships.” I asked and she then explained that she had received oral sex before actual sex and it was perfectly normal (which it is) but I cannot think of a time when I wanted to die more than in that moment. Anonymous




My parents chose to just ignore the sex talk and let the public education system teach me about the birds and the bees. Which is fine, as an avid reader and R-rated movie watcher for the majority of my life, I had figured out sex well in advance of middle school. (My dad was a fan of sending me to the dictionary for things I didn’t know about and I may have learned a lot of vocabulary from Merriam-Webster). But as we were re-learning about sex in health class in high school, my then-boyfriend started asking a lot of questions about how our teacher had described the mechanics of penetration. He explicitly said, “But I know when I have sex that I am more than just three inches in.” So the whole class, plus the teacher, got to picture me having sex with my worst boyfriend ever. Liz




Coming from a conservative Catholic household, I was raised to believe that having sex was a sin punishable by death and eternal damnation; however, the subject actually comes up quite frequently at our dinner table. A couple of years ago over a plate of cheese tortellini in homemade tomato sauce (a dish I’ll never look at the same again), my mom asked my 12-year-old brother what he learned in school that day. He, like my sisters and I, attended a public school where “family life” was a necessary component of health class. My brother responded immediately: “I know what tampons are used for so if you girls think I’ll go with you to the pharmacy again you’re wrong!” He wasn’t the only one who learned something that night. By the time dessert came around, my mother revealed that my younger sister was an accident (“Kids, condoms don’t always work.”) and I learned for the first time how accidents actually occurred (“No, Julia, sperm doesn’t just linger inside you for years after you have sex and surprise you by attaching to an egg later down the road.”) I won’t reveal how old I was. —Julia

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My parents were never too worried about what I watched or read as a child. Movies like “Hair”, “What’s New Pussycat?”, “Grease”, and various other borderline-inappropriate-for-9-year-olds were among my favorites from a young age. As a result, I always kind of had a sense of what sex was, or at least I thought I was adult enough to know. Plus, my mom was always very upfront with us. “Sex can be a lot of fun,” she’d say as we drove to the grocery store, “but ONLY IF YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR YOUR BODY.”

That being said, I have one distinct memory that always comes to mind when someone mentions their “sex talk.” At age 13, around when everyone else was getting “the talk,” I decided to rent the movie “Secretary.” I vividly remember turning the volume as low as possible, watching the stairs for any signs of adult life and being enraptured/horrified by the kinky sex had between Maggie Gyllenhaal and James Spader. It may not have been my first exposure to sex in movies, but it totally blew my adolescent mind. Bridey




About a year after I lost my virginity, while I was home from school for winter break, my mom was poking around in my bedroom when she came across my birth control pills, which I had obtained secretly and hidden. Sternly, my mom informed me that sex could be “distracting” and that she was disappointed in me. At the time, it was terrifying, but in hindsight I realize that her bizarre reaction to my efforts to keep sex safe by eliminating the possibility of baby-making must have been a product of the supreme awkwardness of the moment. —Anonymous




In my 9th grade health class, our sexual health conversations revolved around scare tactics. One I will never, ever forget (and tell almost everyone I know) was STI Day. We were shown pictures of gonorrhea and herpes (that, I might add, looked like they had not been treated in five years). The shining glory of this presentation was a blown-up, detailed picture of someone with very severe chlamydiain their eye. Our teacher then went on to detail the ways in which you could get chlamydia in your eye, pointing to specific locations on and around the eye and specifying that oral sex was the culprit. Safe to say I have never thought of oral sex the same way ever again. Emmy

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