On Not Talking to My Mom About Sex

There’s always a time when I get stains on my old sheets because I have once again had period sex (no shame) and my first instinct is to call my mom and ask her how to best deal with it. I only wish we had a relationship where I was allowed to do that. I’m sure she would have some great tips.

Growing up, we never talked about sex. We never even had “the talk.” When I was younger and would catch hints of innuendo on TV, asking what it meant was always met with the response, “I’ll explain it when you’re older.” But, as I grew and (to her eyes) wasn’t boy-crazy or having guys sniffing around, that talk never came.

I should explain that our family was very religious, and the idea was that, sex was something I’d never have or, I guess, learn about until after marriage. During high school, I also thought I’d “save myself for marriage.” But I gave up the idea of “remaining sexually pure for my future husband” after getting sexually assaulted by a former friend, and realizing how damaging all those “purity myths” I learned at church could be.

I’ve never told my mom I was sexually assaulted because, unfortunately, we still don’t have the relationship in which I can admit to her I’m a sexual being at all. Don’t get me wrong—my mom and I are close. I call her all the time and ask her everything. She’s like my personal Wikipedia. I wouldn’t be able to enroll in health insurance without her help. I can’t even imagine figuring out how to get a credit card without her. And I need her recipes, not just the ones I could find online.

So, it’s heartbreaking for me that my sexuality is the one part of my life, so confusing and complex and full of weird personal questions like, “Why does this burn?!” that I can’t go to her for help with.  

I have a great support network of friends that I go to for sex advice. I can turn to them for help with questions like “I have a canker sore on my tongue and I heard in middle school that if I give my boyfriend a blow-job, I could give him herpes!” and they will thankfully, like my own personal sex educators, set me straight. It’s not like my mom is the only person I could possibly turn to with these questions. It just breaks my heart sometimes that my sexuality, an important part of my life, is the one thing I feel like I cannot ever talk to her about.

And, to be fair, it’s not that she’s ever shot me down when I’ve tried to ask about sex. When I had my very first pap smear and what was a simple yeast infection was elevated and thought to be a possible STI, I called her super upset, telling her about it and saying, “This is so dumb, I don’t have cervical cancer, no they’re wrong.” She listened and shared everything she knew, even did some research online that pointed out a bunch of cases where younger women’s pap smears often came up with worrisome results that would clear up on their own, thanks to the wonderful self-cleaning vagina. She didn’t judge me or ask if I was sexually active or give me a lecture.

Still, since those lines of communication have never been fully opened, it’s scary even testing the waters of conversation. It’s both of our faults and neither of our faults. I mean, it’s not like I want her to ask me about my sex life point blank next time she calls. I’d hang up on her, crawl in a hole and die. Still, with how emotionally intimate we are, it’s a shame, as an adult, I still can’t talk to her about the fact I’m a sexual being. And I don’t know what the first step on changing that might be.

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