What is healthy sex?

cheesecakeThere are lots of different, fun ways to have sex. I guess that’s a no-brainer for most people but if you’re a sex addict, figuring out the difference between healthy sex and acting out sex isn’t easy because the mechanics of sex before recovery are pretty much the same as they are after recovery. That makes it easy to lose your place when you’re in the middle of intercourse, especially when the new “good” thoughts you’re trying to think aren’t working for you erotically.

My philosophy is that healthy sex is like healthy food: it’s tasty, nutritious, and never makes you sick. It’s such a perfect analogy! Think about it: cheese cake is tasty and nutritious if you only have a slice or two every so often. Of course that’s a far cry from sitting down to what amounts to a private orgy with the spoon and remote control after you’ve picked up the industrial sized cheese cake from Sam’s Club.

Ultimately it’s your responsibility to know yourself. When you’re lactose intolerant but go ahead and share an ice cream sunday with your date, it’s going to be your own darn fault later when you’re writhing in pain. So don’t hide your lactose intolerance but don’t make shit up either. If you’re not really lactose intolerant but you don’t like ice cream (some people don’t!) then say so. Bottom line: be honest.

The trouble is, being honest is easier said than done. Being honest means being vulnerable, and that’s difficult under the best of circumstances. When you’ve been betrayed sexually or there are issues of past sexual abuse things get even more complicated.

Difficult isn’t impossible though, and if you can talk to your lover openly and honestly, I guarantee your sex life will improve. Here are a few suggestions to help you get started.

These should be planned conversations that happen at your kitchen table, not in bed. Morning is better than evening. Let the kids go to grandma’s or a friend’s house after breakfast. Now here’s the important part: sit on the same side of the table. You’re both going to be embarrassed, and you’re both going to feel vulnerable and awkward. If you’re sitting across from each other, it’ll be worse. This is one time when you really don’t need a lot of direct eye contact. Trust me on this one! Sit on the same side of the table, arm to arm. I promise it will help. And don’t skip breakfast. Having a serious conversation on an empty stomach is stupid. Besides, you’ll be glad to have some toast or something to pick at if you get super nervous.

Here’s what we have so far:
1. Morning (eat breakfast)
2. No kids (no interruptions)
3. Sit side by side (minimize eye contact)

** Warning ** Explicit Language Ahead **

It’s a good idea to have a list of words and a diagram or two just to use for reference.
Telling your husband that you like it when he uses his teeth on your … should you say clit? Clitorus? Or are you really talking about the shaft part and not the tip? Does that part have a different name? And how the hell do you pronounce it anyway? Or do you actually mean labia minora? And what’s that little place between the anus and the vagina called? How weird is that to use the word anus? Should you say ass? Asshole? And that’s just the anatomical part of communication, we haven’t even gotten to the verbs yet. Is it oral sex or that cunning word that always makes me think of Ling Ling the panda?

Layer some serious emotionality on top and it’s no wonder couples don’t talk about sex! How easy is it to say that seeing the top of his head triggers a feeling of overwhelming loss and sadness because you wonder if he’s pretending that you’re the other woman?

That’s where being side by side at the kitchen table with a word list will help. Sure these are big issues. But unless one of you is a sociopath or psychopath, talking like this will deepen your friendship and your intimacy. And that’s what it’s all about right?

Intimacy begins at the kitchen table. It was awkward and embarrassing but did manage to tell my husband I couldn’t come without a violent porno film playing in my head. I felt so ashamed of myself, but he listened. And sitting on the same side of the table, we came up with some strategies that are working. My husband had a hard time confessing that he felt inadequate because he never knew if he’d be able to make me come or not. I thought he didn’t care one way or another. How could I have been so wrong? Because we hadn’t talked, hadn’t shared our deepest selves. We were too afraid to be vulnerable.

It’s still difficult to talk about sex but we do it anyway because it helps us be intimate with each other. Plus, like everything in life, the more you practice it, the easier it gets.

When you get to the point where you can ask your lover to put a finger in your anus, or stay far away from your anus (as the case may be) you’re well on your way to using your sexuality to express your friendship and intimacy with the person you love.



  1. I keep referring people to this site, this post. I just put a link in a post I wrote about the Voodoo Stew of sex between a coaddict and an addict.

    I wish I could have written about healthy sex.

  2. Absolutely terrific post! Thanks for your honesty and writing through your feelings. I walked into my therapist’s office a few months ago and said to her … I have NO idea what healthy sexuality is. She started trying to help me understand, but as others have shared, it’s just difficult. If I engage in fantasy with my husband — shared fantasy that is — is it healthy? or am I just using him as the latest drug? It’s crazy stuff … but the therapist helped me to understand that there are 12 stages to intimacy and only three of them relate to genitals. Damn I get tired of things being so complicated sometimes.
    A guy shared in a meeting recently and I so easily related, “I can have more fulfilling sex with a stranger than I can with my wife of 33 years. How’s that for insane?”

  3. I totally agree with Eli, this is an excellent post(and kudos to you for writing it, despite the fact that you were nervous =D)

    As much as I myself preach that communication can be almost *magical* in relationships, I know the reality of it being easier said than done. Myself being guilty of not practicing said advice.

    Best of luck to you, I have been following your blog for a few months, and I am rooting for you!

  4. Thanks again for the honesty. I appreciate your ability to just say it like it is. I’ve often wondered how the hell a sex addict would ever be able to have a conversation about sex without being triggered. I suppose blatant honesty would be the way. I thought perhaps your post might also be triggering in itself, but because of the context, it wasn’t. Also, good analogy with the food. It gives me a sense of what the whole process of defining what is addictive and what isn’t might look like. Why would you be nervous about posting this? It’s like a much needed manual for recovering couples…..or non recovering couples even. I think everyone could benefit from having this sort of openness.

  5. Well done, my friend. These little explicit conversations we’re having continue to be positive for me on both a practical and emotional level. Somewhere, somehow, I need to deal with this stuff, and I have a feeling I’m not alone. Syd commented to me that 12-stepping isn’t sex therapy, but it is living therapy. And to live sober, I need to deal with the sex part of living.

    Good to put an explicit language warning. If someone isn’t interested in reading this topic, they can read something else.

    I’m also reminded of the sex-therapy conversations I had with my emotional affair person a few years back. They weren’t healthy and appropriate, they were risky and addictive. In contrast, these posts have none of those addictive feelings attached for me. And I think I’m getting comfortable with judging my boundaries. Reading this feels healthy rather than addictive, if a bit uncomfortable.

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