When I first got with my now husband, I was so deliriously besotted with him and our sex life, I shared an extremely intimate video of us with a few of my closest friends.
My friends are used to me being open about sex and asking them all sorts in the interest of research for my books, but this was one step too far in the completely wrong direction.
It was way, way, WAY TMI.
Why did I do it? Mostly because I was happy and excited about my new relationship and wanted to share this with my friends.
Was I wrong to do it? Hell, yes! I still have no idea what I was thinking. (OK, I do. Lust and love send you barmy at the beginning.)
My friends were amused and indulged me but they were also shocked to be shown something so personal. I feel hot with embarrassment every time I think about it – and that was nine years ago.
Nearly all of us are guilty of over-sharing details about our sex life. But sharing certain sexual experiences with friends can be a very good thing.
It’s especially important for women to discuss sex.
Conversations about consent, what’s acceptable sexually and what isn’t, what makes us feel uncomfortable, choices we’ve made that we perhaps regret – we need to talk more about these things, not less.
Ditto how to masturbate, how to close the orgasm gap and problems reaching orgasm. I constantly tell women it’s normal NOT to orgasm during intercourse but lots still think I’m making it up, to make them feel better.
It’s often through frank, honest chats with girlfriends that women discover this is true.
When men talk about sex, it’s often to boast and very little detail is given. When women talk about sex, there’s lots of detail, advice wanted or reassurance needed.
Sharing intimate details of your life is what bonds people. But it can also get you in a lot of trouble and sabotage your relationships.
Talking about your sex life to get advice and information is one thing. Sharing salacious details purely for a laugh at your partner’s expense, or to demean them, is quite another.
Things go wrong during sex and no one wants to look like an idiot in front of their partner. Even more humiliating is knowing it’s all going to be turned into a story to entertain all your partner’s friends.
If your partner doesn’t trust you to respect their privacy, they’ll be far less likely to try new things, open up about that ‘out there’ fantasy or ask for something they need to tip themselves over into orgasm.
They will censor themselves and their behaviour in bed, for fearing of being judged by both you AND your friends.
If they can’t truly be themselves in bed – it doesn’t feel safe to confess all those secrets wants and longings – it’s impossible for sex to be enjoyable long-term.
There’s another reason why spilling intimate details about your sex life to others can be detrimental. It stops you talking directly to your partner about the problem.
It’s fine to use friends as a sounding board or to rehearse the conversation before having it with your partner. Just don’t forget to do it.
The best person to talk to about your sex problems is your partner, not your friends. They are the one who needs to know what’s working for you and what isn’t.
Here’s some other tips on how to constructively talk about your sex life with your friends without ruining your relationship.
If you want advice, tell your friends this before you start talking. If you want simply to share, to find out if they’ve experienced the same thing, again, make it clear.
Thinking through why you’re sharing before you do it, stops you revealing all for the wrong reasons.
. Everyone thinks everyone else is having better sex than they are. Bigging yourself up feeds all those harmful sex myths and leaves friends feeling unnecessarily insecure. Pretending you orgasm when you don’t is one lie that’s especially unhelpful.
What would happen if your partner hears you’ve been talking about this with your friends? Will they laugh it off or will it be a deal breaker?
If you’re after advice, give a broad sketch of the issue rather than go into minute detail.
They don’t just need to be trustworthy, they need to be bulletproof trustworthy.
All sex gossip is good gossip. Almost everyone tells one person and that person is usually their partner. Are you happy with that? Is that person’s partner close to your partner? How likely is it to get back to them via this friend?
Even if your partner doesn’t mind you talking about your sex life, it’s not pleasant hearing about it via the grapevine.
Ask your friend if they’re comfortable keeping the information private before you confess. Impress on them just how important it is to you that this doesn’t become gossip.
You won’t be the first person to tell a close friend about something you thought was daring and exciting, only to be judged for it.
‘I went out with a man who liked to watch me watch gay porn,’ said one 32-year-old woman. ‘I liked it – it turned me on to watch him turned on.’
When she told her best friend, she branded it ‘creepy’ and ‘weird’. ‘I knew she was a prude but it never felt as good after that.’
One person’s kink is another person’s yuk. Do you trust this person to be kind and not make you feel bad about yourself?
Something hilarious happened and you’re dying to tell your bestie? Check first. Some people are more than happy turning funny sex exploits into dinner party entertainment. If that’s the case, tell the story together.
Others see it as disrespectful and embarrassing. In which case, shut up.
Remember: some of the most open people are very private about their sex lives. Don’t assume. Check.
Ever. Under any circumstances. It can stay there a very long time and what you feel like sharing in that post-sex euphoric moment, might not seem like such a great idea when the buzz has worn off – or the relationship has ended.
Today’s environment is far more politically and sexually sensitive than before.
You might think your recent sexual exploits are hugely entertaining, your co-worker might just feel uncomfortable. If you value your job, don’t chance it.
If you’re on the phone talking about sex to a friend, check no-one else is in earshot.