Sexual Myths and Your Relationship
Myth #1: Sex is instinctual and should just occur naturally

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Not so! Sex is learned behavior in humans, and a few of the other higher primates. Psychologist Leonore Tiefer makes this point in her eloquent book of essays entitled Sex is Not a Natural Act. It's different for dogs and cats and birds and . . .

Learning About Sex

Humans learn how to make love - and there are few good ways in our culture for this learning to take place. Every other skill necessary for successful adult functioning - like reading and math and good manners and driving and job skills and how to get along with other people - is taught over and over, for years, by parents, teachers, religious institutions and our communities.

This leaves young people with a vacuum of reliable information in the sexual arena. A sex ed class in school and a "Big Talk" from a parent and moralizing directives from clergy are not enough for our children to be ready for happy, healthy sexual relationships.

Nature abhors a vacuum, the saying goes, and it's certainly true here. Kids (and adults, too) are curious, and our curiosity about the mysteries of sexuality is usually directed to the underground training opportunities that are readily available in our culture:

  • Locker-room and sleepover discussions with "well-informed peers"

  • Media images of sexuality and sexual relationships

  • Pornography

  • Romance novels

Learning About Sex from Porn

Michael Castleman in his book Great Sex has compared learning about sex from watching porn to learning how to drive by watching action movies filled with high-speed chases and spectacular crashes. Action movies (as well as porn) may be fun to watch, but it's not the way you drive in the real world after the movie is over. Consumers of porn - and the female version, romance novels - may not fully realize that these fictional representations are not accurate and factual guides to adult relationship behavior.

Next Myth #2: Sex = sexual intercourse »

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