When women talk about sex with their girl crew, they do more than simply discuss noteworthy size and styles. Sure, it’s fun to channel our inner Samantha (à la Sex and the City), but sometimes we just need a safe space to ask questions.
In fact, according to a 2014 survey from Match.com, a higher percentage of women said they discussed bedroom matters with their friends than those who said they left those conversations to have only with partners.
And while you should be talking about these issues with your partner, too, these important heart-to-hearts with your friends do matter: A recent study published in the International Journal of Sexual Health linked the convos to better sexual health and well-being.
Being comfortable enough to chat about sex with your friends has all kinds of good implications: Past research has found these discussions can help you feel more confident in your sexuality, become more knowledgeable about safer sex practices and behaviors, and help you take ownership over what happens to you in the bedroom.
Authored by Katrina Pariera, an assistant professor of communication at George Washington University, the study aimed to better understand these sex talks. A total of 617 adult women participated in the study; most were straight, and the average age was 36. The survey they completed included questions about how good they felt about how they expressed their desires, how informed they were about contraception, and other measures.
To assess what those sex talks really looked like—as in, were they more expressive (or encouraging) or instrumental (more about sharing facts)—participants were also given a list of topics and asked to identify whether they’d ever had a convo with a female friend about any of them. Examples included whether or not they’d been encouraged to talk about their sex life, and if they’d ever been asked how to get more out of their sex life, among many others.
The study’s results found that women were way more into expressive sexual communication than instrumental sexual communication. In other words, we’re more likely to be supportive of our girl when she recounts her one-night stand than talk to her about how to avoid sexually transmitted infections.
“This finding,” Pariera writes, “also supports past research which shows that women are more comfortable talking with their peers about sexuality when it is constructed in terms of support and emotional bonding.”
She continues: “Talking with friends about sex is related to having more sexual self-efficacy, self-esteem, and awareness of birth control safer sex options, but it is not associated with safer sex practices. It is also associated with potentially harmful norm perceptions about risky sexual activity. Although the latter may be problematic, this is not an indictment of open sexual communication between peers. Silence begets shame and misinformation.”
In a recent interview with PsyPost, Pariera said the biggest takeaway from her research is that “the way we talk to our friends about sex has some positive and negative associations.”
“Sometimes when we talk a lot about sex we educate each other, help problem-solve, etc., but we might also increase pressure and skew norms about sex. So it’s not just that we need to communicate more, it’s that we also need to communicate better.”
In other words, yes, you should definitely share (at least some) of the details of your sex life with your best gal pals. Not only will doing so potentially help you become smarter about some of your choices, it can also help you become more confident in who you are in and outside of the bedroom. Sex positivity for the win!
And maybe every once in a while chat up how great condoms are too.