Sexual Health Q&A

What does “sex positive” mean?

The term “sex positive” can be interpreted in different ways. For most, it involves having positive attitudes about sex and feeling comfortable with one’s own sexual identity and with the sexual behaviors of others.

Sex positive people tend to have the following traits:

• They are open to learning more about sex and sexual activity. They try to understand their bodies, their partners’ bodies, and all of the physical, emotional, and psychological aspects involved with intimacy. If they have questions about sex, they feel comfortable asking.

• They understand the importance of safe sex for both themselves and their partners. Safe sex can include discussing sexual histories, using condoms, and being tested for sexually-transmitted infections (STIs) like HIV. It can also include emotional and psychological safety, such as supporting a partner with a sexual dysfunction or one with a history of sexual abuse.

• They consider sex to be a healthy part of life that should be enjoyed. For sex positive people, sex can be discussed without shame or awkwardness. It is not a taboo subject.

• They acknowledge that sometimes they won’t want to have sex and that partners might not want to have sex with them.

• They accept others’ sexual practices, as long as the participants consent and feel safe, without moral judgment. This means accepting sexual behaviors that might be different from their own, such as having many partners, engaging in threesomes, or swapping marital partners.

This also means accepting others’ sexual orientations and lifestyles without judgment.

Being sex positive can be complicated. For example, some sexual behaviors may not align with a person’s cultural and religious values. Or, a person might have experienced sexual trauma in the past. Such trauma can be difficult to discuss and make that person feel anxious and frightened in sexual situations.

Overall, however, the concept of being sex positive involves understanding your own sexuality and what it means for you and your relationships.