Ask an Expert – Does making sexual relationships sound wrong or dirty give teens a bad start to their sexual lives?

Does making sexual relationships sound wrong or dirty give teens a bad start to their sexual lives? 

The language we use around relationships and sexuality can have a huge impact, so the simple answer to this question is yes.  Depending on the individual child, using negative language may contribute to a negative attitude towards sex, the way they understand their sexuality, and how comfortable they are within themselves and toward their partner as they develop their own sexual lives.

I have spoken to countless people (women in particular), who were told all their growing years that ‘sex is bad’, ‘good girls don’t do that’ and similar. This has resulted in deep feelings of shame related to fantasy or sexual behaviour – both outside and within marriage.

Unlearning the message that ‘sex is wrong or dirty’ and switching on sexual desire can be problematic, so it’s vitally important that we talk about sex using positive language and offer a hopeful expectation that sex will be joyful and fulfilling when it is within the context of a relationship that is right for them.

Liz Walker, sex educator and founder of Youth Wellbeing Project, www.youthwellbeingproject.com.au

Our Ask an Expert Week panelists are all qualified professionals in their field. However, advice given on The Kids Are All Right website is not a substitute for direct, personal, professional counselling or psychological care, medical care and diagnosis.

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