Your Sexual Preference Is Not Normal… And That's a Good Thing The most common sex question is, "Am I normal?" Dr. Fulbright shares her response to this frequently asked question. BY YVONNE K. FULBRIGHT, PH.D.
Don't worry about whether or not your sexual appetite is normal if you and your spouse are happy with it.
“ Guiding a person to realizing a healthier sense of sexuality comes down to helping one feel good about being sexually unique.”
The second you hang your shingle as a sexuality resource, the questions start coming. Just ask anybody who sells sex toys, makes condoms or lubricants, writes a sex blog or book, offers sex therapy, hosts a radio show on relationships… and they’ll tell you the questions won’t quit. In my 15+ years of experience as a sexuality educator, I’ve fielded a ton of questions from passengers on planes and trains, websites I’m an affiliated with, publications I write for, and students during class and office hours.
People want to know about all sorts of things ranging from sexual desires to sexual fantasies to sexual response to masturbatory behaviors to sexual practices… But no matter what the topic, at the end of the day, most are asking the same sort of question. Hands down, the common theme is: Am I normal?
People want reassurances that they’re not too "kinky," "dirty," "wrong," or "immoral" when it comes to what they’re doing, thinking, or desiring. People want to know if everybody else is just like them, sexually speaking. They want confirmation that they are, in fact, keeping up with the Jones’s regarding how much sex they have, how long a sex session should be, or what's the best sex in the world. People need to hear that they aren’t abnormal; that there is nothing wrong with them.
So how does a sexpert answer this sort of question? Often, it’s best handled in throwing the query back at its source: What’s normal to you? For you?
While facts, research data, numbers/stats can help people gauge how much they’re like (some) other humans, I try not to rely on such, as they can cause as much harm as good. Scientific findings and pop culture surveys alike can have lovers feeling atypical and insecure about their sexual relationships, especially if sold with a cleverly commanding headliner. These efforts to capture who is doing/feeling/thinking what, where or when, and with whom, doesn’t necessarily provide affirmation or make things feel okay.
Guiding a person to realizing a healthier sense of sexuality comes down to helping one feel good about being sexually unique. It involves diffusing people’s worries about something potentially being wrong with them. It is grounded in challenging one’s ideas of what society views as normal versus abnormal, especially since these views are always changing.
"Abnormal" and "normal" are dirty words when it comes to sexuality, given the judgment they invite. They also tend to make our concepts and understandings around sexual matters very black and white instead of allowing us to embrace all of the shades of gray. The end result: people come away distressed, feeling like their sexual wants, behaviors and desires are freaky, bizarre, disturbing, and weird.
When it comes to realizing your full sexual potential and maximizing your pleasuring, the focus cannot and should not focus on being the "average" Joe—on being a supposed "normal." Being in a sexually healthy place needs to involve exploring one’s sexual attitudes, values and behaviors, recognizing that one’s sexuality is highly individual and that every sex life is wonderfully unique.
When people trust you with some of their most private concerns, the fact that they’re not necessarily just like everyone else needs to be honored.
Dr. Yvonne Fulbright is an author of 9 books, and received her Master’s in Human Sexuality Education from the University of Pennsylvania and her Ph.D. in International Community Health Studies at New York University, where she focused on sexual health and parent-child sex communication.
In 2004 she founded Sexuality Source, Inc., a communications and consulting organization specializing in the topics of sex, sexual health and sensuality. Dr. Fulbright currently answers in the "Ask Yvonne" portion of the Astroglide website. For more information on Yvonne, visit www.sexualitysource.com and follow her on Google+.